Milsom crew – 1945

Many thanks to Keith, son of Gilbert Randal Springer, Wireless Operator in the Milsom crew for not only passing on the wonderful ‘A’ Flight group photograph, but for also supplying some photographs taken by Randal of the boys from his crew. Apparently Gilbert was named after uncle who was killed in 1916, in France when only 19. Despite this, he was always known as Randal

Perhaps the Misom crew were lucky to arrive at the beginning of March. Whist exposed to the still present dangers of flying War Ops, the war came, relatively quickly to an end after 7 Ops and they spent their remaining time at Mepal participating in Operation Manna and also repatriation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt.

The Milsom crew were;
F/O Robert Sinclair Milsom RNZAF NZ429356 – Pilot.
F/S Rex Baxter RNZAF NZ432738 – Navigator
F/O Lancelot Osgood Waugh RNZAF NZ429021 – Air Bomber
F/S Gilbert Randal Springer RNZAF NZ4213129 – Wireless Operator
Sgt. William ‘Bill’ Smith RAFVR – Flight Engineer
F/O John Alexander ‘Rex’ Williamson RNZAF NZ4210049 – Mid Upper Gunner
F/O John ‘Ted’ Smith RNZAF NZ428291 – Rear Gunner

Crew Op history;
Administration 6.3.45
P/O Misom R.S. and crew arrived on posting from No. 72 Base.

7/8.3.45 War Ops – Attack against Dessau.
Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J
Bob Milsom 2nd Pilot with Laurence McKenna’s crew.

17.3.45 War Ops – Attack Against Auguste Viktoria.
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
Bomb Load 1×4,000 H.C., 14x500ANM.,
Primary Targey – Auguste Viktoria
Formation seemed pretty well together.

20.3.45 War Ops – Hamm Marshalling Yards
Lancaster Mk.I HK573 AA-H
Bomb Load 6×1,000 ANM., 1×350 Munro
Primary Target – Hamm M/Yard
Nothing to report.

9/10.4.45 War Ops – Attack on Kiel
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F
Bomb Load 1×4000 HCN, 12×500 ANM,
Primary Target – Kiel.
Well concentrated and some good fires starting. Should be successful if TI’s were right.

14/15.4.45 War Ops – Attack on Potsdam
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F
Bomb load 1x4000HC, 5×500 ANM, 1×350 Munro:
Primary target – Potsdam
Bombed easterly red TI. Very good prang on A/P. Explosions and fires with large glow as returning.

20.4.45 War Ops – Attack on Regensburg.
Lancaster Mk. I HK573 AA-H
Bomb Load 4×1000 ANM, 7×500 ANM.
Primary Target Regensburg
Numerous explosions N of A/P and few S of A/P. Fair prang. Good line of bombing but considered A/P slightly overshot.

24.4.45 War Ops – Attack on Bad Oldsloe
Lancaster Mk. I RA510 AA-E
Bomb load 11×500 ANm, 4×1000 ANM, 1×350 Munro.
Primary target Bad Oldsloe
Considerable smoke and fire near the railway line. GH Leader went u/s so crossed over the target area and came in second time to bomb visually following the railway line.

30.4.45 – Supply Dropping Rotterdam
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F
Supplies carried – 5 Packs.
Very good concentration of bags. House seen on fire to starboard of field where TI also seen. Crowds running in to collect food. 1 Pack hung up.

2.5.45 – Supply Dropping at Delft.
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F
SuppliesCarried – 5 Packs.
Saw white cross, red TI and bags. Crowds were waving as usual. All packs were dropped.
As with all other a/c on this flight, the crews flew without their Mid Upper Gunner.

11.5.45 – Repatriation of Prisoners of War at Juvincourt.
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F
Number of men carried – 24.
Starboard outer engine U/S at Tangmere. Delayed return.

14.5.45 Evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt.
Lancaster Mk. I NN747 ??-D
Number of men carried – 24

Interestingly, the Milsom crew arrived at Mepal on the same day as the Mallon crew (Bob Jay), whether by chance or planning, at the end of the war campaign, the majority of the Milsom crew volunteered for ‘Tiger Force’, except for Lance Waugh, the Air Bomber. As a consequence, he went to the Mallon/Butler crew.

As I have already mentioned, Keith notes that Randal was quite a keen photographer and perhaps sneaked a camera on board now and then – certainly, it would seem that by this point, either the rules were a little more relaxed, or the aircrew were simply adept at hiding and being prepared to take pictures – certainly, cameras were still  banned from the airfield.

Steamer point Aden

Steamer point, Aden.
© Keith Springer

view from Steamer Aden

‘View from the Steamer…..’, Aden.
© Keith Springer

The 2 photographs above were taken on Randal’s return boat trip from the UK and were taken in Aden, one assumes a stopping off point for the ships on their long journey to the New Zealand.

the 2 Smiths by AA-F

The 2 Smiths stood under AA-F.
© Keith Springer

Bill  Smith, Flight Engineer on the left and Ted Smith, Rear Gunner, stood by the starboard undercarriage of what we might assume to be RF190 AA-F, their regular aircraft.

Ted Smith in rear turret

Ted Smith, Rear Gunner with the Milsom crew.
© Keith Springer

Ted Smith sat in his ‘Office’……

Bill smith at the controls

Flight Engineer, Bill Smith sat at the controls, one assumes of RF190 AA-F
© Keith Springer

….and Bill Smith having a go in the ‘Bosses’ seat……..

AA-F Mepal 1945

RF190 AA-F, the Milsom crew’s ‘regular’ aircraft.
© Keith Springer

And finally, a photograph just titled ‘AA-F’, which based on the ORB information identifies the aircraft as RF190, sat on Mepal airfield, sometime between March and June 1945.

1 thought on “Milsom crew – 1945

  1. John F Smith

    Great to see these fotos, and learn more about my dad’s, F/O John “Ted” Smith, time in Mepal. He died in 1964 when I was still at high school so I never got the opportunity for “adult” talks with him about his experiences. I remember his humorous accounts like running his car on aviation fuel and the block going red hot until the head cracked; leading the church parades but losing most of the guys as they passed the pubs in Mepal. There was a dark side, though, as he would never talk about operational things, apart from things like the wind/gales rushing through the planes when they came back because of flak holes in the plane. johnf

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