Three cousins in 75(NZ) Squadron – another question answered!

AA-A

AA-A “Seven Sinners”
Photo from Forever strong: The story of 75 Squadron RNZAF, 1916-1990 (1991) by Norman Franks, Random Century.

Chris is like a dog with a bone with this story – his final thoughts and a very well argued conclusion……..

The question about the beer tankard nose art in the previous post led to an almost immediate reply from Ian, who has been helping build the 75 (NZ) Sqdn aircraft database, with a copy of a more detailed photo from Norman Franks’ book, Forever Strong.

AA-A was “Seven Sinners”, a name we had thought to be associated with another, later Lancaster.

Armed with this information I had another go with Google, which fortuitously turned up a wonderful set of photos of AA-A Seven Sinners and her original crew, the Bateman crew, who I think must have dreamed up the name and nose art:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skew/4417816297/in/set-72157623582338770/

Johnny Bateman, his Navigator and Bomb Aimer were all Australian (hence the kangaroo), and the others were Brits (hence the Lion).

Seven Sinners was also the name of a 1940 movie starring Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne, so no doubt topical at the time.

The Forever Strong photo must have been taken just after she was named and decorated, as there are no op’s markings.

By the time the Elmslie crew’s photo was taken with her in October 44 (below), she had 27 op’s marked, so I figured there had to be a decent record of her in the ORB’s, going back to August 44 or thereabouts.

The Elmslie crew at Mepal, October 1944, in front of AA-A with its Foaming Beer Tankard nose art. Left to Right: Jim Elmslie (Pilot), Alan Wiltshire (Nav), Ken Futter (F/E), Jim McKenzie (B/A), Peter Dear (W/Op), John Vallender (RG), Gordon Burberry (M/UG) Photo from Alan Wiltshire, courtesy of NZ Bomber Command Association archives.

The Elmslie crew at Mepal, October 1944, in front of AA-A with its Foaming Beer Tankard nose art.
Left to Right: Jim Elmslie (Pilot), Alan Wiltshire (Nav), Ken Futter (F/E), Jim McKenzie (B/A), Peter Dear (W/Op), John Vallender (RG), Gordon Burberry (M/UG)
Photo from Alan Wiltshire, courtesy of NZ Bomber Command Association archives.

A quick scan of the ORB’s (Form 541’s) and there she was, LM266, the Bateman crew’s regular Lancaster from mid-August to early November, and the same a/c that the Elmslie crew flew on 7 October!

When we first looked at the Elmslie crew’s op’s, I had incorrectly assumed that LM266, as recorded in the ORB’s for 7 October, was AA-F (which she was re-coded to later in her life), but we have now confirmed that she was AA-A, from 28/29 July to 4 November 44.

Not only did the nose art help us solve the identity of the aircraft, it also allowed us to date the photos of Jim and crew in front of and underneath “Seven Sinners” – they would have been taken on the 7th of October 44, the day of their first op’ together, to Emmerich!

Good work Chris!!

7 thoughts on “Three cousins in 75(NZ) Squadron – another question answered!

  1. John Stackhouse

    Greetings from Christchurch, New Zealand. A great website and an interesting read. I have found the whole site of great interest and noted the comments made about W/C Jack Leslie. Stan Davies, mentioned in a post, is the cousin of Wing Commander Ray Newton DFC MiD whom I have researched in great detail. Newton replaced Leslie as CO in December 1944. From talking to a number of 75 Squadron personnel and reading their different writings it appears Jack Leslie was a divisive leader. Some liked him, many didn’t and I have not come across anyone who was ambivalent towards him or his leadership style! He created a stir of emotions. The incident related about Emslie’s prang on the ground and how Leslie reacted is not untypical from what I can gather. Leslie’s inconsistency was one major Achilles heal. Depending on mood or level of pressure he could react quite differently to very similar situations. He could blow up and go the “whole hog” as far as consequences go for one person but the following day brush the same misdemeanour from another person aside with a “reprimand”. Emslie could well have been treated differently by Leslie on a different day or when he was in a different frame of mind.This inconsistency led to friction in the squadron. I had not heard he was deliberately replaced before his usual tenure had run its course and he seems to have led the squadron for the “usual” time period of a surviving commander. He was admired for his willingness to lead from the front and get involved but this also brought criticism that he was too reckless with regard to his own crew and the squadron in general on operations. The most insightful comment made about Leslie was one which compared Ray Newton to Leslie. Harry Yates wrote in his book Luck and a Lancaster about the New Year bash, 31 December 1945, just after he had finished his tour of ops: “The party in the Officers’ Mess was well under way when ray Newton arrived. Had it been Jack Leslie still, we might have been treated to the sight of our CO climbing on a table and belting out some rousing, but profoundly anti-German, little number. Newton was less extrovert but, also perhaps, more at peace with himself.” Newton was more “at peace” and consistent, that was his style. He did not suffer fools but was consistent in how he traeted people. Newton’s more measured approach to leadership was seen as important to the squadron and it was intended he would lead the squadron through most of 1945. Sadly this was not to be and Newton and his crew were killed on a raid to Vohwinkel on New Year’s Day 1945 flying in Harry Yates’s beloved Lanc N-Nan. We only caught a glimpse of his leadership of the squadron, however he had also been a Flight Commander on 75 January-July 1942. He completed 28 operations with 75 squadron in 1942, undertook two in 1944/45. He also did ops with 150 Squadron and 23 OTU. He completed 48 ops altogether and was killed on his 49th.

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  2. Chris Newey

    Thanks John, really appreciate your message, and very interesting that you have researched Ray Newton. It would be great to have pages on this site covering each of the Wing and Flight Commanders, such strong personalities and capable individuals! Yates obviously had a lot of respect for Jack Leslie – also from Luck and a Lancaster:
    “Another good thing came to an end a day or so later. Jack Leslie left the station, his command over.
    He had transferred from the RNZAF to the RAF on 10 April 1940. From the beginning, he appears to have been a dynamic character. Danger followed unerringly. During his first tour of duty he was twice mentioned in dispatches yet was decorated with the Air Force Cross, a non-operational recognition. But this was the man who, at Mepal, announced his arrival by diving on the airfield on two engines. He dropped the squadron’s first 12,000 lb bomb personally and the third one he put on Essen in error. He squeezed himself into a rear turret to fly the Saarbrucken raid, 75’s record offer, as a gunner. On the squadron’s dreaded return to Homberg he went around again simply to shift one recalcitrant 1,000-pounder. His press-on spirit was renowned, sometimes feared. But he infused every Briefing with it and never left anyone in doubt about his opinions of the enemy and of the job we were there to do. He was, in short, utterly courageous and irrepressible, a chancer and just plain wrong at times, undoubtedly, but a true leader for all that. He left with his DSO and a reputation that would be hard indeed to follow.”

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  3. 75nzsquadron Post author

    Hi John
    Many thanks for your information on Jack Leslie and Ray Newton – and also apologies for my belated response – crazy at work and lots (hopefully) of new stuff coming for the blog. I agree with Chris, it would be great to add a section dealing with the Commanding Officers. I think your description of Leslie and Newton are fascinating – as I have often said to people, I cannot imagine what the aircrews felt every time they prepared for an op – to imagine how the commanders, dealt with not only this anxiety, but the need to lead and manage their aircrews perhaps explains the ‘sharp focus’ of some of the personalities in the Squadron.

    Anything you would like to share on ray Newton would be very welcome.

    Once again, many thanks for enjoying the site and making contact.

    Simon

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  4. Arthur Arculus

    Greetings,
    Could you please confirm that the Lancaster photo is of NN745 lost on the night of 21/22 November 1944. Crew included two New Zealanders, Martyn & Elliot.
    Thanks,
    Digger Arculus

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  5. Chris Newey

    Hi Digger, no, according to our research, the Lancaster in the photo is LM266, coded AA-A at the time this was taken (7 Oct 44?) but later re-coded to AA-F. Cheers, Chris

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  6. Chris Newey

    From the aircraft database on this site, NN745 first appears in the ORB’s (Form 541) on 15 Nov 44 as “A”, and at this point LM266 appears to have been re-coded from AA-A to AA-F, NN745 was coded AA-A when lost 21/22 November, after only 3 op’s.

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  7. Nadine Thomas

    I am trying to trace CLAYTON WILLIAMS.. I was lead to believe he was a Squadron Leader. He married my mother whose name was VIOLET CUNNINGHAM when he met her in U.K about 1945/46. They came to New Zealand and had a daughter named Lorraine. The marriage did not last. Lorraine died on September 9th 2015. Violet remarried in about 1953 to a George Best I am the child of Violet and George Best. I never knew my half sister Lorraine Williams. Sadly my mother was vindictive enough to never let us meet. I am interested to know anything about CLAYTON WILLIAMSi AND IF HE WAS IN 75 Squadron NZ Airforce. I doubt if he would still be alive but one never knows. Anyone who can help me in my family search can contact me at mthomascg@ optusnet.com.au I live in Melbourne now

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