Daily Archives: July 15, 2013

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 ??