Monthly Archives: November 2013

Henry John Price RNZAF NZ404095 – Wireless Operator. 1942


Thanks to Russell for a second time for his contribution of the logbook of Henry John Price, who was killed on the 12th March, as part of John Sandy’s crew on an Op to Kiel.

This was only Henry’s 2nd Op with the Squadron. When I get some time I will check back through the ORB for this period – it seems strange that Henry does a substantial amount of training with (who I take to be ) John Fisher, only to then fly his first Op with Reg Sawrey-Cookson, befor flying to Kiel with John Sandys.

F/O John Frederick Kelly Sandys RCAF J.4814. Pilot.
Died age 25.
Lost without trace, commemorated on Panel 99 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Roy Desmond Joffre Woodcock RNZAF NZ404985. 2nd Pilot.
Died age 26.
Lost without trace, commemorated on Panel 118 Runnymede Memorial.

P/O John Earle RNZAF NZ401756. Observer.
Died age 29.
Lost without trace, commemorated on Panel 115 Runnymede Memorial.

F/Sgt Henry John Price RNZAF NZ404095. Wireless Operator.
Died age 25.
Lost without trace, commemorated on Panel 117 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Leslie Joseph Dunn RAFVR 1001633. Front Gunner.
Died age 19.
Lost without trace, commemorated on Panel 82 Runnymede Memorial.

F/Lt. Thomas James Desmond Baber, mid, Czech Medal for Bravery. RNZAF NZ39857. Rear Gunner.
Died age 23.
Lost without trace, commemorated on Panel 114, Runnymede Memorial.

Read Henry’s logbook here.

Richard Melville Curtis RAF 42200 – Pilot. 1939. Uniforms


Many thanks indeed to Kerry for passing on these images of his collection of dress and flying uniforms of Richard Melville Curtis. Kerry was kind enough to pass on a copy of Richard’s logbook a month ago and you can see it here. This  represents an astonishingly diverse and well preserved collection of period clothing. the full set of images can be seen here, in the ‘collections’ section.

Paul Burton Chamberlain RAF 33229 – Pilot. 1941


Many thanks to Russell for contacting me and passing on this extract from Squadron Leaders Paul Chamberlain’s log book. Paul was in the RAF before the outbreak of war and served in the following Squadrons before arriving at Feltwell on the 20th of September 1941;

31 (A.C.) Squadron
Risalpur, India (December 1936 to January 1939)

Station HQ
Habinaya, Iraq (January 1939 to September 1940)

‘S’ Squadron
(September to October 1940)

244 Squadron
Shaibah (November 1940 to March 1941)

23 OTU
Pershore (August to September 1941)

Paul was only with 75(NZ) Squadron until the 12th October when he was killed along with the rest of his crew during a raid on Bremen and Nurenburg.

Sqn/Ldr. Paul Burton Chamberlain RAF 33229. Pilot .
Died age 25.
Buried Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium.

Sgt. Douglas Cecil Holley RAF 1190121. 2nd Pilot.
Died age 19.
Buried Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery, Belgium.

P/O Joseph Allan Robinson RCAF J.5684. Observer
Died age 23.
Buried Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Belgium.

Sgt. Raymond George Butt RAF 930644. Wireless Operator.
Died age 20.
Buried Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Belgium.

Sgt. Francis Edward Austin RAF 1262243. Front Gunner.
Died age 27.
Buried Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Belgium.

Sgt. John Richard Ashley RAF 908768. Rear Gunner
Died age 29.
Buried Dinant (Citadelle) Military Cemetery Belgium.

View Paul Chamberlain’s logbook here.

Waving or Drowning…..?


I’d just like to apologise to anybody who has contacted me, or supplied me with information in the last few weeks – I have a significant backlog of information to process and research to undertake for a number of relatives. In reality, this is absolutely fantastic – and there is some amazing information to share with you all, but it all takes, time, which is something of a rare commodity for me at the moment………

SO, please bare with me and watch this space – I’ll post as and when I can and hopefully normal service will be resumed as soon as possible…



Letters home – Jim Haworth. Mallon/ Butler crew.

About a month ago I posted an update to Vic Jays blog ‘Bob Jay’s War’, regarding Vic’s presentation of letters from his Fathers Navigator Jim Haworth.

Jim wrote numerous letters to his wife, Sally, while he was overseas. They contain lots of fascinating information that fills in some of the gaps in his crews story and gives an insight into life with the air force during and shortly after the war and the importance of humour in difficult times! At 34 Jim was the oldest member of the crew and the only one with children. He had two daughters before the war and had only spent 6 weeks with the younger, Maryann. He was away from home for the next three years and this helps to explain the home sickness that is evident in almost everything he wrote.

As is always the case when these sort of documents come to light, an astonishing secondary level of information can be added to the ‘cold’ details that are present within the official history within Forms 540 and 541 of the Squadron Operational Record Books.

My massive thanks goes to Ruth, Jim’s daughter, via Vic for passing on a significant portion of transcribed copies of Jim’s letters for display on the blog.

The letters can be seen here in the ‘Collections’ section of the blog

Bob Jay’s war – some new updates


Thanks to Vic for letting me know he has added some more posts to his blog about his Father, Bob Jay.

The first adds some more of Jim Haworth’s letters home after the war in Europe has ended and clearly shows the unease and frustration (certainly in Jim’s mind) regarding the departure of some of the Squadrons aircrew of other nationalities and the possible roles the New Zealand crews might be facing in the Far East.

The second post explores Eric Butler’s arrival as skipper with the crew after the departure of their original Pilot, Bill Mallon, on compassionate grounds.

I continue to be impressed by the dogged determination that Vic is showing with his blog – the level of detail is now amazing regarding the story of his Father’s crew and it really seems, despite Vic’s frustration regarding finding information on the other members of the crew, that the pieces of the jigsaw are really beginning to ‘fall into place’. I’d love to think that eventually I might be able to do the same for Dad’s 2 crews and their stays with the Squadron – though I think it might take considerably longer to achieve.

Read Vic’s 2 new posts here.

Lest we forget……


It now seems a tradition that whatever the weather throws at us on the Saturday, Sunday morning is always bright and crisp for the Remembrance Service at Mepal.

As always, the gathering of friends and family is a bitter sweet experience – its wonderful to catch up with friends over the weekend, but the Sunday service is what we actually gather for and it’s always and perhaps rightly, and emotional and reflective time.

Before the Remembrance service, the ashes of Mike and Pam Molony were committed to the Garden. Mike flew with the crew of Victor John Andrew between their first op on the 27/28 of June 1944 to Biennais and the 26/27 August op to Kiel – where he was seriously injured by flak that hit the fuselage and mid upper turret. The Kiel op was Mike’s 20th with the Andrew crew – he never flew with them again, however, the crew continued without Mike and final achieved a total of 38 ops.

I will post a further appreciation of Mike’s life later this week.

It was also lovely to see the Association President Jack Richards at the service – something I know he was determined not to miss. His presence was appreciated by all who attended.

The Garden of Mepal ‘Forever Fallen’


Bottom image: The Langley Sisters, L to R, Edie, Gita and Amy.

The clear highlight of Saturday evening was the first public performance of ‘The Garden of Mepal – ‘Forever Fallen” by the Langley Sisters.

I have already made posts on the song, but it was particularly special to be lucky enough to be present to hear it sung live and I am sure everybody present would join with me in thanking The Langley Sisters for making the journey to the reunion to perform the song.

The inspiration for the song was Mark’s Grandfather and his loss on the morning of the 21st November 1944 whilst on an Op to Homberg. Written by Mark and Gita, 20% of the sales of the song will be donated to the Mepal Memorial Garden for 75(NZ) Squadron and the British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Personally I think the song is beautiful, but to be honest I am not bothered if you like it or not – you should still buy it because it contributes monies to 2 important funds.

To buy the record (both vocal and instrumental versions), go to the iTunes store (other digital music outlets also exist). Mark has also asked that if you do buy it, to also rate it and leave feedback. If you know someone who would like it, but might not be able to access or use the necessary technology to download it themselves, then buy a copy for them as well!

Below is the accompanying video for the song

And here is another song The Langley Sisters performed on Saturday night.

The Stirling Project



The Stirling Project facilities.
A complete seat frame and sub frame assembly of a pilots seat. Pilots seat frame assembly.
John showing us an observation window component from the cockpit and Pino with our own John McFarland.

Saturday morning of the reunion weekend and a trip to the Stirling Project was arranged. Arriving at the Project’s current base, the enormity of the project was laid bare to us all. The task in hand is exciting, terrifying and incredible, all at the same time – put simply, to build, almost from scratch the front portion of a Stirling bomber. To put this in context, there are no remaining examples either complete or in part and there also are no complete plans/ drawings of a Stirling. The dedication of the team is palpable as you stand in their facility – the space is full of mangled and corroded pieces of metal and sat within this are small islands of carefully re-crafted and reassembled new aircraft parts. Listening to Pino and John talk, it’s clear they understand the task they have set themselves – but its also incredible to hear of the support they have already received – only last week they returned from the Stichting Aircraft Recovery Group at Fort Veldhuis in Holland with loaned and donated parts to aid in the fabrication process.

From a design and manufacturing point of view I can appreciate the task they have set themselves and it was actually wonderful to listen to the team talk about the project and see how proud they were with their achievements to date. A project like this clearly needs support so I really would recommend that;

  1. You visit their website here.
  2. You seriously think about making a donation to the project
  3. You get in contact with them if you can either provide time, expertise or fabrication facilities.

Personally, I intend to keep a watch on progress and I have already discussed with Pino as to how I might be able to help them, even if only in a small way in the future.

Good luck boys!

Memorial Garden

As always it has been a wonderful reunion weekend. It was fantastic to reconnect with friends and to meet new people. This morning was beautiful, clear and crisp for the garden service and I write this post, sat in the garden whilst everybody else is in the village church attending the memorial service. I prefer to take this time and the quietness to spend some time on my own thinking about Dad and the boys and it feels as is they are with me.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

Another piece falls into place – Homberg 20th November 1944


Many thank to Hubert for ‘recreating’ this approximate Op route for the Homberg Op, 20th November 1944. What is perhaps more remarkable, given the current activity on the blog, is that Hubert is the son of Hubert Rees, the captain of PB520 AA-G, the third aircraft to be lost from 75(NZ) Squadron on this Op. Hubert and the rest of his crew managed to bale out from the aircraft – all surviving and spending the rest of the war as PoW’s. The Rees crew that night were;

F/O Hubert Rees RAFVR 152402 – Pilot. Stalag Luft I
F/O Raymond Charles Preston RAFVR 1494143/ 153457 – Navigator. Stalag Luft I
F/O Douglas Cooper Westwood RNZAF NZ427483 – Air Bomber. Stalag Luft I
F/L William French Morison Naismith RAFVR 47714 – Wireless Operator. Stalag Luft I
Sgt. J. E. Mulhall RAFVR 2202223 – Flight Engineer. Stalag Luft III
Sgt. R. Alderson RAFVR 2221636 – Mid Upper Gunner. Stalag Luft VI
Sgt. C. Allen RAFVR  1898556 – Rear Gunner. Stalag Luft VII*
*Same prison camp as Sgt. John Gray, Rear Gunner and sole survivor of the McCartin crew ND911 JN-V

Hubert’s plot is based on a copy of an original route map of his Father’s and the original plotted course to/ from Sint Truden in Belgium can be seen in black on the map.

Hubert has slightly revised the plotted route (based on the coordinates I received from Department of Research and Information Services, Royal Air Force Museum, London, last week –  he has moved the actual target from Homberg to the Meerbeck Synthetic Oil Plant of Rheinpreussen, located at the western edge of the village of Meerbeck about three miles northwest of Homberg. Hubert adds to his map the following observations;

‘I would hope that my web-derived lat/long approximations for Diss, Orfordness and Mepal would be viewed as credible but ‘non-critical’.  However, I now realise that my approximation for the Target location might be viewed otherwise.  Historical references to the district of Homberg (the centre of which I earlier used to derive an approximate location) appear to represent a short way of describing the actual target, namely the synthetic oil plant at Meerbeck, some 3 miles NW of Homberg.  I still don’t have a lat/long fix for the plant itself, but my approximation is now centred on the district of Meerbeck.
As long as it’s understood that my lat/long approximations for named locations are just that, and not actual fixes used by aircrew at the time, then all will be well with the post, I think.’

Many thanks also to Adrian who proposed a set of converted coordinates that he got to work with Google Maps – much to my frustration I still can’t seem to get the coordinates to show a sensible route over the target – which clearly suggests my second successful attempt at my Cub Scouts Map Reading badge apparently, was an utter fluke…….

The Garden of Mepal ‘Forever Fallen’ – released today

Cropped comp for post of release

F/O John Robson Bell, Navigator. Sgt. Carl ‘Bob’ Freeman, Flight Engineer. The Gordon crew, taken just before their final Op to Homberg, 20th November 1944.

I have great pleasure in announcing Mark Rae’s song “The Garden of Mepal ‘Forever Fallen'” is released today. As any of you know who have been following the blog recently and seen the posts of the Gordon crew, Mark’s Grandfather F/O John Robson Bell and the rest of the crew were lost on the 20th November 1944 on the Homberg Op.

The crew’s story has been a fascinating one to help uncover and it has not only allowed me to meet Mark and Anthony, the son of Sgt. Carl ‘Bob’ Freeman, the Flight Engineer in the crew, but also to put them in contact with each other, all these years after their relatives died together over Germany – a story which I think, still has things to be discovered about it.

Please go to the iTunes store or any other digital store you use and buy the single. Not only does Mark’s efforts deserve recognition, 10% of all sales will go to the Memorial Garden in Mepal and 10% will go to the Poppy Appeal – both very worth causes, especially as we approach Remembrance Sunday.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha


20th November 1944, Homberg – Loss cards for Gordon and Rees crews

PB689 003

PB689 002

PB689 001

Loss cards for PB689, Gordon crew and PB520, Rees crew. Both aircraft lost on 20th November 1944 on the Homberg Op.
© Department of Research and Information Services, Royal Air Force Museum, London

Many thanks to Belinda, Assistant curator at the Department of Research and Information Services, Royal Air Force Museum, London for passing on these Loss Cards, based on an inquiry I made a couple of weeks ago regarding the flight path for the raid.

In discussion with Anthony, son of Bob Freeman, Flight Engineer with the Gordon crew, he wondered if the reason for the loss of the crew was a falling bomb from another aircraft. Having an idea of where the aircraft crashed, I wondered if light could be shed on its fate regarding the direction of the stream over the target. My personal feeling, prior to getting the Loss Cards and I think also having looked at them is that PB689 was hit by flak prior to reaching the target, the full bomb load resulting in the 98% break up of the aircraft and the loss of all of its crew – but I stand to be corrected…….

I have found the results of my research a little frustrating. On the Loss Card for the Rees crew, a list of map coordinates are listed;Rendevous
5113N/ 0320E
5130N/ 0520E
5148N/ 0607E
5150N/ 0710E
5158N/ 0650E
5100N/ 0400E

My first and obvious thought was to try to put these coordinates into Google Earth, however, having tried to do so, I end up with a series of points that seem way off, relative to the target at Homberg (I did however take 2 goes at getting my map reading badge in the Cubs……)

I’d be grateful if anybody could shed some light on my error – I suspect that the coordinates used during the war might differ in some crucial detail regarding the coordinates that are at now used in Google earth……

Leonard Roy Gould, Wireless Operator – Lucas crew, new images


Courtesy Kerry Foster

Many thanks again to Kerry, for passing on 3 more images form the collection of documents of Leonard Gould, Wireless operator with Frederick John ‘Popeye’ Lucas. The image shown here is a fantastic hand tinted photograph of Leonard. Also added to the ‘Collections’ section is an extract from a newspaper describing Leonard’s modesty in telling his parents he had won the D.F.M. and gone to Buckingham Palace to receive it and also a fantastic picture of ‘Popeye’ taken, Kerry believes in Trafalgar Square.

View these new images here, in the ‘Collections’ section of the blog.

‘Sent to Sheffield’ – Ronald Flamank

P1050821 cropped for post

Courtesy Kerry Foster

Many thanks to Kerry for passing on a fascinating series of documents from 3 Group Headquarters and 75(NZ) Squadron Mepal, regarding what might be described as ‘inappropriate adherence to official fighter avoidance tactics’ by Ron Flamank on the 1st January 1945 whilst flying to the coast on an Op to Vohwinkel.

Perhaps these documents are more ironic given that a post was made on Ron and his crew only a few weeks ago!

Call me sentimental, but I kind of assumed a stiff upper lip mentality when the boys left the airfield on an Op, all remaining Squadron members nervously pacing the floor waiting for the returning roar of engines and a full count back on returning crews. Now, I am sure this is all true, but what I clearly overlooked was that this was all happening under the steely glare of the Royal Air Force………….

Ron and another Pilot from 514 Squadron, initially incorrectly identified as F/O Wright, but then identified as F/O Orr were both detected flying over the stated limit of 4,000 feet before reaching the French coast.

I have the honour to report the following information for flying at 8,000ft on the late afternoon of January 1st 1945 on operations.

After take off at 1545hrs acting on met information and entering cloud as 2,500ft I concluded I I would break cloud in the region of 5,000ft. We eventually broke at 8,000ft then homing back to to set course position having insufficient time to descend there we decided to descend on course to Reading. Descending on course to Reading and encountering icing and not breaking cloud at 5,000ft I decided to return again to 8,000ft and descended on route as soon as possible when a break in clouds afforded me this chance.

Just before reaching the English Coast an extensive break in the cloud was observed and noticing the bomber stream on route beneath us we descended down to 5,000ft, reaching this height  about 20 miles from the English Coast.

I hereby after conformed with the tactics for the operation laid down at briefing for the operation and completed the mission successfully, returning to base at 2130hrs.

I have the honour to be, Sir, your obedient servant.
R C Flamank F/O.

Despite Ron’s explanation of a malfunctioning elevator trim tab and poor visibility, climbing to 8,000 feet clearly broke the rules and sadly, this time at least, Ron was going to be punished!

Ron’s fate was to be sent to be sent to ‘Aircrew Refresher Course’ at Sheffield. Digging a little I think this was at RAF Norton, on the Southern edge of Sheffield – the experience being lots of drill practice and physical training!

Read the complete set of letters here in the ‘Collections’ section here.

Andrew John “Jack” Moller RNZAF NZ411770 – Air Bomber. 1942


Many thanks also to Tony for contributing his Father’s logbook to the collection. The presented document covers initial training and ‘Jack’s’ tour with 75(NZ) Squadron between June and September 1942. Their full tour was cut slightly short. 3 Ops short of 30 the crew volunteered for PFF duties and left the Squadron after their 27th Op. Ultimately Jack was destined to complete 57 Ops, including his tour with 156 Sqdn (PFF), where he was awarded the DFM.

View Jack Mollers logbook here

Andrew John “Jack” Moller DFM, Bomb Aimer – Kearns crew


Andrew John ‘Jack’ Moller, taken during training.
Copyright Tony Moller.

Many thanks to Tony for very kindly helping Chris in putting together this history of his Father, Jack Moller and the Kearns crew, who he flew with during whilst at Feltwell with 75(NZ) Squadron.

As always, I’ll let Chris tell the story, which has a personal connection………

I first met Jack Moller back in 1971 – he was my very first boss, and manager of the butter factory that gave me a summer job before university started. He was a real character, and a great story-teller. My strongest memory of Jack is holding court with a glass of beer in his hand at a Friday after-work “do”, in the middle of some long yarn, with people around him folding up with laughter.

I knew back then that he had been in the RAF, but it was only very recently, when I read Max Lambert’s “Night After Night“, that I realised he had flown with 75 (NZ) Squadron. Sadly he has since passed away, but my good friend Google told me that the Air Force Museum of New Zealand held a copy of his memoirs and logbook. Then I managed to make contact with his son Tony, who has very kindly loaned me copies of these, and other material from Jack’s extensive collection. The memoirs were 21 hand-written pages that Tony found after his Dad had gone; some wonderful anecdotes from the past.

So many thanks to Tony Moller for these photos, logbook and memoirs, and thanks also to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, for initial permission to reproduce Jack’s memoirs and logbook. It is a privilege to be able to pass on the achievements and memories of a fine man, and an outstanding crew, who contributed more than their share to the war effort.

The Kearns crew had met up and trained at 11 OTU Bassingbourne, and then at 23 OTU Pershore.  Jack Moller, from Hawera, had originally trained in Canada as a Wireless Operator but due to a surplus of those at the OTU, he re-trained as a Bomb Aimer.

His crew were all Kiwis; Pilot Terry Kearns, (Reefton, West Coast South Island); Navigator John “Hone” Barclay (Dunedin); Wireless Operator Morrie Egerton (Winton); Rear Gunner Buck Price (Waraniwa, Southland). They had already completed two op’s by the time they arrived at 75 (NZ) Squadron, as crews under training had been pulled in to make up numbers in the first two Thousand Bomber Raids, to Cologne and Essen.

The Kearns crew was posted for operational flying to 75 (NZ) Squadron, Feltwell, Norfolk, on 17 June 1942.

The crew was:
Sgt Richard Stansfield Derek “Terry” KEARNS, RNZAF (NZ405572), Pilot (later Sqn Ldr DSO, DFC, DFM pff)
Sgt William John Muir Low “Hone” BARCLAY, RNZAF (NZ404454), Navigator (later F/L DFC, DFM pff)
F/Sgt Morris Watson “Morrie” EGERTON, RNZAF (NZ41576), Wireless Operator (later F/O DFM pff)
F/Sgt Andrew John “Jack” MOLLER, RNZAF (NZ411770), Front Gunner/Bomb Aimer (later F/O DFM pff)
F/Sgt Harold Ernest Anzac “Buck” PRICE, RNZAF (NZ405505), Rear Gunner. (later P/O DFM pff)

Operational history:
20.6.42. War Ops
– Attack Against Targets at Emden.
Sgt. Kearns 2nd Pilot with F/S John Wilmhurt’s crew.

25.6.42. War Ops – Bremen – Thousand Bomber Raid.
Wellington Mk.III X3597 AA-C “Charlie”
Up 23.25/ Down 04.25
From Kearns logbook: “Attacked by Three ME 110s – Evasive Action Successful”.

28.6.42. War Ops – St. Nazaire/ Bremen.
Wellington Mk.III X3597 AA-C “Charlie”
Up 23.40/ Down 06.45
From Moller logbook: “Sticky trip

From Jack’s memoirs:
Briefed to Bomb the U Boat pens at ST. NAZAIRE with 17 x 250lb armour piercing bombs. The pens had about 30’ of concrete above them hence the AP bombs as normal bombs would be like fire crackers.

Flak heavy and some sticky moments on our bombing run. After we cleared the target Terry took the Wimpy down to 0’ level and we skimmed  over the shore line which was heavily defended.

I was in the front turret and ahead of us I could see these 3 white wakes and yelled to Terry to pull up fast, depressed my guns and let drive, as did Buck in the rear turret. There was a crash at the rear of the a/craft and the intercom went dead so I went to the rear turret and pulled Buck out and helped him up to the astrodome. I said where are you hit Buck and he said up the arse. It appeared that we had run over a few E boats and a shell from one of their Oerlikons had exploded just under the rear turret and Buck copped about 9 pieces of shrapnel up his leg and arse.

We were well over the Channel by then and I gave Buck a jab of Morphine and put a marked ticket around his neck.

The rear turret was out of commission with holes everywhere. A great sight for our chaps when we limped home were the White Cliffs of Dover, as we knew if we could get over them we were on our own pad. So many of our boys finished up in the Channel.

29.6.42. War Ops – Bremen.
Wellington Mk.III X3714 AA-W
Up 23.40/ Down 05.00
Sgt. J.E. Ford replaces the injured Harry Price as R/Gnr.

2.7.42. War Ops – Bremen.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 23.40/ Down 05.00
F/S Eric Wilson replaces Sgt. Ford as R/Gnr.

7.7.42. Gardening – Frisian Islands.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.10/ Down 05.10
Sgt. Ford returns as R/Gnr.

From Jack’s memoirs:
“We also did several mining trips to the Frisian Islands. We would take 2 mines and say 3 x 500lb bombs. The mines would be dropped from about 1500’ by parachute in the German shipping lanes. I believe several ships were lost by this method. One of the hazards of this operation was running into a flak ship which were heavily armed and at 1500’ we were sitting ducks. The 3 x 500lb bombs were to have a bit of fun with and to be dropped on anything of our choice and just to be a bloody nuisance. If we didn’t use our bombs we would drop them in the sea on the way home.”

8.7.42. War Ops – Wilhemshaven.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.00/ Down 05.00

10.7.42. War Ops – Dusseldorf. (daylight, recalled)
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 15.30/ Down 17.10

From Jack’s memoirs:
“Took off at Feltwell with 9 x 500lb bombs to bomb Dusseldorf. Weather was very bad and after an hr and 40 mins received a BBA (Back to Base). Weather by now was atrocious and 10/10 cloud with low cloud base. Had one hell of a job to locate station. Received instructions to drop bombs safe at dumping area but impossible to locate this area. Dumped a lot of gas and Terry decided to try and land with bombs on.

Feltwell was a grass runway and every time he tried to brake the the tail came up and we started to nose in. Overshot the runway and went through the barb-wire perimeter, ploughed through a sand-bagged Bofors gun emplacement and finally finished up between two Oak trees. I was standing up alongside Terry and got a nasty crack on my head when we hit the emplacement. Blood all over my face. We carefully left the aircraft (Well Mark 3) and were greeted by a lot of station staff who had rushed over. When they noticed that the bomb doors had been ripped off and the 9 x 500lb bombs were covered in barb-wire, sand bags and rubbish, they slowly filtered away.

A lot of them hadn’t realised we still had the bombs on board. I received a lot of sympathy for my blood covered face but it was only a small cut, but bled like hell. Have often told this story and it’s amazing how many people have said to me …”Did the bombs go off?””

13.7.42. War Ops – Duisberg.
Wellington Mk.III X3751 AA-P
Up 00.35/ Down 05.30

14.7.42 Minelaying – Frisian Islands / Terschelling
Wellington Mk.III X3751 AA-P
Up 22.55/ Down 01.40

23.7.42 Duisberg
Wellington Mk.III X3714 AA-W
Up 00.55/ Down 04.40
Harry Price returns as R/Gnr.

25.7.42 Duisberg
Wellington Mk.III X3714 AA-W
Up 00.30/ Down 04.40

26.7.42 Hamburg
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.35/ Down 05.35

From “Night After Night” by Max Lambert:
“The Kearns team flew both Hamburg raids, their 14th and 15th ops. Moller, a youthful 19, had the time of his life the first night, Their Wellington – in the first wave with a load of incendiaries for starting fires to light up the target for the follow-up bombers – was coned by searchlights over the city. Kearns dived steeply, down to rooftop level, before flattening out. At one stage they were so low they roared under high tension cables strung below pylons. Moller laughs as he remembers.   “As we went under, Terry lifted the nose so the big tail would drop and not snag the cables. We got through OK.”

As they flew off, Moller and Price fought an exciting and exhilarating private battle with searchlight crews. The Germans depressed their lights, looking for the cheeky bomber they could hear but not see. Whenever they got a chance – and there were plenty because the city was studded with belts of lights – the gunners turned their barrels down the beams and clattered off hundreds of rounds.   Says Moller:

“When we hit them, the lights exploded with a brilliant flash of whites and pinks and went out. The ones I missed, Buck got from the rear turret. I think we shared seven lights between us that night. It was very satisfying. We were young and shouted out when the lights blew up.   We were like kids who do wheelies today. Something in our systems we had to get rid of”.

Moller and his mates exulted again when they knocked out a machine gun post firing at them from alongside a searchlight. Moller took aim and cut down a German who jumped out of the gun pit and dashed across the paddock: “I gave him a burst and bowled him over.” “

From Jack’s memoirs:
“This was a particularly bad raid and in all we lost 6 aircraft, which contained 27 Kiwis and 3 Poms from our squadron. These were mates of ours who we had left NZ with, and trained in Canada, and finally on to the NZ Squadron. We were quite dazed and sure started to realise that war was for real. Incidentally over the target aircraft were going down in flames all around us. This was a balls up as we expected a saturation raid with about 600 aircraft, but for some reason all Groups except 3 Group were given a BBA (Return to Base) early on in the raid and we went in like sitting ducks. When we found out what had happened the mood on the Sqdn was quite mutinous and Bill Jordan the NZ High Commissioner was sent down from London to pacify the NZ airmen. Those are the little incidents in war-time that don’t go into print.”

28.7.42 Hamburg
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.40/ Down 05.00
(75 (NZ) Sqdn lost six a/c on this op’)

29.7.42 Saarbrucken
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.10/ Down 04.20
Sgt. William George Henry White replaces Harry Price as R/Gnr.

From Kearns logbook: “Load 1 x 1000lb, 7 x 500lb, 2 x 250lb. Bombs in Target – No Searchlights – Flak Weak – One Ju 88 Encountered – Close Call.

From the ORB:
Ten a/c were detailed to attack the above target and bomb load of 4000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in target area. Hits were observed in target area. A.A. fire was weak and searchlights were scarce. A twin engined fighter was seen on return route. Well. III, X3396, captain. Sgt. Kearns, was attacked by a JU88 but evaded it. Weather was cloudy. Navigation by TR and DR.

31.7.42. War Ops – Dusseldorf.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.20/ Down 04.15

4.8.42. War Ops – Essen.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.45/ Down 01.50

6.8.42. War Ops – Duisburg.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 01.25/ Down 05.00

9.8.42. War Ops – Osnabruck.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.20/ Down 04.40

11.8.42. War Ops – Mainz.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.40/ Down 03.40

12.8.42. War Ops – Mainz.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.25/ Down 04.40

From Jack’s memoirs: “On above dates we were briefed to bomb Mainz which was a mainly wooden built town in Germany. This first raid on 11.8.42 was mainly incendiaries to set fire to this old wooden city and the 1st raid was a great success with huge fires being started. The flak was heavy as usual but managed to get in, bomb and away again.

On the 12.8.42 we were loaded up with High Explosive bombs and ordered to stir the old fires and ashes up. On arriving near the target area we struck 10/10 cloud and had to hunt around for a while, and lo and behold right over the city was a big hole in the cloud which had been formed by the previous night’s fires causing an updraft. It was an amazing sight as I looked down from my bombing position and it looked like a huge carpet of gleaming coals. Reminded me of a toasting fire of coals when I was a boy.

Dropped my bombs in amongst the fires and got a good photo of the city, or what was left of it. I believe the water mains were badly damaged in the first raid and the fires had raged through the city out of control. All in all this was a very successful raid.”

15.8.42 From Moller logbook: ”Shifted to Mildenhall”

17.8.42. War Ops – Osnabruck.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.30/ Down 03.05

24.8.42. War Ops – Frankfurt.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 21.20/ Down 02.35
From Moller logbook: “Attacked by FW190”.
From the ORB: Several enemy aircraft were seen and one aircraft, X3396, came under attack by an Fw190, which was unsuccessful.

27.8.42. War Ops – Kassel
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 20.45/ Down 03.15
F/S Henry Rousseau flies with crew as 2nd Pilot.
From Moller logbook: “Attacked by ME110 drove him off from front turret”.

28.8.42. War Ops – Nurnburg.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 20.45/ Down 04.20
Sgt. Eric Lees flies with crew as 2nd Pilot.

1.9.42. War Ops –  Saarbrucken.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 23.35/ Down 05.05
Sgt. James Law flies with crew as 2nd Pilot.

Note: After having logged 49 flights (operational and non-operational) in “their own” Wellington X3396 AA-R over a period of two months, this aircraft was shot down over Emden only two days later, with all crew lost.

This was the Kearns crew’s final op’ on 75 (NZ) Squadron; they had completed 27, and after 3 more, would have earned a 6 month break from operations. However they had volunteered for the brand new Path Finder Force  and were immediately posted to 156 (Path Finder Force) Squadron, Warboys, where they completed their “tour” after 57 op’s.


The Kearns crew at Warboys, Jack centre, Terry Kearns next to him, third from left. The school had donated the life raft from the proceeds of a penny trail.
Copyright Tony Moller.

After this, Jack went on to a training post at 21 OTU, Moreton-in-Marsh, ending up with a total of 479 hours and 5 minutes of flying time and the Award of the D.F.M.


Copyright Tony Moller.

Excerpt from the book “By Such Deeds”, by Colin Hanson:
MOLLER, Flying Officer Andrew John, DFM, (pff) NZ411770; Born Hawera, 31 Mar 1922; RNZAF 15 Mar 1941 to 27 Feb 1945; Bomb Aimer Citation Distinguished Flying Medal (14 Apr 1943): [156 (PFF) Squadron RAF (Wellington)] Flight Sergeant Moller is a most keen and determined bomb aimer who has achieved a fine operational record. His skill has been responsible for much of the success gained by his crew. His knowledge and grasp of his duties are remarkable.

Kearns and Barclay continued on for another tour with 617 “Dambusters” Squadron.

More about Terry Kearns and his amazing career here: