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.
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.
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