landing among hostiles'
in the form of heavy and light bombers were delivered to Nassau
by pilots direct from the manufacturers in Canada and the United
During the Northern Hemisphere winter, delivery of aircraft
in World War 2 by RAF transport command to the United Kingdom
and beyond was carried out from Nassau in the Bahamas by
No. 45 Atlantic Squadron's No. 113 Operation Wing. Squadron
member Flight Lieutenant John Carroll (ret'd) describes
an adventure he had on one journey.
Planes en route to the United Kingdom would set course from Ascension
Island for Casablanca, while those bound for north Africa or India
would land at Accra Gold Coast (now Ghana).
On August 19, 1944, my crew, after 48 hours spent at Accra, set
course in aircraft Dakota KG 789 for Kano, Nigeria.
The weather report we received before departure was normal, with
the exception of some squalls.
Flying time from Accra to Kano in a Dakota normally took slightly
less than five hours, but four hours into the journey we encountered
The pilot took evasive action but the ferocity of the wind, rain
and electrical storm could not be avoided.
We lost all navigational and wireless aids and spent the next hour
or so seeking out emergency landing strips, but those we located
Fuel was becoming short so thought had to be given to an emergency
At dusk, and with the plane hopelessly off course, a decision had
to be made whether to abandon the aircraft or crash-land.
We chose the latter, because if the pilot could save the aircraft
by performing a wheels-up landing, at least all members
of the crew would be safely housed in the fuselage.
It should be remembered that during our briefing we were warned
that much of Nigeria was swarming with dangerous animals and that
the natives were hostile.
Before crash-landing, a corn patch was sighted briefly through the
broken cloud. The pilot decided that, even though it contained numerous
trees, the patch would make a suitable crash-landing site.
On approach a propeller clipped a fence but we managed to belly
land after the engines stalled at about 65mp/h (110km/h).
A small fire in the port engine was extinguished and the aircraft
and crew found themselves safely back on terra firma.
As it was dusk we could just make out the figures of the natives
behind trees and among head-high corn stalks.
Night fell and after treating our cuts and bruises we settled into
our temporary home.
After a night of mosquito raids, dawn came and we endeavoured to
make radio contact with the base.
I was eventually successful and passed on our position, thanks to
the work of the navigator, who spent the night shooting the
stars on his sextant. That was our only contact with the RAF
for 48 hours.
By daylight a whole tribe of Nigerians had gathered in wonderment
near the big metal bird.
At the height of the excitement a small boy approached and spoke
to us in English. He was the son of the chief and was back visiting
his people on school holidays.
Naturally, we were very relieved to see him; he said his father
would meet us later in the day.
About an hour later there was much activity around the aircraft.
Grass huts were erected and the chief and his entourage held court
in the largest one.
The chief was very hospitable and offered food and water. His son
told us that people from his tribe relayed news of our crash to
neighbouring tribesman by running in relay.
Late in the afternoon we were visited by a missionary on a motorbike
who had heard of our plight from natives.
About 4pm the next day a rescue crew arrived, having left their
vehicles about 20 miles (32km) from our position.
Is the compass in the aircraft? the Officer in Charge
asked. We assured him it was and from that point on he was much
The party stripped the aircraft of its sensitive and secret equipment
and, after bidding thanks and goodbye to the chief, we set off on
horseback to our transport, which was to take us to Gusau about
200 miles (320km) away.
On arrival in Gusau we were immediately hospitalised for a week
as a precautionary measure. We left Accra aboard a RAF transport
aircraft and returned to Nassau on August 31.
Footnote: Since my experience in Nigeria I have kept in touch with
the Nigerian people through the High Commission and am forever grateful
for their hospitality towards our crew.
Through the High Commission and the RAF, I have received information
which shows that the Dakota was recovered from the village
Tallato on September 7, 1944.
On January 1, 1947, having been made airworthy, the aircraft was
handed over to the Nigerian Government.