Monthly Archives: July 2013

The final mystery of Mike……..

It seems only fitting to pose the following questions from Ian after the Jack Wall memoirs. There are clearly a number of question marks hanging over NE181 around and after her 100th Op and we are all keen to find the answers that might complete another one of the pieces of this historical jigsaw.

Ian and Chris have spent a lot of time over the last few months trying to build an accurate history of this aircraft and now Mikes latter period with the Squadron is under scrutiny.

ac card NE181 cropped

The aircraft movement card for NE181, JN-M, The Captains Fancy.
© Royal Airforce Museum, Hendon/ Crown

NE181 (JN-M)
20 May 1944: NE181 joins 75 Sqn – ref. NE181 Aircaft Movement Record

29 Jan 1945: Completes her 100th operation, to Krefeld under S/L Bailey – ref. 75 Sqn ORBs

2/3 Feb 1945: Completes her 101st operation, to Wiesbaden under S/L Bailey – ref. 75 Sqn ORBs
Photos are extant showing 101 operations for her.

16 Feb 1945: Completes her 102nd operation, to Wesel under S/L Bailey – ref is Bomb Aimer Jack Wall’s notes, which state “M” (it was our 102nd operation for “M”) but ORBs list this aircraft as RF129, JN-M, a Lancaster I (the first reference made to RF129 in the ORBs)

17 Feb 1945: Alex Simpson flies her to Waterbeach – ref my letters from Alex and ‘Forever Strong’. Rather than being ‘struck off’, it seems highly likely that NE181 just spent several weeks here being refitted.

20 Mar 1945: We believe this was her 103rd op, to Hamm under S/L Bailey – no ref, just a hunch as S/L Bailey is flying this operation (all other listings in ORBs for RF129 have a different captain, except 16 Feb, 20 Mar and 24 Apr). ORBs list as RF129.

24 Apr 1945: Completes her 104th operation, to Bad Oldesloe under F/O Ware – ref is F/O Ware pilot’s logbook, Colin Emslie navigator’s log (Kiwis Do Fly) and a photo of the Ware crew beneath the nose of NE181; however, the bomb tally shows only 101 operations.

After this date, there is anecdotal evidence that she flew several PoW repatriation operations – ref??

19 Jul 1945: – goes to 514 Sqn – ref. NE181 Aircraft Movement Record

4 Sep 1945: goes to 5 MU – ref. NE181 Aircraft Movement Record

30 Sep 1947: Struck off charge – ref. NE181 Aircraft Movement Record

So the questions are:

  1. Why does the ORB list RF129 as having flown operations on the 16.2.45 and 24.4.45 (and probably the 20.3.45), when the crews, who seem well-aware of her fame,  state they were flying in NE181?
  2. If the above is correct, then there seem to have been two JN-Mikes kept on squadron after 16.2.45 – was NE181 returned to 75 Sqn from Waterbeach in anticipation of her being ‘repatriated’ to NZ?
  3. If NE181 was going to be returned to NZ, why was she flown on further operations? Two were flown by S/L Bailey – did he use her because she was ’his’ aircraft? (Did he fly any other operations between 16 Feb and 24 Apr in other aircraft?*) For the final operation, NE181 was the lead aircraft on a G-H raid – was she used this day because of her G-H ability? (Note- no one was aware of the significance of this ‘final’ operation for 75 Sqn.)
  4. Why, if she indeed did fly another 3 missions after the 2/3.2.45 as seems very likely, were NE181’s operational bomb tally on her nose not updated beyond 101? (Ref the photo of the Ware crew, taken after final operation 24.4.45)
  5. What references do we have for NE181 flying POW repatriations after operations ceased?

*Dick Pickups’s logbook lists; 22 Feb Osterfeldt, JN-Z, 26 Feb Dortmund, JN-P, 5 Mar, Gelsenkirchen, JN-P, 9 Apr Kiel, JN-K

So, as always if anybody has any thoughts, ideas or better still, factual information on this subject and these questions – please dive into the conversation!……..

(personally, I’d LOVE to see any correspondence between the Squadron and the New Zealand Government regarding the failed attempt to bring her home – Simon)

Information requested on Robert Toller – Ward crew. KIA 15th September 1941

I have been contacted by Carl, whose uncle was Robert Toller, the Wireless Operator of the crew Captained by James Allen ‘Jimmy’ Ward V.C. on the night of 15th September 1941, when 4 of the 6 crew were lost.

My natural reaction regarding a request such as this is to go straight to the ORB for that month. What I found was surprising, bemusing  and frustrating. After staring at the 2 pages of Form 541, relating to the Hamburg raid, I realised that there was no evidence of the Ward crews participation, let alone loss in this raid. The only veiled reference to a loss was;

“One plane was seen to be shot down and observations show that Searchlights and Night Fighters were co-operating very well.”

A check of Form 540 gave me;

Twelve Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. Two of these aircraft failed to return; one being captained by SGT. J.A. Ward who was awarded  the Victoria Cross on 4th August, 1941. There was clear weather over the target, and bursts were seen in many parts of target area. A.A. fire was heavy over and near target area. Searchlights were numerous, working in cones, and co-operating with A.A. fire and night fighters.

Based on the previous Op the crew flew and a check with the Roll of Honour, the Ward crew that night were;

Sgt James Allen ‘Jimmy’ Ward, VC, RNZAF NZ401793 – Pilot.
Died age 22. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt Horace Gordon Sloman, RAFVR 929627 – 2Pilot.
Died age 21. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt L. E. Peterson RAFVR – Observer.
Shot down. PoW no. 9630. PoW Camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags VIIIB, Luft VI, 357. Safe UK NK.

Sgt Robert William Toller, RAFVR 1054292 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 20. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt H. C. Watson, RAFVR 952162 – Front Gunner.
Shot down. PoW no. not known. PoW Camps not known. Safe UK not known.

Sergeant Kenneth Hutley Toothill, RAFVR 1114337 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 29. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery Germany.

A check through ‘Forever Strong – The Story of 75 Squadron RNZAF 1916-1990‘ by Norman Franks, suggested that 2 crews were lost that night, however it seemed only worth mentioning the loss of Jimmy Ward – the other crew lost on that raid was not even mentioned…..

This makes me quite angry to be honest – and I apologise to Carl, given that this is a request about his uncle, so I dig some more through the Roll of Honour, which to be honest requires some subtle search terms to bring out what I am looking for.

The second crew that were lost on the night of 15/16th September 1941 were;
Sgt Anthony Henry Ryder Hawkins, RNZAF NZ40971 – Pilot.
Died age 20. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Robert Boswell Blakeway, RNZAF NZ403486 – 2nd Pilot.
Shot down. PoW no. 39332. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags 9C, Luft VI, Luft IV and Luft I. Took part in the forced march from Stalag Luft IV (Gross Tychow) to Stalag XIB (Fallingbostel) 6 Feb to 1 May 1945. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK 1 May 1945.

P/O Hugh MacLachlan Aitchison, RCAF R.54169/ J.4782 – Observer.
Died age 28. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt John Gifford Foulkes, RAFVR  909428 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 20. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Derek Richard Fawcett
, RAFVR 1755949 – Front Gunner.
Died age 21. Buried Hamburg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt W. E. Mullins, RCAF R.54981 – Rear Gunner.
Shot down. PoW no. 18334, PoW Camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags VIIIB, Luft VI and 357.

So, primarily if you have information you wish to share with Carl regarding his uncle, but in fact any information on any of the airmen who were lost that night would be gratefully received.

As always, many thanks in advance……….

All I bring is questions…………The Banks crew.

jimmy wood  crew 2 BLOG

Regular visitors will remember the fantastic images I posted a from Jimmy Wood, Air Bomber with the Banks crew. I held back on this image, as I was a little confused by one individual in the photograph and also 2 of the signatures.

On first inspection the photograph is of the Banks crew, however on closer inspection, Alex Hirst, the Wireless Operator with the crew is missing and the fellow stood behind Jock Fraser is a mystery to me……..

Secondly, there are 2 unexplained signatures on the photograph. On the left hand side of the image is what I make out to be  – and I am going out on a limb here – ‘JB Mossman’. Next to Jack Britnall is the signature ‘Ted Smith – Hop Head’

75 sqn AAS

The fellow on the left hand side back row is clearly the same chap stood behind Jock in the previous picture……….

Now this all gets stranger when I remember the wonderful pictures of Maurice Wiggins that Catherine and John sent to me last month – I recall there was this strange character in the crew photo again………

If we take a punt on my ‘JB Mossman’ guess, interestingly we find the following airman;

F/Sgt John Edward Barry Mossman, RNZAF NZ42112587 – Wireless Operator. Rangiuaia crew.

The fact that he is a WOp like Alex makes it all the more bizarre. Having been through Jimmy’s logbook and the ORB’s, Alex Hirst flew every Op with the boys.

I am at a loss – someone see the obvious for me please……

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 14. We will remember them

I didn’t want to let Jack Wall’s memoirs just stop, so I will finish them simply, but in a way that I think is fitting.


Boys of then, who are men today, turned in their civvies to free my land
Volunteers they were, these aircrew chaps who gave the hun no place of fun
Bomber Command this mighty force, had boys of spirit to serve the cause
Belgium people in those days would listen carefully to their voice
The voice of Merlin who night and day, boosted their morale in a magnificent way
No one else as those involved, will ever understand the meaning of it all
A song of freedom high above, who would bring relief for the people I so dearly love
My father and mother and many more, have prayed for you, who helped to win the war
We think of them, these magnificent men of ’75‘, who served and died to free my land
Standing here today, is thanks to them, who served and died
We will remember them.

Peter Loncke.
First Sergeant Belgium Air Force.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha
forever and ever strong

A bit of a mystery – name to a face?

scan0001 scan0002

Thanks to Steve (218 Sqdn. historian) for passing on this photograph.

The identity of the individual is a bit of a mystery to me. Checking through the records, the only Webber listed as flying with 75(NZ) is the following airman;

W/O A. M. (or N.) Webber, RAFVR 133074) unspecified trade. 9 Feb 1945 to …?…

Basing my search round the date of 9th February 1945, I found this airman completed the following Ops with Leonard Hannan’s crew;

9.3.45. War Ops – Datteln. Lancaster Mk.I RF129 JN-MW/O Webber A. as Wireless Operator.

11.3.45. War Ops – Essen. Lancaster Mk.I HK563 JN-W
W/O Webber A. as Wireless Operator.

23.3.45. War Ops – Wesel. Lancaster Mk.I RA541 JN-U ? (contradicts a/c database).
W/O Webber A. as Wireless Operator.

29.3.45. War Ops – Salzgitter
. Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F
W/O Webber A. as Wireless Operator.

4/5.4.45. War Ops – Meresburg. Lancaster Mk.I RF129 JN-M
W/O Webber A. as Wireless Operator.

9/10.4.45. War Ops – Kiel. Lancaster Mk.I PB820 JN-V
F/S B. Harpham replaces W/O Webber as WOp.

I suppose the puzzle is that the back of the photograph, in brackets seems to say rear, however, this could relate to his time at 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron. I am also aware that an individuals given name(s) and what they might have been known as also differs, so ‘Pete’ may have been this chaps ‘crew’ name.

As always, if this face looks familiar, please get in contact………

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 13. NE181, The Captains Fancy

NE181, JN-Mike – ‘The Captains Fancy’ holds a special fascination with 75(NZ) Squadron as it was the only aircraft in the Squadron to pass its ‘century’ of completed Operations. Perhaps inevitably because of this ‘fame’ there is a degree of ‘fogginess’ that exists around the aircraft, regarding the exact number of OPs credited to it and even in some quarters, what crew and what date the magic figure of 100 Ops final was recorded. Certainly yesterdays post makes it clear from Jack’s and no doubt the entire Bailey crew that it was them!

NE181 original artwork

(Original caption from Jack Wall); 75(N.Z.) Squadron – Mepal. The Captains Fancy prior to the Air Ministry order that the majority of the figure was to be blacked out as it was too visible at night……
NE181 sporting a ‘brighter’ version of ‘The Captains Fancy’ nose art, after her 51st Op, which was to Calais, 20th September 44, piloted by S/L Williamson.

The picture below showing The Captains Fancy prior to her 100th Op with a clearly ‘blacked out’ version of the original artwork……..

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945. L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member. picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945.
L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member.
picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

original advertisement artwork

An image supplied by Mirror Group Newspapers, dated 27th July 1988; ‘We are enclosing with our compliments a copy of the cartoon character which you requested. He is Capt. Reilly-Ffoul, and he appeared in our ‘Just Jake’ strip during the 1939-45 war.’

JCWall Memoir Appendices_0001

Air Ministry Bulletin announcing the award of a Bar to Jack Bailey’s D.F.C., won during the Osterfeld OP
Jack Wall’s Recollections of the OSTLEFELD Opoeration;
This was a daylight raid and we led the flight formation – this was probably why we had so much flak aimed at the aircraft. When the other aircraft in the formation saw our bomb doors open they opened theirs and when they saw our bombs start to fall they followed with theirs. If we had been shot down they were instructed to bomb on their own. We did take a battering and Jack had to feather one engine over the target. However he still managed to fly straight and level for our bombing run and I have a good photo of the bombing in my small collection. Our load was 1×8,000 lb., 6×500 lb., and 1×250 lb. Bombs. When we landed it was found that we had been hit in all engines and had a total of 57 holes in various sizes. However no one was injured and all 21 Aircraft from the Squadron that took part returned
safely I cannot remember if any others were hit by flak; It was for his skill and courage on this operation that Jack was awarded the Bar to his D.F.C. – John was always known as Jack.

JCWall Ops Log & Bombing Photos_0006

A letter from Fred Woolerton, one of the ground crew that looked after NE181 throughout her stay at Mepal. The first part is an extract from an Air Ministry Bulletin, sent by Fred to Jack, the second part an explanation from Fred why ‘The Captains Fancy’ missed that one Op…….

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 12. On ‘Forever Strong’……

FOREVER STRONG – Some comments on the book by J C Wall.
It’s clear from these notes that Jack had a few strong opinions about a number of things in this book. I think most interestingly, there is a tangible anger regarding the description by Alex Simpson of his discussion with Jack Bailey regarding who would fly the 100th Op in JN-Mike.

All extracts and photograph of NE181 ‘The Captains Fancy’  from ‘Forever Strong – The Story of 75 Squadron RNZAF 1916-1990’, by Norman Franks. Published by Random Century New Zealand Ltd. 1991.

Page 72. Chapter 9 – Newmarket. November 1942 – February 1943.
Five aircraft went to Turin the next night, bombing markers laid down by Pathfinder aircraft, but only three got through. One returned with turret and intercom problems, while the other failed to gain enough height to clear the Alps and returned.

The Operation to Turin on 20.11.42 was the first use of Stirlings by 75 Squadron and only 4 Aircraft were detailed. This was my first Operation and only 2 of us reached the target and the other 2 returned early’.

Page 74. Chapter 9 – Newmarket. November 1942 – February 1943.
As January began, it was back to ’Gardening’ — a good stand-by when full Ops were not possible. Indeed, except for a couple of raids upon Lorient, the trips that month were all mine-laying. The Lorient trip on 23 January took Sergeant R.M. Kidd and his crew from the squadron — the first loss of 1943. Kidd in fact managed to evade, but the rest of his crew died.
Even on ’Gardening’ trips, enemy reception could be rough. Over the Gironde Estuary on 18 January, Sergeant Bennett, on his first trip, met with a hot reception. But successful evasive action after combats with three enemy aircraft enabled Bennett to bring his crew home safely.     

‘Mine laying (Gardening) was usually an easy trip but we had some shockers. Our 4th. Operation was one when we nearly ended our lives and is mentioned in the Citation for my D.F.C.’

Page 78. Chapter 10 – The Battle of the Ruhr. March – May 1943.
Then it was Berlin again, and yet again, on 27 and 29 March. Sergeant Bartlett made both trips:
on the first raid it took us 7 hours 40 minutes — quite a quiet trip; straight in, no trouble with the bomb run, bombs gone, and straight out, left hard circuit and away home. Nothing wrong with their defences, they were all there. I don’t know what made us so immune, which is more than can be said for the 29th! It took us 81/2 hours to get home -— on three engines. After the Lord Mayor’s Show, we floated up to the target. Then the rear gunner screamed: ’Fighter on the port quarter!’ An attack started and I looked down the rear of the aircraft and saw a line of incendiary shells going through the fuselage. Then the mid-upper cried that it was coming in again from the port for a second attack. We heard both gunners cry out they’d got it — both claimed it. Then a searchlight caught us, passing us from cone to cone, trying to get us out of the target area, to blow us to pieces. Then the port outer engine caught fire with a long trail of flame from it. l told the skipper to try a steep dive and he went down from 14,000 to about 9 to 10,000 feet, and we got away with it and got home despite another two fighter attacks — nobody hurt — our mid-upper claiming a second kill.
I recall our WOP, Rupert Moss, seeing a couple of swans over Berlin at about 14,000 feet and reported it to the Intelligence Officer when we got back — which he duly noted!

We went to Berlin on 1st March, on 27th March and then on the 29th.March 1943‘.

Page 83. Chapter 10 – The Battle of the Ruhr. March – May 1943.
At the end of the month, came a return to mining, first to the Frisian Islands, then to Kiel Bay and yet another disaster. Eight crews were assigned to go to Kiel on the night of 28/29 April, part of a mammoth force of 207 aircraft to mine the seas off Heligoland, in the River Elbe, and in the Great and Little Belts. An estimated 593 mines were sent into the water but the aircraft met much flak both from the shore and flak-ships strategically located by the Germans. Although it was a huge operation, the losses were unexpectedly high, no fewer than 22 aircraft — 7 Lancasters, 7 Stirlings, 6 Wellingtons and two Halifaxes —- failing to return. Four of the Stirlings were from 75 Squadron -— 28 men killed!

‘Another disaster when Gardening in Kiel Bay. 8 of us from the Squadron were detailed and one returned early. Out of the other 7 Aircraft only 3 of us completed and the other 4 failed to return – the 28 crew members were all killed’.

Page 84. Chapter 10 – The Battle of the Ruhr. March – May 1943.
Wing Commander Wyatt remembers:
I took over 75 Squadron on 3rd May 1943. I’d been flying with 15 Squadron, originally from Boume, a satellite of Oakington. I’d been missing from a raid on Turin and had crash landed in Spain, but eventually re-joined the squadron just as it was about to move to Mildenhall. I hadn’t been there many weeks when I was sent for by Group HQ and was told about the state of 75 Squadron and was asked if I’d like the job as CO, but was told it was going to be a very tough one.
The morale of 75 at the time was very low. Their operational success rate was absolutely appalling and was one of the worst in Bomber Command. There were various reasons for it though.
The airfield at Newmarket was so close to the town — the Messes were virtually in the town — and there was far too much hospitality. All these New Zealanders rather fascinated the horse racing fraternity and Newmarket was the only place where horse racing continued during the war. They would not, of course, allow the racecourse to be turned into a proper airfield, with proper runways and so on. We used the Jockey Club which is where I had my sleeping quarters and the Officer’s Mess was just on the corner of the road south of the Club, on the main street.
The chaps were being entertained far too much and I think there was a terrible number of sore heads on a lot of mornings. It seemed to me they were enjoying life rather more in Newmarket and had begun to lose sight of the main reason for being there. The AOC outlined all this to me and said it was up to me to sort them out and get them back to being an operational squadron.

‘Wing Commander Wyatt spoke at one of our reunions and more or less repeated the comments in the book. In my view which was shared by many others it was absolute rubbish. We were not “living it up” at Newmarket and the main reason for the move to Mepal was because Newmarket only had grass runways’.

Page 99. Chapter 12 – Mepal. June – September 1943.
Norman Bartlett recalled the time a Lancaster was found right above them over the target:
We were on the bombing run and I was watching for other aircraft when we heard a cry. Looking round, Jack Brewster, our navigator, was pointing upwards, open mouthed, his face all twisted with fright. I looked up and directly above, about 200 feet, was a Lancaster, with bomb doors open, ready to drop a 4000 pound ‘cookie’. It was too late to do anything before the cookie dropped and as it passed us, it turned over and went by in a vertical position rather than horizontal, which probably saved us. Jack heaved a huge sigh of relief — and so did I!

‘Norman Bartlett was our Flight Engineer and Jack Brewster our Navigator at Mepal on Lancasters. As Norman’s comments follows the mention of ‘Stirlings flying under
Lancasters’, readers could be misled into thinking we were in a Stirling when we were nearly hit by a 4,000lb. Cookie. We were in a Lancaster and the other one was either at the wrong height or bombing at the wrong time. I did not see the Cookie as I was in the front of the Aircraft on my stomach looking through my Bomb Sight giving the Pilot instructions ready to bomb’.

Page 151. Chapter 18 – The Last Winter. December 1944 – February 1945.
The Captains Fancy

‘Under the photo of “The Captains Fancy” it states that Alex Simpson flew it on its 101st on the 5th January but it did not complete its 100th until the 29th Jan and also Alex did not take it on its 101st – we did on 2nd Feb’.

Page 152. Chapter 18 – The Last Winter. December 1944 – February 1945.
Alex Simpson recalls an important event at this time:
Squadron Leader Jack Bailey, ‘C’ Flight Commander, usually flew Lanc NE181 ‘M’ for Mike— named ‘The Captain’s Fancy’, which was a dog of an aircraft and I guess understandably so, as it was approaching its 100th operation. When the time came, Jack asked me if I would take ‘Mike’ to Ludwigshaven on the 5th —- the day after my 21st birthday. I protested for I had a very good aircraft of my own, and I had flown ‘Mike’ previously — in December.
It became apparent that Jack was superstitious about flying ‘Mike’ on its 100th, so in the end I agreed. After the operation, we did an in-depth study of the aircraft’s log book and associated paper work and found to ]ack’s geat surprise that he had already done the 100th — I had in fact done the 101st!
Jack and I tried very hard through Bill Jordan, the NZ High Commissioner in the UK, to get permission to fly ]N—M out of New Zealand on a flag-waving War Bonds tour, as it was then the first NZ aircraft to reach 100 operations, but we never got approval. I delivered ‘Mike’ to Waterbeach on 17th February, and it was later struck off charge on 30th September 1947.

‘The comments made by Alex Simpson regarding Jack Bailey are not a true record of events. I am very annoyed that he implies that Jack was frightened to take the aircraft on its 100th. We were all looking forward to being the crew that did the 100th in an aircraft that we had flown most of our Operations in. Jack was one of the most fearless, dedicated Pilots with the Squagron and as he had died some years before the book was compiled he could not put the record right. I had no knowledge of the contents of the book until I received the final copy after printing. We flew in “The Captains Fancy” to Krefeld for its 100th on the 29th Jan and this is confirmed in the book ‘Lancaster at War – 2′ also in Jack Bailey’s Citation for the Bar to his D.F.C. dated 16.4.45, also in my log book. Fred Woolterton – one of our ground staff – in the photo has also recently confirmed this. We flew it to Wiesbaden on 2nd. Feb for its 101st. and to Wessel on the 16th.Feb for its 102nd. I have an actual Bombing Photo of this last Operation showing Target, Date, Pilot and the Aircraft letter. Apart from Alex’s dates; all being wrong,  Jack, as Flight Commander, would not have asked if he would take it but would have simply detailed him………’.

Page 155. Chapter 19 – Victory in Europe. February – May 1945.
A daylight raid on Osterfeld by 21 of the squadron’s aircraft took place on 22 February, flak trying desperately to inflict hurt and injury. Flight Sergeant T. Cox had his starboard inner hit by flak, but the flames were put out by cutting the petrol and using the extinguisher. Flying Officer H. Russell’s bomber was also hit, the prop on the port inner and damage to the leading edge of the wing between his two starboard engines giving some moments of concern. Flight Lieutenant Doug Sadgrove had his port outer hit on the bomb run but he continued on, while Warrant Officer E. Ohlson also had an engine knocked out. Flight Lieutenant K. Jones lost an engine on the way out and had to abort.

I am surprised that no mention of Jack Bailey or his crew was made for this raid to Osterfeld as we led the Squadron and Jack was awarded the Bar to his D.F.C. for his courage and leadership on this Operation. We were hit in ail engines and had to feather one over the target and ended with 37 holes – no injuries. Despite this I had a very good Bombing Photo at 19.000ft.’.

‘Adrian’ Warburton – of course, now it dawns on me…….

Having got all excited by a search term on the blog statistics page yesterday for ‘Adrian Warburton’ the probable reality of that search has dawned on me and I am, to be honest, gutted.

My initial reaction to seeing it was to think this was going to be a repeat of my experience of making contact with Paul, the nephew of Tom Darbyshire – this time I was going to be able to finally put a christian name to Sgt. Warburton.

In hindsight, I rather naively spent most of yesterday checking my email for a contact from this searcher, but of course, by the evening, the absence of an email and a search on the internet made me realise that the ‘Adrian Warburton’ the searcher was probably looking for was in fact ;

Wing Commander Adrian “Warby” Warburton DSO & Bar, DFC & Two Bars (10 March 1918 – 12 April 1944) was a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot during World War II. He became legendary in the RAF for his role in the defence of Malta. His gallantry was recognised by the award of the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Bars and an American Distinguished Flying Cross.

By the beginning of 1944, he had been promoted to the rank of Wing Commander and his gallantry recognised by the award of the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Bars, and an American Distinguished Flying Cross. By this time he had flown nearly 400 operations and claimed 9 enemy aircraft destroyed.

On 1 April 1944, he was posted as the RAF Liaison Officer to the 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group, US 8th Army Air Force, then based at RAF Mount Farm in Oxfordshire.

Warburton was the pilot of one of two Lockheed F-5B photo-reconnaissance aircraft (a version of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter) that took off together from Mount Farm on the morning of 12 April 1944 to photograph targets in Germany. The aircraft separated approximately 100 miles north of Munich to carry out their respective tasks; it was planned that they would meet and fly on to a USAAF airfield in Sardinia. He failed to arrive at the rendezvous point and was not seen again.

Years of speculation about his fate came to an end in 2002, when his remains were found in the cockpit of his plane, buried about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) deep in a field near the Bavarian village of Egling an der Paar, 34 miles west of Munich. According to witnesses, the aircraft fell there on 12 April 1944, around 11:45. One of the propellers had bullet holes in it, which suggests that Warburton had been shot down. Parts of the wreck can be seen today in the Malta Aviation Museum.

Only a few pieces of bone and the odd part of flying clothing were actually found. As Warburton was flying a USAAF plane with USAAF markings he was thought to be an American. Most of Warburton’s body was removed from the P-38 and buried in a grave in the town of Kaufering’s cemetery. The grave was marked “unknown American Airman” and was right next to a Halifax crew that were shot down and died on the night of 6–7 September 1943. When the area came under Allied control (particularly American), the graves were moved.

A memorial service was held on 14 May 2003, in the St Aegidius Parish church, Gmund am Tegernsee, followed by burial at the Dürnbach Commonwealth War Cemetery.The ceremony was attended by his widow, Eileen (known as Betty) and by Jack Vowles, a former colleague who had served with him in Malta in the early 1940s.

Source Wikipedia:

What annoys me more is that when I originally began looking for information on the boys Dad flew with, I came across ‘Warby’.

Yesterday,  I really did think that I had finally, at least, found out all the names of the boys from Bob’s first tour in 1943……….It seems I was premature……….

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 11. Target Photographs

When I was posted to 75(NZ) Squadron for second tour they already had a
New Zealand Squadron Bombing Leader. As I had become an “A” Category
Bombing Leader at Manby on 24.6.44. I took over the duties of Bombing
Leader when the Squadron Bombing Leader was absent on leave etc.
I was therefore able to “acquire” some of my Bombing Photos.
When we dropped our bombs we also released a time controlled flash and the
camera was also timed to take a photo at a set time to coincide when the
bombs detonated on the ground. It was therefore essential to keep the
aircraft on course and straight and level on the bombing run and after
“Bombs Away” to take an accurate photo. This was not an easy task for the
Pilot with Searchlights and Flak all around the aircraft.

The photos show
Squadron Base – Mep is Mepal.
Compass bearing.
Bomb Load.
Camera and Flash setting.
Pilots Rank and Name.
Aircraft letter and Squadron number.


Aircraft “M”
We were one of the first over the target.
Little flak.
Visual Bombing


Aircraft “M”
Light Flak
Plenty of Cloud
Bombed on Markers

NEUSS Night 28/29.11.44. 19,000' Aircraft "M" Light flak Bombed on Markers Poor photo.

Aircraft “M”
Light flak
Bombed on Markers
Poor photo.

TRier Daylight 23.12.44. 17,000' Aircraft "M" Little Flak

Aircraft “M”
Little Flak

RHEYDT Daylight 27.12.44. 20,000' Aircraft "M" We were one of the first over the target Visual Bombing

Aircraft “M”
We were one of the first over the target
Visual Bombing

NEUSS Night 6/7/.1.45. 20,000' Aircraft "V" Medium amount of flak on way in and over target Bombed on Markers Poor Photo

Aircraft “V”
Medium amount of flak on way in and over target
Bombed on Markers
Poor Photo

WESEL Daylight 16.2.45. 20,000' Aircraft "M" (it was our 102nd operation for "M") Vsual Bombing in formation - we led.

Aircraft “M”
(it was our 102nd operation for “M”)
Vsual Bombing in formation – we led.

OSTERFELD Daylight 22.2.45. 19,000' Aircraft "Z" We led our Squadron formation and the other aircraft bombed when we did. We were the target for most of the Flak but we got a good photo. Hit in all engines and one hade to be feathered over the target. Had a total of 37 holes .Skipper awarded Bar to D.F.C.

Aircraft “Z”
We led our Squadron formation and the other aircraft bombed when we did. We were the target for most of the Flak but we got a good photo.
Hit in all engines and one had to be feathered over the target. Had a total of 37 holes .Skipper awarded Bar to D.F.C.

KIEL NIght 9/10.4.45. 19,000' Aircraft "K" Our last Operation. Bombed on Markers Note 2 other aircraft below us shown on photo.

Aircraft “K”
Our last Operation.
Bombed on Markers
Note 2 other aircraft below us shown on photo.

Oh my gosh – has it happened again ?!?

Search terms for this morning........

Search terms for this morning……..

Some of you might recall a similar screen grab from the blog statistics I put up a few months ago when someone put in a search for Thomas Darbyshire. That time, it ended up being fantastic news –  it was the nephew of Tom and I finally had a christian name for Sgt. Darbyshire.

Am I hoping too much this might have just happened again, this time for Sgt. Warburton, Flight Engineer with the Mayfield crew in 1943?

Please, as before, if he is, let me know……….

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 10. Operational History 2nd Tour

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945. L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member. picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945.
L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG) and Fred Woolerton, ground crew member.
picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

Operations with 75 (N.Z.) Squadron on Lancasters from Mepal
Date Target
Duration in hours
Total Bomb Load incl. (No.) of 4lb. incendiaries Remarks
28.10.44 Cologne
4.3 hours
8992 lbs
We were one of the first over the target and I have a good photo of the target.  Visual bombing.
Day Ops
4.35 hours
(incl. a 4000lb)
First time we bombed on G.H.
Days Ops
4.35 hours
14000 lbs
(incl. a 4000lb)
Light amount of Flak
Day Ops
4.25 Hours
14000 lbs Heavy amount of Flak and, as the puffs of black linger in the sky, a bit daunting.
Night Ops
4.15 houra
13000 lbs
(incl. a 4000lb)
Light Flak
Day Ops
4.3 hours
13000 lbs Plenty of Flak on the way in and over target.
Day Ops
4.35 hours
12000 lbs
(incl. a 4000lb)
Fairly quiet raid.
Night Ops
4.15 hours
11,850 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak.
Night Ops
6.10 hours
11,750 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Quiet raid – little flak.
Days Ops
4.5 hours
Incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak
Day Ops
4.35 hours
10,000lbs We were one of the first over target and I have another good photo taken at the time.
Night Ops
4.35 hours
11,000 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Medium amount of Flak on way in and over target
Day Ops
4.55 hours
11,000 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Nice and Easy
Night Ops
Wanne Eickel 10,850 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak
Day Ops
6.00 hours
10,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
A very special Op as this was to be the 100th. That or aircraft ‘The Captains Fancy’ was to do.
Night Ops
5.45 hours
9,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak.
Day Ops
5.25 hours 9,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Another very good photo in my possession.
Day Ops
5.25 hours
11,250 lbs.
incl. our one and only 8,000lb.
A real shocker with a total of 37 holes. All engines were hit and one was feathered. However still a good photo for my collection. Skipper was awarded Bar to his DFC.
Day Ops
5.40 hours
9,950 lbs
incl. 4,000lb.
Heavy Flak
Day Ops
5.40 hours
11,250 lbs
incl. 4,000lb.
Another near one but this time only 14 holes
Day Ops
5.30 hours
10,250 lbs. Medium amount of Flak over target
Night Ops
5.45 hours
9,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000 lb.
So we ended our tour at the place where we nearly ended out lives in April 1943. This was on the town and not mine laying. Bombed on Path Finder Flares and I have a good photo showing the flare and 2 aircraft flying below.

Bill Mallon Interview


Vic has added  extracts from a fascinating interview with Bill Mallon, to his website about his father, Robert Jay, who flew with Bill in 1945. The original interview with Bill was one of a number that were collected  for the Military Oral History Project by Martin Halliday.

Additionally, Vic has also been contacted by the the daughter of Jim Haworth, the crews Navigator. Apparently Jim wrote many letters to his wife from Canada and England and within these letters there are lots of references to the boys in the crew and life in Bomber Command – so look forward to the Robert Jay story growing even further!

view the new information here.

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 9. Operational History 1st Tour

On 75 Sq. L to R, two ground crew, Navigators F/O Ormerod (Gisborne) then Bruce Hosie, Sixth from left is P/O Jack Bailey, Pilot of Waikato. Image supplied by Peter Wheeler.

Bailey crew 1943 1st Tour. L to R, two ground crew, Navigators F/O Ormerod (Gisborne) then Bruce Hosie, Jack Wall, and  Jack Bailey, Pilot of Waikato. Image supplied by Peter Wheeler.

Operations with 75 (N.Z.)  Squadron on Stirlings from Newmarket
Date Target

Duration in hours

Total Bomb Load incl. (No.) of 4lb. incendiaries Remarks
20.11.42 Night Ops Turin
8.00 hours
This was the first operation carried out by the Squadron on Stirlings.  4 of us went out but only 2 of us reached the target. The other 2 returned early. Medium amount of Flak over the target.
Night Ops
6.45 hours
7820 lbs
Hit by Flak through wing but missed the petrol tank.
Night Ops
8.30 Hours
4320 lbs
More Flak and searchlights over target than on the 20.11.41.
8.1.43 Gardening
4.45 hours
11,400 lbs
Load was 6 mines each 1,900lb
Our 4th operation and nearly our last. We were laying mines in the Baltic and the aircraft was hit by Flak, rendering one engine and all flying instruments unserviceable.  The aircraft went into a very steep diving turn but I managed to jettison the mines quickly which helped the aircraft to become controllable.  How Jack Bailey managed to control the aircraft is almost beyond belief.

This operation is mentioned in the Citation for my DFC.

The aircraft still had a thick coating of ice the next morning.

Night Ops
5 hours
7920 lbs
Very good op and the aiming point was clearly seen.
Night Ops
3.3 hours
5160 lbs
Could not maintain height due to weather conditions. Bombed aerodrome in Holland
Night Ops
5.3 hours
7920 lbs
Heavy Flak and many searchlights on way in and over target.
Night Ops
4.1 hours
9320 lbs
Saw several fighters but was not attacked.
Night Ops
5 hours
7920 lbs
Another near one.  Was coned in 15 searchlights for 8 minutes and hit by Flak. Skipper threw the aircraft about as thought it was a fighter.  Pilot skill saved us.
Night Ops
6.5 hours
7600 lbs
Load was 4 mines, each 1900 lbs
Nice easy one.
Night Ops
5.3 hours
 8160 lbs
Medium amount of Flak over the target.
Night Ops
5.3 hours
8160 lbs
Couldn’t maintain height. Aircraft U/S and bombs were jettisoned.
Night Ops
4.3 hours
9320 lbs
We were to bomb on Path Finder Flares but had to circle target for 20 mins awaiting PFF.
Night Ops
St. Nazaire
5.3 hours
7920 lbs
Very many fires in target area.
Night Ops
8.3 hours
4500 lbs Attacked by ME110 but not hit.  Many fires in target area.
Night Ops
6.5 hours
5940 lbs
Rear turret became U/S on way to target but Skipper decided to carry on.
Night Ops
3 hours
9320 lbs
Rear turret U/S after take off.  Skipper decided not to complete operation. 2 nights with U/S turret pushing our chances.
Night Ops
St. Nazaire
4.15 hours
7920 lbs
Heavy concentration of Flak and searchlights around target area
Night Ops
7.5 hours
4500 lbs Hit by Flak over Hanover on way to target.
Night Ops
8.05 hours
4500 lbs Fair amount of ice on aircraft on return but no problem.
Night Ops
6.1 hours
5160 lbs
Plenty of Flak on way in and over target.
Night Ops
6 hours
5160 lbs
Fair amount of Flak. BK770 crashed at Bressingham on return – all crew killed.
Night Ops
6.4 hours
5940 lbs
Plenty of Flak over target area.
Night Ops
6 hours
5160 lbs
Heavy Flak but no hits to aircraft as on 6.12.42.
Night Ops
8.1 hours
4320 lbs
Little Flak
28.4.43 Gardening
7.15 hours
7600 lbs
Load was 4 mines each 1900 lbs
Heavy Flak and many searchlights.
A disaster – the mines were to be dropped in Keil Bay at 800ft. 8 Aircraft from 75 Squadron set out and one returned early.  4 Aircraft failed to return – all 28 Crew were killed – only 3 of us completed the operation. Saw many Aircraft shot down without a chance of survival.   (One line of illegible typescript ends with word searchlights).
Night Ops
5.2 hours
9820 lbs
Our last Operation for first tour which was uneventful apart from Flak.  Diverted to another airfield on return.


The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 8. Battle Orders, 22.12.44 Trier – cancelled

Battle Orders 22 12 44

22.12.45. Operational Flying.
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Trier. Eighteen of these were cancelled and the 3 special equipment aircraft stood by but were also cancelled before take off owing to fog. The Squadron was not stood down, but were to be prepared for a take-off as soon as the weather improved.

Another fascinating Battle Order from Jack’s collection, this time the cancelled Op to Trier. With this document, the aircraft designator letters are visible, providing some useful information for Chris and Ian no doubt!  As with the previous Battle Order published yesterday, a fascinating note regarding the Butler crew under ‘WINDOW CREW’, being required to go to the Radar Section 30 mins before 1st briefing – clearly, the Zinzan crew must have had the same duty on the 16th on the Op to Seigen. I was not aware of this duty – part of me cannot believe that it was crew’s job to distribute the window canisters to the other crews, so I wonder if there was an aspect of briefing that this nominated crew performed to the crews involved on a particular raid??

Interestingly, the following nights raid to Trier, on the 23rd represents the almost exact same crew list – from a purely logistical and safety point of view, one must assume once the aircraft had been fuelled and ‘bombed up’, it was safer to use them, rather than change crews or aircraft – I have read the thoughts of the armourers regarding a protracted stand down and the inherent risks of debombing a number of aircraft……….

It would also appear that the Battle Orders are directly mirrored in the crew list order in Form 541 ‘Detail of Work Carried Out’ within the Squadron ORB’s. This in itself might give some clues as to the Flight identities of some of the aircraft in the database………

An interesting little find…….

Many thaks to Martyn for reminding me of the Mepal Archive and letting me know they have some new 75(NZ) related images. I came across the archive a while back when I was first starting my research into Bob and his crews. At the time, there were a number of group photographs up on the archive and I donated my copy of the March 1945 ‘B’ Flight photograph.

Martyn’s email yesterday morning alerted me to fascinating crew and group photographs, which relative to my last visit to the archive are ‘new’


This photograph taken at Mepal Airfield in September 1943 shows a complete New Zealand crew with the exception of myself (English).
© Mepal Archive & original donating owner

The names tagged to this image on the Archive site are as follows : Bomb Aimer; unknown, Grubb; John; captain, Hazlet; Ken; N.Z wireless operator, Rear Gunner; unknown, Stichbury; Les; navigator, Wright; Len; flight engineer

F/L John David Grubb, DFC RNZAF NZ415068 – Pilot.
F/Sgt Kenneth Graham Hazlett, RNZAF NZ421970 – Wireless Operator.
F/O Leslie Blair Stitchbury, RNZAF NZ42311 – Navigator.
P/O Albert George Chatfield,  RNZAF NZ425546 – Rear Gunner.
F/O  James Allworthy Lee Martin, RNZAF NZ422197 – Air Bomber.
Sgt Len Wright,  RAFVR 1811800 – Flight Engineer.
Not mentioned/ shown in photograph;
P/O Robert Gilliland, RCAF R.138682, J.85466 – Mid Upper Gunner.

So we must assume that the photograph was supplied by Len Wright.

Eric Butler crew On the 60th Anniversary VE Day Ray Statford came back to pay his respects. He told us about all the people in this picture. The skipper of the crew was Eric Bulter from Wellington, New Zealand

On the 60th Anniversary VE Day Ray Statford came back to pay his respects. He told us about all the people in this picture. The skipper of the crew was Eric Butler from Wellington, New Zealand.
© Mepal Archive & original donating owner

Again, the names tagged to this image are: Charlie Engineer, Fraser; Dan Wireless Operator From Bromley, Heaton; Jack Mid upper gunner from Liverpool, Holliday; Ron; Navigator from Australia, Messer; Jack Rear Gunner, Statford; Ray Bomb Aimer From New Zealand .

F/Lt. Eric Frank Butler, RNZAF NZ425558 – Pilot.
P/O Jack Heaton, RAFVR 982650/ 196880 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/Sgt Herbert Ronald Holliday, RAAF AUS.434602 – Navigator.
F/Sgt Hilray ‘Ray’ Hubert Stratford, RNZAF NZ4213296 – Air Bomber.
F/Sgt Jack Messer, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.
F/Sgt Daniel ‘Dan’ Brazier, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.

Eric Butler has been mentioned a number of time on this blog already, being the replacement Pilot to the Bill Mallon crew in 1945, who Vic’s father, Bob Jay flew with as Flight Engineer. Perhaps because of my ‘one step removed’ knowledge of this crew, it came as a surprise to realise that Eric Butler had in fact been at 75(NZ) in 1941 on his first tour with the Squadron.

Frustratingly, the FE for this crew is not mentioned and I do not yet have a complete set of 1941 ORB’s for the Squadron to be able identify who he was, though he is obviously in the photograph.


This is a picture from the Ely Standard, August 1982. It shows former members of the 75th Squadron at the control tower on the former Mepal Airfield. In addition to Charlie Freeston the group includes Les Wood, Les Stickbury, Stan Galloway, Jim Dermody and Alf Proctor.
This and other material was kindly lent to the Mepal Archive Group by Barry Aldridge, honorary curator of the Witchford Airfield Museum.
© Barry Aldridge, Witchford Airfield Museum/ Ely Standard.

Based on the names in the caption, I believe the individuals are;
W/O James Frederick Freestone, RNZAF NZ4213370) – Air Bomber, Egglestone crew.
F/O Leslie Blair Stitchbury, RNZAF – NZ42311 – Navigator, Grubb crew.
AC1 Les Wood, RAF 1429737 – ELECT 2, 1942.
F/L Stanley William Galloway, DFC RAFVR (148919 – Wireless Operator, Gibb crew.
F/O  James Michael Dermody, RNZAF (NZ40933 – Navigator, Gibb crew.
F/O Alfred Proctor, DFC, RAFVR 845266/ 159096 – Rear Gunner, Gibb crew.

The Mepal Archive/ Cambridgeshire Community Archive Network can be visited here.


The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 7. Battle Orders, 16.12.44 Siegen

BAttle Orders 16 12 1944

I am very excited about the presentation of this document, being only the second original Battle Order that I have seen relating to 75(NZ) Squadron. Tantalisingly, the designator letters for the ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flight aircraft are missing, however, looking at the layout of the sheet, I think it’s at least safe to assume that the groupings of the aircrew above the clearly identified ‘C’ Flight crews must identify them as ‘A’ and ‘B’ flight.

From a personal perspective, it’s exciting to see the Zinzan crew mentioned – for some reason, having to go to the Radar Station……..

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 6

40 years on – Growing older and older.
I took no interest in Air Force Associations until just before I retired and although I knew that there had been a 75 N.Z. Squadron Association in New Zealand I did not visualise one in the U.K. The Air Crew of the Squadron had been a mixture of N.Z., Canadians, Australians and U.K. personnel and the majority of the ground crews etc. were from the U.K. However the U.K. people came from all parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and this was the reason that I did not expect a Squadron Association to be formed.

However just before I retired an Office Manager (who knew I was in a N.Z. Squadron) contacted the N.Z. Embassy in London to ask if there was a N.Z. Squadron Association in this country. He did this without telling me and it was probably that some time previously I had mentioned other friends in Associations going on reunions. The Embassy gave him the name and address of the Secretary in Cornwall and the Association was my old Squadron No.75. In due course I received a letter from him and he advised that they had been going for about 10 years. I promptly joined and so made my first contact with people that I had been with over 40 years earlier. Since than I have joined the Air Crew Association and the R.A.F.A. and these associations have proven to be an added interest since I retired from active employment.

The link between 17th.December 1942, 28th April 1943 and 28th Ausust 1987
On the 17th December 1942 four out of five Stirling Bombers failed to return from a raid on the Opel works at Fallersleben — one of these being short Stirling BK620 and the Bomb Aimer was Eric Williams the author of ‘The Wooden Horse’ escape story. The plane had been damaged and after the other crew members had baled out the Pilot Sgt. Ken Durmall ditched the plane in Lake Westeinder, not far from Amsterdam. He was also taken prisoner so that all the crew escaped with their lives and ended up as P.O.W.s The Germans tried to get the aircraft to the shore but did not succeed and years later a Dutch Aircraft Recovery Group managed to get several parts ashore and these were placed in a museum. One part was an almost complete propeller and on the 28th August 1987 members of our Association were invited to Holland to attend an unveiling ceremony of the propeller that had been mounted as a memorial to 75 N.Z. Squadron as the Dutch had formed a special relationship with us due partly to the dropping of food and supplies by the Squadron. This was a wonderful experience and the people of Aalsmeer treated us to days to remember and they expressed their appreciation to the R.A.F. on many occasions. They did of course suffer greatly under the Germans and some said that the sound of our Aircraft gave them hope and they knew that they were not alone. There were still 5 members of the crew still alive and one attended the ceremony and I met the Pilot in Holland the following year when we received a further invite to a new museum of reclaimed parts – Eric Williams had died in 1984

Now we come to the link of these two dates with the 28th April 1943 which was the date that only 3 of us out of 7 returned from laying mines in Kiel Bay. While I was on the coach after the unveiling Stan Brooks came on and asked me what I had been up to as a Counsellor from the N.Z. Embassy in the Hague wanted to see me. He had arranged that we meet at the next stop which was a further reception in Aalsmeer. At this I met this Counselor and he produced a Battle Order that covered the Mine Laying Operation and asked if I was the Sgt.Wall listed as one of the crew that returned. He then told me that his Uncle Sgt. A.C. Howell was one of those that did not return from the operation and that all his family in N.Z. were told was that he failed to return on the night of the 28th. April. He had since traced the operation and obtained a copy of the Battle Order and asked if I could tell him anything about the raid and his Uncle. I advised him that I could not say much about his Uncle after all this time but that there would have been little chance of survival as we flew in at 600 feet or so and the A.A. Fire co-operating with searchlights was very intense and we saw several aircraft going in the sea without a hope.

However it so happened that on the day we took off, an official photographer took some photos and in my logbook that I had with me was one of our crew standing in front of our aircraft and another one showing all the N.Z. personal that were going on that operation that night. It was a large photo and all the faces were clear and although he was too young to have known his uncle  he recognised him from other photos that he had seen. It was a pity that no one thought of sending copies of this photo to the relatives of the ones that went missing that night . I cut the photo from my logbook and gave it to him and he had it copied and later returned my original to me. He said that the copy he had made to send tohis Father and Aunt (Brother and Sister of Sgt.Howell were even better than my copy. In November we attended our usual Squadron Association reunion at Mepal and while there went into Ely Cathedral to look for Sgt. Howell’s name in the R.A. Roll of Honour. The glass fronted case was opened for us and my wife took a very good photo of the entry which is in beautiful writing and we sent copies with other postcards of the Cathedral to the Counsellor – Jim Howell, who had by this time heard that he was being posted back home.

Since then we have been to the Runnymede Memorial and placed flowers in The Niche where Sgt.Howell’s name appears and taken photos and sent them on to Jim.

At the end of March 1990 Jan and I were going to the Squadron Reunion in New Zealand and Jim (who was now back there) heard that we were going and got in touch with our Navigator – Slim Ormerod – who was also back in New Zealand and asked him if he knew what we were doing after the Reunion Slim told him that we were staying with him for 5 nights then making our way up North to join the rest of our party at Auckland for our flight to Perth. He lived in the South part of North Island and Jim was only a few miles away.  Jim arranged to collect us and take us to his parents home in the Hawkes Bay area – his father being a brother of Sgt.Howell. On the way we visited some lovely spots and then spent the night with his parents Next day they took us on a sight seeing tour and we ended up at his Sister’s house in the Bay of Plenty. After all this we were ¾ of the way to Auckland and after 2 nights with them they organised a wonderful bus trip to Auckland were we met up with our other friends. We still hear from them at Christmas exchanging letters and Calendars and they always ask when we will be returning to stay with them.

At the Reunion in March 1990 I managed to recognise Slim who I had last seen in 1945 as he was Squadron Navigation Officer at Mepal when I returned with Jack Bailey to do my second tour. He was in the bar (where else would he be) and he still had the habit of letting his pint pot dangle on one finger after he had taken most of it down. I reminded him that exactly 47 years to the night we were 10,000 feet over Berlin in a Stirling.

A few years ago I was staying in Chateris for a November Re-union when I met Ernie Brook and during a chat with him he mentioned the Mine Laying disaster and when I told him that we were one of the lucky ones who got back he asked which aircraft we were in. When I told him it was “V” he reminded me that he was one of the team who serviced it that day. It is quite possible that he is one of the ground staff on my photo of the Aircraft that was taken just prior to take-off…………

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 5

15th April 1945 to 24th June 1946 — Redundant Air Crew
After 3 weeks leave I was posted to an Air Crew Assessment Centre at Catterick to try to sort out what other duties I could usefully be given. For some unknown reason the powers that be decided that I would make a reasonable Equipment Officer and I was posted on to an Equipment Course. However after a week I requested to see the C.O. and told him that I was far from happy on this type of work. He was very understanding and sent me home on indefinite leave – still on full flying pay. All good things do come to an end and after a month at home I was sent on a Flying Control Course near Swindon. I passed this and was sent to Upwood as one of three Flying Control Officers – all of us being redundant Air Crew.

Although I enjoyed the duties I did find that time dragged and I thought that after the end of the war the spirit of the R.A.F. was not the same. I was therefore looking forward to being released from the service and to try and pick up life again in civvy street especially as I was getting married in February. Some time in January an officer from Air Ministry came to the station to interview all 5 of us as they wanted one of us to go to Oslo on Flying Control duties. It would have meant an upgrade in rank to Squadron Leader and also the chance of a short service commission after normal release date of 4 years. I told him that I was not interested as I wanted to get out as soon as possible to try to sort out a job while I was still young enough to start a new career of some sort. The other 2 both asked to be considered for the position but in due course the posting came through for me to go to Oslo.

I have no idea why I was chosen as all 5 of us seemed to have similar experience and qualifications for the position – although I had been placed as second in the Flying Control Examinations. I still did not want to go and saw the Adjutant who was luckily an ex Air Crew character and explained my objections including the fact that I was getting married 10 days before the posting was to be taken up he picked up the phone and called the department at Air Ministry responsible for the posting and told them that I was unfit for overseas service. No questions were asked as far as I know and some days later the posting was cancelled.

I often wonder where I would be and what would I be doing if I had not turned down the posting – however I have no regrets as I had a happy time after release and for my working life. On the 25th March I was posted to Oakington and then on 24th June 1946 was released from the R.A.F. to start life in my regulation demob suit complete with Trilby hat…………

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 4

The Lancaster Bomber.
The Lanc proved to be a far superior aircraft than the Stirling with a bombing height of approx. 20,000 ft. against the Stirling at 10,000 ft. Also the bomb load was very much more and the handling much better when you were in trouble. Depending on weather etc. you were in difficulties if you lost an engine on a Stirling but the Lancaster could still make it back even on only 2 engines.

17th September 1944 to 12th April 1945 – Back on second tour.
After 3 weeks with my old Skipper and the __ _ I new crew converting to Lancasters we were posted back to 75 N.Z. Squadron who had moved from Newmarket to Mepal near Ely. My Skipper had tried to get other members of the old crew back but our Navigator was already back at Mepal as Station Navigation Officer so could not be part of a crew although he did go on Ops when a crew were short of a Navigator. Our original WOP/AG had already gone back on Ops with a Path Finder Squadron and I heard that he had completed a second tour with them. The story was that he returned from end of tour leave and a crew was short of a WOP/AG and he volunteered and that he failed to return on that raid. My skipper also discovered that our Mid-Upper Gunner should not have flown with us on our first tour as he was unfit. He had suffered a bad crash in the sea while on training and was told that he was no longer fit for operational duties, however this was overlooked and he had a very good first tour with us on Stirlings. I an not sure why he could not get our Rear gunner and Flight Engineer back or if in fact he tried but I am sure we would all have liked to have been together for the second time.

It was good to be back on an Operational Squadron again and as it was after D Day the majority of our raids were in daylight often with Fighter Cover. The losses were not so high and we felt that we had a good chance to complete the second tour – not so confident when we were on Stirlings. As my Skipper was a Flight Commander we did not fly so often as other crews and so once again it took 6 months to complete our tour.

However as I had passed my Bombing leaders Course I stood in as Squadron Bombing Leader when required and this was very interesting. Checking the Bomb Load positions and briefing the Bomb Aimers for Ops I was not going on helped to fill in the time. A second tour on Bomber Command at that time was between 20 and 25 Ops and after 22, making a total of 50 we were told that we had finished and so on the 9th  April 1945 my services as a Bomb Aimer were no longer required. By this time there was a surplus of Air Crew and so with many others I became redundant as Air Crew but still in the R.A.F…………….

Harold Dewhurst – Mid Upper Gunner. Warren crew

Kevin has passed onto me an inquiry from Yvonne regarding her uncle, Harold Dewhurst, who was the MId Upper Gunner with the Warren crew between November 1943 and May 1944. The crew were tragically lost on the Louvain raid, the aircraft exploded and crashed at Castle Elderschans some 2km NW of Aardenburg (Zeeland) , Holland.

Yvonne knows very little about her Uncle, but is desperate to find out more – I can’t promise anything, but based on the amazing connections that have happened already via this blog, my fingers are crossed for her………

The Warren Crew arrived on or around the 5th November 1943. There appears to be no record of Derek completing a 2nd dickie Op with another crew before flying operationally with his crew.

11.11.43 Mining in the Gironde Estuary. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.00
Down 01.00
F/L Derek Warren – Pilot
F/O Arnold Irving – Navigator
P/O Donald Gage – Air Bomber
F/S David Clough – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Harold Dewhurst – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Harold Hewitt – Rear Gunner

25.11.43 Mining in the Bay of Biscay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
up 17.20
Down 23.20
Same crew

16.12.43 Mining in the Bay of Biscay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.05
Down 22.45
Same crew

22.12.43. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 21.10
Down 23.55
Same crew

21.1.44. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 18.30
Down 20.55
Same Crew

25.1.44. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 23.55
Down 03.00
Same Crew

27.1.44. Mining in the Heligoland Area. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.10
Down 21.50
Same crew.

28.1.44. Mining in Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 18.50
Down 00.50
Same crew

11.2.44. Mining in the River Adour. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Down 01.50
Same Crew

15.2.44. Mining in the River Adour. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 23.30
Down 06.40
Same Crew

20.2.44. Mining off Morlaix. Stirling Mk.III EF512.
Up 18.35
Down 22.50
Same crew

22.2.44. Mining Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
UP 16.40
Down 19.25
Same crew

24.2.44. Mining Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
UP 17.10
Down 00.35
Same crew

FORM 540 Squadron ORB
March 1944
Administration.  Conversion to Lancaster Aircraft. It was decided by higher authority to convert the Squadron from Stirling to Lancaster aircraft, and our first Lancaster was received on 13th March, 1944, since that date we have received a further 19. All crews are being converted to Lancaster aircraft and at present 13 have passed through No.3 Lancaster Finishing School at R.A.F. Station Feltwell.

Administration. The following proceeded for Lancaster conversion to No. 3 L.F.S Feltwell:- NZ415820 F/O H. Murray and crew, NZ42354 f/S Armstrong C. and crew, NZ414591 A/F/L S. Clark and crew, NZ403561 A/S/L D. Climie and crew, 151118 A/F/L D. Warren and crew, NZ422282 F/O R. Herron and crew, NZ401266 A/S/L D. Gibb and crew, AUS413157 P/O A. Humphreys and crew and NZ421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew.

5/6 March 1944. Special Operations March Moon Period.
Operation PETER 24 (Abortive)
Same Crew

7/8 March 1944. Operation AUTHOR 17 (Abortive)
Same Crew

10/11th March 1944. Operation MONGREL 20 (Successful)
Same crew

13.3.44. Mining off Brest. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 22.40
Down 03.25
Same crew.

15/16th March 1944 Operation BOB 155 (Abortive)
Same crew

18.3.44. Mining in the Heligoland Bight. Stirling Mk.IIIvEF217
Up 18.55
Down 23.20

FORM 540 Squadron ORB
Administration. NZ421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew proceeded on detachment to No.33 Base, Waterbeach. The following crews ceased to be detached to No.3 L.F.S. Feltwell:- NZ415820 F/O Murray H. and crew, NZ42354 F/S Armstrong C. and crew, NZ414591 A/F/L S. Clark and crew, NZ403561 A/S/L J. Climie and crew, 151118 F/L Warren D. and crew, NZ422282 F/O R. Herron and crew, NZ401266 A/S/L D. Gibb and crew, AUS413157 P/O A. Humpreys and crew and NZ 421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew.

18.4.44. Mining in Kiel Area. Stirling Mk.III ND768*
Up 20.45
Down 02.55
P/O Bill Lake (Wireless Operator with my Fathers 1st Tour crew) replaces David Clough as Wireless Operator.
*This appears to be an error in the ORB – ND768 was in fact a Lancaster MK.III AA-F (Shot down target Dortmund 22.5.44)

24.4.44. Attack Against Karlsruhe. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
Up 22.25
Down 03.45.
P/O Ralph Barker replaces Bill Lake as Wireless Operator.

26.4.44 Attack Against Essen. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
UP 23.30
Down 03.40
F/S Colin Megson flies with crew as 2nd Dickie.
Sgt. T. Hamilton replaces Ralph Barker as Wireless Operator.

27.4.44. Attack Against Friedrichshafen. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
Up 22.10
Down 05.30
David Clough returns to the crew as Wireless Operator.

10.5.44. Attack Against Courtrai. Lancaster Mk.III ND753 ??-G
Up 22.05
Down 01.15
F/S Bill White flies with the crew as 2nd Dickie

11.5.44 Attack Against Louvain. Lancaster MK.III ND919 AA-D
Up 22.56

F/Lt. Derek Warren, RAFVR 151118 – Pilot.
Died age 20. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery Netherlands.

F/O Arnold Earle Irving, RCAF J.19819 – Navigator.
Died age 23.Buried Aardenburg  General Cemetery, Netherlands.

P/O Donald Irwin Gage, RCAF R.166/183, J.19996 – Air Bomber.
Died age 24. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

F/S David Clough, RAFVR 1193544 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands. (American Citizen)

Sgt. Francis Christopher Riley, RAFVR 1584169 – Flight Engineer.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery Netherlands.

Sgt. Harold Dewhurst, RAFVR 1094980 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Died age 23. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

F/S Harold Max Hewett, RAAF AUS.419311 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery.

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 3

11th June 1945 to 16th September 1944 – Instructing at O.T.U.
I was sent to No.26 O.T.U. at Wing near Leighton Buzzard as an instructor in the Bombing Section. This entailed instructing airmen who had passed their initial course and had received their brevets. All were destined for Bomber Command and so all were straight Bomb Aimers with the letter “B” in their brevets instead of the “O” for observer that I was wearing. As far as I can recall the course for each group lasted 3 or 4 weeks and in that time we instructed on the different types of bombs, fuses and flares. We also told them what to expect on Ops and in general to advise on the different aspects of their job. During this period they dropped small practice bombs at a range outside Thetford using mainly Wellingtons.

On some occasions the instructors flew with them and of course next day we studied the results of their efforts after receiving the plots from the bombing range. While on the station I was sent to Manby on a Bombing Instructors Course and on return was put in charge of the section. Later on I was sent again to Manby on a Bombing leaders Course and this was more advanced than the previous course and included instruction on planning bomb loads in relation to positioning etc. for various types and fuel loads and targets

On the 24th June 1944 I qualified as Bombing Leader “A“ Category – I am not sure exactly what this “A” category meant but the Bombing Leader at Wing was well pleased with my efforts. After a year or so I was getting a little fed up with the routine being repeated every few weeks and it was a great moment for me when my Pilot from 75 N.Z. Sqadron flew down to see me. He said that he was going back on Ops with the old squadron and asked if I was interested in returning with him as his Bomb Aimer. I eagerly agreed but advised him that I was doubtful that I would be able to as I hal been on the Bombing Instructor and Bombing leaders Courses and that I understood that the the Bombing Leader at Wing was hoping for a posting and that I would take over. However he was pretty sure that he could use his Irish Blarney (he was an Irish New Zealander known as Irish Jack) and said that I would hear in due course. Sure enough a few weeks later I was told to report to No.3 L.F.S. at Feltwell which was a short Conversion Course on Lancaster

So on the 16th September 1944 I said goodbye to all my friends at Wing to start to prepare for my second tour………….

Veterans still working for the memory of their lost comrades

comp of both images

left picture: the boys signing pictures at a garden center. right picture: meeting Princess Anne at a Buckingham Palace garden party.

I am pleased to post this short article that Helen De Hoop, wife of John De Hoop, Wireless Operator with the Wakelin crew Oct. 1944 to Mar. 1945, has passed on to the UK 75(NZ) Association for publication in its next newsletter.

About three years ago a group of Bomber Command veterans (12) were organized out of our local Aircrew Association to raise funds for the building of the BC Memorial in London. A super lady PR was recruited and also a number of authors of WW2 books and a collection of prints and other pictures of WW2 aircraft.

A venue for the display and sale of the items was investigated and we were lucky to find a keen aircraft enthusiast in the owner of a string of Garden nurseries. On each occasion a stall is set up to sell the memorabilia which are signed by the veterans with name and Squadron. With some publicity, large numbers of people have come often being the same people who have previously attended. Up to the moment we have raised in excess of £30,000.

Although the monument is now built the RAF Benevolent is left with the task of the maintenance of the structure so we are carrying on with the fund-raising for as long as we can.

Last week our team were invited to a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and were introduced to Princess Anne which was a nice recognition of our efforts.

Some of us veterans who were in the TV programme ”Bomber Boys” broadcast last year, have been in demand to give talks to various organizations for which we have received extra donations for the Fund. One very rewarding venue (not monetary) has been visiting schools to talk to the children as part of the national curriculum. Watch ‘Bomber Boys’ here.

I am sure we wish John and his colleagues all the success possible in their continuing efforts to raise money for the up-keep of the stunning Bomber Command Memorial in Green Park. If you wish to make a donation you can do so here

Aircraft database update

composite aircraft image

I’m afraid, in truth this ‘update’ is probably the last of 4 that Ian has sent me over the last few couple of months, but as I have much discussed (and should probably shut up now), work demands got the better of me. But, here it is, the latest version of the database, covering all of the Wellingtons, Stirlings and Lancasters that flew with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 2

The Stirling Bomber.
This was the first 4 Engine Bomber to go into operation and some people claimed that it was “The Queen of the Skies” but it proved to be far inferior to the Lancaster. The Short Stirling was a victim of its own specification. Its wings were of such low aspect ratio, so that it could be housed in the standard hangar, that its operational ceiling was fatally limited. It could carry a 14,000 lb. bomb load but the largest it could carry was 2,000 lb. although later models were modified so that larger bombs could be carried. The aircraft did tend to swing to Starboard on take off and I am not sure if this tendency was ever cured. There were 7 Fuel Tanks in each wing and was armed with 4 x 303 Browning in the rear turret and 2 in each of the front and mid-upper turrets. Total fuel was 2,254 gallons.

As mentioned its operational ceiling was low and we usually bombed at 10,000 feet as against the Lancaster at 20,000 feet. Jim Davis an ex Warrant Officer and Air Gunner on Lancasters with 90 Squadron wrote:-
“In the glow over targets we often saw them below us
And didn’t all Lancaster Aircrews always say
“Thank God we’re not down there with them”
They survived shells from below and Lancaster Bombs from above
Flying at their low height over targets that really “taunted the Reaper‘
For me, they were the Elite, those men who had the sheer guts to fly,
night after night, the Mighty Stirling Bomber.”

13th November 1942 to 23rd May 1945. – On an Operational Squadron.
The Airfield
The main runway was grass in the East West direction and was 7,500 feet long and other landing strips were SE-NW 5,400 feet and NE-SW 4,800 feet. As several crews discovered the Devils Ditch or Dyke constituted a very tangible hazard on take off. Several aircraft crashed because of this obstruction. Originally N.C.O. aircrew lived in the Grandstand but later on more comfortable quarters were built. The Officers were in the Jockey Club or Sefton house.

Although I was on “Ops” on the 16th  and 20th April I managed to celebrate my 22nd  Birthday on the 18th  with our crew and others in the Golden Lion in Newmarket.

Our Crew
Our Pilot was a N.Z. F/Sgt, the Navigator was a N.Z. P/O, the WOP/AG was a N.Z. F/Sgt. and the remaining 4 all English Sgts. Our Pilot was Commissioned to P/O in Jan. 1943 and I received my Commission the 23rd  February 1943.

Some of the crew had already completed 2 or 3 Operations on Wellingtons when I joined them and they were a first class set of comrades to have and made me feel very welcome to the crew. We did tend to go out as a crew on evenings off and did not make very many close friends with other crews. I think that it was because losses were so heavy in those days that other crews did not make close contact with each other outside of camp so that it was not so hard when planes did not return.

When we started Operating on Stirlings some of the crews had already done various numbers of their 50 for a tour on Wellingtons but we were one of the first to complete a tour due to losses. I was the first on the Squadron to complete a Tour all on Stirlings – although I only did 28 as all the crew finished when the majority had completed 30.

Flying as a Crew
On the 14th  November 1942 I flew with another Pilot and crew with other new Bomb Aimers on a practice bomb flight in a Stirling in daylight for 2 hours. Then on the 17th  I had my first flight with my crew and this was at night on a Navigational Exercise lasting 4¾ hours. We got well and truly lost and in fact landed at Castle Camps which was an airfield a short distance away from base and returned to Newmarket the next day. We were told that we had caused the London Sirens to be sounded but I never found out if this was true or not. I do not think that I was of a great deal of use on this flight but then of course up to then I had only had 1½ hours night flying experience – map reading at night is not so easy as in daylight.

After this far from satisfactory start to our flying as a crew we did a half hour Air Test on the 19th  and on the 20th November we were briefed for our first War Operation to Turin. Before Turin I had still only flown in a Stirling for 3 hours in daylight and 4¾ hours at night making a total of just over 6 hours of night experience. All our Bombing Operations were carried out at night and it took us 6 months to complete our tour as many times we were briefed to fly but Ops were cancelled due to bad weather and our maximum flying height. Most bombing was carried out at about 10,000 feet except Mine Laying which was at 600 feet as the mines were dropped by parachute.

Mine Laying was usually an easy Op as quite often we did not need to fly over enemy ground. This was referred to as “Gardening” – sowing the seed. However 2 of our Gardening trips proved to be the exception to an easy target and this is mentioned in the separate summary of Operations.

In addition one of these had a sequel almost 40 years later and this is mentioned later on in my notes.

When we were on the Squadron we were on stand by 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week but we were allowed 6 days leave every 6 weeks. While on leave we received a special Air Crew allowance of 5 shillings a day from the Nuffield Fund – this was a worth while amount in the 1940’s. On most of our leaves our N.Z. members of the crew liked to go to London and we often met my Father for a beer or two and our WOP/AG often came home with me for the whole leave. Most nights we ended up at my Father’s Club and we were always made most welcome. It so happened that our first Op to Berlin was the night before one of our leaves. You can imagine the celebration in the club on the night especially as it was my Father’s birthday. One of the members was a Jewish tailor and I do believe that my WOP/AG and myself could have had anything that was possible from him.

Although there was always plenty of “Flak” and Night Fighters to contend with the majority of our Ops were uneventful and we were very lucky to have such a good crew and such a skilled Pilot. However many other crews were not so lucky and we lost so many during my tour but I suppose due to our young age it did not affect us in the some way as it would in later life.

On the 17th December 1942 4 out of 5 aircraft from our squadron failed to return from a raid on Fallersleben one of these missing was Captained by our C.O. W/Cdr V. Mitchell DFC and another one was the plane that Eric Williams (author of The Wooden Horse escape story) was in – he was also a Bomb Aimer. I was not on this raid but I was on a Gardening Op in April in which only 3 out of 7 managed to survive. Both these Ops were linked when I visited Holland in August 1987 and I will detail later.

Many aircraft crashed on take-off and on returning home after Ops and one episode that sticks in my mind relates to a 19 year old New Zealand Pilot Peter Buck. In April 1943 he crash landed on the airfield after a raid on Duisburg, he had been attacked by, night fighters on the way back and the aircraft suffered damage to its rudder by cannon fire. As a consequence it was very difficult to stop the aircraft from flying in circles. His rear gunner had been killed and the Mid Upper Gunner and Wireless Operator both badly wounded. He nursed the aircraft back to base but the under- carriage refused to come down and a wheels-up landing had to be made. What an experience for a 19 year old and what courage and devotion to duty – he could have jumped but he knew that 2 of his crew were too badly injured to make it safely. He did complete his tour and I was to meet him again in New Zealand at the Squadrons 50th anniversary in March 1990.

They were happy days on the Squadron with a great deal of cooperation and friendship between Aircrew and Ground crew regardless of rank and every few weeks we would take over The White Lion in Newmarket for a party – mainly drinks of course. All Aircrew and Ground Crews were invited but we had an arrangement with the bar staff that only men with a brevit could pay for any drinks – this was our way of thanking the ground staff for all they did to keep us flying. They often worked out in the open in very cold weather at all hours to make the aircraft ready for Ops. Sqn.Ldr. A Cheffins of the Royal Canadian Air Force has since written “All Air Crew should never forget the overworked, under paid, seldom mentioned and under appreciated Ground Crews”. I am glad to see that these words are quoted in the issues of Intercom which is the Magazine of the Aircrew Association.

On the night of 4th May 1943 we completed our last Op of the tour and when we returned we could not land at Newmarket – not sure now if it was due to enemy action or the weather – we were therefore diverted to another airfield for the night. Next day we returned to base and our skipper decided to celebrate our end of tour with some low level flying. There was a race meeting at Newmarket and he flew the Stirling at very low level up and down the race course. Not very popular with the race goers no doubt but we enjoyed it. I think we had a mild dressing down from the C.O.

After 5 days of celebrations on the station we were fit enough to go on end of tour leave. Then on return it was farewell to 75 N.Z. Squadron and a posting to a Conversion Unit for odd duties until I was finally sent to an O.T.U. as an instructor.

Maurice Wiggins, Navigator – Banks crew

Pat Jock Paddy or Jim 75 sqn

Two lovely photographs of Maurice in the ‘Office’

75 sq poss maurice

Many thanks to Catherine for supplying these wonderful images of Maurice Wiggins, Navigator with the Banks crew in 1945. I have a keen interest in this crew, having had the pleasure spending time with both Jimmy Banks, the Air Bomber and Norman ‘Paddy’ Allen the Mid Upper Gunner.

The third picture – a fantastic crew photo is a little bit of a conundrum – it shows the majority of the Banks crew – but the first individual on the back row, is clearly not. Could it be that this might be a training flight crew photo and Alex Hirst joined the crew later ????

75 sqn AAS

The Banks crew ??
Back row L to R: ?,  Jimmy Wood, Maurice Wiggins, Russell Banks.
Front Row L to R: Jock Fraser, Jack Britnall and Norman Allen.


The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 1

J.C. Wall’s experiences during World War II and Later

September 1939 – July 1941
I was 18½ years old at the outbreak of war living in Beckenham with my parents and working in S.E. London. In the meantime I had joined the local A.R.P. as a part time voluntary stretcher bearer being on duty all night for 2 or 3 nights a week during the London Blitz. We were called out many times to rescue bomb victims – my first was an elderly woman from a badly damaged house but unfortunately she was dead by the time that we pulled her out.

Although we could sleep between raids I still had to make my way to work in London the next day often with delays there and back due to raids and bomb damage on the tracks. Quite often there would be an alert on by the time I got home and I would find a note from my Mother which would read “Your dinner is in the oven – we are in the shelter”. The shelter being a corrugated iron Anderson shelter sunk in the garden.

Just before I was 20 years old I decided to volunteer for Air Crew duties in the R.A.F. Partly I think because I knew that in a year or so I would be called up and would probably end up in the Army – my 2 Brothers were already in the Army and their stories of the vigorous training was a bit off-putting.

In May 1941 I had my Educational and Health examinations and was passed as fit for all Air Crew duties. However although like most 20 year olds I wanted to be a Pilot I was told that there was a 9 month waiting period for Pilot training and only 2 months for other Air Crew duties. I was also advised that if I volunteered for Observer training (Navigator/Bomb Aimer). I could transfer to Pilot training later. I fell for this “con” and of course found out that there was no hope of changing courses.

7th July 1941 to 12th November 1942 – Training
I was enlisted on the 7th July 1941 in London and was equipped at Lords Cricket ground and billeted in the new flats at Bryanston Court near the London Zoo – in fact our meals were taken in the Zoo Restaurant. After 3 weeks I was posted to Initial Training Wing at St. Andrews in Scotland for 3 months. Then after a short stay in Eastbourne and Blackpool, set off for an unknown destination which proved to be South Africa.

We went out in convoy and the journey took just over 5 weeks and the S.S. Ormonde was very crowded. To me this was a real adventure as up to the date that I joined the R.A.F. the furthest that I had travelled was to Great Yarmouth and Lyme Regis for holidays.

I was training in South Africa for almost 6 months and most of the training was Navigation and the rest was for Gunnery and Bomb Aimer. We came back on our own (not in convoy) on the Duchess of Richmond and the journey took only 3 weeks. While in South Africa I celebrated my 21st. birthday in Johannesburg – I had very little money at the time but managed to raffle a Rolls Razor and a Valet Auto Strop Razor that had been given to me when I joined up. A good time was had by a few of us at a Johannesburg? Club from the proceeds of the raffle.

Our training was on Oxfords and Ansons but due to restrictions we did very little night flying and I had only loqged 1hr.35mins. at night against 99hrs day while in training. On completion of our course those of us that passed were presented with our Observer Brevets and the majority were then given the rank of Sgt. A few were given the rank of P.O. but I do not know how selection was made – probably on type of school one attended – I was a Sgt.

He had a wonderful time in South Africa and enjoyed the hospitality of the South African families on many week ends away from camp.

When we returned to England we then heard that we would be in Bomber Command and as the 4 Engine aircraft needed a Navigator and a Bomb Aimer instead of an Observer half of us would be Navigators and the rest Bomb Aimers. There was no choice and it seemed a pity that most of the time of our training was on Navigation and that we would not put our full training to practice. However I was quite happy to be nominated as a Bomb Aimer and I wonder if I would have survived the war if I had been a Navigator – not because of my lack of skill but purely fate.

I should then have been posted to an Operational Training Unit (O.T.U.) and then on to a Conversion Unit for 4 engine aircraft. This should have meant a further 3 or so months of “safety” before flying on Operations but it was not to be. I was at Bournemouth awaiting posting to an O.T.U. when the C.O. sent for 4 of us and advised that we were very lucky as we would not be going to O.T.U. or Conversion Unit for training on 4 Engine Aircraft but that after a short course on Wellingtons (2 Engine Aircraft) we would be posted direct to a Squadron and so on to Operations.

Consequently after 3 weeks of training on Oxfords and Wellingtons and still with only 1½ hours of night flying experience I was sent to 75 (N.Z.) Squadron at Newmarket and met my crew for the first time. The aircraft that they were flying were the Mark 1 Stirlings and all the Bombing Raids were at night.

The memoirs of John ‘Jack’ Wall, Air Bomber – Bailey crew

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945. L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member. picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945.
L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member.
picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

I am amazingly pleased to say that Tony, son of Richard Pickup, Wireless Operator with the Bailey crew during their second tour, has passed to me a copy of the memoirs of the crew’s Air Bomber Jack Wall.

Jack completed a total of 50 Ops during 2 tours with 75(NZ) squadron between 1943 and 1945 – both with Jack Bailey, who was to become ‘C’ Flight O/C in 1945. Their second tour is inextricably linked to Lancaster Mk.III NE181 ‘The Captains Fancy’ JN-M, completing the aircraft’s 100th Op – the only aircraft in 75(NZ) Squadron to reach its century.

Tony has tried for some time to make contact with surviving relatives of Jack, but it would appear to date to be to no avail. We have discussed the document and we feel that until or if, someone related to Jack steps forward, we will attribute all copyright of these memoirs to Jack Wall himself. Also, in order that a relative is able to have an ‘original copy’ in its entirety , the original hand typed pages of the memoirs will be reproduced as text, not as images of the pages – only photographs and documents that perhaps nearly all actually have Crown copyright (which will now be expired) will be directly reproduced.

This is, relative to my experience at least, a very big document. There seems little point in attempting to post it in one go – not only would it create an astonishingly large single post, the honest likelihood is that many facts and tales would simply be lost to a reader on one sitting. To this end, I have decided to break it down to a number of installments – hopefully this will allow individual stories and recollections to ‘breathe’ a little better during a reading. I will try to build up a ‘head’ of posts and will let the blog automatically release them over each day till we have seen it all. A lot of the document is typed recollections, but there are also copies of documents and photographs that I am sure you will all find fascinating.

Mervyn Price RAFVR 1836910 logbook


Thanks to Steve for allowing me to add his father’s logbook to the collection. Mervyn was Flight Engineer with the Ohlson crew during 1945. for the aficionados of logbooks amongst you, its good to see that not only did Mervyn record the Flight/ designator letter of each aircraft flown (both Ops and training), but also that 3 ops are listed at the end for which details are missing in the Squadron ORB, after the cessation of completion of FORM 541after 30th June 1945.

Mervyn’s logbook can be read here.

Mervyn Price, Flight Engineer – Ohlson crew. 1945

DAD reduced

F/S Mervyn Price, Flight Engineer with the Ohlson crew.
© Steve Price

Many thanks to Steve for contacting me regarding his father, Mervyn Price who was the Flight Engineer with the Ohlson crew between February to July 1945.

The crew arrived at Mepal on the 5th of February from No. 73 Base. On the night of the 14th February, Eric Ohlson completed a 2nd dickie op with ‘B’ Flight Squadron Leader Jack Rodgers and his crew to Chemitz.

2 nights later the Ohlson crew began their tour of Ops.
16.2.45. Attack Against Wesel. Lancaster Mk.I HK561 AA-Y
F/O Eric Morton Ohlson, RNZAF NZ416529 – Pilot
F/O Albert George Benest, RAFVR 162049 – Navigator
W/O John Gerard Murphy, RNZAF NZ426251 – Air Bomber
F/S  J. Burge, RAFVR – Wireless Operator
F/S Mervyn Price, RAFVR – Flight Engineer
Sgt A. Akehurst, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt W. Keene, RAFVR – Rear Gunner

18.2.45. Attack Against Wesel. Lancaster Mk.III PB132 AA-X
19.2.45. Attack Against Wesel. Lancaster Mk.III PB132 AA-X
22.2.45. Attack Against Osterfeld. Lancaster Mk.III HK562 AA-L
25.2.45. Attack Against Kamen. Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R
26.2.45. Attack Against Dortmund. Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L
1.3.45. Attack Against Kamen. Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S
11.3.45. Attack Against Essen. Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S

*17.3.45. Attack Against Auguste Viktoria. Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S
*Not listed in Mervyn Price’s logbook, but in 1945 ORB.

20.3.45. Attack Against Hamm. Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
4.4.45. Attack Against Merseburg. Lancaster Mk.I RF157 AA-X

9/10.4.45. Attack Against Kiel. Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
Returned owing to fuel gauge under reading.

13/14.4.45. Attack Against Kiel. Lancaster Mk.I RF157 AA-X

20.4.45. Attack Against Regensburg. Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
Returned early, furthest point reached 5025/0526E. Engine failure. Port outer and inner Starboard defective (from ORB – not listed in Mervyn Price’s logbook)

24.4.45. Attack Against Bad Oldsloe. Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U

30.4.45. Supply Dropping Rotterdam. Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
listed as 29th in Mervyn Price’s logbook

2.5.45. Supply Dropping Delft. Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
listed as The Hague in Mervyn Price’s logbook

7.5.45. Supply Dropping Delft. Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
Akehurst flying as Rear Gunner – no Mid upper Gunner present.
Lazenby listed as passenger on this flight.
listed as The Hague in Mervyn Price’s logbook

23.5.45. Prisoner Repatriation – Juvincourt. Lancaster Mk.I NF935 AA-P
Recorded as the 25th in Mervyn Price’s logbook

3.6.45. Viewing the Effects of Bombing. Lancaster Mk.I HK563 AA-U
Not listed in Mervyn Price’s logbook

Fascinatingly – and frustratingly, after the 30th of June, the Squadron Operational Records are only recorded on FORM 540 – Summary of Events. Up to this point, the ORBs were made up of Form 540 and Form 541 – Detail of Work Carried Out, which listed crews, a/c serials and designator letters as well destinations and summaries of attacks. Mervyn’s logbook shows 3 Ops after this date, so sheds a little more detail on what is a frustratingly vague latter part of the Squadron’s activities.

1.7.45. Post Mortem. Lancaster AA-M
7.7.45. Baedecker, Ruhr. Lancaster AA-O
15.7.45. Baedecker. Lancaster JN-N

Leading Aircraftsman Fred Woolerton JN-Mike groundcrew.

Fred 1 b&W corrected

Fred Woolerton, one of the ground crew that was responsible for maintaining NE181, JN-M – ‘The Captains Fancy’ – the only Lancaster in 75(NZ) Squadron to exceed 100 Ops.

In January, as part of the remarkable collection of information that Tony had sent me regarding his Father, Dick Pickup, Wireless Operator with the Bailey crew and JN-M, ‘The Captains Fancy’ there was an Air Ministry Bulletin, congratulating JN-M on her 100th sortie.

The bulletin had been passed on by a member of ‘Mikes’ ground crew, Fred Woolerton, to the crew’s A/B Jack Wall, who in turn passed a copy to Dick……….

It gives me great pleasure and I am sure also, to Zoe, Fred’s grand daughter, to present a picture of Fred. According to Zoe, the RAF was Fred’s life and he spent many hours writing down his memories – sadly the location of these notes is unknown………

NE181 100th Jan 1945 tu low file

As way of an update, looking back on a post from January regarding the Bailey crew and ‘The Captains Fancy’ – I wonder if the chap, crouching on the right of the front row, might be Fred ??