RAF Liberators Over Burma: Flying With 159 Squadron

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Fonthill Media, 2017 M11 7 - 256 pages


The RAF air war versus Japan in the Far East is grossly under-represented in print; the Kirkness memoir lessens this gap with its valuable contributionsThirty-two combat ops may seem like too many to individually chronicle in a single memoir; however, each op’s narrative is compellingly, and uniquely, presented and the cumulative result is that Kirkness’ final, harrowing, op is the most riveting of them allLavishly illustrated with previously unpublished photographs

RAF wireless operator/air gunner Bill ‘Enoch’ Kirkness flew thirty-two B-24 Liberator bomber sorties, twenty-eight of which were against Japanese targets in Burma. He was credited with downing the night fighter that killed a crewmate and severely damaged his Liberator; his aircraft’s crash landing abruptly ending his first tour. Bill was subsequently awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal.

His memoir of Wellington ferry flights, Liberator training, and ops with 159 Squadron typifies aspects of the human spirit, which any young man immersed within such a conflict would have likely experienced. Bill wore his heart, not just his sergeant’s stripes, on his sleeve. His story is a compelling, dignified account of an average man’s war from 1942 into 1944 in the UK, the Mediterranean, Africa, and onwards through his first operational tour based in India.

Matt Poole, an expert on 159 Squadron and RAF Liberator activities against the Japanese, seamlessly enhances Bill’s narrative with added historical detail. Although Bill passed away in 1994, Matt vowed, in retirement, to help bring the memoir to a wider audience.


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Foreword Introduction
A Wellington Delivery Adventure to Egypt
Egypt South Africa and Back to the
The Gauntlett Crew Forms Up at 1653 Conversion Unit
Initial Training at 1653 Conversion Unit
A Weekend Pass at Home
Flying Continues and Tragedy Strikes
Finishing Up at 1653 Conversion Unit
The 1943 Monsoon Season Continues
Operations Resume Again
November 1943
Leave to Naini
A Return to Operations
January 1944
March 1944
Early to MidApril 1944

RAF Lyneham
Onward to India and 159 Squadron
Bombing Operations Begin and the 1943 Monsoon Arrives
RAF Service after the 12 April 1944 Operation

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About the author (2017)

 As an RAF wireless operator/air gunner, the late Bill ‘Enoch’ Kirkness DFM of Horsforth, West Yorkshire, flew seventy-two ops from India on two tours, the first in a B-24 Liberator bombing role and the second primarily on air sea rescue assignments aboard Catalinas and Liberators. Post-war, he owned a signwriting business and hobby shop, Models and Militaria, and was a ham radio enthusiast.

Matt Poole, a retired US government geospatial analyst, has researched RAF Liberator operations in the Far East since 1990.

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