I get a mail fro Wayne – he’s doing a trawl through the 600 pages of the 1943 Operational Record Book (ORB). Based on an earlier offer on the forum, I send him a pdf of Bob’s logbook – a fair trade methinks……
I get an email from Dom, one of the moderators on the Lancaster Archive forum, with a request from Wayne for my email. I give it to him straight away – I’m keen to develop a network and appreciate that there may be requirements to deal with things ‘off forum’
I feel a bit disappointed that there doesn’t seem to be much information out on the web regarding 75(NZ) Squadron. I find a site for the 75(NZ) Association in New Zealand, which excites me, but there doesn’t actually seem to be anything in it of use. My spirits are raised when I come across ‘The Crew of AA-U, a small, but very personal website about the aircrew of that aircraft. The site seems to have been created by the Pilot, Allan Alexander a New Zealander and it details not only the individuals that flew, but also the raids that the boys completed. Very interestingly, Allan’s crew seem to have closely mirrored Bob’s first tour regarding raids and there is an email address – I send a mail and cross my fingers…….
Jim follows up Wayne’s post with a set of images from the 1944 ORB for the raid on Witten. Fascinatingly, the record of the raid notes that Vernon Zinzan landed heavily on return, resulting in the Air Bomber F/O Mesure sustaining a broken leg – I wonder if this was the start of a chain of events that resulted in Bob becoming the bomb aimer for Vernon’s crew?
Wayne comes back on the forum with a crew list from 1943
18 November 43. Attack Against Targets At Mannheim.
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000 lbs and incendiaries of 30 lbs and 4 lbs. Two aircraft returned early, but the remainder successfuly dropped their bombs in the target area. Large concentrated fires and huge explosions were seen. There was a moderate heavy A.A. Barrage and searchlights were fairly active. Many enemy aircraft were seen and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The weather was good, being clear at the target except for slight ground haze. Navigation was very good.
Stirling III LJ457……………Up 17:35 Down 23:35
P/O Mayfield, A…………….Captain
F/S Hunt, R…………………2nd Pilot
F/O Jarmy, J………………..Nav
Sgt Sommerville, R………….A/B
F/S Lake, W………………..W/Op
Sgt Warburton, A……………F/Eng
Sgt Derbyshire, T……………M/U/Gnr
F/S Hulena, J………………..R/Gnr
Its quite a weird feeling to be looking at a full crew list with Bob’s name it – suddenly this all seems too real and exciting and amazing – all at the same time. I’m seeing Bob as part of a crew now, not an individual and with a job within that crew……..
The raid description is also fascinating – do these descriptions exist for all the raids?
A trip down to Mums at the weekend turns up a picture of Bob with 3 other guys. they all have a badge on their left pocket. Bob’s ‘B’ for bomber, or air bomber is clearly visible – but they don’t seem to have any rank indication on their uniform – I wonder when and where this photograph was taken? I wonder if I will ever know?
I post the picture on the Lancaster Archive Forum – a ridiculously long shot I know, but nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess – I also wonder out loud if the ORB contains crew lists?