Wreckage brings back war memories

Update on wreck ID available! (24 Feb 2000)

(Hover over pictures for photo captions)

Part of a 4-bladed propellerLENGGONG: For villagers of Kampung Changkat Berangan, some 80km from Ipoh, memories of the World War II and atrocities committed by communist terrorists have never really faded from their mind. The discovery of a World War II bomber's wreckage a few kilometres away from the village has further ensured that the hardship faced during war times would be permanently imprinted in the village's history.

The wreckage, buried amid thick foliage atop Bukit Bintang Hijau, was a well-guarded secret among the village folk and this was the first time that the discovery was made known to the public. Villager Lokman Jaafar, 59, said the bomber, believed to be British-made, could have crashed while bombarding Japanese Imperial Army units in Kota Tempan Air.

Lokman, and two other villagers, Abdul Rani Mohd Taib, 51, and Nordin Panjang Osman, 42, led Bernama to the scene recently. The expedition took more than four hours from the Changkat Berangan main road.

Lokman showing a wing found lying several metres from the main wreckageAccording to Lokman, the aircraft could have crashed between 1941 and 1942, when the British army was trying to stem the tide of General Yamashita's troops, which were making a sweep towards Singapore.

He said there were writings in English on the bomber's fuselage, including the mark, "1941." Lokman said the bomber could have crashed after being shot by Japanese anti-aircraft guns or the aircraft could.have suffered technical failure. Villagers also do not know .what happened to the crew; they could have died upon impact or captured by the Japanese," said Lokman. He said the Japanese army was in control of Changkat Berangan at that time, while Bukit Bintang Hijau was a communist stronghold.

A check at the scene found several parts of the aircraft, like its propeller and engine still intact, despite being exposed to the inclement weather for more than 50 years. Another bomb, also about 0.5m in diameter, was found 10m away from the wreckage.

Tail plane showing RAF fin flashAbdul Rani said several villagers believed not one, but two aircraft actually crashed atop the hill. He said villagers had found parts of another aircraft, not far from the first wreckage. Abdul Rani said parts of the second wreckage were also found among the foliage of nearby trees which had been felled by villagers. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Grik Army Camp, when contacted, said the military had no knowledge of the wreckage's existence. - Bernama

Tailplane of wreck, showing RAF fin flash

Article and photographs on this page copyright © Bernama, unless otherwise stated.


More pictures

Nordin and the well-preserved engine

Bristol Centaurus engine of a Bristol Brigand

An undercarriage leg, with villager Nordin adding scale

Undercarriage leg looks identical to that of the Bristol Brigand
as in photograph below

Bristol Brigand, First Production type Close-up (Photo A)
Photo courtesy of Peter Weston,
former Brigand aircrew of
45 Squadron, Tengah Airbase, Singapore

UPDATE! (24 Feb 2000)

Some information has recently come to light from my research on the Internet, and from correspondence from various aviation artists who have responded to my newsgroup postings alerting the aviation world to this wreck discovery.

There has been a lively discussion on the possible identity of this wreck over the past week in the newsgroups as well as the Delphi forum, where another enthusiast also start a thread there.

Initially, the wreck was thought to be a Bristol Blenheim, shot down by the Japanese during World War II. Other possible guesses were a Lockheed Hudson, B25 or B24; some thought it could also have been a Japanese bomber.

However, many people pointed out that the propeller appeared to have 4 blades, which very few RAF a/c had during WWII. The dual strut arrangment of the undercarriage also eliminated American built aircraft which mostly had single strut assemblies.

Eventually, I read a posting by Jonathan Stilwell on the rec.aviation NG which pointed me in the right direction:
"From the undercarriage leg, it looks like a Bristol Brigand. From "Air Enthusiast", No.83, Sept / Oct 99: 'On January 11 (1951), 45 Squadron lost Sgt V Hayler and crew on a strike near Ipoh. They were flying VS838 'OB-A', and while strafing, an explosion in the gun barrels set fire to the aircraft. The pilot bailed outand was seen waving on the ground but by the time rescue crews arrived some five days later he was dead - the other crew members died in the crash.'
Since Kampung Changkat Berangan is near Ipoh, I would go for that. - Jon. "

After reading that, I did a search on Alta Vista on Brigands and came up with a most relevant site, that of Peter Weston, former Bristol Brigand Radio Operator/Radar Navigator, 45 Sqdn, Tengah Malaya, RAF! His excellent site has his memoirs and pictures of Brigands operating in Malaya, and one picture in particular (Photo A) shows the Brigand's undercart which EXACTLY matches the one of the wreck.

Peter Weston also mentions the crash of the Brigand, reported by Jonathan Stillwell above, in his biography. Indeed, if it is the same crash, then the coincidence is remarkable, as Sergeant Sidney Hayler was Peter Weston's squadron mate, best friend and Best Man at his wedding here in Singapore in 1951!

I have written to Mr Weston to ask for his help in ID'ing the wreck, and will forward his response to this forum (if he doesn't join it himself). In the meantime, you may visit his excellent site containing his memoirs and Brigand pics.

I may be jumping the gun here in my conclusion, but I am willing to bet any amount that the wreck in Ipoh is that of Sergeant Sidney Hayler's Bristol Brigand from 45 Squadron, which crashed in 1951!

Mr Weston has just written to me by email, saying that he has forwarded pictures of the wreck to his former service mates in 45 Squadron and 84 Squadron; hopefully, they can shed more light into this mystery wreck. Check back here for more updates!

Sunny Chow

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