Monthly Archives: February 2013

Viewing the Effects of Bombing

A shocking image of Clogne Cathedral, showing the devastation caused to it by allied bombing.© Jimmy Wood collection.

A shocking image of Cologne Cathedral, showing the devastation caused to it by allied bombing.
© Jimmy Wood collection.

After finishing War Ops, the Banks crew flew 4 ‘Mana’ flights – dropping food over Holland, and 3 prisoner repatriation flights from Juvincourt in France. They then went on a flight that is described in the Squadron ORB as ‘Viewing the Effects of the Bombing Offensive’. In Jimmy’s logbook it is described as ‘BADEKER’

View this page from Jimmy’s logbook here

Coincidentally and many thanks to Martyn for spotting this, his uncle, part of the Meharry crew also flew on this raid – though strangely, the ORB lists them flying the day before…..

View Reuben’s log page here

I had not seen this name before – so thought I would do a little research;

from wikipedia;
“The Baedeker raids were conducted by the German Luftwaffe Luftflotte 3 in two periods between April and June 1942. They targeted strategically relatively unimportant but picturesque cities in England. The cities were reputedly selected from the German Baedeker Tourist Guide to Britain, meeting the criterion of having been awarded three stars (for their historical significance), hence the English name for the raids. Baron Gustav Braun von Stumm, a German propagandist is reported to have said on 24 April 1942 following the first attack, “We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide.”

The ‘BADEKER’ op flown by the Bank’s crew and another aircraft captained by F/O Douglas Fairbairn crossed Germany, flying over Walcheren, Munchen-Gladbach, Cologne, Wuppertal, Solingen, Hamm, Munster, Dortmund, Essen, Duisberg, Wesel and the Hague.

jimmy wood  001 12 essen krupps

Krupps works – Essen  jimmy wood  001 16  Cologne

A different kind of bombshell…..

jimmy wood  001 24 Ava Gardner BLOG

BEAUTY ON THE BEACH… Ava Gardner takes advantage of the early season sunshine to go to one of Southern California’s beaches in her new two-piece swim suit. Ava, under contract with Metro-Goldwyn Mayer, has finished a role with Kay Kyser in “Right About Fa…..(the word is cropped on the edge of the reverse of the photograph – I can’t identify a film by this name by either Ava or Kay – possibly it was renamed before it was released……)

A stunning publicity picture of Ava Gardner from Jimmy Wood’s photo album – Bombs Away Boys!!…..

Has ME450 popped up again….?!?

75 NZ018

From the photo album of Albert ‘Titch’ Haliday, a photograph of the mid upper gun of what I believe to be ME450 – an aircraft my father flew in a number of times in 1945.

Looking through the photographs that Ann sent me from her father’s photo album I was surprised to see the picture above. Although the first letter of the aircraft code seems to be obscured, I am inclined to believe this is a picture of the mid upper gun turret of ME450 AA-W ‘William’

As I have described in previous posts, Bob and his crew flew in the aircraft several times at the beginning of 1945. Subsequently I discovered a teaching article from the National Archive that told the story of a near brush of another crew in the same aircraft (here).

It would be amazing and strange if this is ‘William’ – looking through Titch’s logbook, it doesn’t seem that the Kilpatrick crew flew in this aircraft themselves.

Encouragingly, have looked through the aircraft list in ‘3 Group Bomber Command – An Operational Record’ by Chris Ward and Steve Smith, there seems to be only one aircraft in the Squadron which was a 450 – ME450………

New pictures from Ann – Albert ‘Titch’ Haliday – Kilpatrick crew

Skipper, Nav, B Aimer, Engineer, Wop

Some of the Kilpatrick crew – though not in the order listed above!:
L to R: Ray Tait, Jock Cattenach, Martin Kilpatrick, Ben Barton and Geoff Davenport.

Many thanks to Ann, daughter of ‘Titch’ Haliday for passing on a number of wonderful photographs that show images from ops and life at Mepal.

See the photographs here.

Glad to be going

jimmy wood  leaving party BLOG

“Leaving Do” – The Red Lion, Granchester, Cambridgeshire 1945.
Back row, L to R: Alex Hirst, Jack Britnall, Russell Banks.
Front row, L to R: Jock Fraser, Maurice Wiggins, Norman Allen (apparently wearing Russell’s jacket).
Foreground: Jimmy Wood.
© Jimmy Wood collection.

Though perhaps tinged with a little sadness that they would now be split up, I think this  picture captures the relief that any crew that were lucky enough to complete their tour would feel. Based on the changing responsibilities of the Squadron, with the creation of ‘Tiger Force’, it could well be that Russell and Alex found themselves initially preparing to stay, only to leave after the surrender of Japan. Once again, the records by this point are scant in detail and the sudden collapse of the Squadron regarding the end of the need for a bomber force for the Far East simply lists the large scale demobilisation of aircrew, rather than the specific departure of named individuals.

Surprisingly perhaps, I learnt from Jack Jarmy, my father’s navigator, that as a crew, they went out only occasionally. After they had learnt they were to be screened in 1943 after 21 ops, they all went on a final trip out to Cambridge – the faces in the picture would be different, but I am sure the sentiments would have been the same..

Mac Baigent & John Rodgers

BAIGENT, Wg Cdr Cyril Henry, DSO, DFC*, AFC, RNZAF. (NZ411973, 70038). Pilot, CO 6 Jan to 27 Sep 1945RODGERS A/Sqn Ldr. John Robert DFC, DFM, RNZAF. (NZ413956) Pilot 20 Sep 1944 to 28 Mar 1945 “B” Flt Cmdr.

Wing Commander Cyril Henry Baigent, DSO, DFC, AFC, RNZAF NZ411973/ 70038
Acting Squadron Leader. John Robert  Rodgers, DFC, DFM, RNZAF NZ413956 – “B” Flight Commander. © Jimmy Wood collection.

A fantastic image from Jimmy Wood’s photo album of Wing Commander Cyril ‘Mac’ Baigent and ‘B’ Flight Commander John Rodgers.

In discussion with Jimmy, it was clear that he had very fond memories of Mac Baigent and this might be something to do with W/C Baigent going with the Banks crew on their first op to Dresden. Cyril Baigent noted in his diary;

“Rather a long trip, so I thought I had better go! Flew F/L Banks and his crew on their first Op which probably rather shook them. Set course no trouble and apart from a little flak in the Frankfurt area, the trip to the target was fairly quiet. From some distance we could see the glow from earlier attacks on Dresden and Leipzig. A steady run in, in formation with another Lanc, and dropped right in the middle of large fires, on top of a red TI. After leaving the target, we looked back and saw clouds of smoke billowing up to 16,-17,000 feet. A spot of flak at Chemnitz and Brux but we had a fairly quiet trip home. Banks flew from Strasbourg. I took over and made a reasonable landing.”

from ‘Forever Strong’ The Story of 75 squadron RNZAF 1916-1990. Norman Franks. page 153

On the same trip, Norman Allen the Banks crew Mid Upper Gunner perhaps experienced the side of Baigent that had got him to the position of Wing Commander by the age of 22. A slow response to a radio check owing to the biting cold of the upper gun turret made Baigent accuse Norman of having fallen asleep. Apparently Norman in no uncertain terms explained that he had not been asleep and it was the cold and that perhaps the W/C should get heating fitted in his aircraft!.

A moment away from the war…..

Groundcrew (back row) versus aircrew (front row) football match. Jimmy is 4th from right, front row.© Jimmy Wood collection.

Groundcrew (back row) versus aircrew (front row) football match. Jimmy is 4th from right, front row.
© Jimmy Wood collection.

I couldn’t wait to put this fantastic picture up. Through trawling through the Squadron Operational Record Books, I am well aware of the frequent football matches that seemed to occur, either when the weather was too bad to fly, or the boys simply needed to do something else to take their minds off of the horrors of the night before.

Apart from Jimmy, i do not know the identities of any of the other boys in the photograph, but would obviously love to. The  only other information I can give is based on the period of time Jimmy was with the Squadron – February to June 1945.

As always, if you recognise anybody please contact me – lets try and put the teams back together again!