Warrant Officer Alvin Frederick LIEBICH
454 RAAF Squadron
Service No. 416220
Date of Birth: 23 Apr 1919
Place of Birth: Woodville, SA
Date of Enlistment: 24 Apr 1941
Date of Discharge: 14 Feb 1946
Rank: Warrant Officer
CREW: Baltimore FA574:S
Pilot - Peter Kennedy
Nav - Alvin Liebich
F/Sgt - Noel Fisher (KIA)
WAG - Jack Ganly
Below is an extract from Alamein to the Alps by Mark Lax (Pages 73-74)
The next day, the Squadron’s luck didn’t hold. Sergeant Peter Kennedy and crew flying long-range Baltimore FA574:S on an Aegean reconnaissance, failed to return. Conjecture in the Squadron was he had too little practice low flying and had hit the sea. Others felt he had engine trouble and diverted to Turkey or even Crete. The following night, after a light was reported flashing from the sea south of Scarpanto Island, an extensive search for them was carried out by the Air-Sea Rescue flight, but with no success. In fact Kennedy and crew had been hit by anti-aircraft fire, causing the port engine to cut. The aircraft hit the sea, bounced, turned sideways and came to a halt. It then rapidly sank.
Ex-POW Peter Kennedy was later to recall …
…we were flying below 100 ft when gunfire led to a ditching as an engine lost power. Our crew consisted of myself as pilot, Flight Sergeant Noel Fisher as WOP and turret gunner who was killed; Sergeant Jack Ganly , WOP/AG and Navigator/Bomb aimer Sergeant Alvin Liebich. We climbed into the aircraft’s inflatable dinghy, which floated up from the sunken aircraft and subsequently were taken ashore by Greek villagers in a small boat.
When Jack and I pulled Alvin into the dinghy, we found that he had suffered deep scalp wounds about 8 inches long and also a badly lacerated and crushed chest (I think broken ribs). He was in such pain that I injected him with two of the morphine ampoules from the dinghy’s medical kit.
After reaching shore at the village of Diafani [on Karpathos Island, also called Scarpanto], our wounds were treated by a Greek doctor who placed 32 stitches in Alvin’s head wounds and bandaged his
chest. There was no hospital available. We were arrested and imprisoned by the Germans in a small
concrete floored hall in Pigadia.
Alvin became so weak from his wounds and particularly from his chest, he could not reach his toes. [We] were obliged to tie shoelaces around his socks to prevent the cockroaches getting to his feet during the night.
Subsequently they were flown to Piraeus Harbour then transported by train to Salonika and eventually to Dulag Luft, near Frankfurt Germany. Alvin had only minor medical attention during the trip, but eventually recovered after suffering chest problems for the next two years. Dulag Luft was the German POW holding camp where initial interrogations were held. Here they found their final destination was to be Stalag IVB at Muhlberg, where they spent the rest of the war.