Following the Movement Card’s entry that this aircraft was with 542 Squadron from 1 Nov 1944, and then at 6 Maintenance Unit from 24 Sept 1945, checked the 542 Squadron Operations Record Books for that period. Sure enough, the ‘Records Of Events’ had 29 entries for this serial number starting 29 Nov 1944 and ending 24 Apr 1945. Here are screenshots of a few of those entries…
‘PL896’ also appears a number of times in 542 Squadron’s ‘B Flight Appendices’.
So there’s pretty convincing evidence that this airframe was in full service with 542 Squadron for 5 months starting 2 months after Brodby’s crash. What are the chances that he crashed and died in this plane (with no entry on the Movement Card), that the plane wreckage was quickly recovered and rendered serviceable once more (with again no Movement Card entry), and the plane then put back into action?
Pretty low, I’d say. It’s my understanding that crashed planes typically weren’t recovered at all, let alone straight away. And a crash which killed the crew would generally have damaged the plane fairly severely too, reducing its salvage value even if recovery was possible.
So it looks very much like the 16 Squadron Operations Record Books entry giving ‘PL896’ as the serial number of the plane Brodby crashed in is incorrect.