Many thanks indeed to Adrian for passing on some more information about the Mülheim Op that I posted about a few days ago. Adrian’s Uncle, Edgar Reader, who was the Wireless Operator with Ben Wood’s crew, one of 4 aircraft lost by 75(NZ) Squadron on the Mülheim raid on the 23rd of June 1943.
Adrian passes on the loss cards for EF408 AA-P, the aircraft his Uncle was flying that night (all crew lost) and also, for EH889 AA-Z that had Tom McCrorie’s crew on board (all crew lost).
Based off the target coordinates included on these documents Adrian has plotted out the route the aircraft would have taken to and from Mülheim. In Adrian’s own words;
“I’ve attached some bits that may be of interest. Firstly the loss cards for EF408 and EH889 which although gives little new information, do at least give the recorded route to and from the target.
I have plotted this on the other attachment and noted the location of the 4 Stirlings lost from 75(NZ) Sqdn. If all this is correct then it seems a little odd that EH889 and EF399 were so off route. I also question the time of crash of EH889 as being 00:20. With a take-off time of 23:48, I can’t see, even if flown directly, it would have been there 200 miles later within 25 mins. I have in my notes the time as being 02:20 which would seem a bit more realistic especially if the aircraft sustained damage on route to the target and crashed whilst attempting to get back home.
As ever these things raise more questions than they do answer!”
I share Adrian’s surprise regarding the apparently errant locations of the 2 aircraft (EH889 and EF399) – the only thing that springs to mind is a documentary i saw a while ago about ‘Operation Chastise’ which suggested that the a number of the aircraft from 617 Squadron were victim to the then unknown jet stream – blowing a number off course when approaching the Dutch coast and ultimately over flak positions. On one level, I am confused with this basic premise as my understanding is that the aircraft came in and maintained a low approach to the Dam targets, however, I would imagine that the 75(NZ) Squadron aircraft were flying considerably higher at this point and thus might have been more susceptible to strong winds – as Adrian notes, of course, we probably will never know……
Adrian also has provided another reference to the ditching of the Rothschild aircraft on their return from Frankfurt on the 11th of April 1943.
NEW ZEALANDERS SAVED
LONDON, April 12.
“The air search and rescue organisation sent out a Walrus which picked up the crew of a New Zealand Stirling bomber almost immediately after they had crashed in the Channel while returning from bombing Frankfurt.
The crew included Flight Sergeant G. K. Samson, Wellington. Sergeants J. Richards, Methven, W. Hardy, Wanganui, and three Canadians. Flight Sergeant Samson said: “We bombed Frankfurt all right, but were shot up badly while returning, the petrol tanks being holed and the rear turret badly damaged. Our Canadian skipper tried to hang on and reach England, but just as dawn was breaking and the coast was four miles away, he had to make up his mind to ditch the kite.
“We had sent out a message and we were no sooner in the dinghy than an escort of Spitfires appeared over us to keep off any Huns who might look in. Then in a remarkably short time the Walrus appeared and landed so near us that the dinghy was capsized by the wash, but that did not worry, us.
“We were soon aboard and flying home. It was certainly an excellent organisation.””
The final twist of this story was that George Samson, quoted in this report, was drafted into the crew of Adrian’s uncle for that fateful Mülheim Op……….