429 Squadron losses first Halifax
The first new Halifax was delivered to 429 Sqn and the CO, "JD" Pattison claimed it as his (rank has it's priviledges - RHIP). W/C Pattison loaded his shiny new Hally to Puskas and warned him, don't you lose it on me! Well, guess what happened? Mr. Puskas has the distinction of being the first pilot to lose a Halifax, W/C Pattison's new Hally. You can bet the CO tore a strip off of Mr. Puskas got back to base. You can read F/Sgt. Puskas and Sgt. Bowles statement of what happened.
Statement by Can.R152284 F/S Puskas, S. - Pilot
At 1835 hours, while proceeding in level flight at 19,000 feet, I heard port outer suddenly roar out and the aircraft went into a steep dive to starboard. The flight engineer had been back in the rest position draining tanks so I called back and asked whether he had switched on to empty tanks but he assured me that he hadn't. I levelled out at 11,000 feet and operated C//S Unit but nothing happened. The aircraft started to vibrate violently and I noticed oil coming over the cowling. Shortly afterwards the port outer engine caught on fire which was put out by operatin the graviner switch. Again I pushed in the feathering button, throttled the port outer engine back, pulled C/S unit to course position and switched off after the engineer had turned off the gas. I ordered the crew to preopare to bail out. After vibration set in, the aircraft was very hard to control as the win flapped up and down. A tendency to turn to starboard necessitated stron pressure on the controls. Smoke burst out and trailed from the port outer, soon followed by flames comin over the top of the cowling in the region of the C/S Unit. After the enine was shut down the tendency to turn decreased but the vibration increased. I could see the top of the cowling begin to lossen and later fall away. Shortly before ditching I noticed sparks flying in the front of the engine. At this time there was still a strong tendency to turn to starboard. At 1855 I ordered the crew to take up ditching stations as I thouht engine and wing would break off. I lowered 30 degree of flap and at 1903 hours ditched aircraft. I boarded dingy after crew and pushed away.
Statement by Can.R172012 Sgt Bowles, J.B. - Air Bomber
When the trouble started I was in the navigator's compartment taking GEE fixes. The Captain called us to the Co-pilot's seat to handle the throttles. The engine was order to prepard to bail out. However, the Graviner witch soon put the fire out so the Captain gave the order to take up ditching stations. I took up normal ditching station after openin mid-hatch, plugging in the intercom, and inflating my "Mae West". When we were about to land the Captain gave us warnin. After the impact I climbed out the mid-hatch on to the wing and assisted in getting the dinghy out. When all were safely in the dinghy, we cut loose from the aircraft. I fired the colours of the day which was answered by an Aldis Lamp from a boat.