Daily Archives: October 1, 2013

The Gordon crew – a little more

Untouched 20.11.1944 No. 75 Squadron (R.N.Z.A.F.) Lancaster I PB689

Caption from ARS website “Crew of Lancaster PB689 (courtesy of Jean Mitchell and Techie Serivces) Left – Right: P/O. Louis Sampson, ? ground crew, F/O. Ronald Gordon, ? ground crew, ? crew, ? crew, ? ground crew, ? Sgt. Carl ‘Bob’ Freeman. Front L – R: Sgt. Sidney Hone, F/O. John Robson Bell, taken incredibly before that final fateful Op to Homberg”.
© Aircrew Remembrance Society/ Kelvin Youngs

Whilst initially unsure, I am told that Kevin is sure that Louis Sampson is in this picture. Given the changes to crew prior to the Homberg Op – the apparent chance of this picture being taken before the boys were lost is quite incredible….

Many thanks to Kelvin, from the Aircrew Remembrance Society for passing on this albeit battered, but nevertheless precious picture of the Gordon crew, with some of their ground crew. I simply think than in cases of photographs like this, the state and quality doesn’t matter, its what it contains, the memories and the people that’s what important.

Request for information – Smith crew, 9th July 1942 – Wilhelmshaven

Many thanks to Reg for contacting me from Holland regarding the Smith crew, who were all killed on the 9th July 1942 on a trip to Willemshaven. Reg is investigating all crashes that are related to the  island of Rottumeroog, where P/O Trevor Smith was found and buried, before being re-interred in Oldebroek cemetery.

Reg is also interested in the mention of a logbook of a ‘G. Young’ that is held at Wigram – though he is not sure that it is the same airman that died with the rest of the Smith crew – perhaps somebody in New Zealand might be able to shed some light on this question ?

I have put together an Op history for the crew. I must confess, I am not that familiar with flight practice in the Squadron pre 1943, however, from the information I have gathered on Trevor and his crew, I deduce a far more prolonged role as 2nd Pilot, a final Op with the Squadron Leader and his crew and then an aircraft of his own with a new crew.

P/O. Smith, T.H. NZ41959 Posted to this Unit from No. 11 O.T.U. w.e.f. 18.5.42. Auth’y: 91 Gp. Pgram. 91G/1706/26/11/P.4. dated 11.5.42.

30.5.42 Bombing Attacks Against Cologne
Wellington Mk.III X3751 AA-P
P/O Jarman
P/O Smith 2nd Pilot
P/O Taylor
Sgt. Fernie
Sgt. Davey
P/O Chunn

1.6.42. Attack Against targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III X3751 AA-P
P/O Jarman
P/O Smith 2nd Pilot
P/O Taylor
Sgt. Fernie
Sgt. Davey
P/O Chunn

2.6.42. Attack Against Targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III X3751 AA-P
P/O Jarman
P/O Smith 2nd Pilot
P/O Taylor
Sgt. Fernie
Sgt. Davey
P/O Chunn

5.6.42. Attack Against Targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III X3714
P/O Smith T.H.   
S/L Denton 2nd Pilot
F/O Hodson
Sgt. Chambers
F/S Green
Sgt. Crankshaw

Up to this point, I am reasoning the individual listed in the previous Ops is Treveor Smith – the case is slightly confused by the fact there is another Pilot who is also Smith – I believe Rupert Smith – I assume to differentiate, Trevor’s initials are used, the only individual in the records at this point to be treated in this way. I assume, and through checking back that essentially Trevor was flying S/L Dentons a/c with his crew, prior to taking on a crew of his own

17.6.42. Mine Laying off the Frisian Islands (Cancelled)
Wellington Mk.III  X3760
P/O Smith
P/O Broun
P/O McKenzie
Sgt. Young
Sgt. Stewart
(crew has cancelled instead of up/ down time – hand written against them.)

19.6.42. Attack Against Targets at Emden
Wellington Mk.III Z1592?
P/O Smith
P/O Broun
P/O McKenzie
Sgt. Young
P/O Gavegan*
*replaces Stewart as rear gunner

20.6.42. Attack Against Targets at Emden
Wellington Mk.III X3540
Same Crew

22.6.42. Attack Against Targets at Emden
Wellington Mk.III X3540
Same crew

23.6.42. Attack Against Targets at St. Nazaire (Gardening)
Wellington Mk.III X3714
Same crew

25.6.42. Attack on Targets at Bremen
Wellington Mk.III X3557
Same crew

29.6.42. Attack on Targets at Bremen
Wellington Mk.III X3557 AA-W
Same crew

2.7.42. Attack Against Targets at Bremen
Wellington Mk.III X3714
Same crew
P/O Donald Potts 2nd Pilot

7.7.42. Attack Against Targets at Frisian Islands (Gardening)
Wellington Mk.III X3714
Same crew

8.7.42. Attack Against Targets at Wilhelmshaven
Wellington Mk.III X3557 AA-W
Aircraft Missing – All Crew Lost
P/O P/O Trevor Harry Smith RNZAF NZ41953. Pilot. Died age 24.
Buried Oldebrock General Cemetery Netherlands.

P/O Donald Norman Potts RNZAF NZ412267. 2nd Pilot. Died age 25.
Commemorated on Panel 116 Runnymede Memorial.

P/O Alan Stuart Broun RNZAF NZ405367. Navigator. Died age 32.
Commemorated on Panel 115 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Frank Edwin McKenzie RNZAF NZ391085. Wireless Operator. Died age 22.
Commemorated on Panel 117 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. George Anthony Young RNZAF NZ405771. Front Gunner. Died age 21.
Buried Schiermonnikoog (Vredenhof) Cemetery Netherlands.

P/O Jack Ralph Gavegan RNZAF NZ402128. Rear Gunner. Died age 30.
Commemorated on Panel 116 Runnymede Memorial.

HK593 JN-X and the Flamank crew

Many thanks as always to Chris for doing an extra bit of detective work after a post I put up a while ago regarding Owen Cook and his crew. My initial assumption was that, included within the images that Campbell sent me, there was another picture of JN-X, an aircraft well known in a number of already widely known photographs from Mepal in 1945………..

I’ll let Chris continue the story…………..

After seeing the recent posting about Owen Cook I was intrigued to see the three photos of HK593, JN-X refuelling and being bombed up.

The first I recognise from the IWM, clearly marked as JN-X with the 40 op’s markings and single swastika (one enemy aircraft destroyed I presume). The op’s markings would support the date in the IWM description:
large

However I think the other two photos are actually two different Lanc’s, taken on two different occasions, looking at the respective markings, presence/absence of radar antenna just behind the nose turret, different prop’ types and different backgrounds.

These are three photos below of HK593 JN-X that I have come across on the web (credits to Mark Postlethwaite, ww2 images archive), which can also be found in “Lancaster Squadrons In Focus” by Mark Postlethwaite, published by Air Research Publications.

The first one shows the same 40 op’s and swastika markings as the IWM photo, so this one at least must have been taken on or about the same date. “Lancaster Squadrons In Focus” also dates these two photos (and the third one below) at around 9 February 45, based on the number of op’s markings.

flamank crew reduced2

Another view of the 40 Ops markings and the single swastika.
© Mark Postlethwaite, ‘Lancaster Squadrons in Focus – Special Edition’,Red Kite, Walton-on-Thames, 2012.

I believe the guy in the cockpit is the Pilot, F/O (later F/L) Ronald Christie Flamank, RNZAF, as you can see his ‘wings’ badge in the photos below:

HK593JN-Xcrew9Feb45-2

Photo: The full crew – Ron Flamank second from right, with dog.
© WW2ImagesArchive/ Mark Postlethwaite.

This pic is quite interesting in that it clearly shows a ‘Window’ chute in the mid-cockpit location (as well as the more usual chute located further forward, adjacent to the bomb aimer’s position) – the bundles of reflective paper strips were ripped open by the Flight Engineer on the way to the target, and “posted” out through this chute to create a cloud of radar reflections designed to confuse the German radar.

HK593 came onto Squadron strength in July 1944, and appears to have been originally coded “AA-H”. She first appears in the ORB’s on 4 August 1944 as “HK953” and seems to have been mis-recorded as HK953 on many occasions. The previous a/c to carry the JN-X code was ND801, which overshot Mepal airfield and crashed into Sutton village on 3 Feb 45, only 6 days before this photo was taken.

So HK593 must have only just been been re-coded JN-X, and in fact, she didn’t fly on 9 Feb., her next op’ being when F/O R. Flamank RNZAF and crew flew her on the night of 13/14 Feb, the infamous Dresden raid.  And they flew her again on 16 Feb 45, a daylight op’ to Wesel.

Flamank crew

The Flamank crew, presumably with members of JN-X’s groundcrew.
© Mark Postlethwaite, ‘Lancaster Squadrons in Focus – Special Edition’,Red Kite, Walton-on-Thames, 2012.

6.12.44. Administration.
F/S Flamank and crew arrived on posting from No.31 Base

11.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Targets at Osterfeld
Lancaster Mk.III ND801 JN-X
Ron flies 2nd Pilot with Alex Simpson’s crew

12.12. 44. War Ops – Attack Against Targets at Witten
Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z
F/S Ronald Christie Flamank RNZAF NZ427270 – Pilot.
Sgt. A. Westbury RAFVR – Navigator.
Sgt. E. Carver RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S Douglas Haig Rapson RNZAF NZ428323 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. V. Saunders RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. K. Moore RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. D. Hills RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

16.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Targets at Siegen
Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z

21.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Trier
Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z

23.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Trier
Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z

27.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Rheydt
Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z

28.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Greenberg Marshalling yards Cologne
Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z

31.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Lancaster Mk.I ND322 JN-F

1.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F

3.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F

7/8.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Munich
Lancaster Mk.I HK597 JN-P
Bombs jettisoned as navigational aids u/s. Rear Gunner’s electrically heated suit was u/s, but changed bomb aimer to rear turret and went on Tried to get a Gee fix 20 mins but without any joy

13/14.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dresden
Lancaster Mk.I HK593 JN-X

16.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wessel
Lancaster Mk.I HK593 JN-X

18.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wessel
Lancaster Mk.I HK593 JN-X

20/21.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk.I NE747 JN-D

23.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Lancaster Mk.I PB820  JN-V

28.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Nordstern
Lancaster Mk.I PB820  JN-V

9.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Datteln
Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D

10.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen Buer
Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F

12.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk.I NE747 JN-D

27.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Hamm
Lancaster Mk.I HK806? AA-B
F/S Eric Meharry as 2nd Pilot

4/5.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Merseburg
Lancaster Mk.I PB424 JN-O

13/14.4.45. Gardening – Mine Laying off Kiel
Lancaster Mk.I RA564 JN-P

18.4.45. War Ops – Attack on Heligoland
Lancaster Mk.I PB424 JN-O

29.4.45. Supply Dropping – Delft
Lancaster Mk.I PB820 JN-V

2.5.45. Supply Dropping – Delft
Lancaster Mk.III PB424 JN-O
Crew flies with out Sgt. Moore.

7.5.45. Supply Dropping – Delft
Lancaster Mk.III PB424 JN-O
Without Sgt. Moore again
Sgt. Gault as passenger

9.5.45. Repatriation of Prisoners of War
Lancaster Mk.III PB424 JN-O
Sgt. Moore returns as Mid Upper Gunner

12.5.45. Repatriation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt
Lancaster Mk.I HK600 JN-K

14.5.45. Repatriation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt
Lancaster Mk.I HK600 JN-K

26.5.45. Viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive

25.6.45. Checking German Radar Equipment
Lancaster Mk.III PB424 JN-O

Letters of Loss – Carl ‘Bob’ Freeman, 20th November 1944, Homberg.

1 Telegram, 20 Nov 1944 cropped 4 post

The telegram no relative wanted to receive. Bob’s wife received it after the Homberg raid, 20th November 1944. It would be another 5 years until she knew of her husbands final resting place.
© Anthony Freeman

Expanding the information on my last post regarding the loss of the Gordon crew, I present a set of letters that Anthony has also generously contributed.

They begin with the telegram that every family feared to receive during the War, the telegram that said their loved one was ‘Missing’.

Similarly to the set of correspondence between the McCartin family and the Australian Air Ministry regarding the loss of their son, Leo McCartin (also lost on the 20th November 1944 to Homberg), the letters show simply by their dates, the heartbreaking period of time that elapsed between loss and rest. In this case 2 years before the details of the loss and deaths of the crew are confirmed and another 3 years before Bob’s final resting place is provided.

Additional to these letters are also a letter from Buckingham Palace and a picture of a London Metropolitan Police Memorial board, from ‘A’ Division. Before he enlisted, Bob was a Police Sergeant, his duties including security for Buckingham Palace.

You can view the collection here