Monthly Archives: June 2013

Ben Wood – Pilot

Ben Wood

Ben Wood, tending his parents vegetable plot in Jersey.
© Bill Wood

Many thanks to Bill for sending this picture of his Uncle, Ben Wood. I was originally contacted by Adrian a few months ago now about the Wood crew – his Uncle, Edgar Reader was the Wireless Operator with the crew. The Wood crew were tragically lost on the night of 22/23rd of June 1943 on an operation to Mannheim. They now all lay at rest in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

Bill is able to give us a little more information about Ben – he lived in Jersey with his parents ( photo of him in garden planting what looks like veg )  he joined the Jersey Light Regiment and was based on the Isle of White, he told one of his brothers that he put in a transfer to the RAF as he was unhappy in the army. He was one of 6 brothers which served in the armed forces in WW 2.

John Townson Dickinson RAFVR (2221282) logbook

log23&24

Many thanks to Tom for sending his Grandads logbook to add to the collection. John Dickinson was Mid Upper Gunner with Charles Spain’s crew, completing a tour at Mepal between 18th September and 21st December 1944 with ‘B’ flight.

Read John’s logbook here

Charles John Shalfoon – Pilot

I have recently been contacted by John, on behalf of his wife,  who is the niece of pilot officer Charles Shalfoon – lost with the rest of his crew on the 11th October 1942 on a Gardening Op to the Kattegat area of the Baltic Sea.

John and his wife would love to find out more about Charles and in particular would be very interested to see any photographs that might exist of the crew, or individuals from the crew.

Tragically, it was only the crews third operational flight with the Squadron and only their second flying as a crew themselves.

The Shalfoon crew were;
Sgt Charles John Shalfoon RNZAF. (NZ413897) – Pilot. Died Sunday 11th October 1942, age 22. No known grave. Commemorated on Panel 118 Runnymede Memorial.
Sgt Harold Wolfenden RAFVR (1237318) – Observer .Died Sunday 11th October 1942, age 32. Buried Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Denmark.
Sgt Algernon Parsons RAFVR (1196149) – Wireless Operator. Died Sunday 11th October 1942, age 22. Buried Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Denmark.
Sgt Sydney Posner RAFVR (1078313) – Front Gunner. Died Sunday 11th October 1942, age 22. Lost without trace, commemorated on Panel 91 Runnymede Memorial.
Sgt Roy Harold Scott RCAF (R.137578) – Rear Gunner. Died Sunday 11th October 1942, age 20. Buried Esbjerg (Fourfelt) Cemetery Denmark.

Oct. 6th 1942. –  Attack against targets at Osnabruck
The crew flew with Squadron Leader Robert Stanway Crawford

Oct. 8th 1942. – Gardening off Ostend

Oct. 11th 1942. – Gardening in the Kattegat and Little Belt
Wellington Mk.III BK341- Failed to Return
Sgt. Shalfoon    Captain
Sgt. Wolfenden Nav.
Sgt. Parsons      Wop
Sgt. Posner        F/Gunner
Sgt. Scott           R/Gunner

John Townson Dickinson, Mid Upper Gunner – Spain crew

Many thanks to Tom for contacting me about his grandad, John Dickinson, who was the Mid Upper Gunner with the Spain crew. John sadly passed away last October, leaving both Tom and his father knowing little about what he did during the war. A gift of a copy of Harry Yates excellent book ‘Luck and a Lancaster’ resulted in Tom and his dad taking a trip down to Cambridgeshire this last Fathers Day, there they first found the airfield marker for Mepal, then the Memorial Garden and I am pleased to say, apparently my fathers plaque on the memorial wall as well.

Tom contacted me the day after and I am pleased to provide for him, his father and perhaps anybody else who might know something more of this crew, a crew list and Op history.

The Spain crew were;
F/O Charles Thomas Spain RAFVR (921159, 178068) – Pilot.
F/Sgt Nelson Keith Haldane Renner RNZAF (NZ4215892, 70171) – Navigator
Plt Off Leonard Charles James RNZAF (NZ4211046) – Air Bomber
Plt Off Laurence Percy Bergman RAAF (AUS.424579) – Wireless Operator.
Sgt D McNeil RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt John Townson Dickinson RAFVR (2221282) – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt John (Steve) Chamberlain RAFVR – Rear Gunner

10.9.44. – 178068 P/O C. Spain and crew arrived from No.31 Base.

Rather frustratingly there appears to be no record of a 2nd Dickie flight for Charles before his crew begin to fly operationally.

20.9.44. War Ops – Attack against Calais
23.9.44. War Ops – Attack against Neuss
25.9.44. War Ops – Attack against Calais
26.9.44. War Ops – Attack against  Cap Gris Nez
27.9.44. War Ops – Attack against Calais
3.10.44. War Ops – Attack against West Kapelle Dyke
5.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Saarbrucken
6.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Dortmund
7.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Emmerich
14.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Duisberg
14/15.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Duisberg
23.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Essen
23.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Essen
29.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against West Kappelle
30.10.44. War Ops –  Attack against Cologne
2.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Homberg
4.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Solingen
6/7.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Coblenz
8.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Homberg
15.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Dortmund
27.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Cologne
28/29.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Neuss
30.11.44. War Ops –  Attack against Osterfeld
4.12.44. War Ops –  Attack against Oberhausen
5.12.44. War Ops –  Attack against Hamm
8.12.44. War Ops –  Attack against Duisberg
11.12.44. War Ops –  Attack against Osterfeld
16.12.44. War Ops –  Attack against Siegen
21.12.44. War Ops –  Attack against Trier

I make that a total of 29 Ops for the crew, plus Charles missing 2nd Dickie flight and this would mean that the crew were tour expired – and lucky to survivie a very torrid period in the Squadrons history.

Incredibly, as I write this post, Tom is sending through his Grandad’s logbook – so I will be able to check back to make sure I haven’t missed any ops from the boys total.

The Rangiuaia Crew

As a research activity gathering together the flights of Mikes father, John Rowlands (Turnbull crew), I ended up gathering the Op history of Wi Rangiuaia and his crew, so it seems a shame to waste the information and hopefully someone might come across this post and be able to tell us a little more about the boys………..

As is sometimes the case – a number of RAFVR boys in the crew and no record of their christian name – so fingers cross, we might get to know them a little better.

The Rangiuaia crew were;
Fg Off. Wi Rangiuaia RNZAF. (NZ427319) – Pilot
F/Sgt A Matthew RAFVR – Navigator
F/Sgt D Morrison RAFVR – Air Bomber
F/Sgt John Edward Barry Mossman RNZAF (NZ42112587) – Wireless Operator
Sgt L Player RAFVR – Flight Engineer
Sgt T Mynott RAFVR – MId Upper Gunner
Sgt T Morgan RAFVR – Rear Gunner

18.1.45. F/S Rangiuaia and crew arrived on posting from No. 31 Base
22.1.45. Rangiuiai 2nd pilot with Abrams crew. War Ops – Duisberg.
28.1.45. Rangiuiai 2nd pilot with W/C Baigent. War Ops – Cologne.

29.1.45. War Ops –Krefeld
13/14.2.45. War Ops – Dresden
14/15.2.45. War Ops – Chemnitz
16.2.45. War Ops – Wesel
18.2.45. War Ops – Wesel
23.2.45. War Ops – Gelsenkirchen
24/25.2.45. War Ops – Mining Oslo Fjord
26.2.45. War Ops – Dortmund
27.2.45. War Ops – GelsenKirchen
9.3.45. War Ops – Datteln
11.3.45. War Ops – Essen. P/O Kiwi Ernest Amohanga 2nd Pilot.
12.3.45. War Ops –  Dortmund
17.3.45. War Ops – Auguste Viktoria
21.3.45. War Ops – Munster. W/O T. Dewsbury as Mid Upper Gunner
29.3.45. War Ops – Salzgitter
9/10.4.45. War Ops – Kiel. F/O Gwyn Duglan as Mid Upper Gunner
14/15.4.45. War Ops –Potsdam. F/L Grant Alan Russell as Air Bomber.
29.4.45. War Ops – Supply Dropping over Delft
2.5.45. War Ops – Supply Dropping over Delft. Back to regular crew, but minus the MUG, Sgt. Mynott.
7.5.45. War Ops – Supply Dropping over Delft. Again no Sgt. Mynott.
10.5.45. War Ops – Juvincourt repatriation. F/O Patrick Wilson as Wireless Operator.
12.5.45. War Ops – Juvincourt repatriation. F/O Patrick Wilson as Wireless Operator.
14.5.45. War Ops – Juvincourt repatriation.
25.5.45. War Ops – Belgian refugees
12.6.45. War Ops – Viewing the Effects of the Bombing. Significant crew change; F/Sgt A Matthew – Navigator, F/Sgt Mervyn Lawrence Stewart – Air Bomber (ex Turnbull crew), F/Sgt John Edward Barry Mossman – Wireless Operator, F/Sgt John Gerald Rowlands – Flight Engineer (ex Turnbull crew), Sgt T Mynott – MId Upper Gunner, Sgt F Hadden – Rear Gunner (ex Turnbull crew).

John Gerald Rowlands, Wireless Operator – Turnbull crew.

75 squadron front

The Turnbull crew, dated 1944 by the scrapbook caption (below)
© Mike Rowlands 75 Squadron reverse

Many thanks to Mike for contacting me about his father, John Rowlands, who was the Wireless Operator with the Turnbull crew towards the end of 1945. The crew were fortunate, arriving too late to have to fly any bombing missions, however they took part in Supply dropping and repatriation of Prisoners of War, Belgian refugees and also a number of flights to view the effects of bombing.

Mike has supplied a couple of wonderful photographs of the boys. Time and location is not clear – my heart jumped when I first saw the nose art on the Lancaster in one of them, but judging by the date, it’s more likely to be have taken at  Lancaster Finishing School, rather than at Mepal – but a fantastic picture nevertheless. What is also nice is the reverse of the  image (at the foot of the post) is the names and addresses of some of the crew, including the pilot Bill Turnbull.

According to Mike, his father was very good friends with Bill Turnbull and his wife, Agnes. Bill and Agnes retired to KeriKeri Bay and tried to get John to emigrate to New Zealand. Sadly Bill passed away in 1974, being laid to rest in KeriKeri cemetry. John subsequently moved to New Zealand in 1974 with the family and they became close to Agnes, staying with her on many occasions.

Mikes mother, was in the WAAF (Joan Eleanor Fenney) and at various times stationed at Stradishall,Feltwell and Scampton – Mike is keen to hear about anything related to her time in the RAF and also the stations she was based at………..

The Turnbull crew were;
P/O William Caverhill Turnbull RNZAF (NZ4210995) – Pilot
F/Sgt Ronald Charles Tizard RNZAF (NZ427344)  – Navigator
F/Sgt Mervyn Lawrence Stewart RNZAF (NZ431855) Air Bomber
F/Sgt Ronald William Bull RNZAF (NZ4215778) – Wireless Operator
F/Sgt John Gerald Rowlands RAFVR – Flight Engineer
Sgt R Joshua RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt F Hadden RAFVR – Rear Gunner

30.4.45 Supply Dropping Rotterdam
2.5.45 Supply Dropping Delft – regular crew but no Sgt. Joshua – no MUGs flying on this trip.
4.5.45 Supply Dropping in the Hague Area – as with the previous op, Sgt. Joshua is absent.
23.5.45 Prisoner repatriation Juvincourt
25.5.45 Belgian refugees
9.6.45 Viewing effects of bombing

Interestingly, John’s last flight was with Wi Rangiuaia’s crew – John, his Air Bomber Mervyn Stewart and his Rear Gunner Sgt. Haden joined this crew on 12.6.45 on another flight to view the effects of bombing. One must assume that at this point, aircrew were beginning to be re-posted or sent for disembarkation.

75 squadron names front

The boys posing in front of a Lancaster – location unknown, though likely to be Lancaster Finishing School.
© Mike Rowlands

75 Squadron names reverse

One Family’s Story…..

the brothers Bill james and Thomas

The Mallon brothers.
From Left to Right: William Mallon, Pilot with 75(NZ) Squadron. John Charles Mallon, killed 8th October 1940. Thomas Alexander Mallon, killed 10th March 1945.

Following on from my last post, presenting the logbook of Robert Jay, Flight Engineer with Bill Mallon’s crew, Vic has been good enough to also contribute further information on why exactly Bill Mallon left the crew as pilot to be replaced by Eric Butler.

From Vic – ‘One Family’s Story’

Initially, I had no idea why Bill Mallon (NZ427521) left his crew at the end of April 1945 and returned to New Zealand. My sister had a vague recollection that it may have had something to do with the death of his brother and with the help of Chris Newey and ‘The Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum’ I have now discovered the tragic reason for his premature departure. If ever there was a story that illustrates the sacrifices made by the people of New Zealand then this is it.

Alexander and Dora Mallon must have been the proudest parents in Taranaki, New Zealand. They had three sons, Thomas, John and William (Bill), born between 1915 and 1920 and a daughter, May, Bill’s twin sister. By 1940 John was an RAF pilot with No. 53 Squadron. The squadron had been based in France flying Bristol Blenheims but had returned to the UK in May 1940 as the German army advanced. Its Bristol Blenheims supported the Dunkirk evacuation and continued to fly reconnaissance missions over France. In July 1940 the squadron was transferred to Coastal Command and moved to RAF Detling in Kent. Its Blenheims were replaced by American-built Lockheed Hudsons and it continued with anti-submarine and anti-shipping operations as well as bombing sorties targeting harbours and coastal defences.

On the 8th October 1940 John was reported ‘missing in action’ over France. It was subsequently confirmed that he had been killed, together with two other members of the crew of T2036, Arthur Shackleford and Wilfred Whetton.

Despite their loss Thomas and Bill also became pilots, Thomas flying de Havilland Mosquitoes with No. 488 (NZ) Squadron and Bill, the youngest, completing his training in 1945 to fly Avro Lancasters. On the 15th November 1944 488 (NZ) Squadron was moved from the U.K. to Amiens in France and then on to the Netherlands as support for the Allied advance towards Germany. Ten days later flight engineer Bob Jay joined Bill and the rest of his crew at RAF Langar to complete their training for the 4-engine Avro Lancaster.

Bill and his crew completed their training and on the 6th March 1945 they were posted to No. 75 (NZ) Squadron at Mepal. Four days later, just before 4.30 a.m. on the 10th March 1945, Thomas and his navigator, P/O George Brock, took off in their Mosquito Mark XXX (MT484) from Gilze-Rijen airfield for a night patrol. Minutes later they crashed into a barn 2.5 km from the runway – both were killed. Thomas had become the second Mallon brother to be killed in action.

Bill continued active service throughout March and April, receiving a commission and becoming the third Pilot Officer in the Mallon family. He took part in the squadron’s last operational sortie over Bad Oldesloe on the 24th April and then said goodbye to his crew and took on ground duties before returning to his devastated parents in New Zealand. Whilst only one family of countless thousands that suffered the terrible loss of a child during the war, to lose 2 and then know a third son and brother was still so far away on operational service must have been unbearable for Alexander, Dora and May to live with on a daily basis.

John is buried alongside his crew members in the Guines Communal Cemetery, 10 km from Calais in France, and Thomas and his navigator are in the Bergen-Op-Zoom Cemetery in the Netherlands. More than1800 New Zealand aircrew were killed in action during World War 2 and Bill made a point of attending his local Dawn Parade and Service in their memory every year.

Bill had been married to Lorna for 60 years when he died aged 90 in 2010 but his brothers’ names have lived on in their two sons, Barrie John and Kevin Thomas – the only boy among their five grandchildren is called Thomas William.