Daily Archives: April 21, 2013

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

Ian Foster, Wireless Operator – Sinclair crew 1945

The Sinclair crew. Brian Foster

The Sinclair crew. Back row L to R: George Painting (Flight Engineer), Leslie Gordon Sinclair (Pilot), Alexander ‘Sandy’/ ‘Slim’ Annandale Sommerville (Navigator), Ian Anderson Foster (Wireless Operator) , Ian Rowe (Bomb Aimer). Front row L to R: Bill Glover (Rear Gunner), Alan McRobert (Mid-upper Gunner) .
© Brian Foster

Its seems as if another series of coincidences have finally played out…….

Early in my research journey, I became aware of ‘another’ Sommerville in the Squadron, present at Mepal During Dad’s 2nd tour with the Squadron in 1945. Alex Sommerville, a New Zealander, was the navigator with Leslie Sinclair’s crew. Ironically, for the raid on Hamm on the 20th March 1945, Alex is actually incorrectly listed instead of Bob as A/B for the Zinzan crew. The story then jumps to the end of last year when I inquired to the New Zealand Aviation Museum about whether, hope against hope, that they might have a crew picture of dad. My heart skipped a beat when I got news back there was a crew photo with a ‘Sommerville’ in it – only, to be honest, to be deflated when I discovered it was that man Alex again!

Last week, I was contacted by Brian, the son of Ian Foster, wireless operator with the Sinclair crew. I sent him a copy of the photo I had and he sent back the image above, which he has carefully colourised. Interestingly, this is an uncropped version and fascinatingly shows in the background a film crew with airmen near another aircraft.

The Sinclair crews history with the Squadron is as follows;

7.3.45. F/O L.G. Sinclair and crew arrived on posting from No. 73 Base.
On arrival, the Sinclair crew were as follows;
F/O Leslie Gordon Sinclair RNZAF. (NZ428917) Pilot
F/O Alexander Annandale Sommerville RNZAF. (NZ425459) Navigator
F/Sgt Ian Dalrymple Rowe RNZAF. (NZ4210043) Air Bomber
F/O Ian Foster RAAF (AUS.423091) Wireless Operator
Sgt G. Painting RAFVR …. Flight Engineer
Sgt A. McRobert RAFVR… Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt W. Glover RAFVR … Rear Gunner

10.3.45. War Ops – Gelsenkirchen Buer. HK593 JN-X
11.3.45. War Ops – Essen. HK593 JN-X
14.3.45. War Ops – Heinrich Hutte. PB820 JN-V
18.3.45. War Ops – Bruchstrasse. HK601 JN-D
21.3.45. War Ops – Munster Viaduct. NG322 JN-F
13/14.4.45. War Ops – Kiel. HK600 JN-K
Flying Officer William Reay as 2nd Pilot

18.4.45. War Ops – Heligoland. HK600 JN-K
Sergeant B. Fletcher replaces Sergeant Painting as Flight Engineer. Additionally, it would appear from the crew details from the 1945 ORB that on this flight HK600 was fitted with a ventral gun turret – Flight Sergeant L. Murphy is listed as the eighth member of the crew, manning the mid under gun.

20.4.45. War Ops – Regensburg. HK600 JN-K
Sergeant. Fletcher still Flight Engineer.

24.4.45. War Ops – Bad Oldesloe. HK600 JN-K
Warrant Officer W. Peplow replaces Sergeant Fletcher as Flight Engineer. The crew was also joined by Pilot Officer William Turnbull as 2nd Pilot.

1.5.45. Operation ‘Manna’ – Supply Dropping, Delft. NG322 JN-F
Sergeant Painting returns to his position as Flight Engineer.

3.5.45. Operation Manna – Supply Dropping, Delft and Hague. HK600 JN-K
Sergeant Painting once again disappears from the crew – this time the role of Flight Engineer is performed by Pilot Officer B. Murphy. Interestingly there is no Mid Upper Gunner listed, as is the case with all the other aircraft that flew on this op. I must assume, that the perceived threat from rogue German units was entirely ground based at this point.

29.5.45. Viewing Effects of the Bombing. no a/c details listed in ORB
At this point, the crew seems to change significantly for what will actually be their penultimate ‘op’ together – I am guessing that the Squadron at this point was being reconfigured around the idea of Tiger Force and to this end, some crew were leaving as they simply were not required further.

Flying Officer Alan Woodcock – Air Bomber. (potentially strange as he was a pilot, so one assumes he was there literally for the ride).
Flight Sergeant W. Clough – Wireless Operator.
Flight Sergeant D. Walker – Flight Engineer.

19.6.45. Viewing Effects of the Bombing. NN747 JN-O (AA-D perhaps)
Flying Officer Lawrence Luxton – Air Bomber.
W/O Edward Spooner – Wireless Operator.
Flight Sergeant D. Walker – Flight Engineer.

Whilst putting this post together I came across the remarkable site of Eric Heijink, that commemorates the RAF ‘Manna’ and USAF ‘Chowhound’   food dropping flights over Holland.
You can view Eric’s site here

Arthur Rhys Williams – paintings

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Continuing thanks to David for these 2 paintings.

The paintings are ones that local painter Maurice Gardener painted for Arthur.  The painting of F for Freddy was meant to represent his plane sitting on dispersal at Mepal and was given to him on retirement from British Leyland, the big fella is Arthur with his bike on the ground.  He can always remember being parked by the gate in the background (right) and of the villagers who used to come up to the gate and fence to wave them off when they went on an Op (he says they always knew when they were going off).

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The one of the flight engineer was done after Arthur ‘sat’ for him showing how he spent his time while on an op.  He was able to give an accurate placement , size etc of all the switches and dials.