John McFarland, Navigator – Murray crew. 1944

Log Book 015

Sgt. John McFarland receiving his Navigators badge at the end of training in Canada.
© John McFarland

Many thanks to John McFarland, his son David and his daughter Emily for contacting me and passing on this wonderful photograph of John receiving his ‘Air Observer’s Wings’ (David assures me this is Canadian for Navigator!).

I had the pleasure of meeting John last November at the ‘Friends of 75(NZ) Squadron Association’ winter reunion – taking the chance to ask him to sign my copy of ‘Forever Strong’ the Squadron history – something he was happy to do.

I am happy to report that John is still in good health and I hope to see him and possibly some of the family at the next winter reunion this November.

The Murray crew were Posted into Mepal from No. 31 Base on the 25th January 1944;
11.2.44. Gardening – Mining in St. Malo Bay.
Stirling Mk.III LK396
F/O Henry James Murray – Pilot.
Sgt. John Edward Lithgow McFarland – Navigator.
F/S Douglas John Hill – Air Bomber.
F/S Gordon James Irwin – Wireless Operator
F/L Lyndon Oliver Sims – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Mulligan – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Peter Woolam – Rear Gunner.

20.2.44. Gardening – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Stirling Mk.III EJ108
Sgt. Hyman Kahler replaces Lyndom Sims as Flight Engineer.

22.2.44. Gardening – Mining in the Kiel Bay (Aborted)
Stirling Mk.III EF181
W/C Roy Max as 2nd Pilot.

15.3.44. Special Operations – Operation BOB 157 (Abortive)
Stirling Mk.III JN-U

16.3.44. War Ops – Attack Against Amiens
Stirling Mk.III  BK777 JN-F

18.3.44. Gardening – Mining in the Heligoland Bight
Stirling Mk.III  EH949 JN-R

19.3.44. Gardening – Mining of River Adour
Stirling Mk.III  EH955 JN-K

21.3.44. Gardening – Mining off Le Havre (Aborted)
Stirling Mk.III  EJ108 JN-K
Prop broke on take-off – jettisoned mines and made 3 engined landing.

22.3.44. Gardening – Mining in Kiel Bay
Stirling Mk.III  EH955 JN-K

25.3.44. War Ops – Attack Against Special Target.
Stirling Mk.III  LK378 JN-O
Sgt. Taylor in for Kahler as Flight Engineer.

26.3.44. Administration
The following proceeded for Lancaster conversion to No.£ 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 J. 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.

1.4.44. Administration
The following crews ceased to be detached 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 J. 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.

9.4.44. War Ops – Attack Against Villeneuve St. George.
Lancaster Mk.III  ND802 JN-O
Sgt. F. Holt in for Taylor as Flight Engineer.

18.4.44. Gardening – Mining in Kiel Bay
Stirling Mk.III EH955 AA-K
Hyman Kahler returns as Flight Engineer.
Missing – Shot down by a night fighter.

F/O Henry James Murray RNZAF NZ415820.  Pilot.
Buried Gram Churchyard Denmark.

Sgt. John Edward Lithgow McFarland  RAFVR 1503993. Navigator.
PoW No. 4193. PoW Camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft III. Promoted to F/Sgt while a PoW.

F/S Douglas John Hill RNZAF NZ415761. Air Bomber.
Doug Hill had a miraculous escape when his parachute harness, which was cut by a burst of fire from the night fighter, came off. His left foot caught in the harness and he descended hanging by his foot.
PoW No. 3550. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags Luft VI and 357. Safe UK 6 May 1945.

F/S Gordon James Irwin RNZAF NZ415698. Wireless Operator.
Wounded when attacked by night fighter. PoW camps Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft III. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK 14 May 1945.

Sgt. Hyman Chaim Mordecai Kahler RAFVR 1803280. Flight Engineer.
Buried Gram Churchyard Denmark.

Sgt. John Mulligan RCAF R.195834. Mid Upper Gunner.
Buried Gram Churchyard Denmark.

Sgt. Peter Woolam RAFVR 1890807. Rear Gunner.
Buried Gram Churchyard Denmark.

By John’s own observation the decision to volunteer for the Gardening Op to Kiel in a Stirling was seen as a soft and easy extra trip to their tour…..Perhaps this decision can be understood – the crew had suffered 3 aborted Ops in a month and it probably felt to them as if their time at Mepal was never going to end – add to this a 10 day hiatus for conversion to Lancasters at Feltwell and the soles of their feet may well have been getting itchy…….

Based on the events of that night, it would appear that their aircraft was fired on from underneath by a ‘Schräge Musik‘ equipped aircraft. Typically, the aircrew would get no warning of the attack until it was too late – John recalls his navigators desk exploding as the cannon shells hit.

2 thoughts on “John McFarland, Navigator – Murray crew. 1944

  1. David Gibson

    Murray’s Stirling was shot down by Night Fighter ace Ober Leutnant Bruno Heilig of NJG3 flying a Junkers 88G. Heilig was himself later killed in action. There is a memorail to the deceased crewmen in the Gram parish cemetery in Denmark.

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    1. 75nzsquadron Post author

      Hi David
      Many thanks for contacting me and passing on this information. John and his famiy are in fact going to Gram, I think in April to commomorate the loss of the crew.

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      Reply

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