The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. J Bayly
James Bayly was born at Waitara, New Zealand on 18th March 1917 and educated at New Plymouth Boys High School. In 1934 he became an apprentice electrician. On 1st September 1938 he joined the Civil Reserve of Pilots and gained his 'A' Licence at the Western Federated Aero Club.
Called for full-time service at the outbreak of war, Bayly completed his ground training and then went to 2 EFTS New Plymouth.
In late January 1940 he was posted to 2 FTS Woodbourne and gained his wings on 2nd May. He sailed for the UK on 12th July in the RMS Rangitane.
After arriving on 27th August 1940 Bayly went to No. 1 RAF Depot Uxbridge the next day. He was posted from there to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 11th September and after converting to Hurricanes joined 111 Squadron at Drem on the 28th.
Bayly was posted from 111 Squadron to 4 Ferry Pilot Pool Kemble on 11th December 1940. He became ill in January 1941, spending a month in hospital. In his absence, he was posted to RAF Kemble for a twin-engine conversion course, after which he went to an aircraft ferry and maintenance unit at St. Athan.
In February 1942 he converted to Hudsons at RAF Oulton and in March he was posted to India. He flew from Cornwall in a Hudson, via Gibraltar, Mersa Matruh, Iraq, Persia and Karachi to Delhi. Bayly's first job was as a staff pilot at a parachute training school, flying Vickers Valentias at 70 mph.
He returned to operations on 4th January 1943, going to 62 (Bomber) Squadron at Cuttack.
On the night of 16th March he was detailed to attack Japanese positions at Magwe. The Hudson's radio was knocked out and the port engine badly damaged by heavy anti-aircraft fire over the target.
Bayly decided to switch off the engine and head for Chittagong. The starboard fuel tank ran low and it was impossible to switch to the port one because of damage to the fuel lines. He could not reach Chittagong on the little fuel left and, after some discussion with his crew, it was decided to turn inland and bale out before the now-faltering starboard engine stopped, a forced-landing in the jungle being out of the question.
After they landed, it took the four men two days to find each other. Friendly Bengalis helped them to evade Japanese patrols and they eventually reached Chittagong.
On return to Cuttack, the subsequent Court of Enquiry found that Bayly had made an error of judgement in switching off the port engine too soon. The finding resulted in Bayly having a heated verbal exchange with his CO and it was recommended that he be reduced in rank and disciplined.
At an interview, the AOC told Bayly that he considered the right action had been taken in the Hudson but that Bayly's insubordination could not be overlooked and he forfeited a year's seniority.
To his relief Bayly did not return to 62 Squadron but he and his crew were posted to 31 (Transport) Squadron. After a short leave in Calcutta, Bayly remained behind to see the adjutant and his crew sent ahead in a Dakota. The aircraft crashed soon after take-off and they were all killed.
Commissioned in October 1943, Bayly flew Dakotas with 31 Squadron until 9th April 1944 carrying out supply drops to the Army, often in hazardous conditions. He returned to New Zealand and in September 1944 he became a staff pilot at the School of Navigation.
In November Bayly became a Dakota captain with 40 (Transport) Squadron at Whenuapai. He was released from the RNZAF in June 1945.
He died on 15th February 2002 in Nelson, New Zealand.