David Dancy

Story of a Flight Engineer


The crash site

The aircraft crashed near Sin Cowe island in the South China Sea. 09N52 114E19.

Sin Cowe is a member of the Spratly Islands. The last contact with the aircraft was at 11:57am on Tuesday 9th December. At 16:15 the Search And Rescue crew were alerted and, when no further news had been received, were despatched to do an emergency radio beacon search along VP254's intended track. Two more Shackletons took off around midnight to be in the search area at first light. During the first day a total of four Shackletons, three Hastings, one Sunderland and a Valetta searched in vain.

On the second day, the search area was adjusted to allow for the effects of tide, wind and currents. The search involved four Shackletons, three Hastings, six Valettas, two Bristol Freighters and two USAF Albatross aircraft.

Day three saw the Shackletons and Hastings continue the sea search, whilst the Bristol Freighters and Valettas searched land areas. The Search Planning Staff also moved from Changi to Labuan.

Then on the sixth day, another Shackleton from 205 Squadron over flew Sin Cowe and spotted the characters B205 written in large letters on the ground. The following day, 16th December 1958, the Royal New Zealand Frigate Rotoiti was despatched to investigate. A landing party arrived on Sin Cowe to find a shallow grave marked with a simple cross. They recovered the body of Flt Sgt Dancy and transferred it to HMS Albion. Helicopters from HMS Albion also recovered the cross from Sin Cowe and transferred both the cross and body to Labuan.

Over the six days of searching, a total of 726 hours were flown, nearly 286 by the four Shackletons of 205 Squadron.