Monthly Archives: April 2013

Reginald Arthur Smith RAFVR 1606544 logbook

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Many thanks to Kevin for the kind donation of his father’s logbook. Reg and his crew flew with the Squadron between February and July 1945 and in fact, their first flight with the 75(NZ) was on the same day that my father flew his first op with the Squadron, having returned to Mepal for his second tour.

Reg was Rear Gunner with Maurice Adamson’s crew, who were;

Flt Lt. Maurice James Adamson RNZAF. (NZ426904), Pilot
P/O Arthur Edwin Noel Unwin RNZAF. (NZ427347) Navigator
F/O, Kenneth William Rathbride Mitchell RNZAF. (NZ425700) Air Bomber.
W/O John William Fisher RNZAF (NZ4211617) Wireless Operator
F/Sgt J Palmer RAFVR  Flight Engineer
Sgt F Rhodes RAFVR  Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Reginald Arthur Smith RAFVR (1606544) Rear Gunner.

The crew flew a total of 21 ops before the end of the war and continued to fly a food drop on The Hague, repatriate prisoners of war from Juvincourt and fly a number of observation trips over Germany to view the effects of the bombing campaign by the Allies.

Interestingly Reg’s logbook shows the break-up of the Squadron – whilst his Commonwealth crew mates moved with 75(NZ) to Spilsby in preparation for Tiger Force, Reg stayed at Mepal and joined 44 Squadron.

Read Reg’s logbook here

ANZAC Day

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Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.

 In 1934, Kemal Atatürk delivered these words to the first Australians, New Zealanders and British to visit the Gallipoli battlefields. They were later inscribed on a monolith at Ari Burnu Cemetery (ANZAC Beach) which was unveiled in 1985. The words also appear on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, Canberra, and the Atatürk Memorial in Wellington.

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Thousands lost their lives in the Gallipoli campaign: 87,000 Turks, 44,000 men from France and the British Empire, including 8500 Australians and 2721 New Zealanders.. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians and New Zealanders remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

Whilst not the only Commonwealth Squadron, 75(NZ) Squadron was the only to carry it’s country of origin. During the period of the Second World War, the Squadron lost 1139 members, of which 469 were New Zealanders and 12 were Australian.

AHE AKE KIA KAHA

The Victoria Cross Trust

ViCCross Trust cropped and reduced

Not long after I posted the story of Jimmy Ward V.C. and his heroic actions from ‘New Zealanders in the Air’, I noticed a search link from the Victoria Cross Trust. Ever curious, I investigated…..

I was amazed by the story the trust told. Strictly, I am off topic, but I was amazed and appalled to discover the state of the graves of the countries Victoria Cross recipients. What shocked me even more is that there is no official support for the maintenance of the graves of Victoria Cross recipients, if they fall out of what seems a very narrow categorisation.

It is a general misconception that graves of men awarded the Victoria Cross are looked after and protected by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Only those VC’s that were killed on the battlefields during the First and Second World Wars are commemorated either with a grave or a memorial.

The CWGC also looks after the graves of seven other VC recipients including Lieutenant Colonel Herbert ‘H’ Jones and Sergeant Ian McKay, both killed in the Falklands and Corporal Bryan Budd, who lost his life in Afghanistan.

The responsibility for the upkeep of graves belonging to VC recipients, who died in other conflicts or of old age, lies with their relatives.

Many of these burial plots have fallen into disrepair and suffer from neglect. Families and relatives have dwindled or died out and sometimes the descendants are unaware that they exist, or they simply cannot afford to maintain them.

In some cases the burial rights have expired completely meaning families do not have a legal right to replace headstones.

I would not normally use this site to ask for money, but, as a Squadron who is proud to have a Victoria Cross recipient amongst their number, I would ask you, if you read this post to click here

And please, all you fellow bloggers, if you see this post, please re-blog it – I think these guys deserve all the help they can get………….

cheers

Simon

ANZAC Day and Newmarket Cemetery

Delores banner

Tony has recently posted his plans and wishes for this coming Thursday to mark ANZAC Day at Newmarket Cemetery, but I thought it was worth pushing it up to a post, just in case anybody sees it and wishes to go along. Tony’s original comments on the ‘About’ page is as follows;

Not all forgotten here in Newmarket. Thursday being Anzac Day, at 11 am, I am arranging a placing of Dolores Crosses at the graves of 8 Kiwis resting here. 7 are from this squadron. It would be great to meet any friends.

In case anyone can make it, 11 am on Anzac Day, coming THURSDAY a little ceremony at Newmarket Cemetery where we will remember 8 Kiwis resting here, 7 of them 75 (NZ) Sqdn
Selwyn Clubb
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Harvey
John Johnston
John Walsh
Harold Welch
William Whitcombe

not forgetting the other 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF men
Stankey Curtis RAFVR
Stanley Drayton RAFVR
William Lawrence RCAF
Bertram Moffat RCAF
Francis Reddicliffe RAFVR
Phillip Stuart RCAF

Hopefully a few people might see this and come along to remember these boys with Tony

Operation ‘Manna’

The message 'Many Thanks' spelt out in tulips. released from copyright by Ian Dunster

The message ‘Many Thanks’ spelt out in tulips.
released from copyright by Ian Dunster

Prior to writing the post about the Sinclair crew today, I was already aware of the Operation ‘Manna’ flights that the Squadron flew at the end of the war to drop much needed supplies to the Dutch People, and in particular Delft and the Hague. As I have mentioned at the bottom of that post, whilst searching for information I came across OperationManna a site created by Eric Heijink. For those of you unfamiliar with the RAF’s Operation ‘Manna’ and the equivalent USAF ‘Chowhound’ ops, I refer to our good friend Wikipedia;

By early 1945, the situation was growing desperate for the three million or more Dutch still under German control. Prince Bernhard appealed directly to Allied Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower, but Eisenhower did not have the authority to negotiate a truce with the Germans. While the prince got permission from Prime Minister Winston Churchill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Eisenhower had Air Commodore Andrew Geddes begin planning immediately. On 23 April, authorization was given by the Chief of Staff, George Marshall.

Allied agents negotiated with Reichskommissar Arthur Seyss-Inquart and a team of German officers. Among the participants were the future Canadian writer Farley Mowat and the German commander-in-chief, General Blaskowitz. It was agreed that the participating airplanes would not be fired upon within specified air corridors.

Operation Manna

The British operation started first. It was named after the food which was miraculously provided to the Israelites in the Book of Exodus. The planning of the whole operation was done first by the Royal Air Force.

The first of the two RAF Avro Lancasters chosen for the test flight, the morning of April 29, 1945, was nicknamed “Bad Penny,” as in the expression: “a bad penny always turns up”. This bomber, with a crew of seven young men (five from Ontario, Canada, including pilot Robert Upcott of Windsor, Ontario), took off in bad weather despite the fact that the Germans had not yet agreed to a ceasefire. (Seyss-Inquart would do so the next day.) Bad Penny had to fly low, down to 50 feet (15 m), over German guns, but succeeded in dropping her precious cargo and returned to base.

Operation Manna then began in earnest.British aircraft from Groups 1, 3, and 8, consisting of 145 Mosquitoes and 3,156 Lancaster bombers, took part, flying between them a total of 3,298 sorties. These bombers were used to dropping bombs from 6,000 metres (20,000 ft), but this time they had to do their job from a height of 150 metres (490 ft), some even flying as low as 120 metres (390 ft), as the cargo did not have parachutes. The drop zones, marked by Mosquitoes from Squadrons 105 and 109 using Oboe, were: Leiden (Valkenburg airfield), The Hague (Duindigt horse race course and Ypenburg airfield), Rotterdam (Waalhaven airfield and Kralingsche Plas) and Gouda. Bomber Command delivered a total 6,680 tons of food.

Operation Chowhound

On the American side, ten bomb groups of the US Third Air Division flew 2268 sorties beginning 1 May, delivering a total of 4000 tons. 400 B-17 Flying Fortress bombers of the United States Army Air Forces dropped 800 tons of K-rations during May 1–3, on Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

Once again, I find myself musing about the irony and timing of things – Bob had left the Squadron before the end of the war and the ‘Manna’ flights, but my wife is an interior designer for a large Swedish furniture company that is predominantly blue and yellow – said company used to have their main planning office in Delft – I spent countless weekends strolling round Delft, ignorant of what my Father had done in the war, ignorant of a Squadron called 75(NZ) and ignorant of the plight of the Dutch people after the war and an operation by the RAF called ‘Manna’…….

Arhur Rhys Williams – Flight Engineer’s notes

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As well as Arthur’s logbook, David has kindly sent some pages from ‘Pilots and Flight Engineers Notes – Lancaster’. I have seen reproductions of these manuals, but its nice to see an original – especially as it has Arthur’s name and Squadron written on the top!

The Manual is placed as a pop out menu from Arthur’s logbook in the logbook section of the site – alternatively, view it here

Arthur Rhys Williams RAFVR 1608118 logbook

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Many thanks to David for contributing his Father-in-Law’s logbook. I am pleased to say Arthur is still with us and according to David still has a sharp memory for his RAF days and is full of stories of the time.

Arthur was Flight Engineer with Frederick Hubbard’s crew, who arrived at Mepal in April 1944 and completed a tour of 27 ops by the end of July of the same year.

Look through Arthur’s logbook here