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 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


many thanks for your interest and care.


93 thoughts on “About

  1. Mike

    Hello Simon,
    I’m just after any information you may have on my grandad, who I believe flew with the 75(nz) squadron till his aircraft was shot down and became a pow he was F/O Joseph James ‘Joe’ Wakerley RAFVR 1325219/169159. Wireless Operator. I don’t have a lot of information on him or even a picture, as time has taken it’s toll. I am trying to find out more about him as I never had the opportunity to pay my respect to him

  2. Bryan Strong

    How do I go about finding the details of Russell James Scott (RNZAF) from 75 who died March 1945?

    1. 75nzsquadron Post author

      Hi Brian
      As a member of the RNZAF it might be worth contacting them regarding his service record – I don’t know what the policy is regarding access to these files, though I know for the RAF its nigh on impossible unless you are a relative. I would also suggest you have a look in Errol Martyn’s excellent “For your Tomorrow” – this will contain a fairly detailed biography of Russell’s pre 75(NZ) Squadron RAF history.

  3. Johnny Gray.

    kia ora.Tony checking in for the first time. My Dad( Edward Ted Henare Gray) flew with No75 squadron wireless op and midupper gunner under pilots Wall and Joll, great blogg keep it up will be watching!

  4. Mike

    Hi Simon,
    Do you have any information on W/C Reginald Sawrey-Cookson? My father flew with him as a Rear Gunner when he was with 149 Squadron whilst attacking the Scharnhorst & Gneisenau when they were in Brest Harbour on 30 March 1941. I believe that the W/C was the CO of 75 Squadron at one time. I also know that he was shot down & killed in April 1942. Any additiuonal information on him would be great.

    Best wishes
    Mike Seymour

    1. Mrs S A Ramsey

      Hello Mike, My husband, Neil Ramsey, who died two weeks ago age 95 was a great pal of Sawrey-Cookson and told some wonderful tales about him, especially of dealings with his father in law ! Sue Ramsey.

      1. Mike

        Hello Mrs Ramsey,
        Thank you for this interesting information and I am sorry to hear about recently losing your husband Neil. Reginald Sawrey-Cookson’s wife was called Joan and I have a copy of her signature, so I would be interested to hear any tales about her father & the Wing Commander. I have contacted his family and they live in the Lake District. Apparently, he was a fantastic pilot and a very brave man. Following his death in 1942 he was recommended by his Commanding Officer for a posthumous VC but, regretfully, it was never sanctioned.

        Best wishes

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