Monthly Archives: March 2013

A visit to the Palace, 7th July 1967

Mum Dad and Sj at the Palace

Mum (with me), Dad and middle sister Sandra, outside the gates of Buckingham Palace, I assume, prior to the tea party.

Invitation to the Palace

I really haven’t done anything since I set up the blog regarding gathering information about dad after the war – so to make amends, here is the first of a few ‘post war’ posts, as it were, to tell a little bit of Bob and the family’s life after he came out of the RAF.

This first post dates from 4 months before I was born – so I am claiming a technical presence in this photo and therefore by extrapolation the visit to the Palace to see the Queen…….

I actually don’t know much more about this photo or the day, so I will ask my sister Sandra for her recollections and will add a little more to this as and when.

Flying Officer and Mrs Sommerville – 22nd May 1945

dad group 1013

So…….family folklore has it that some time in 1944 Bob, with another airman had to represent his squadron (based on his records either No. 3 Lancaster Finishing School, Feltwell or, No.1 Air Armament School, Manby) at a burial of I assume, of an airman.

History does not tell us where the funeral was, but it would appear the boys rolled up at the Imperial Hotel in Henley-on-Thames. On entering the Imperial’s reception, the boys saw a young girl, acting as receptionist behind the desk. Apparently Dad turned to his companion and whispered ‘I’m going to marry that girl……’

Some months later, on the 22nd of May 1945, he did.
wedding day 001wedding day 005wedding telegram 001 wedding telegram 002 wedding telegram 003 wedding telegram 004wedding telegram 005 wedding telegram 006 wedding telegram 007

RAF Bishops Court No. 7 Air Navigation School – 1946

Bishops Court 1946 COs

Pete, Alf and Tommy. Bishops Court 1946

Jimmy, Mike and me, Bishops Court, April 1946.

Jimmy, Mike and me, Bishops Court, April 1946.

Bishops Court 1946 group

Flying Control Staff. Bishops Court, April 1946

Dad’s service record shows that on the 5th May 1945 he was posted to Aircrew Allocation Centre (ACAC). On the 16th June he was transferred to RAF Halfpenny Green, Wolverhampton. This airfield was constructed between mid-1940 and early 1941 for use by the Royal Air Force, being initially named RAF Bobbington. The name was changed on 1 September 1943 to RAF Halfpenny Green, to avoid confusion with RAF Bovingdon in Hertfordshire. The unit disbanded on 13 November 1945.

Bob’s service record lists him at ‘RAF Sqd/ Sch Flying Control’ between 16th July and 26th August.

On the 27th of September 1945 he is posted to No. 7 Air Navigation School. I believe this to be at Bishops Court in Northern Ireland. On the 23rd September his record states ‘7 ANS Flight Control Officer (Flight Lieutenant)’ I know the above pictures to be from Bishops Court, as they say so on the back of them – however, I don’t know what Bob’s position or duties were.

On a rare occasion of talking about this time, dad said that he used to come home to mum quite regularly and that if is his travel card wasn’t checked or taken ( I can’t remember what he said), he would have it for another trip – it also sounded like he was able to bring food and the like back with him to augment rations at home…….

Hopefully putting this up and adding a few tags might get a few answers……

More information on ‘Tap’ Heperi

Photo: Next Graduating Squadron, No. 3 Wireless School, Squadron 65,  Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, September 1943. From WAGMag, September 43 issue, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.

Photo: Next Graduating Squadron, No. 3 Wireless School, Squadron 65, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, September 1943.
From WAGMag, September 43 issue, Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum.

Many thanks as always to Chris, for sending me the following information on Tapua Heperi that he initially came across whilst researching his uncle, Gerry:

Early in my research into my uncle’s service and Wireless Operator training in Canada, I came across a copy of the September 1943 issue of “WAGMag”, the monthly magazine of No 3 Wireless School in Winnipeg, and was excited to see a graduating class photo of 65 Squadron, with Gerry sitting front and centre!

Notable amongst the names listed below the photo was a “T. Heperi” – I hadn’t been expecting to see a Maori surname – and its owner “Tap Heperi” features prominently elsewhere in both this and the June and July issues of WAGMag, in 65 Squadron (class) news and various station sports results. Obviously respected by his peers, (and promoted to the rank of Corporal by the time he graduated) he is mentioned as a Squadron “senior”:

Class seniors, Tap Heperi, Errol Oakley and Jim Sutherland, are due a lot of credit for untiring representation throughout the entire course. From the boys, “thanks a lot”.”

He is mentioned as a member of the Squadron boxing team, and in a report of an away boxing match on June 30th 1943, against No.33 SFTS Carberry:

“Tapuli (sic) Hepiri took the only other decision for No. 3, when he outfought, outboxed and outgrimaced the heavy LAC Ayres from Carberry. Both boxers went at it hammer and tongs for three rounds, but Hepiri was slightly faster and used his left and his deceptive hip movement to advantage.”

– and again in games of “rugger” against Carberry on July 16th, and against No.5 AOS on 21 August 1943, where he helped “provide the power” in the forwards:

Outstanding of these is LAC Heperi, class senior for “A” flight. Tall and well built, this Maori lad likes plenty of fast action, having recently transferred his attention from punching opponents to kicking their shins. With LAC Hicks, another Newzie, he represented the squadron in rugger against Carberry some little time ago.

He must have been quite a sportsman!

Later, when I started to work my way through the the Wood crew’s op’s in the 75 ORBs, Dec 44 – April 45, it was another surprise to see the name of T. Heperi pop up as W/Op in the Clements crew! So I guess that Gerry would have known him well.

After the War, Tapua Peter Heperi apparently owned a dairy farm in in the Okaihau Valley, Northland, and archival National Film Unit footage exists of he and his family on the farm in the ’60’s. Although no longer with us, Google turns up another Tap Heperi, a singer of some note, who was born 8 October 1943 in Rawene, Northland, NZ, quite possibly conceived on final leave before his Dad shipped off to Canada!


The loss of EF137 and its crew remembered.

440423vemmenascrew Left- Harrison, Larson, Bailey, Lammas and Vaughan copy enlarged version

Five of the crew of EF137: from L to R, William Harrison, Ivar Larson, Robert Bailey, Manson Lammas and Douglas Vaughan.

Thanks to Kevin for passing details of this page on Søren’s website and many thanks for Søren for letting me have permission to reproduce the details and pictures here.

Despite the appalling documented loss the Squadron suffered, this is the first time I have actually seem images such as these of a crashed 75(NZ) aircraft on enemy soil. It’s no less sobering given the years to see these pictures and it shows in no uncertain terms the frailty of the aircraft and the brave boys that flew in them night after night during the war.

The following is from Søren’s website ‘Airwar Over Denmark’ and can be viewed here

Stirling III EF137 crashed near Vemmenæs east of the island of Tåsinge 23/4-1944.
The aircraft belonged to RAF 75 Sqn Bomber Command and was coded AA-E. T/o 20:42 Mepal. OP: Gardening Radish (Fehmern Belt).

440423vemmenas3 Finn Buch composite of 3

Three views of the crash sites. The left hand image clearly shows the tail plane section of the aircraft with its twin tail wheels visible. The other 2 images show the remains of the rest of the aircraft that came down nearby.
images supplied by Finn Buch

Outbound EF137 was attacked by a German night fighter believed to have been piloted by Oberfeldwebel Rudolf Frank of 3./NJG 3. A fire started and a little later the bomber disintegrated in the air and fell in the sea off Vemmenæs at 23:20 hours killing the whole crew. The tail plane fell in a field belonging to “Gravvængegaard” not far from where the fuselage fell.
At 24/4 at 03:42 it was reported by The Civil Air Defence that 3 bodies had been found. One had been found in the sea while two had fallen to their death in the fields.
At 09:15 it was reported that 7 bodies had been found. Two was found in the sea, one in some scrub near the beach while Tail gunner Larson was found in his turret.

Four mines which were found, were detonated by the Wehrmacht on 26/4.

440423vemmelammas  (Via Ole Kraul)  crew portraits composite

Pilot F/S Mauson Lammas RNZAF, Navigator F/S Douglas Vaughan RNZAF, Air Bomber F/S Robert Bailey RNZAF, W/Op Sgt William Harrison RAF and R/Gnr Sgt Ivar Larson
Lammas, Harrison & Larson images supplied by Ole Kraul. Vaughn & Bailey images supplied by Finn Buch

Pilot F/S Mauson Lammas RNZAF, Navigator F/S Douglas W. Vaughan RNZAF, Air Bomber F/S Robert Bailey RNZAF, W/Op Sgt William F. Harrison RAF, Flt. Engr. Sgt Edwin H. Thomas RAF, Air Gnr. Sgt Patrick F. Butler RAF and Air Gnr. Sgt Ivar Larson RCAF were transported to Aabenraa by the Wehrmacht and were laid to rest in Aabenraa cemetery on 1/5 1944.

Thomas was laid to rest in a separate grave while his comrades were placed in a common grave.

On 23/4 1994 a memorial erected. Speeches were given by Bishop Vincent Lind as well as the British Ambassador Hugh Arbutnot.

Additional crew information is as follows;
The Lammas crew arrived at Mepal on the 21st March 1944. Their stay with the Squadron was, tragically short.
26.3.44. Attack Against Targets at Coutrai – Stirling Mk.III EF462 (flight/ designator unknown)
5.4.44. Mining off La Rochelle – Stirling Mk.III EF233 (flight/ designator unknown)
23.4.44. Mining in Kiel Bay – Stirling Mk.III EF137 AA-E. FAILED TO RETURN

P/O Mauson Lammas RNZAF. (NZ421728) Pilot. Died Sunday 23rd April, age 30. Buried Aabenraa Cemetery Denmark.

F/Sgt Douglas William Vaughan RNZAF. (NZ429046) Navigator. Died Saturday 23rd April 1944, age 28. Buried Aabenraa Cemetery Denmark.

F/Sgt Robert Bailey RNZAF. (NZ429072), Air Bomber. Died Sunday 23 April 1944, age 20. Buried Aabenraa Cemetery, Denmark.

Sgt William Frederick Harrison RAFVR (1396448) Wireless Operator. Died Sunday 23rd April 1944, age 21. Buried Aabenraa Cemetery Denmark.

Sgt Edwin Henry Thomas RAFVR (1811856) Flight Engineer. Died Sunday 23rd April 1944, age 35. Buried Aabenraa Cemetery Denmark.

Sgt Patrick Frederick Butler RAFVR (1384944) Mid Upper Gunner. Died Monday 24 April 1944, age 21. Buried Aabenraa Cemetery, Denmark.

Sgt Ivar Larson RCAF  (R.192316) Rear Gunner. Larson was a Norwegian citizen. Died Sunday 23rd April, age 33. Buried Aabenraa Cemetery Denmark.

Sgt. Miles Parr, Wireless Operator – Zinzan crew. Another wonderful connection

Dad, front row left, his pilot, Vernon John Zinzan and navigator James George Sydney Coote. Middle row Sgt. H. Hutchinson, Mid Upper Gunner. Back row from left Sgt. A. Ackroyd, Flight Engineer and Sgt. Miles Parr, Wireless Operator.

Dad, front row left, his pilot, Vernon John “Taffy” Zinzan and navigator James George Sydney Coote. Middle row Sgt. H. Hutchinson, Mid Upper Gunner. Back row from left Sgt. A. Ackroyd, Flight Engineer and Sgt. Miles Parr, Wireless Operator.

I am not particularly superstitious,  but when the blog clocked past 13,000 visits today, I felt something special – I was born on the 13th of November and consider the number 13, unlike many, to be a lucky number – is 13 going to be lucky again for me? – it appears it is…..

About 2 hours after we hit 13,000, I received an amazing email from Jimmy, the  son of who I now know to be Miles Parr, wireless operator for the Zinzan crew, who my father flew his second tour with from the 2nd of February 1945.

Its been an incredible few weeks, first being contacted by Paul with information about Tom Darbyshire and now Jimmy letting me know another christian name.

Wonderfully, Jimmy was able to let me know that Vernon, the pilot and a New Zealander was nicknamed ‘Taffy’ because he had a sheep farm in NZ – and thus acquired the Welch nickname, with the obvious connotations…..Apparently, also, Vernon would sometimes come back to Liverpool with Miles when they had leave – ironic, given my relative proximity now to that city.

Jimmy has photographs and his fathers logbook and medals, so hopefully in the near future we will be able to share some more information about Miles and the boys and add a few more lines to the 75(NZ) Squadron story……….

Warrant Officer Miles Parr, stood on the right of the picture. The identity of the other 2 chaps is as yet a mystery.... ©  Jimmy Parr

Warrant Officer Miles Parr, stood on the right of the picture. The identity of the other 2 chaps is as yet a mystery….
© Jimmy Parr

Jimmy Wood birthday celebrations at the R.A.F Club

SONY DSCIt was with great pleasure that I went down to the RAF Club today to attend Jimmy Wood’s 90th birthday celebrations with his family and relatives of his aircrew from 1945.

Obviously the celebrations were a private family affair, so if I receive any photos from the day I will be happy to put them up, but I will not act on a presumption at this time.

It was a lovely day and it was good to see Jimmy and his son Roger, as well as meet Barry (his elder son) for the first time after all the emails and phone calls we have had since he first got in contact with me.

Jimmy was in fine form, despite what obviously must have been a long day for him, beginning at 12 o’clock at the Bomber Command Memorial just across the road from the RAF Club. Sadly limited departure times from my village and a delay owing to snow meant that I arrived, just as the memorial service was concluding, but it was good to hear Barry shout out “Ake Ake Kia Kaha!” (the Squadron Maori motto – Forever and Ever be Strong)……..

The event also allowed me to meet again Janet, Norman Allen’s daughter and her brother Ronnie and also Jill and her husband Jim, daughter of Russell Banks, Jimmy’s pilot.

Walking down the corridor out side of the Ballroom, where the birthday lunch buffet was served, I was pleased to find the 75(NZ) Squadron badge .Given that the name and badge had been gifted by the RAF to the RNZAF at the end of the war in appreciation of the sacrifices the country had made, I wasn’t sure it would be there.

PB820 JN-V and the Clement crew

Many thanks to Phil Jarret, via Martyn (thanks to you as well Martyn) for the contribution of these 2 fantastic photographs. They arrived with no information, but after a bit of squinting and shuffling through the ORB’s, I think this first image is of the Clement crew.

Crew JN-V

front row L to R: Tapua Heperi, Ross Manley Cato, Douglas St.Clair Clement and Randall Hewitt.(Randall Hewitt’s position confirmed by his cousin)
back row L to R: 2 members of ground crew are stood at each end of this row, the remaining aircrew are most likely to be: W. Richardson, Frank Watts and  John Sydney Wildish , but I am currently unsure who is who either side of Frank…..
© Phil Jarret.

Pilot Douglas St.Clair Clement and his crew flew 31 ops between 28th November 1944 to 14th April 1945. Of these 31 ops, 22 were in PB820. The crew had a Maori Wireless Operator, F/S Tapua Heperi. So the story goes, Pilot Eric Meharry could speak Maori – very rare for a ‘Pakeha’ and would apparently converse with a Maori airman in his native tongue over the radio. Martyn wonders if Tapua was that chap. We shall never know I am afraid – looking at the dates the Meharry crew flew, relative to Tapua and the rest of the Clement crew, it would only have given them a month for their conversations. Of course, without bidding I will look through the ORB’s for another possible candidate, though I have discovered from a fascinating thread on  the Wings Over New Zealand forum, that it isn’t as easy as one might assume to identify Maori aircrew by name……..

The second photograph shows a fantastic scene of a ‘C’ flight Lancaster being ‘bombed up’ – aside from the sheer beauty of the image, it also shows some great detail in the background of the fabric of the airfield at Mepal. Identifying the aircraft is a bit difficult – there is clearly a ‘JN’, but the letter designator is not obvious at all – all that appears after the RAF roundel seems to be a vertical line. I may be wrong, but I do not recall ever seeing an ‘I’ designator for an a/c in the squadron – so might this be the vertical upstroke of a ‘T’ ?

75 Squadron JN Lanc

© Phil Jarret.

Continuing with this unsubstantiated line of logic (as is sometimes necessary), a possible candidate is NG449. NG449 was a  MK. I – as were all the NG range – but  this doesn’t necessarily date the kite, though 75(NZ) didn’t get Lancs until March 1944. Exquisitely I have 2 sources that confirm its fate – lost on the Munster Viaduct raid 21st March 1945, but one source has it as  an A/B Flight ‘AA” T (Avro Lancaster: The Definitive Record by Harry Holmes), not JN (3 Group Bomber Command – an operational history by Chris Ward & Steve Smith)………

(having just done a bit more digging, Harry Holme’s book actually lists NG449 as being both AA and JN T’s – the plot thickens……

In search of John Hulena – part 2. We may actually have Walter……..and John.

A few weeks ago, Chris and I, it would seem almost simultaneously, noticed the signature of a certain J.S. Hulena on the back of the 1942 Levin training photo, originally supplied by Andrew as part of a story of 3 of his relatives, all who flew with 75(NZ). My original post on this matter can be read here.

Literally after I had made this post, my eyes wandered up the signature photograph and bugger me – I see another signature that is amazingly familiar. 3 lines up from John’s signature is one that looks amazingly like ‘W. Gee’…….

A zoom in from the back of the 1942 Levin group photograph, showing not only John's signature, but also I believe, Walter Gee's........

A zoom in from the back of the 1942 Levin group photograph, showing not only John’s signature, but also I believe, Walter Gee’s……..

When I first discovered the existence of Walter Gee as a member of the Mayfield crew, I spoke to Jack – he certainly remembered the name and at the time remarked that Walter was ‘…a big chap and a bit older than the rest of us…….’ The initial thought that the person in both the Levin and 1651 CU Waterbeach photographs was John Hulena, I think that on discovery of what I believe to be Water’s name, this individual is actually Walter.

Credit to Chris, he discovered that there was another face in both images and perhaps unsurprisingly, in both photographs, this ‘new’ person is stood right next to Walter – one must surmise that if they got to know each other during training, they might well have come as a pair when the crews formed at 11 O.T.U in 1943.

Levin Training Camp, 1942. at the end of the middle row, we think Walter Gee and stood behind him, John Sebastian Hulena....

Initial Training Wing, Levin, 1942. at the end of the middle row, we think Walter Gee and stood behind him, John Sebastian Hulena….

1651 Conversion Unit, Waterbeach, July 1943. We see again, the 2 chaps from the image above.....

1651 Conversion Unit, Waterbeach, July 1943. We see again, the 2 chaps from the image above…..

Now of course, all this is utter conjecture, but the fact that both Chris and I saw this and have both thought the same things makes me think we might not be completely barking up the wrong tree…….

Mike Molony, Mid Upper Gunner, Andrew crew 1944


Mike, last year at the Winter Association Reunion, enjoying the November sunshine.

It was with great sadness that I heard from Kevin this afternoon that Mike Moloney had passed away this morning. Whilst I am a relative new comer to the Association reunion events, Mike was a regular attendee at those I have attended and he was wonderful company.

Mike flew with the crew of Victor John Andrew between their first op on the 27/28 of June 1944 to Biennais and the 26/27 August op to Kiel – where he was seriously injured by flak that hit the fuselage and mid upper turret. The Kiel op was Mike’s 20th with the Andrew crew – he never flew with them again, however, the crew continued without Mike and final achieved a total of 38 ops

During a lengthy chat one evening at last years Summer Reunion, Mike recalled on his crews  2nd op to Villers Bocage, watching the aircraft captained by Squadron Leader Neilson Arnold Williamson, on the return flight be fit by flak. Williamson undertook a forced landing at Normandy and in doing so, become the first Allied bomber to land on the Normandy beach head after the invasion.

The Association reunions will be a poorer place without you Mike.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

Another wonderful connection – Len Gillies, Air Bomber 218 Squadron

218 Sqdn 1945 Crew Q-Queenie_Edith

The Guinane crew, 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron, Chedborough, 1945
Back Row L-R: Geoff Ginn (Rear Gunner), “Guy” Guinane (Pilot), Jack Jarmy (Navigator), Jock Lees (Mid-Upper Gunner)
Front Row L-R: Len Gillies (Bomb Aimer), Clarrie Ormisher (Engineer), Kevin Roberts (Wireless Op.)
© Doug Gillies

Perhaps not an obvious connection, based on the title of this post, however there is a strong one. After I had visited Jack Jarmy last summer, I came across a website for 218 Squadron. Within it, there was a visitors book, so I registered and left a message just letting everybody know that Jack, who completed his second tour with the Squadron, was still alive and well.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten that I had even left the message. That is, until today when Doug contacted me from Australia to say that his father, Len Gillies, Jack’s Air Bomber is also still alive and well. Doug was blown away by first finding my message and then finding Jack’s information on the blog. Hopefully Jack and Len might get together after all these years again.

As well as the wonderful crew picture above, Doug also has passed on the image below showing the crew, once again in front of ‘Edith’, but this time also including the ground crew.

218 SQDN Air Crew and Engineers Chedburgh 1945

HA-Q ‘Edith’.
From left to right: Geoff Ginn, Jock Lees, Clarence Ormisher, Maurice Guinane, Jack Jarmy, Leonard Gillies and Kevin Roberts.
© Doug Gillies

And finally another picture of ‘Edith’, being worked on by Ground crew, form the Imperial War Museum.


Mechanics at work on an engine of Avro Lancaster B Mark III, LM577 ‘HA-Q’ “Edith”, of No. 218 Squadron RAF on a pan hardstanding at Chedburgh, Suffolk. “Edith’s” sortie tally shows a total of 84 bombing operations achieved with Nos. 622 and 218 Squadrons, in addition to which the aircraft also flew 14 food-dropping and prisoner-of-war repatriation sorties to and from Holland in May 1945. By this time relegated to a training role, LM577 completed more flying hours than any other Lancaster on the station.

2 more pictures of Tom Darbyshire

Thomas Darbyshire 1

© Paul Shacklady

Thomas Darbyshire

© Paul Shacklady

Many many thanks to Paul for continuing to pass on information about his Uncle, who was the Mid Upper Gunner with my fathers first tour crew in 1943.

After visiting his mother, Toms sister this weekend, Paul provided the extra following information;

Tom was born on the 15th of May 1922 in Rivington Lancashire. After leaving school he worked as a farm labourer. Sometime in 1940 Tom and his best friend Peter Riley volunteered at the Omskirk Labout Exchange – Peter joined the army, but sadly subsequently killed in action.

After demobilisation in 1946 he opened a fish and chip shop in Stalham,
Norfolk with his wife, whom he had met while in the RAF.

Tom Darbyshire sadly he died of cancer in Northwood, Middlesex in 1994 at the age of 72.

The Dolores Cross Project

Delores banner

A while ago, I was contacted by Tony, who runs a site about the Newmarket War Memorial. In our discussions, he mentioned the Dolores Project. At the beginning of this week I received another email from Tony, remarking that he was trying to get members of the local ATC to perhaps attend the graves on ANZAC day next month when the crosses were placed.

I thought I would have a look at the Dolores project and here is some information from the site;

The Dolores Cross Project is a not-for-profit memorial initiative that began in April 2008. The aim of the Project is to personally pay tribute to approximately 30,000 New Zealand military personnel buried on foreign soil with a hand-made tribute, the Dolores Cross. Unlike other similar looking projects, this is not a photographic project and we do not collect personal photos of military personnel. The success of the Dolores Cross Project is entirely reliant on volunteers and supporters.

The aim of the Project is ambitious and very personal.
There are approximately 30,000 New Zealand military personnel buried on foreign soil. The primary aim of the Project is to personally pay tribute to each of these men with a Dolores Cross. To document that a tribute has been made to a particular gravesite, photographs of the gravestones with the Dolores Cross placed will be taken where possible. However, the project is not focused on being a photographic project and does not collect personal photographs of military personnel.

The Project relies on volunteers and supporters to help it achieve its aim. Please go to Support the Project to find out about how you can help.

The Dolores Cross is a simple, hand-made, weaved Harakeke (New Zealand flax) cross.
The weave design was created through trial and error, and a little bit of creativity. Harakeke was chosen because it grows plentifully in New Zealand and it seemed appropriate that a part of New Zealand made up this unique tribute. It creates an intimate link between the homeland and those New Zealanders who went to fight in both World Wars and never returned.

The name ‘Dolores’ is Latin for ‘sorrows’, and refers to the Virgin Mary, who is referred to as ‘Maria de los Dolores’ – ‘Our Lady of Sorrows’ or ‘Mary of Sorrows’. As such, the name ‘Dolores Cross’ is a reference to its origins and its memorial purpose as it means “the cross of sorrows”.

The Dolores Cross is the personal tribute of Dolores Ho, a Malaysian-Chinese who migrated to New Zealand in 1987.

Currently the Archivist of the National Army Museum, New Zealand, Dolores has worked with military writings and archives as a librarian and archivist for the past 15 years. Through her work, Dolores has developed a deep passion for New Zealand military history and respect for the sacrifices made by ordinary New Zealanders who did extraordinary things in war time. In her spare time, Dolores devotes her energies to the Dolores Cross Project, gardening and baking, and spending time with her two daughters.

Go to the Dolores Project website here

Thomas Darbyshire RAFVR 1032870 logbook

T Darbyshire Air Gunners Log Book 011

If it wasn’t amazing enough to hear from Paul, the nephew of Tom Darbyshire, Dad’s Mid Upper Gunner out of the blue a few days ago, it only got better when he instantly and very generously supplied a copy of his Tom’s logbook.

The arrival of his book means I now have 3 of the Mayfield crew logbooks, with I hope, another on its way at some point in the future. As such, this is the most complete set of a single crew that I have so far.

As described in the previous post, Tom and also his Wireless Operator Bill Lake joined the Mayfield crew in August of 1943, having lost their pilot, Jack Thomson, on his second 2nd Dickie flight with the Bailie crew on the 2nd August. Interestingly, Tom’s logbook and in fact the page above, shows the day before Jack was lost, Tom had in fact flown with Cyril Bailie on a ‘familiarisation’ flight……

See Tom’s full logbook here

Many thanks again to Paul for this wonderful donation

Incredible – Sgt. Thomas Darbyshire, Mid Upper Gunner – Mayfield crew

Tom at wedding b&W

Warrant Officer Thomas Darbyshire, 2nd from left, best man to his older brother Henry (on Tom’s left). On the far right of the photograph is a friend of the family, Tom Draper and on the left of the photograph, Tom Draper jnr.
© Paul Shacklady

Regular readers will have seen my post regarding my chance discovery on Monday, that someone had been brought to the site on a search term ‘Thomas Derbyshire mu gunner‘. I was so excited that this might be the same Sgt. T. Derbyshire that flew with Dad, that I posted a ‘plea post’ on the blog to ask them to contact me.

I was blown away to hear from Paul yesterday, with conformation that yes, indeed Thomas was the same and that as he had his uncle’s logbook, there was no question about it.

I find this contact all the more poignant as I set myself the objective of at the very least, knowing the christian names of all the boys that Bob flew with – now I can finally talk about ‘Tom’.

Tom Darbyshire and Bill Lake joined the rest of the boys over the period of 2 consecutive raids (ironically both) to Turin in August of 1943. The boys had lost their original pilot, Jack Thomson on his second ‘2nd Dickie’ op with the Bailie crew on the Hamburg raid of 2nd August.

After the departure of the majority of the Mayfield crew, Tom continued to complete another 7* flights.

4th January 1944 Alan Spiers crew  –  Mining North of Biarritz. Rear Gunner.
19th January 1944 Geoffrey Rowberry crew – Air-to-Sea firing.
21st January 1944 Desmond Horgan crew – Special Target. – in the Squadron ORB the MUG is apparently incorrectly listed as F/Sgt. D Baverstock….
27th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Mining in the Heligoland area. Rear Gunner.
28th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Mining in Kiel Bay. Rear Gunner.
28th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew –  Mining in Kiel Bay. Rear Gunner. – in the squadron ORB this is listed as a second op of the same day to the same target – there is no record of it in Tom’s logbook.
30th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Bombing High Level.
28th January 1944. Harold Bruhns crew – Air Sea Rescue.
*expanded from initial count of 4 ops after receiving a copy of Tom’s logbook

Tom appears to have ben posted to No. 1 A.A.S. at Manby, where he qualified as a Category ‘A’ Gunnery Instructor. He returned to Operational flights on the 21st March 1945 with 195 Squadron at Wratting Common;

21.3.45 F/O Blackman crew – Munster
22.3.45 F/O Hamilton crew – Bocholt.
27.3.45 F/O Blackman crew – Allenbogge.
4.4.45 W/O Brown crew – Merseberge.
9.4.45 F/Lt Walker crew – Kiel.
24.4.45 F/O Blackman crew – Bad Oldsloe.
29.4.45 F/Lt Alt crew – Rotterdam.
1.5.45 F/O Scott crew – The Hague (Operation ‘Mana’).
3.5.45 F/O Blackman crew – The Hague (Operation ‘Mana’).
11.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
12.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
13.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
23.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
23.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
24.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
26.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
7.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Aerodrome Bari Italy (Operation Dodge).
10.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Aerodrome Bari Italy (Operation Dodge) – Glatton.
11.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Glatton – Base.

Once again, many thanks to Paul for getting in contact with me and adding another little piece to the puzzle.

Three cousins in 75(NZ) Squadron


Photo: Kiwi first cousins Ewen Elmslie, Jim Elmslie, and Wally Sneddon, all served on 75 (NZ) Squadron.

Andrew has been trying to find out more about three of his relatives who served with Bomber Command, and has had some success via responses on Bombercrew forum and email correspondence with Chris. But many questions still remain.

It turns out that all three served on 75 (NZ) Squadron, and that two of them were based at Mepal at the same time, in late 1944.

P/O Ewen McGregor Elmslie, RNZAF NZ417200, Bomb Aimer
First of the cousins to serve with 75 was Ewen (left in photo above), who we know from this photo below, did his Initial Training at ITW Wereroa in New Zealand, graduating in January 1942:


Photo: Wireless Operator – Air Gunner’s course, Flight 3A, Course 30, 21 January 1942, Initial Training Wing Wereroa, RNZAF Levin, Levin, NZ. Ewen Elmslie is fifth from right, second row from the front.

The reverse of this wonderful photo has a great collection of very clear autographs – does anyone know any of these individuals?

EwenElmslie-ITWLevin-30Course-210142- rear-signatures

Photo: Reverse of photo, with signatures, Wireless Operator – Air Gunner’s course, Flight 3A, Course 30, 21 January 1942, Initial Training Wing Wereroa, RNZAF Levin, Levin, NZ.

Andrew believes that Ewen then trained in Canada, before shipping off to the UK.

10 May 1943: Sgt Burley and crew arrived at 75 (NZ) Squadron, Newmarket. (Ewen and the Navigator may have arrived separately the day before?)

Ewen’s crew (the Burley crew) was:
Pilot: BURLEY Plt Off Arthur William DFC RAF (1315375, 147201). 10 May to 27 Nov 1943
Navigator: HILL F/Sgt Reginald RNZAF (NZ413216)  9 May to 27 Nov 1943.
Bomb Aimer: ELMSLIE P/O Ewen McGregor RNZAF (NZ417200) AB 9 May to 27 Nov 1943.
Wireless Operator: WILSON F/Sgt R W, RAF. (1035365) WOAG 10 May to 27 Nov 1943.
Flight Engineer: RISBRIDGER F/Sgt R RAF. (577918)  10 May to 27 Nov 1943.
Mid Upper Gunner: HUBBOCK Sgt J RAF (1601799) AG 10 May to 20 Sep 1943.
Rear Gunner: PETERS Sgt A F RAF. (1154968) AG 10 May to 27 Nov 1943.

Burley the skipper flew his second dickie (familiarisation) op’ with P/O French and crew, on 12/13 May to Duisburg in Stirling BK777, AA-U

Burley crew Operational History:
13/14 May 43 Mining – Frisians, Stirling BK434 (BF434, AA-X?)
16/17 May 43 Mining – Frisians, Stirling BK434 (BF434, AA-X?)
21/22 May 43 Mining – Biscay, Stirling BF434, AA-X
23/24 May 43 Dortmund, Stirling BF561, AA-O (returned early with engine trouble)
25/26 May 43 Düsseldorf, Stirling BF434, AA-X
29/30 May 43 Wuppertal – The Ruhr, Stirling BF434, AA-X
11/12 June 43 Düsseldorf, Stirling BF434, AA-X (returned early with engine trouble)
19/20 June 43 Le Creusot, Stirling BF434, AA-X (Ewen missed this op’ – A/B listed as F/S Himal)
21/22 Jun 43 Krefeld, Stirling BF434, AA-X
22/23 June 43 Mülheim, Stirling BF434, AA-X
24/25 Jun 43 Wuppertal, Stirling BF434, AA-X
25/26 Jun 43 Gelsenkirchen, Stirling BF434, AA-X

(Squadron relocated from Newmarket to Mepal)

03/04 Jul 43 Cologne, Stirling BK777, AA-U
29/30 Jul 43 Hamburg, Stirling EH905, AA-R

12/13 Aug 43 Turin – Italy, Stirling EF434
Some enemy aircraft were seen. EF434, P/O Burley & crew on their way to the target sighted an unidentified single-engined aircraft over the Chartres region of France making a pass at them from astern. Evasive action was taken and the rear gunner, Sgt Peters, engaged the enemy aircraft with a short burst, before it broke off the engagement. The port outer engine of the Stirling had received considerable damage and was shut down. The crew stubbornly continued to the target on three engines, still 380 miles away; completed their bombing attack then returned to base where a safe engine-out landing was made at 05.35hrs. Burley was awarded the DFC (Immediate).

17/18 Aug 43 Peenemünde (V2 rocket research establishment) EH949, AA-P
23/24 Aug 43 Berlin,  Stirling EH877, JN-C (returned early with equipment failure)
27/28 Aug 43 Nuremberg, Stirling EF878
30/31 Aug 43 Mönchengladbach/Rheydt, Stirling EF434 (BF434?)
31/01 Aug/Sep 43 Berlin, Stirling EF434 (BF434, AA-X?)
08/09 Sep 43 Boulogne, Stirling EF462
16/17 Sep 43 Modane, Stirling EF137, AA-E
22/23 Sep 43 Hannover, Stirling EF462
23/24 Sep 43 Mannheim, Stirling EF137, AA-E

EF137, P/O Burley and crew, found themselves involved in three separate combat actions; one with a single-engined fighter, which the M/U gunner, F/O S Strong, succeeded in shooting down and claiming as destroyed. And then against two unidentified twin-engined fighters, which he claimed as breaking off, damaged, from his gunfire.

27/28 Sep 43 Hannover, Stirling EF137, AA-E
04/05 Oct 43 Frankfurt, Stirling EF137, AA-E
– total 26 op’s.

Ewen left the Squadron on 27 Nov 1943, posted to No. 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit, RAF Woolfox Lodge..

He survived the war, and on returning to New Zealand he married and settled down on the family sheep and beef farm at Waverley, South Taranaki, not far from his cousin Jim.

Ewen McGregor Elmslie, b.1 Jan 1918-d 2 Oct 1989.

F/Sgt James Alexander Elmslie, RNZAF NZ422048 PilotJim-Elmslie1944

Photo: Jim with Airspeed Oxford, probably taken during training in the UK – he already has his wings.

Jim was named after his uncle Major James McGregor Elmslie (1877-1915) of the Wellington Mounted Rifles (QAMR) who was recommended three times for the Victoria Cross at Gallipoli and died  on the top of Chunuk Bair on 9th August 1915.


Photo: Cousins Jim and Ewen Elmslie with Dorothy McDonald, the wife of another of their cousins, Jack McDonald who was based in London in his capacity as a war correspondent.

30 September 1944: NZ422048 F/S Elmslie, J., and crew arrived at 75 (NZ) Sqdn on posting from No. 31 Base.

The Elmslie crew were:
Pilot : ELMSLIE F/Sgt James Alexander RNZAF (NZ422048) 30 Sep to 23 Nov 1944
Navigator: WILTSHIRE F/Sgt Alan Saville, RNZAF. (NZ4213813) 30 Sep to 27 Nov 1944.
Wireless Operator: DEAR Sgt J RAF … WO/AG 30 Sep to ? Nov 1944.
Bomb Aimer: McKENZIE W/O John Roderick RNZAF. (NZ4213903) 30 Sep to 27 Nov 1944, c/w J A Elmslie, & 19 Jul to 24 Sep 1945. Tiger Force. c/w N V Spanhake.
Flight Engineer: FUTTER F/Sgt K RAF … 30 Sep to ? Nov 1944
Mid Upper Gunner: BURBURY, F/Sgt Gordon Owen, RNZAF.(NZ427951) A/G 30 Sep to 15 Dec 1944.
Rear Gunner: MALLENDER Sgt J RAF. …. A/G 30 Sep to ? Nov 1944.

5/10/44 Jim Elmslie flew on a night op’ to Saarbrücken as 2nd Pilot (his “second dickie trip”) with F/O J.C. Bateman and crew, in Lancaster LM266, AA-F.

Elmslie crew Operational History:
7/10/44 Daylight op’ to Emmerich, Lancaster 1 LM266 (AA-F)
14/10/44 Daylight op’ to Duisburg, Lancaster 1 HK953 (HK593, JN-X?)

Jim and his whole crew all left the Squadron between 23 November and 15 December 1944, after only two op’s

Jim’s cousin Wally Sneddon, left the Squadron at the same time.

Andrew says “After the war Jim returned to the family farm at Waverley and became known as a bit of a “character” who did slightly crazy things in his Tiger Moth.

F/Sgt Walter Dalziel Sneddon, RNZAF NZ425436, Rear Gunner


Photo: Wally Sneddon, taken some time during his training.

Photo: "Air Bombers Course No. 83, Class B, ..... School" - Wally Sneddon circled at back.

Photo: “Air Bombers Course No. 83, Class B, ….. School” – Wally Sneddon circled at back.

1 October 1944: NZ427543 P/O R. Cumberpatch and crew arrived on 75 (NZ) Sqdn on posting from 31 Base (the day after cousin Jim arrived!).

Walter’s crew (the Cumberpatch crew) was:
Captain: CUMBERPATCH Fg Off Raymond Arthur RNZAF (NZ427543) Pilot 1 Oct 1944 to 7 Feb 1945
Navigator: WILSON P/O Norman Frederick DFC, RAF. (1584666, 190665).
Flight Engineer: SINCLAIR Sgt J RAF.
Bomb Aimer: WILLIAMS P/O Clayton Dickson, RNZAF. (NZ4214070).
Wireless Operator: SWITZER P/O Lindsay Roy, RNZAF. (NZ422008).
Mid Upper Gunner: GRADY F/Sgt Tom RNZAF (NZ416829)
Rear Gunner: SNEDDON F/Sgt Walter Dalziel RNZAF (NZ425436)

14 Oct 44 – F/O Cumberpatch first went on his second dickie (2nd pilot familiarisation op’) with F/O Martyn and his crew on a daylight op’ to Duisburg – the same op’ that Wally’s cousin Jim Elmslie and crew flew on. The Martyn crew flew in Lancaster NG113, coded AA-D.

18 Oct 44 – 75 (NZ) Squadron Commmander W/C Jack Leslie took the crew minus Cumberpatch on an op’ to Bonn in Lancaster PB418, AA-C.

Cumberpatch crew Operational History:
19/20 October 44, Stuttgart, Lancaster LM740, AA-B.
23/24 Oct 44 Essen, Lancaster HK573, AA-H
25 Oct 44 Essen, Lancaster ND917, JN-O
26 Oct 44 Leverkusen, Lancaster HK573, AA-H
29 Oct 44 West Kappelle, Lancaster PB421, AA-K
30 Oct 44 Wesseling, Lancaster NG113, AA-D
31Oct / 01 Nov 44 Cologne, Lancaster LM544, AA-J
02 Nov 44 Homberg (Meerbeck Oil Plant), Lancaster HK576, AA-G
04 Nov 44 Solingen, Lancaster HK576, AA-G
05 Nov 44 Solingen, Lancaster HK576, AA-G
06/07 Nov 44 Koblenz, Lancaster HK576, AA-G
16 Nov 44 Army/air support, Heinsberg, Lancaster PB520
20 November 44, Homberg, Lancaster PB418, AA-C.

After the 20 November op’, Walter disappears from the Cumberpatch crew list, replaced initially by 75’s Gunnery Leader F/L K. Tugwell on another op’ to Homberg the following day (21 Nov.), and then permanently by Sgt R. Muir (ex-Davies crew).

Walter then leaves the Squadron, on 26 November, 3 days after his cousin Jim.

Wally also survived the war, and back in NZ, farmed at Putaruru in South Waikato.

Walter Dalziel Sneddon, b. 24/2/1914, d. 26/7/1985.

If anyone has more information on any of the above, or can help ID the training group that Wally is pictured in, or any of the individuals in either group photo, Andrew would love to hear from you.


A tantalising hope……….

search results - thomas derbyshire

Perhaps an inevitable outcome of a blog like this is that from time to time I do get a bit obsessed about visitor counts etc. A quick peruse this afternoon led me to scroll down to the search terms that have led visitors to the site and I was amazed to see a search for ‘Thomas Derbyshire mu gunner’. I am hoping against hope that this is the same T. Derbyshire that was a MUG with Dad on his first tour in 1943…….

My discovery and now the wait is all the more excruciating – Sgt. Derbyshire was the only airman in the Squadron with that surname and the same search in Google throws up no other instant possibilities – is it too much to hope ?

Please, please, if the person/ people that typed in this search see this post contact me – I really want to be able to put a christian name to all of the boys that flew with Dad at the very least.

Allan Melrose Sliman, Flight Engineer – Baynes Crew.

While I was typing up some of the ORB’s over Christmas, I cam across the loss of Sgt. Allan Melrose Sliman, the Flight Engineer with the Baynes crew, who was tragically killed by cannon shell from what was believed to be 2 attacking  JU88’s on the return flight from the raid on Potsdam on 14/15th  April 1945.

Out of the blue a few weeks ago I was contacted by Andy, who runs a website on the Chelmsford War Memorial. He had come across Allan’s name on the blog and wondered if I could tell him anything about Allan’s time with 75(NZ) Squadron to add to the information on his page

More Bizarrely a few days after this first contact I was contacted by Malcolm, whose Mother’s first husband, was Allan Melrose Sliman.

What follows is a composite of the information gathered from Andy’s site and the conversations I subsequently had with Malcolm. Many thanks also to Paul Brennan for supplying a picture of Allan’s gravestone in Writtle Cemetery, Chelmsford.

Allan Melrose ‘Jack’ Sliman was born on 27th February 1906 in Busby, Renfrewshire, Scotland, the son of James Andrew Sliman and Jane Elizabeth Melrose. His father was born in 1862; his mother ten years later, both in Scotland. The couple had married in Glasgow in 1896.

Allan apprenticed as a carpenter but was also a talented footballer. He started his football career with Arthurlie, a Scottish Division Three side, before Bristol City brought him south in 1928 – it was there that he met and married Gladys. His brother Richard also played for Bristol City as an amateur.

In 1932 Allan left Bristol City to join Chesterfield for a fee of £1,800 (a record fee paid by Chesterfield at that time) plus £238 to the player. He went  on to play 241 games over seven seasons for Chesterfield, mainly in the centre-half position. He is considered one of the club’s all-time greats, and is described on the club’s website as ‘Tall, imposing and with the presence to dominate opponents without recourse to the physical stuff, he was the foundation on which a side was built to win the Northern Section in ’35-6 and establish a place as a Second Division team’. He scored 9 goals while at Chesterfield.

In 1938, as age began to catch up on him, Allan left Chesterfield to go to Chelmsford City F.C. where he joined as a player and was appointed captain. Following the resignation of Billy Walker in October 1938 he was asked by the directors of the club to temporarily take on the role of Player/Manager until a new appointment could be made.

Ultimately that appointment was not made until March 1939 when Folkestone Manager Harry Warren was appointed Manager with Alan reverting to the role of player only. Allan managed Chelmsford City for 25 matches, of which 16 were won and seven lost. During that season he was a key figure in Chelmsford City’s fine F.A. Cup run which included a 4-1 home win over Southampton, and ended with defeat at Birmingham (later known as ‘Birmingham City’) in the Fourth Round

Allan continued to play in the truncated 1939-1940 season playing his last competitive game in the Southern League Cup final defeat against Worcester City on 1st June 1940.

Whilst at Chelmsford City Allan  was employed by the Borough Council as a carpenter. A street directory from 1940 listed him living at 28 Hillside Grove, Chelmsford.

At the outbreak of war he was employed by the Chelmsford Council as a carpenter before undertaking war work for Wimpey. In September 1943 he either joined up or was mobilised into the RAF. He was then 36 . He was at RAF Locking, Weston Super Mare in July 1944, training as a Flight Mechanic – from there he would have moved on to St.Athan for his Flight Engineer training, prior to deployment at a Conversion Unit, where he would meet his new crew.

He and the rest of the Baynes crew arrived at R.A.F. Mepal on 1st April 1945.

Image (6)

© Malcolm Hayes

Image (5)croppped

© Malcolm Hayes

Image (3) croppped

© Malcolm Hayes

Image croppped

© Malcolm Hayes

The Baynes crew were:
F/O Allan Ralph Baynes – Pilot
F/O Dawson Albert Cotton – Navigator
F/O Leo Francis Joseph Farrelly – Air Bomber
Sgt. G. Sword – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Allan Merose Sliman – Flight Engineer
Sgt. William Barnbrook – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Graham Bentham – Rear Gunner

The Potsdam Operation of the 14th-15th April 1945 was the crew’s first and only operational combat mission.

The Squadron Operational Record Book noted that the aircraft was caught by what was believed to be 2 Junkers 88’s. The damage to nose and cockpit suggests it suffered a blast of canon shells, one which would tragically hit and fatally wound Allan, who died in a Cambridgeshire hospital on 14th April 1945, close to his squadron’s base. He was 39 years old.

His will, a standard forces will of the time was witnessed by a Graham Bentham, then of Ashton-under-Lyne and a Wiilliam Bambrook from Ormsby in Middlesborough who were Allan’s Rear and Mid Upper Gunner , respectively.

Image (7) cropped and tidied

© Malcolm Hayes

WG 057a

© Paul Brennan

The notes specific to Allan’s aircraft recorded:
Bombed green target indicators. Good concentration and fires taking hold. Canon shell damage to nose and cockpit, Flight Engineer killed. Attacked 20 miles S.W. of Potsdam 23.07 15,000ft.”
Allan was buried at Chelmsford Borough Cemetery on 20th April 1945 (grave: 5828).

He left a widow, Gladys Rosina Sliman, who remarried in 1948 and died in Hampshire in 2004.

Allan’s crew did not fly again for a month – when they did, the war in Europe was over. For these final four operations Allan’s role was taken by Flight Sergeant A. Bolton:
13th May 1945 Evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt;
14th June 1945 Viewing the effects of the bombing offensive;
22nd June 1945 Viewing the Effects of the Bombing Offensive;
25th June 1945 Checking German Radar Equipment.

If you know anything regarding any of the Baynes crew, I know that Malcolm would love to hear from you

Carl Arthur Warburton Wireless Operator – Armstrong crew

I have recently received  a request from Sarah, regarding her Great Uncle, Carl Warburton, who was a Wireless Operator with the Armstrong crew. She is keen to try to find a photograph of him and his crew from their time at Mepal – as always, anybody that can help, please contact me.

The Armstrong crew arrived at Mepal on the 10th January 1944. The crew undertook their first raid on the 14th of January;
14.1.44. Mining off The Frisian Islands
Cecil Armstrong. Pilot
Douglas Payne. Nav.
Eric Marshall A/B.
L.Edgerton W/op.
David Sleightholm F/E.
James Pepper MU/Gnr.
Roy Davies R/Gnr.
Stirling Mk.III LJ457

20.1.44. Mining off The Frisian Islands
Alan Kay. A/B.
William Reid R/Gnr.
Stirling Mk.III LJ441

21.1.44 Attack Against Special Target
Eric Marshall A/B.
Roy Davies R/Gnr.

25.1.44 Attack Against Special Target
Roy Davies MU/Gnr.
James Pepper R/Gnr.

27.1.44 Mining in the Heligoland Area
T. Derbyshire R/Gnr*
*Sgt. Derbyshire flew the majority of his time with my father, his late arrival in the crew meant that when they were screened he continued for another 4 ops. This was the first of 3 with the Armstrong crew.

28.1.44 Mining in Kiel Bay
28.1.44 Mining in Kiel Bay
(return to target the same day)

3.2.44 Mining off CherbourgW. Worthington MU/Gnr
Roy Davies R/Gnr.

15.2.44 Mining in Kiel Bay
Roy Davies MU/Gnr.
James Pepper R/Gnr.

20.2.44 Mining off St.Malo
22.2.44 Mining Kiel Bay
24.2.44 Mining in Kiel Bay
2.3.44 Operational Wheelwright69 (aborted)
4.3.44 Operation Trainer129
7.3.44 Operation Trainer 121 (aborted)
10.3.44 Operation trainer 121 (aborted)
13.3.44 Mining off Lorient
15.3.44 Operation Musician5 (aborted)
23.3.44 Attack Against Targets at Laon
9.4.44 Attack Against Villeneuve St.George
24.4.44 Attack Against Karlsruhe
26.4.44 Attack Against Essen
27.4.44 Attack Against Friedrichshafen

10.5.44 Attack Against Coutrai
Ralph Barker W/Op

11.5.44 Attack Against Louvain
William Lake W/Op*
*As with the Rear Gunner Sgt. Derbyshire, Bill Lake had also joined my Father’s crew and like Sgt. Derbyshire had to fly  more ops before they were screened – this was his 5th and final.

19.5.44 Attack Against Le Mans
Carl Warburton W/Op

21.5.44 Attack Against Duisberg
John Lethbridge 2nd Pilot

22.5.44 Attack Against Dortmund – Aircraft Failed to Return
The crew that night were;

Plt Off. Cecil Ernest Armstrong RNZAF NZ42354 Pilot. Died Tuesday 23 May 1944, age 27, during a raid on Dortmund. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.
a little more here

F/Sgt Douglas Beardsley Payne RNZAF NZ426917 Navigator. Died Tuesday 23rd May 1944, age 22, during a raid on Dortmund. Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

F/Sgt Eric William Elliott Marshall RNZAF NZ415637 Air Bomber. Died Tuesday 23rd May 1944, age 31, during a raid on Dortmund. Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.
a little more here

Sgt Carl Arthur Warburton RAFVR. 1484107 Wireless Operator. Died Tuesday 23rd May1944 during a raid on Dortmund. Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt David Sleightholm RAFVR 1684309. Flight Engineer. Died Tuesday 23rd May 1944, age 22, during a raid on Dortmund. Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt Roy Joseph Davies RAFVR 1603898 Rear, then Mid Upper Gunner. Died Tuesday 23rd May 1944, age 21, during a raid on Dortmund. Buried Reichs Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

F/Sgt James Pepper RAFVR 1682572)Mid Upper then rear Gunner. Died Tuesday 23rd May 1944, age 23, during a raid on Dortmund. Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Germany.

The crew were flying a MK. III Lancaster serial no. ND768 designator AA-F (AA denotes the aircraft was either ‘A’ or ‘B’ flight).

At the beginning of my search through the Operational Record Book for the flights of the Armstrong crew, I had assumed that Carl was an ‘original’ member – this seems clearly to not be the case. I have reviewed the Squadron records to see if I could find a loss of a Pilot prior to Carl’s first flight with the Armstrong crew, that Carl might of in fact arrived with at Mepal.

It was not an unknown occurrence for a crew to loose their pilot on a ‘2nd Dickie’ flight and then be dispersed into other crews if gaps existed – this was how Bill Lake and T. Derbyshire ended up flying with Dad on his first tour. Their Pilot, Sgt. Jack Thomson RNZAF NZ421145 was killed on his second ‘2nd Dickie’ operation with the Bailie crew on the 3rd August to Hamburg. Currently I am unable find a likely candidate regarding the pilot and as such, perhaps the original composition of the crew that Carl Warburton arrived at 75(NZ) Squadron with might never be known……….

Unless you know otherwise…….

Jimmy Ward, V.C. – ‘a bloody fine little chap’.

James Ward VC © IWM (CH 3200)

James Ward VC
© IWM (CH 3200)

What follows is the opening portion of a chapter in “New Zealanders in the Air War”, by Alan W. Mitchell, entitled ‘Sergeant Pilot James Allen Ward’. The full chapter can be read here, I have reproduced  the chapter on it’s own page, simply because its too long to easily present within a single post.

“Tobacco smoke fogged the Sergeants’ Mess. Officers and sergeants of 75 (New Zealand) Bomber Squadron standing on chairs or ringed round tables, shouted above the din of voices and the dance-music of the squadron’s band.

The High Commissioner for New Zealand, Mr W. J. Jordan, sat back on a sofa. He smoked a cigar, and his strong, homely face smiled his pleasure. Near him was Group Captain M. W. Buckley, who was shortly to give up his command of the station to return to New Zealand.

Amused, he looked at the back of the long room where officers and sergeants were climbing on table-tops, arms round one another’s necks. As he watched they began to chant. Soon the whole mess joined in. The band became inaudible.
We-want-Jimmy-Ward. We-want-Jimmy-Ward. We-want-Jimmy – Ward.”

Ofiicers and sergeants, pilots, air-gunners, observers, wireless operators—all took up the chorus, bawling from the table-tops, swaying, laughing, holding one another up. Suddenly the chant burst’ into cheering.

A short, slight boy stood by a microphone in front of the band. His head was bowed, his face pale, contrasting with his mat of dark hair. His sensitive mouth was twisted in an embarrassed smile as he looked at his feet and shuffled them. His thumbs were stuck in his trouser-pockets. Outside the pockets his fingers worked uneasily against his uniform. He wore a sergeant’s stripes, and tabs on his shoulders bore the words “New Zealand.” Under his wings he wore a scrap of maroon ribbon bearing a miniature bronze medal.

The din died. The sergeant pilot threw off his nervousness, and, in a boyish voice, edged with precision, he said:
“ We’ve got here to-night a number of chaps hiding themselves in a corner who’ve done more than we’ve ever done. They’re the ground-crews who look after our kites. They don’t get anything like this. There are no V.C.’s for them, but if they didn’t do a first-class job for us, as they all do, we wouldn’t get back. Those chaps—they keep our kites in first-class order.”

Then, as the cheering welled out again, he slipped away to a window. He sat on the ledge, his head bowed, half smiling nervously as the cheers gave way to the singing of “ For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

A jolly good fellow. It was an understatement. If any of those singing men had been asked at that moment what they thought of Sergeant Pilot James Allen Ward, New Zealand’s first V.C. of this war, they would have stared and said with intensity, “ He’s a bloody fine little chap. He’s got all the guts in the world.”

read the rest of the chapter here

New Zealanders in the Air War – a remembered find…..

cover and inner page comp

I was going through Dad’s stuff a new nights ago and came across the above book. As soon as I saw it, remembered I had it, but had somehow in the intervening period of bringing it back from my parents, managed to misplace it in my memory.

After I had spent a few minutes with Google, I was satisfied that I certainly had no windfall find regarding its scarcity or value – not that either matter, but reading through it I was fascinated to see quite detailed accounts of both the Squadron, Jimmy Ward V.C., ‘Popeye’ Lucas and  John Wright.

The chapters are as follows;

1. The Royal New Zealand Air Force.
2. Flying Officer E. J. (“Cobber”) Kain.
3. Air Commodore A. McKee.
4. Group Captain P. G. Jameson.
5. No. 75 (New Zealand) Lancaster Squadron.
6. Wing Commander A. C. Deere.
7. Sergeant Pilot James Allan Ward.
8. Wing Commander Colin Gray.
9. No. 487 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Mosquito Squadron.
10. Air Marshall Keith Park.
11. Wing Commander F. J. Lucas.
12. Wing Commander R. F. Aitken.
13. No. 485 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Spitfire Squadron.
14. Wing Commander M. A. Ensor.
15. Group Captain A. E. Clouston.
16. Wing Commander J. F. Barron.
17. No. 488 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Mosquito Night-Fighter Squadron.
18. Flying Officer L. A. Trigg.
19. Squadron Leader K. F. Thiele.
20. Squadron Leader J. L. Wright (And The Crew Of “Thomas Frederick Duck”).
21. No. 486 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Tempest Squadron.
22. Wing Commander W. V. C. Compton.
23. No. 489 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Torpedo-Bomber Squadron
24. Sergeant Pilot D. A. S. Hamilton.

When I get some time I will scan the relevant pages and see how the OCR programme I have handles them – at the moment, I certainly don’t have the time to type it all up by hand!

Eric Lloyd Kennedy Meharry, Pilot, the Meharry crew – a wonderful discovery

RW Birch crew 75 Squadron photo 1 B&W ramped up dpi

Another picture of the Meharry crew.
L to R: Reuben Birch, Tom Robinson, Eric Meharry, Joseph Spiers, R. Dale, Lawrence Wilson and Gordon Gunter.
Martyn/ Ernest Birch ©

As time has gone by, I have witnessed a number of amazing connections between relatives of aircrew that have not know of the other until they came across this blog. This has been , to be honest,  an unplanned but very satisfying by-product of my main activity.

This afternoon I was contacted by Natasha, who is researching her family history. Eric was her grandfather and I was really touched to hear that when she came across the blog and then the crew photo, originally contributed by Martyn (Reuben’s nephew), it was the first time she had actually ever seen what Eric looked like.

Hopefully, as others have already done, Martyn and Natasha can now start a conversation with a common link to the past.

Many thanks to all that have contributed so far – the sum of the whole is greater than the parts


Colin Archibald Gunn McKenzie – Pilot

McKenzie Sidecap cleaned comped and cropped

The sidecap of Colin McKenzie – Pilot
© Paul Denton

Born 28 February 191,4 he grew up on the family farm at Waikoikoi. He was employed as student and farmer by W T McKenzie & Sons Ltd. Colin was educated at Waikoikoi primary,then at Gore High Sch. He served 3 yrs school cadets. Enlisted at Levin as Airman Pilot under training 21 December 1941. Colin did his elementary Flying training with No1 EFTS ( Elementary Flying Training School) at Taieri then to SFTS (Service Flying Training School)at Wigram, graduating with course 28A on 17/10/1942  as Sgt Pilot. Additional courses: Staff Pilot course, 3 FTS, 26/7 – 23/8/44 , 31 Base FTS course 9/9? – 20/10/44 , Merlin course (Pilot’) No. 1 AGCAU 27/11 – 2/12/44; No. 7 Bomber Command Instructors’ Course, Finningley, 31/3/45 (actual course 1/4 – 12/5/45).

He then embarked on the “Amerika”  (Wellington-Liverpool, via Panama Canal)  for the UK and attached to the RAF on 2 December 1942. He was then sent to No 12 PD&RC 3/2, to 15 (P) AFU 26/4, 11 OTU (no date), 1651 CU 4/9/43. Flt Sgt McKenzie was appointed a temporary Commission as a Pilot Officer on 28 December 1943. Promoted to F/O w.e.f. 28/6/44.

NZ417078 Pilot 75 Sqn 15 October 1943 to 1 July 1944.
Posted in ex 1651 CU; crew members were:-
Navigator Sgt Drummond Blair Livingstone;
Air Bomber P/O Ronald Gordon Freeman;
Wireless Operator Sgt P Skingley;
Flight Engineer Sgt R Conner;
Mid Upper Gunner F/O Ethelbert Henry Maurice Eaves;
Rear Gunner P/O Howard Douglas Stewart Bridge.

Crew on ops 22/10 – 19/11, 29/12/43; 3, 19/2, 2 – 22/3, 24/4 – 12-13/6/44.

Considerable crew changes included A/B F/Sgt (P/O) Gilbert Gillies Ward and W/Op Sgt Ralph Herbert Barker by 12/43, then W/O Jack Jones (W/Op) by 3/44. Air gunner Sgt G Tedman replaced Eaves as Mid-upper gunner by 3/44.

Then posted to 1653 CU, to 12 PD&RC (no date), disemb NZ 23/10/45 (2 PDT) (ceased attachment to RAF w.e.f. 28/10), to S/NEP (Senior Non Effective Pool) [Cat 17] 24/10, Transferred to the reserve of Officers 8 January 1946 [Gaz 7/46, RO.29/46], commission terminated 1/6/56.

From Norman Franks book “Forever Strong” a History of 75 (NZ) SQN.
Flying Officer Colin McKenzie of Gore;     (This is in his own words.)
“For a few days there was a feeling that a landing in France was imminent, on the 5th of June some unusual events were happening, we were called for a flying meal at 2300Hrs followed by briefing at 2345. Take off was 0330Hrs, We bombed on the French coast just on daybreak and were back at base by 0715Hrs. ———Raid by 26 A/C on the Quistreham Batteries ( Most Lancs on an OP)

On D-Day morning, cloud covered the  sea so that we did not see any of the invasion craft. We had our interrogation and a meal and went to bed. We had no knowledge of events until the news at 1300Hrs. We had another flying meal at 2100Hrs and took off at 0030Hrs to bomb Lisieux ahead of the invasion troops.

On the morning of the 7th June we crossed the sea, there was much flak, as it seems that our Navy types were firing at all and sundry. Crossing the coast to Lisieux, our rear gunner called out the flak was close but I calmed him down by assuring him that all was ok and the crisis past. However when we got home we found that our W/T aerial had been cut away about a foot away from Don in the rear turret, so he was right! The flak had been close!”

Flying Officer M. Eaves, one of Colin’s gunners made a claim for a damaged JU88 on the 11th of November 1943 they were flying EF514 on a Mining trip. Only 2 A/C from 75SQn flew on this mission to Gironde Estuary. (Deodar Area) Airborne 17.12hrs Landed 00.42hrs

Medal entitlement: 1939/45 Star, Aircrew Europe Star & Clasp (France & Germany), Defence Medal, WM 1939/45, NZWSM.

Colin McKenzie married Margaret Dorothy Weir , born 4/6/1916, on the 8th of August 1945. Colin was a deeply religious man and was ordained at Center Bush as a Presbyterian Minister on the 20th of January 1949 after attending the Theological Hall between 1946-1948. He and Margaret were based at Mayfield AsP 7/2/1954. Resigned 11/10/1955 due to ill health and resumed farming at Knapdale in 1957.

PPSA field Officer ( along with Margaret)1978 retired 3/2/1981.

“His dual role as Farmer and Minister enabled him to relate to a wide cross-section of  people. He continued as a Bible class leader and spent nearly 50 years within the Bible class Movement. Colins deep love for his Lord, his faithfulness to the scriptures, his prayerfulness and his extraordinary interest in people sustained in his Ministry. He led Worship, especially in vacant parishes, prepared people for Baptism and Confirmation, and Married people. He enjoyed being involved with people.

After moving to Gore in the early seventies, Colin continued to Minister, serving as an Elder within the Calvin Parish, exercising a Pastoral Ministry through visiting, writing and telephoning, contribution to Worship, and encouraging. He worked hard to see the gospel touch the community” ( from Obituary)

Colin Archibald Gunn McKenzie passed on, 1994

A little extra on the crew of LL888 AA-X

Roland Betley and Peter Cook

Left: Roland Desmond Ernest Betley, Pilot. Right: Peter Jackson Cook , Rear Gunner.
Both lost with the rest of the crew 16th June 1944. © Auckland War Memorial Museum

Many thanks for all the people that have gotten back to me with suggestions as to where I might find a picture of LL888 – unfortunately so far no luck. However many thanks to Mike from for passing on 2 links to the Auckland War Memorial Museum for Roland Betely, the Pilot and Peter Cook, the Rear Gunner;,+1939-1945%22,+1939-1945%22

Does anyone have an image of LL888 AA-X?

I was contacted by Michel yesterday regarding a request for an image of Lancaster LL888 AA-X that was shot down after the 15/16th June 1944 raid on Valciennes railway yard. This was only the second op for the Betley crew;

F/Sgt Roland Desmond Ernest Betley  RNZAF NZ421495. Pilot. Died Friday 16 June 1944, age 22.
Sgt Edward George Gilliatt RAFVR 648452. Navigator. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 22,.
F/Sgt Lawrence Eastmure Hale RNZAF NZ42395. Air Bomber. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 26.
W/O Edward Wallace Toohey RNZAF NZ416672. Wireless Operator. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 22.
Sgt Basil Griffiths RAFVR 1578754. Flight Engineer. Died Friday 16th June1944, age 22.
Sgt Ronald Howe RAFVR 993314. Mid Upper Gunner. Died Friday 16 June 1944, age 28.
F/Sgt Peter Jackson Cook RNZAF NZ42708 Rear Gunner. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 21.

The crew were buried  in the little cemetery of Rieux en Cambrésis, site of the crash.Michel is currently preparing an exhibition on another Lancaster that crashed near his village after the same raid. I know its a long shot, but if anybody has any additional information on the crew and or a picture of LL888 I will pass it onto Michel

An amazing coincidence – John Hulena – a face to a name?

John Hulena in ITW and CU photos

2 images of who I believe to be John Sebastian Hulena, Rear Gunner with the Mayfield crew. The first taken at Initial Training Wing Wereroa, RNZAF Levin, January 1942. The second image is from a group photograph taken at 1651 Conversion Unit, Waterbeach, I believe mid July 1943.

I received an email from Chris this morning which confirmed a discovery I made last night. It’s all the more amazing because it’s come through 2 totally unconnected photographs that represent wider training outside of 75(NZ) Squadron. Ironically I recently posted an image of ‘B’ Flight  from 1651 Conversion Unit at Waterbeach. By simple argument of logic, I know that within this picture were Dads first tour crew, even though to date I have only been able to identify Dad, Allan Mayfield, Jack Jarmy and from the other crew that arrived with them at Mepal on the same day, Eric Roberts, Kensington Jackson and Darcy Haub.

Last week I was sent some information by Peter regarding a number of his relatives (which hopefully will be posted soon). One image was of a group photo from Air Gunner’s course, Flight 3A, Course 30, 21 January 1942, Initial Training Wing Wereroa, RNZAF Levin, Levin, NZ. It seems near simultaneously, both Chris and I noticed one signature on the back – ‘J. S. Hulena’
John Hulena signature ITWLevin-30Course-210142- rear-signatures

Of course, this didn’t identify John in the ITW photograph, however it was fairly easy to match 2 faces between the ITW and 1651CU photographs. When I had found the faces, I realised that for some strange reason that I had looked at the face a number of times in the CU Photograph – John was born in 1913, so was 9 years older than Dad – I had looked at this individual, simply because he looked older – it seems my ‘gut’ feeling was perhaps correct……