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.


1 thought on “An interesting little find…….

  1. Chris Newey

    Hi Simon, great photos, thanks Martyn! In the second photo, Eric Butler’s crew in front of the Lancaster, first left will probably be: PAYNE Sgt C, RAF. The (second) Butler crew arrived at Mepal on 6 October from No. 31 Base, and their F/E was listed as Sgt C (Charlie?) Payne.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s