Flying Officer Eric Rex LOTON

Service No: 424425
Born: Tempe NSW, 13 February 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 September 1942
Unit: No. 99 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident: (No. 99 Squadron Liberator aircraft HB217), Bay of Bengal, 23 April 1945, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alfred Ernest and Janet Loton, of Vaucluse, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Vaucluse NSW
Remembered: Column 457, Singapore Memorial, Singapore
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Brother of Leading Aircraftman Leslie Tate Loton (412158)

On 23 April 1945 Liberator HB217 was detailed to carry out a daylight bombing operation against Dump No 1, North Rangoon, Burma. The aircraft crashed in the sea approximately 10 miles from Cox’s Bazaar, India, at about 0730Z hours on 23 April 1945. The aircraft was last seen flying low over the Bay of Bengal, when it hit the water and disappeared in the space of a minute. There were two survivors from the crash who were picked up by launch 30 minutes later, but the other crew members were not recovered.

The crew members of HJ217 were:

Sergeant Robert Charles Bebe (2211019) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant D S J Bowman (R/200929) (RCAF) (Wireless Operator/Air) Rescued
Flying Officer Bernard Douglas Culbert (159393) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Stanley Duckles (1594025) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Richard John Dunn (1323985) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Harold John Gibbs (418529) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Eric Rex Loton (424425) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Angus McIntosh (1783260) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant N A Sadlier (RAF) (Navigator/Bomb Aimer) Rescued
Sergeant John Steel (1825981) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)

In his statement Flight Lieutenant Sadlier reported: I was flying as bomba imer in HB 217. We had just left the target (Rangoon) and were on our way home. Cheduba Island, Burma, was reached and course was set from the north west corner of the Island. The navigator gave an ETA Sunderbans of 1404hrs. Aircraft height was 5/6000 feet and sky cloudless & clear. I went back to the beam position and shortly afterwards was joined by the second wireless operator. At about 1330 the Captain said he was going to feather No 3 engine. After a few minutes I felt a slight jolt and saw No 3 engine start engine. Shortly after the Captain reported that the trimming tabs had jammed and he could not get it back. The engineer went back to check the cables with the aircraft yawing and skidding. The Captain told the crew to prepare for ditching. I braced myself when close to the water, and then found myself under the water. I reached the surface near the second wireless operator (Bowman) and trying to inflate my Mae West without success I hung on to Bowman. Apart from the navigator who was sitting on part of the wing and went down with the wreckage I saw no other crew member. Bowman and I were picked up by a cargo vessel after about 45 minutes.”


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, 166/25/300

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