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)

5 thoughts on “The final mystery of Mike……..

  1. Reg

    Hi

    I am doing research on other aircraft and their missions. Flying missions is not always with bombs. So the number of Ops and the bombtally on the nose do not have to be the same

    Reg

    Like

    Reply
    1. 75nzsquadron Post author

      Hi Reg
      Yes, that’s a fair and true point – however, what that doesn’t explain is the known ops that Mike flew after racking up the 100th. the theoretical 104th flown by the Ware crew to Badoldsloe was the final War op for the Squadron – so it should have been recorded as such, much like the 102nd and 103rd……

      Given the clearly fierce loyalty of the ground crew to Mike, I can’t believe they would have passed up the opportunity to add more recorded Ops to ‘their’ aircraft.

      Its all fascinating stuff – but very perplexing as well…….

      Simon

      Like

      Reply
      1. Reg

        Simon

        Is there any information about what this plane did during the raid on Bad Oldesloe? Operation Record books etc. I have for example no idea of fooddroppings like they did over Holland were counted as Ops too.

        Reg

        Like

  2. ianbw12

    Hi Reg,
    The ORB states that they attacked Bad Oldesloe with 1000 ANM (ANM-Army Navy Munition), 500ANM and munro bombs.(I believe these were leaflet cannisters). JN-M carried 12*500 ANM and 4*1000 ANM and dropped them on the “railway and east side of built-up area”.
    Cheers,
    Ian

    Like

    Reply
  3. David Heald

    My Dad was on the last raid to bad oldesloe with F/O Ware, B/A Stan Heald in JN `M` I have both his training and operational log books. It inclueds after war missions

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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