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  Liberator B.VI "SNAKE" Serial Number KL654 Code R
RAF
356 Squadron

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Goh K. Loon 2007

Pilot  Flight Lieutenant John Selwyn Watts, 158017 RAFVR (MIA / KIA, BR)
Co-Pilot  Flying Officer Edward Donald Mason, 166082 RAFVR (MIA / KIA, BR)
Navigator  Flying Officer William Kenneth Dovey, 166352 RAFVR (MIA / KIA, BR)
Engineer  Flight Sergeant Jack Blakey, 1582692 RAFVR (MIA / KIA, BR)
Rear Gunner  Flight Sergeant William Ross, 2213814 RAFVR (MIA / KIA, BR) Durham, UK
Front Gunner  Flight Sergeant Raymond Arthur Towell, 1624252 RAFVR (MIA / KIA, BR)
Bombardier  Flying Officer John Trevor Bromfield, 166369 RAFVR (MIA / KIA, BR) Surrey, UK
Radio  Flight Sergeant Arthur Turner, 1621393 RAFVR
(MIA / KIA, BR)
Crashed  August 23, 1945


Aircraft History
Built by Ford. Constructors Number 4848. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24L-15-FO Liberator Liberator serial number 44-49993. Ferried overseas to India.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Royal Air Force (RAF) as Liberator B.VI with serial number KL654. Assigned to No. 356 Squadron. Nicknamed "SNAKE" with fuselage code "R" in red on both sides of the fuselage. When lost, engine serial numbers: 1) 320753 2) 320803 3) 320741 4) 320804.

Wartime History
On August 23, 1945 took off piloted by Flight Lieutenant John Selwyn Watts on a mission to drop Force 136 special agents and supplies. Also, this Liberator was searching for POW camps with Allied prisoners. The entire crew died in the crash.

Wreckage
Crashed near Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan. In 1996 a group of local tribesmen brought two machine guns from the crash site to the local police station and reported the crash site.

Goh K. Loon adds:
"I  joined the latest trip on January 28, 2007  to the B-24 bomber KL654 'SNAKE' wreck site in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan State with Mr. Shaharom and Mr. Sager and British Defence Attache and his assistant plus others Army  Museum officers and enlisted men. I am glad to inform you that we found the B-24 outer port engine serial number is the same as KL654 plus some personnel artifacts such as rings and jack knife and also some bone fragments.   The tail turret and many parts include radio were taken by an Aussie group who restore a B-24. The B-24 tyre was still inflated! Also, you can see the "SNAKE" still barely visible."

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. The entire crew is memorialized at Kranji War Cemetery on the Singapore Memorial. Watts on column 446. Mason and Dovey on column 447. Blakey on column 449. Ross on column 450. After the recovery of remains, their names will be removed as identified when the panel is next replaced.

After the recovery of remains of the crew, the crew were buried in a group burial at Kuala Lumpur (Cheras Road) Civil Cemetery in collective grave 13.846-853

References
Note the RAF serial number KL654 is also listed as KL 654 or KL-654 in some sources.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - Ford B-24L-15-FO Liberator 44-49993
"49993 to RAF May 1945 as Liberator B.VI KL654"
RAF Aircraft Report Liberator KL654
CWGC - John Selwyn Watts
CWGC - Edward Donald Mason
CWGC - William Kenneth Dovey
CWGC - Jack Blakey
CWGC - William Ross
CWGC - Raymond Arthur Towell
CWGC - John Trevor Bromfield
CWGC - Arthur Turner
Malaya Historical Group (MHG) - Liberator KL654 - 2006 Expedition (photos)
Aviation Safety Network Liberator KL654 (photo)
Aircrew Remembered - 23.08.1945 No. 356 Squadron Liberator KL654 Fl/Lt. John S. Watts (photos)
Spirit of Remembrance "RAF Liberator KL 654 crew burial in Kuala Lumpur" October 12, 2012

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Last Updated
May 19, 2019

 

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