ELSDON, THOMAS NIGEL CHARLES
Name: Thomas Nigel Charles Elsdon Rank/Branch: Wing Commander/Royal Air Force Unit: Age: Home City: Great Britain Date of Loss: 18 January 1991 Country of Loss: Iraq Loss Coordinates: Status: Remains Returned Acft/Vehicle/Ground: Tornado
Other Personnel in Incident: Robert M. Collier; Robert J. Stewart (both released)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 09 March 1991 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, published sources, interviews. Update 2002 by the POW NETWORK.
REMARKS: OPERATION DESERT STORM
SYNOPSIS: On January 16, 1991, Allied forces began concentrated air strikes on Iraqi military targets in Iraq and Kuwait. The United Kingdom had the second largest military contingent of troops after the U.S. with 35-40,000 troops, 75 Tornado fighter/bombers, and sixteen warships.
Three airmen - Flight Lieutenant Robert M. Collier, Wing Commander Thomas N.C. Elsdon, and Navigator Robert J. Stewart - were crewmen of Tornado GR1 fighter/bombers which flew in the early strikes of the war. Collier and Stewart were navigators, and Elsdon was a pilot. The Tornado generally carries two crew members, and it is not clear what the crew assignment was for these three. On January 18, 1991, Collier, Elsdon and Stewart were shot down and declared missing.
Beginning on January 20, Allied POWs began to appear on Iraqi television and radio making "peace statements." The men were clearly under great duress and apparently had been tortured. Despite condemnation from world leaders, the propaganda continued. Then during the last week of January, Iraq announced that it would no longer show Allied POWs on television. Many observers fear that the lack of media - even propaganda - will keep the POWs an international secret, limiting the chances the world community will demand their release.
According to national television, all Coalition POWs were released by March 6 except for one Kuwaiti. It was assumed that Collier, Elsdon and Stewart were among those released until we received the following:
From: "Mark Youngman" Subject: Royal Air Force 'Returnees' Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 20:46:48 +0100
Stumbled upon your site recently.
You may wish to amend your site.
Wing Commander Nigel Elsdon and Flight Lieutenant Max Collier were "returned" to the UK - in body bags.
I was there the night they died, some 15 nm NW of the Iraqi airfield at Shaibah. Their JP233 attack was successful, as was mine; we were flying auto terrain following at 150', at night, when they impacted the ground some 2 mins later no chutes, no locator beacons.