Daily Archives: February 25, 2012

The McCartin crew

The crew of ND911 JN-V. Back row L to R; P/O John Miles (Nav), F/O Patrick ‘Leo’ McCartin (Pilot), F/O Leonard Martin (A/B), F/Sgt. Phillip Smith (WOP). Front row L to R; Sgt. John Gray (R/Gnr), Sgt. Dennis Bryer (Mug), Sgt. John Warlow (FE)

Just received the promised material from Paul and Jim about their relatives. Leo and Phil were Pilot and Wireless Operator respectively on Lancaster ND911 when the aircraft and all but one of its crew were lost on a raid to the infamous target of Homberg on the night of the 20th November 1944. The plane exploded in mid-air, killing all the crew probably instantaneously, apart from the rear gunner, John Gray, who came round from momentary unconsciousness, still in the tail of the aircraft. He baled out and survived, to spend the rest of the war as a PoW. This is the first time I have actually dealt with information relating to a loss – I think I find the experience all the more profound because of the incredible and heart wrenching set of letters Paul has passed to me relating to the official notification of Leo’s initial status of ‘missing’ from the Australian Air Force and the handwritten correspondence from Leo’s father trying to find out his sons fate and ultimately his final resting place – I don’t feel embarrassed to say I had tears in my eyes as I read them….