Daily Archives: March 9, 2013

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!