The telegram that no family wanted to receive. The McCartin family did on the 22nd of November 1944. Donated by Pauline McCartin to the Australian War Memorial AWM: PR03129 – Papers of Lt Leo McCartin & FO Patrick McCartin
The following collections of letters, is perhaps the most touching set of documents I have so far come across in the creation of this blog. These letters were given to me by Paul Hickey, whose wife is the niece of Leo McCartin. They were one of the first collections I set out in one of many initial designs for the ‘proper’ website that some day will happen. Because of their length I initially decided not to place it here on the blog, but now as more information comes to me, I think it should be shown – to wait for the website to be built might mean a massive delay before these letters can be seen.
It is moving enough to read a crew history that ends with their loss. However, what follows is a series of letters between ‘Official’ sources and the families of ‘Leo’ McCartin’s crew after their tragic loss on the Homberg raid of 20th November 1945. All the crew were lost, apart from the rear gunner Flight Sergeant John Gray, who survived and spent the remainder of the war as POW.
Remember, compounding the awful notification of the loss of their aircraft and the crew’s initial status of ‘missing’, 2 of the families were some 10,000 miles away in Australia when that first fateful telegram arrived.
The rear gunner’s turret of a 75 Squadron Stirling being inspected by S/Ldr. Dick Broadbent and W/Cdr. Wells, a visiting fighter pilot, after damage by a night fighter over Duisburg on 26th April 1943.
It would appear in my haste to post the fantastic extra images that Simon sent me last night, I made a bit of an error in the captioning of the above picture, that was included in the post – many thanks to Adrian for putting me right, after posting the correct identification of the individuals in the photograph. Of course, this is a picture after another, very similar, night fighter attack, taken earlier in 1943. I knew I had seen the picture before and Adrian reminds me it comes from “The Royal Air Force at Newmarket” and the correct information included in this publication is;
” The rear gunner’s turret of a 75 Squadron Stirling being inspected by S/Ldr. Dick Broadbent and W/Cdr. Wells, a visiting fighter pilot, after damage by a night fighter over Duisburg on 26th April 1943″
The Squadron ORBs for that night records that BF517 captained by P.O P.J.Buck sustained such damage and returned to base with a mortally wounded rear gunner Sgt B.A Rogers.
Many thanks for your diligence on this matter Adrian – sometimes I need to be kept on the straight and narrow!