Daily Archives: February 20, 2014

From the Somme to the Lancaster Bomber – 1 Family 2 World Wars, by Mark Rae

Regular readers of the blog will recognise Mark’s name, as it featured rather heavily leading up to last Novembers Winter 75(NZ) Squadron Association reunion. Mark’s Grandfather was Jack Bell, Navigator with Ronald Gordon’s crew, one of 3 aircraft lost on the 20th November 1944 on one of the trips to what is widely recognised as 75(NZ) Squadron’s ‘bogey’ target, the Fischer Tropsch oil refinery at Homberg.

This is a video Mark has made with Ed Pitt on a trip to try to discover lost relatives. Starting in the fields of France, Mark travels to Reichswald War Cemetery in Berlin to see his Grandfather, John Bell’s grave for the first time, then to East Kirby to sit in a Lancaster with Hamish Ottway, the grandson of Bill Ottway, Mark’s Grandfather’s Wireless Operator, who, owing to a throat infection was prevented from flying with his crew on the 18th fateful Op to Homberg on the 21st November 1944. The film then finishes with the first public performance of ‘Forever Fallen’, a song that Mark wrote with Gita Langley for Jack, at the 2013 Winter Friends of 75(NZ) Squadron Association reunion.

This is the full version of ‘Forever Fallen’ – purchase it on iTunes and money goes to the Poppy Appeal and also, the  75(NZ) Squadron Memorial Garden in Mepal.

‘C’ Flight 75(NZ) Squadron RAF 1943

C flight 1943

© National Library of New Zealand

The final group photograph for tonight – this time a better quality image from the National Library of New Zealand, showing ‘C’ Flight, one assumes based on the Squadron photographs taken in 1944 and 1945, at the same time as the last post showing the full Squadron.

As with the previous posted full Squadron photograph I am interested to ascertain the location and date of this photograph.

The photograph is certainly good enough to see faces, so as with all these posted photographs tonight – names to face please people!



75(NZ) Squadron RAF group photograph 1943

Full Squadron 1943

The second posting tonight fills another gap as it were regarding a new year recorded in a series of Squadron Photographs – this time, 1943.

I originally came across this Squadron photograph at the National Library of New Zealand website, though having purchased a copy, I was a little bit disappointed to realise that the photograph was a bit over exposed, resulting in the faces of the airmen being quite bleached out. Once again, Kevin stepped in with a better lit version which shows some remarkable detail of the individuals.

I’d be grateful for clarification of place and date for this photograph.

Thanks to Kevin for already identifying his Uncle, Alf Newnham (complete with lucky mascot toy elephant), George Wilks, Des Horgan, Edgar Burke and Bill Allen.

As always with photographs of this kind, lets try to add to this list.

View the full Squadron photograph here.

75(NZ) Squadron RAF Ground Crew March/ May 1944 in front of ‘P’

March May 1944 ground crew

Inspired by the 2 group photographs I posted last night I had a rummage through my folders, sure that I had some more – in some respects I was simultaneously excited and disappointed – excited I had found some, but disappointed as to why I hadn’t put them up sooner.

To make amends, here is the first new group photograph to add to the ‘Group Photographs’ collection. I believe it was taken at the same time as the aircrew photographs in 1944 in front of one of the Squadron’s new Lancasters. If memory serves me correctly, this photograph was passed onto me by Kevin, Chairman of the UK Association – so Kevin, many thanks.

I am particularly keen to try to put some names to the faces of these boys – the ground crews were and are probably too easily forgotten regarding their utterly invaluable contribution to the operational success of a Squadron and thus in turn to the effectiveness of Bomber Command.

Lets name some of these boys!

See the numbered full size version of the photograph here.

Form 540 September & October 1944 complete for Project ORB

Many thanks to Hubert for his continuing efforts transcribing the Squadron ORB’s. I am pleased to announce and present 2 new complete Form 540’s for September and October 1944.

I will repeat my call out to all of you for volunteers to join Hubert, Martyn and Dave in the ORB project – every month that someone finds the time to transcribe, completes another small part of the overall Squadron record and provides more information for people visiting the website.

View September hereView October here.