For 2014, 230 Squadron based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire have painted a Eurocopter Puma HC2 in a special colour scheme to commemorate their 95th anniversary.
Newly upgraded ZJ955 was painted black and Far East Asia Command roundel and markings applied, similar to a Shorts Sunderland named ‘Black Peter’ from the squadron’s past.
Coded 'P-for-Peter', Shorts Sunderland JM673 was painted in a non-standard black colour scheme for use in dawn and dusk attacks on enemy ships in the Bay of Bengal, and kept the blue and white South East Asia Command (SEAC) national insignia.
JM673 was usually flown by the Officer Commanding of 230 Squadron, Wing Commander Dundas Bednall but whilst deployed, his aircraft was used by other pilots.
On Tuesday 28th November 1944, Black Peter was flown by 26 year old Flight Lieutenant Kenneth Ingham of the Royal Australian Air Force to fly an anti-submarine sortie over the eastern coast of Ceylon, Sri Lanka. The aircraft took off from RAF Koggala at 06:45 local time and was scheduled to return at 20:00.
Over the course of the morning the weather deteriorated and the station’s Meteorological officer observed a cyclone stirring up to the east of Black Peter’s patrol area.
At 12:45 a wireless transmission a weather recall message was sent out to the aircraft but there was no reply. Messages were continuously sent out until 22:57.
JM673 was filled with 2000 Gallons of fuel, enabling her to stay airbourne for a maximum of 15 hours – so by 22:57 any chance of the aircraft returning was impossible.
A huge search effort lasting many days found nothing and to this day, Black Peter is still missing along with it’s crew:
Pilot: Flt Lt Kenneth Ingham
Co Pilot: Flt Lt Alfred Gilbert
Flight Engineer: PO Reginald Walliker
Navigator: Flt Lt John Bennett
W/Op: Flt Sgt Edgar Williams
W/Op: Flt Sgt Alfred Bonner
WOM: Sgt Dennis Underwood
F/ME: Flt Sgt David Crawford
Air Gunner: FO Sydney Cary
Air Gunner: Flt Sgt Reginald Juffs
Aswell as 230 Squadron’s 95th anniversary, 2014 marks the 70th year since Black Peter did not return.