Denis Frederick Buist
- Born: 29 Apr 1921, 8 Alberta Street, Southwark, London, SE17 3SD, GB
- Baptised: 22 May 1921, St. Mary's Church (Newington), 57 Kennington Park Road, Camberwell, Southwark, London, SE11 4JH, GB
- Died: 14 Oct 1944, Chittagong Airfield [now Shah Amanat International Airport ], Patenga, Chittagong, BD aged 23
- Buried: 15 Oct 1944, Chittagong Civil Cemetery (Military Extension), Chittagong, BD
Cause of his death was killed in action in World War II.
Another name for Denis was Den Buist.
After joining the RAF as a Halton Apprentice, Denis served on 106 Squadron as an Aircraft Fitter. He then volunteered for Pilot Training and went to the USA in 1940/41(?). He completed his training in 1943 and converted onto Bristol Beaufighters. After a number of ferry flights, Dennis was posted to 89 Squadron and was posted out to India then on to Burma in 1944.
[Source: Peter Buist]
Halton Apprenticeship (No. 1 School of Technical Training, RAF Halton, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, HP22 5PG)
Entrance to the scheme involved a highly competitive exam, intelligence and aptitude tests, and medical examinations. Admittance was limited exclusively to males between the ages of 15 and 17½ and the Royal Air Force assumed legal guardianship of the boys in loco parentis.
Initially, training was a three-year course, although this was changed briefly to two years for some apprentice entries during the Second World War. Training took place over five and a half days a week, and consisted of both academic and practical training. In addition, basic military training was given.
Based on Peter's information, Den would have undertaken his apprenticeship from 1937-40 (age 16 to 19) approx. and then served as an Aircraft Fitter in 109 Squadron from 1940-42(?) before undertaking pilot training in 1942-43.
Pilot training changed during the war from 34 weeks in 1941 to 51-53 weeks by 1944. In 1941 it would have consisted of: Initial Training School (8 weeks), Elementary Flying Training School (10 weeks), Service Flying Training School (16 weeks), "Wings", Operational Training Unit (4-6 weeks). By 1944 it had changed to: Initial Training School (17 weeks), Elementary Flying Training School (10 weeks), Service Flying Training School (20 weeks), "Wings", Advanced Training (14-16 weeks for fighters). At the moment we do not know how long Den's training was but assume that it was probably about 52 weeks.
[Source: RAF Museum]
Den's pilot training took place at No. 4 British Flying Training School (BFTS), Falcon Field, 4800 Falcon Drive, Mesa, AZ 85215. He was first in the "Wings" examination and graduated on 19 Feb 1943.
Would need Den's log book to find out where/when he converted onto the Bristol Beaufighter and where/when he made the ferry flights.
RAF Transport Command was established on 25 March 1943 by the renaming of RAF Ferry Command and was responsible for ferrying planes from factories to operational units.
From Jun-Aug 1944, 89 squadron was based at Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. From 18 Aug 1944 it was based at Baigachi, West Bengal, India.
At the time, the squadron was equipped with the Bristol Beaufighter Mark VIF, a night fighter equipped with Airborne Interception (AI) Mark VIII radar. The latter was the first operational microwave-frequency air-to-air radar.
The Mk VIF was powered by the Hercules VI, providing 1,670hp. The more powerful engine had a bigger impact on the Beaufighter's ability to carry heavy loads than on its top speed, which only increased by 10mph. However, the extra power allowed the Mk VIF to be equipped with bomb racks, allowing it to carry two 250lb bombs. A rear firing Vickers K gun was fitted to the observer's canopy. The Mk VI could also carry another 74 gallons of fuel, increasing its range by 350 miles. The Mk VIF began to use the AI Mk VI or Mk VII, centimetric radar that gave significantly clearer radar signals, but required a thimble shaped radome on the nose to carry the new radar aerials.
Den had joined 89 Sq. by July 1944, presumably in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka. On 21 Sep he was part of a detachment of three aircraft sent from Baigachi to Chittagong.
[Source: Squadron log]
Den "aborted very late for some unexplained reason, and the aircraft over-ran the runway to drop 18 feet [6 metres], on its back in a padi field. FS Buist, a first-class pilot, strapped to his seat, was drowned before rescuers could get to him."
He was probably unconscious but, if not, he would have had great difficulty getting out:
..."the pilot [sat] in a fighter-type cockpit. The navigator-radar operator sat to the rear under a small Perspex bubble where the Beaufort's dorsal turret had been. Both crew-members had their own hatch in the floor of the aircraft. The front hatch was behind the pilot's seat. As there was no room to climb around the seat-back, the back collapsed to allow the pilot to climb over and into the seat. In an emergency, the pilot could operate a lever that remotely released the hatch, grasp two steel overhead tubes and lift himself out of his seat, swing his legs over the open hatchway, then let go to drop through. Evacuating the aircraft was easier for the navigator, as the rear hatch was in front of him and without obstruction."
[Source: various (Wikepedia)]
FSs [Flight Sergeants] Denis Frederick Buist/'Tiny' Watts took off for a NFT [Night Flight] of V8455 (S) [a Bristol Beaufighter Mk. VIf] but aborted very late for some unexplained reason, and the aircraft over-ran the runway to drop 18 feet [6 metres], on its back in a padi field. FS Buist, a first-class pilot, strapped to his seat, was drowned before rescuers could get to him. 'Tiny' Watts suffered slight injuries. Buist was buried in the Chittagong Cemetery, the service being attended by all detachment personnel, including S/L [Squadron Leader] Morison, and F/O [Flying Officer] Brindley, who was about to take off after Buist when the accident occured.
Noted events in his life were:
• Godfather: Alfred A. Warren (Fred Buist's church choirmaster).
• Residence, 29 Apr 1921, 8 Alberta Street, Southwark, London, SE17 3SD, GB.
• Residence, 1923-1926, 106 Lindsey Road, Chadwell Heath, Dagenham, London, RM8 2RB, GB.
• Residence, 1926-1934, 163 Bellingham Road, Catford, Lewisham, London, SE6 1EQ, GB.
• Residence, 1934-1939, 776 Holderness Road, Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU9 3JR, GB.
• Military: Flight Sergeant (Pilot), 89 Squadron, 573687 (service no.), 1937-1944.
• Military, Jul 1944 to 18 Aug 1944, RAF Vavuniya, Vavuniya, LK. 89 Sq. was based at Vavuniya from 26 Oct 1943 to 29 Mar 1944 and 25 Jun to 18 Aug 1944
• Military, 18 Aug 1944 to 21 Sep 1944, RAF Baigachi, Ashoknagar, West Bengal, IN.
• Military, 21 Sep 1944 to 14 Oct 1944, Chittagong Airfield [now Shah Amanat International Airport ], Patenga, Chittagong, BD.
• Re-burial, 16 Feb 1946, Chittagong War Cemetery, 19 Badsha Mia Chowdhury Road, Dampara, Chittagong, BD. Grave No.5, Row F, Plot 5.