LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Percy Richard ARSCOTT

Service No: 414878
Born: Townsville QLD, 5 January 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 December 1941
Unit: No. 160 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 160 Squadron Liberator aircraft BZ868), off Sri Lanka, 1 May 1945, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Percy Wilson and Beatrice Arscott, of Townsville, Queensland, Australia
Roll of Honour: Townsville QLD
Remembered: Column 457, Singapore Memorial, Singapore
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 1330 hours on 30 April 1945 Liberator BZ868 took off from RAF Station Minneriya, Ceylon, and carried out mining operations without any enemy interference. After some 21 hours 20 minutes airborne and about 1 hour flying time from base, the inboard engines cut out and then picked up. A signal was received from aircraft that it may have to ditch and gave the position, course and speed.
Soon after at about 5,500 feet all 4 engines failed and were feathered. The pilot altered course on to 220 degrees to make for nearest point of land with crew in ditching stations. During the final glide the Wireless operator sent out a distress message and just before ditching clamped down the key. The aircraft ditched in the sea in position 07.23N 082.41E off the East coast of Ceylon. Of the eight crew members, five survivors were rescued from a dinghy by a Catalina from No. 321 Squadron RAF from China Bay. After ditching, Pilot Officer Arscott was seen floating in his life jacket, but had already drowned being possibly injured when aircraft ditched.

The crew members of BZ868 were:

Pilot Officer Percy Richard Arscott (414878) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) Lost at sea
Flight Sergeant G P Brown (1587446) (RAFVR) Safe, not injured
Warrant Officer C N M Fisher (R/165145) (RCAF) Safe, not injured
Flying Officer R L Freeman (J/24933) (RCAF) Injured but survived
Squadron Leader Douglas Gordon MacKenzie Joy (C/1281) (RCAF) (Pilot) Died of injuries: 1 May 1945
Flight Sergeant J L McDonald (1023829) (RAFVR) Injured but survived
Flying Officer F L Newby (151291) (RAFVR) Safe, not injured
Flying Officer James Duncan Alexander Robertson DFC (J/29252) (RCAF) Missing believed drowned

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/4/231
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line