About

A portrait of Dad, I believe taken after he was commissioned in late 1943.

Sometime on Wednesday the 21st of July 1943, 14 young men arrived at an airfield in Cambridgeshire.

By the end of the following month, 2 would have left, 1 would be a prisoner of war and 6 would be dead.

The 5 that remained would be at the airfield for another 3 months. One of those 5 was my father.

This is his story, the story of the boys he flew with, of those that arrived before them and those that arrived after them.

My father was Robert Douglas ‘Jock’ Sommerville and the airfield was Mepal, the home of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

On the 29th August 2011 my father died. I knew he had flown in the war, but when sitting down to write a eulogy for his funeral service, I realised I knew nothing about that time in his life. Probably as a way of dealing with his loss I decided to start to try to find out about this period of Bob’s life and perhaps, why he had never spoken about it.

So far, its been an amazing journey. I have come into contact with so many people and it is their interest and generosity that has built the blog to the point where its currently is.

Starting with a simple desire to find out more about my own Father, it rapidly grew to provide information for relatives of other airmen in the Squadron and it is this constant contact that has let it grow beyond anything I could have imagined.

As time has progressed and my understanding of the Squadron has become clearer, I have found my efforts splitting between maintaining the blog and answering inquiries and trying to order and make sense of the Squadron records. A significant activity I have started is to transfer the Squadron Operational Record Books into a searchable database – by doing this, we will be able to see every airman who flew in every crew, in every Operation flown during the War. It will take a few years to complete, but will ultimately provide a definitive record of those that flew with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

I now know that ‘Jock’ had, based on his brevet of an Air Bomber, the second highest  total in the Squadron on War Ops – it took me 3 years to find this out and it was something, in truth, he never knew and would probably have not cared to know, if he had been told. But, as his son, it’s something that makes me incredibly proud of him as a man and as my Father.

I have no doubt that things will have to change once the database is complete. My original intention was to start with a website, but perhaps the task of starting from scratch was, at the time, simply too big a task. A dedicated website is now an inevitability – but the blog section of this WordPress site will stay come what may – it’s where this incredible journey began.

The blog has so far proved to me that there is still a deep respect and desire to know the stories of our Fathers, Grandfathers, and Uncles and it is this task that they have entrusted to us. We must all ensure that their stories are told and never forgotten and most importantly I believe, that these stories of 75(NZ) Squadron and the braves boys that flew in it are held for younger generations to discover and understand.

If you read this and either have an interest in 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, or have a story about a relative who flew with the squadron, please contact me, the stories of these brave boys need to be told and understood before they are lost forever.

You can contact me at

info@75nzsquadron.com

many thanks for your interest and care.

Simon

183 thoughts on “About

  1. woody

    Wow ! – what a fantastic website – so much useful information.

    I seem to have 2 distant cousins on both sides of the family who died while serving with 75 Squadron:

    Geoffrey G Turner
    Cyril Taylor

    quite a bizarre coincidence albeit i’m sure i’m not unique in this. The information on this site has been extremely helpful in providing information about their service which is otherwise very difficult to obtain.

    Thank you for this site – it is a fantastic resource

    Kind Regards

    Woody

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  2. Niki Greene

    Sgt. Frederick Phillip Willsher (rear gunner) was my great uncle, and my nan died never really knowing the full story of what happened to him, I wish we had found your website earlier. I hope you do not mind but I have cut and pasted the info about his last flight 25.05.1943 onto the MyHeritage family tree and have cited the source. Thank you again for providing such valuable information.
    Kind Regards
    Niki

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  3. David sparrow

    Excellent information! fascinating

    My grandfather was Ralph Charles Sparrow R1263518
    tail gunner with 75th squadron C flight and flew 16of 32 missions in HK601 JN-D I can’t stop digging for more info.

    well put together

    can’t wait to show all this info to my other family members.

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  4. Neil Frank Sandeman

    My father was Squadron Leader Frank Albert Sandeman who joined the Royal Air Force Volunteers Reserve on 5th February 1938 and served to 21st March 1946.
    He was with 75 Squadron 14.10.42 to 23 .4 .43 at Mildenhall ,Oakington and Newmarket.
    He was mentioned in dispatches on 24th September 1941 and awarded the Air Force Cross on 17th July 1942.
    He passed away on 11th November 1977.

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