Monthly Archives: March 2014

Please bare with me……..

It was perhaps inevitable that post Radio New Zealand interview, interest would spike in the blog – and it it certainly has – which is fantastic. Unfortunately it has coincided with a busy period at work (I’m writing this at 12.30 am) and at the moment I am struggling to keep things going with the efficiency and regularity I would like and usually somehow manage.

I am aware of a number of contacts that have come through in the last few weeks that have not moved on particularly noticeably since I have received them and in fact, just over this weekend more people have gotten in contact with me – again this is fantastic and I intend to at the very least, reply by email in the next few days to these people. Usually once a new contact is made, the contact information goes into my contacts database, the query, contribution or request goes onto my ‘to do list’ database and I work through it………

Posts will continue, but probably at a diminished rate for the next few weeks – I am aware they have dropped off a bit in the last few weeks and this was simply the precursor to this post. Some posts are easier than others, either because it can be built around information provided, or in the case of the regular contributions that Chris so generously makes, they are fully written and just require pasting into a post.

I suppose what is important to say is that just because you haven’t heard from me, or haven’t yet seen a post that you have supplied information for, doesn’t mean I have forgotten or ignored you – its just that at points, things, as with life, take a little longer to happen than we would all like.


Form 540 March 1944 and April 1945, added to Project ORB

My repeated  thanks  to Hubert and Martyn  for their continuing efforts transcribing the Squadron ORB’s. I am pleased to announce and present  another  2 new, complete Form 540’s, for March 1944 and April 1945.

I will once again, repeat my call out to all of you for volunteers to join Brian, Hubert and Martyn  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 Form 540 March 1944 here.
View Form 540 April 1945 here.

Form 540 May complete for Project ORB

My  thanks again to Brian for his continuing efforts transcribing the Squadron ORB’s. I am pleased to announce and present  another  new complete Form 540 for May 1945.

I will once again, repeat my call out to all of you for volunteers to join Brian, 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 May here.

75(NZ) Squadron RAF Ground Crew 1944

Full Squadron Ground crew May 1944 UNNUMBERED

Many thanks indeed to Basil for passing on, via Kevin, this amazing group photograph of the ground crew staff of 75(NZ) Squadron – taken at the same time as the Squadron and Flight photographs in 1944.

I had a fascinating chat with Basil earlier this evening and as well as being able to identify a few of the individuals in this photograph, Basil was also able to shed some light on the layout of Mepal and also some of the incidents that occurred during his time in Rectification and Inspection between the end of 1943 and the departure of the Squadron from Mepal to Spilsby in July of 1945.

It would seem that the ground crew are not very well recorded in the Squadron Roll – perhaps inevitably after all these years Basil remembers individuals in some cases simply by their first name, hopefully some more names will come to mind when we talk again……

Very interestingly, Basil said that 63 Maintenance Unit (MU) was also at Mepal. Off the back of this information, I asked if if he had any recollections of a certain Lancaster – NE181 ‘The Captains Fancy’ – Sadly Basil didn’t recall ‘Mike’, though very interestingly he thought it unlikely that NE181 would have been returned to the Squadron if she had been flown out for an overhaul – for her to stay with the Squadron he though it was more likely that it wold have been over hauled on base at 63 MU………

Another interesting tale Basil had tell related to a Lancaster, that after coming out of engine maintenance was sent on an air test. Mid test, an engine completely failed, the result being a very heavy landing that caused the aircraft to collapse on its under carriage. Basil said that this was the only time a crash landing of this kind occurred at Mepal. Listening to this story, I instantly thought of a photograph I posted, as part of a set from Arthur Williams last December. At the time, as the original caption shows, I surmised that the aircraft in the picture was possibly ND782 – ‘written off on an air test’ – Basil’s story seems to confirm this.


A bit of a mystery regarding the exact identity of this Lancaster. Looking at Ian’s database, ND914 ‘swung on landing’ and or either ND782 ‘written off on an air test’ perhaps ??
© Arthur Rhys Williams

As with all of the large group photographs, if you click here to take you to the ‘Group Photographs’ section of the blog and then click on the photograph on this page, you will see the numbered version of the photograph at full size – Hopefully we can add some more names to the numbers!



Form 540 January, February 1944 and February 1945 – complete for Project ORB

My repeated  thanks to Hubert for his continuing efforts transcribing the Squadron ORB’s. I am pleased to announce and present  another 2 new complete Form 540′s for January and February 1944.

Many thanks also to Brian for completing Form 540 for February 1945, which is also now presented within the ORB project collection

I will once again, repeat my call out to all of you for volunteers to join Hubert, Martyn, Dave and Brian 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 January 1944 here.
View February 1944 here.
View February 1945 here.

Maori aircrew who served with 75(NZ) Squadron 39-45 – update


The Amohanga crew pose in front of Lancaster HK593, JN-X.
Left to right rear: Alf Woolcock, A/B; Ken Dalzell, Navigator; Kiwi Amohanga, Pilot; Jack Richardson, M/U/Gnr.
Front: Steven Fletcher, F/E;, Sandy Strachan, R/Gnr; Max Spooner, W/Op.
New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Ken Dalzell.

After the previous post, it was perhaps inevitable that I can to also announce an update to the Post Chris made originally towards the end of January about the Maori airmen that served with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF – as well as adding this wonderful picture of Kiwi Amohanga’s crew, a new airman can be added – F/S Edward Maxwell “Max” Spooner (NZ428162).

I have moved the original, but now updated post by Chris to its own page under ’75(NZ) RAF’ in the main menu – hopefully this way, information can be added and visitors will have a single reference page to visit. View this new page here.

Amohanga crew, March 1945


The Amohanga crew pose in front of Lancaster HK593, JN-X.
Left to right rear: Alf Woolcock, A/B; Ken Dalzell, Navigator; Kiwi Amohanga, Pilot; Jack Richardson, M/U/Gnr.
Front: Steven Fletcher, F/E; Sandy Strachan, R/Gnr; Max Spooner, W/Op.
New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Ken Dalzell.

Another post from Chris, based on his visit to the New Zealand Bomber Command Archive;.

Another photo from the NZBCA archives, and another good story!

NZ425492 P/O K Amohanga and crew reported on posting from No. 73 Base.

The Amohanga crew was placed in C Flight:

P/O Kiwi Ernest Amohanga, RNZAF NZ425492 – Pilot.
F/S (later W/O) Walter Kenneth “Ken” Dalzell, RNZAF NZ433854 – Navigator.
F/O Alfred Hugh “Alf” Woolcock, RNZAF NZ2121 – Bomb Aimer.
Sgt B “Steven” Fletcher RAF – Flight Engineer.
F/S (later W/O) Edward Maxwell “Max” Spooner, RNZAF NZ428162 – Wireless Operator.
F/O Jack Cresswell Richardson, RNZAF NZ427323 – Mid-Upper Gunner.
F/Sgt Alexander Freedman “Sandy” Strachan, RNZAF NZ4210193 – Rear Gunner.

And then, before their feet had hardly touched the ground!:

11.3.45 War Ops – Essen
Kiwi Amohanga flew his “second dickie” as 2nd Pilot with Wi Rangiuaia and his crew
Lancaster Mk 1 NN747 JN-O

12.3.45 War Ops – Dortmund
Lancaster Mk 1 HK593 JN-X
Crew as above

14.3.45 War Ops – Henrich Hutte
Lancaster Mk 1 HK593 JN-X
Same crew

17.3.45 War Ops – Auguste Viktoria
Lancaster Mk 1 PB424 JN-O
Same crew

21.3.45 War Ops – Munster Viaduct
Lancaster Mk 1 HK601 JN-D.
Same crew

This was the last complete Amohanga crew op’.

Peter Wheeler tells the story, brief but evocative:
“Kiwi got hit over the head with a beer bottle by a Yank, and had to go to Ely Hospital. Ken and his crew became spare bod’s.”

The war was almost over. Eric Butler took the rest of the crew on one last op’, and then they were dispersed amongst other crews for various Operation Manna and POW repatriation trips.

22.4.45 War Ops – Bremen
PB820 JN-V
F/L Eric Frank Butler, RNZAF NZ425558 – Pilot.
F/S Walter Kenneth “Ken” Dalzell, RNZAF NZ433854 – Navigator.
F/O Alfred Hugh “Alf” Woolcock, RNZAF NZ2121. Bomb Aimer.
Sgt B “Steven” Fletcher RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Edward Maxwell “Max” Spooner, RNZAF NZ428162 – .Wireless Operator.
F/O Jack Cresswell Richardson, RNZAF NZ427323 – Mid-Upper Gunner.
F/Sgt Alexander Freedman “Sandy” Srachan, RNZAF NZ4210193 – Rear Gunner.

Thanks to Peter Wheeler and the New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archives.

80,000 Visits

Many thanks to everybody once again as another incredible 10,000 visit milestone was passed this morning. As always many thanks to all of the regular visitors for still visiting and also, particularly this month, to all our new visitors.

In terms of daily visits, this has been quite a remarkable period. In the middle of January, some what tentatively  I entered the world of Twitter – I thought it might be a new way to spread the word about the blog – little did I know what this would bring……A speculative Tweet at Radio New Zealand – basically just to try to get them to retweet the blog address led suddenly to a very unexpected offer to do an interview about the blog, Bob and my search for information on the boys who flew with 75(NZ) Squadron – the response from this was amazing – 1,075 visits the following day and a pile of new email contacts, all that I hope will generate new posts in the near future.

Many thanks also to Chis, Peter and the New Zealand Bomber Command Association – the addition of many new photographs has generated a massive interest and the addition of a number of new group photographs of the boys of the squadron has kept peoples interest and added new names to those we already knew.

Its taken just 2 days short of a month to accumulate these last 10,000 visits – the fastest that has been so far recorded and I am so pleased about this – the interest in the blog and the information and stories it holds is not decreasing – its actually increasing and I just hope we can keep telling new stories and adding to the bigger story of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

Many thanks – Simon

Before she was famous – another picture of ‘Mike’


The Wood crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’
Back row L to R: Arthur Taylor (W/Op), R. Johnson (Nav), Francis Wood (Pilot), Les Hurcombe (A/B)
Front row L to R: Sgt Woolley (MU/Gnr) & Sgt. Mahoney (R/Gnr) – who is who, not known, Les Gibbs (F/E)
Courtesy Kevin King/Alf Gibbs.

Many thanks to Kevin, who after the post from Chris last night, passed on this fantastic early photograph of NE181 JN-Mike, ‘The Captains Fancy’. Based on the Op count and referring to the history of the aircraft that Chris has been working on, the images dates between the 15th and 16th August 1944.

The photograph is very interesting as it shows a relatively clear version of Capt. Reilly Ffoul – interestingly it also shows a tonal difference around the character and also a box around the Op bombs. My understanding is that the original matt black paint on the side of production Lancasters tended to be repainted once on Squadron (when a new lick of paint was required) with a less matte, but practically more durable black paint. The flatness of the paint around the Op tally and Reilly makes me wonder whether ‘Mike’ had had a second coat of this very matte paint and the painter had perhaps framed the existing artwork, rather than trying to paint to the edges of the artwork? Conversely, perhaps a coat of less matte paint had been used to clean up the edges of Reilly after he had been added to the aircraft and or it had been applied initially to provide a better ‘key’ for the paint work of the mascot and Op tally.

If you count the bomb tally, it appears that on the penultimate row, one bomb on the left hand side of the row seems to have been blacked out, discounting this, the Ops are 38, including this omission as it were, gives us 39 Ops. This in itself provided another conundrum – Kevin said that the photograph had come from Alf Gibbs, Flight Engineer with the Wood crew, but again referring back to the history produced by Chris,  John Scott’s crew flew number 38  and John Lethbridge’s  crew flew number 39 – checking the ORB showed that Alf had not been a fill-in on either of these Ops – so I mailed Kevin back with this query.

Kevin’s answer back was I suppose obvious ‘it makes a good photo for the folks back home…..‘ – doubly so if the boys had any idea how many Ops ‘Mike’ would end up flying with the Squadron and that we would all still be talking about it now!

That famous first ton

NE181 100th Jan 1945 tu low file

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike “The Captains Fancy”, just after ‘bombing up’ for the Krefeld op’ on the 29th January 1945 (99 op’s marked).
L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Navigator), Norman Bartlett (Flight Engineer), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (Bomb Aimer), Dick Pickup (Wireless Operator). (Front row) Sgt. Phillips and LAC Thompson (ground cre, Roy Corfield (Rear Gunner), Tony Gregory (Mid-Upper Gunner), Fred Woolterton (ground crew).
– picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

Many thanks as always to Chris for a new post about NE181 JN-Mike, ‘The Captains Fancy’….

Excitement is building amongst us Kiwi 75’ers as we look forward to the re-paint of (one side of) Auckland’s MoTaT Lancaster to represent 75(NZ) Squadron RAF’s famous ‘ton-up’ Lanc’, NE181 JN-M Mike “The Captains Fancy”. A formal hand over ceremony will be conducted at MoTaT in April, with veterans and the families of JN-M’s crews invited to attend.

Amongst the NZBCA’s photo archive are two photos that appear to be part of the documentation of that famous event, the day NE181 achieved the 100 op’s milestone. They have been published elsewhere, but for the record, it would be great to have them together displayed together with the other priceless record of the occasion.

This is the historic picture (top of post) of the Bailey crew, published previously on this site alongside Bomb Aimer Jack Wall’s memoirs. The seven crew are shown with three of Mike’s ground crew, about to leave on that famous 100th operational sortie to Krefeld. It looks to have been a freezing cold day, complete with snow and fog, in the middle of what was one of Europe’s coldest winters for many years.

The next two photos are from the NZBCA archive, from the collection of Alan Scott, Wireless Operator with the Anderson crew (April-July 45). They appear to have been taken the same day, going by the weather, light and backgrounds, and form a nice sequence as the crew apparently pause for a photo, board the aircraft, and then taxy out into the snow.


The Bailey crew boarding NE181 “The Captain’s Fancy” at dispersal, to begin pre-flight checks before flying to Krefeld, 29th of January, 99 op’s marked.
New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Alan Scott


NE181 “The Captain’s Fancy” apparently taxiing out from her dispersal, preparing to fly to Krefeld, 29th of January, 99 op’s marked.
New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Alan Scott

Once again, if anyone has more information about these photos – or in fact, ANY other photos of NE181, we would love to hear from you – and thanks again to Peter Wheeler and the NZBCA for permission to share photos from their archives.

The other 100 Op lancasters of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF…….

Gdad 7 (2)

PB418 AA-C showing 100 Ops
New Zealand Bomber Command archive/ Neville Selwood

Given the post this morning about NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, its perhaps a little bit ironic that I suddenly find myself talking about at least 1 and perhaps another 2 Lancasters from the Squadron that at least  (might have) reached the figure of 100 Ops.

Funnily enough Ian emailed me earlier this evening to politely question my description of ‘Mike’ being the ‘only’ Lancaster to reach 100 – I was happy to admit a mistake, but Ian came back (he said sheepishly) to perhaps agree I was right. Then Chris came back, clutching more goodies from the New Zealand Bomber Command archive. I have to be honest, these 3 images (1 above and 2 below) left me, well, speechless.

The aircraft in these pictures is PB418 AA-C with 100 Ops clearly marked on her nose – the 3 images come originally from F/O Neville Selwood RNZAF, Navigator with F/O Wynn Russell RNZAF and crew, who did 23 op’s in her. Now, I defer to Chis and his patient sifting of the Squadron ORB’s – so far for this aircraft, he thinks he has found 95 of these Ops + 3 ‘Manna’ Ops – though he wonders if perhaps he might have missed a few, or even perhaps a few Ops might have been recorded before the aircraft arrived at Mepal.

Ian’s entry in the Lancaster database for PB418 is as follows;
On Sqn Aug 1944,to 514 Sqn Jul 1945 from IWM. Serial from ORBs. Total op’s = 95 (95th achieved on 22 April, to Bremen, with the Lukins crew), plus 3 Operation Manna supply drops to Rotterdam, plus 5 POW repatriation flights from Juvincourt, May 45, from ORB’s (Newey). AA-C from 3GBC and AIR14/3463.’

Which suggests, depending on how the food dropping and prisoner repatriation flights were counted more than 100 – I am aware that the crews considered the ‘Manna’ flights as Ops – the aircraft were fully crewed (for early flights) and armed – and they had instructions to fire back if fired upon…..

Gdad 1 (2)

Flying Officer Wynn Russell (Pilot) RNZAF left and Flying Officer Neville Selwood (Nav) RNZAF with AA-C
New Zealand Bomber Command archive/ Neville Selwood

Built by Avro at Manchester, PB418 joined 75 (NZ) Squadron as AA-C in August 1944. Allocated to Flying Officer Wynn Russell in January 1945, his Navigator Neville Selwood recalled in “Kiwis Do Fly” that it was a real old timer with narrow propeller blades.

“Enough to get us to 19,500 feet and no more. It certainly did over 100 trips but that may have included some DNCO and the Manna drops of 30th April and 7th May 1945.”

“It was a lucky kite and eventually was re-engined. We did 23 operations in her, the last being a 5 hour 25 minute trip to Keil with 10,092 lbs. My last trip with 75 (NZ) Squadron was with PB418 on 29th June 1945 when we flew a ‘postmortem’ run to Flensburg. Apparently ‘C went to 514 Squadron and was scrapped in March 1948. What a shame, she had looked out for us.”

(Kiwis Do Fly: New Zealanders in RAF Bomber Command, by Peter Wheeler. 2010, New Zealand Bomber Command Association)

selwood (2)

PB 418 (AA-C) at its dispersal RAF Mepal, March 1945. It carries the tail markings of a GH leader for ‘A’ flight 75 (NZ) Squadron. In the background, to the left Mepal’s control tower and to the right one of the airfield hangers.
New Zealand Bomber Command archive/ Neville Selwood

If this isn’t enough, Chris says that ‘Buzz’ Spilman reckons that LM276 AA-S ‘Sugar’ reached her hundred – though further research needs to be undertaken to prove this claim and additionally,  HK562 AA-L ‘Love’ was (according to Jim Haworth, Mallon crew) “retired” on 99, so Chris reckons based on these aircraft alone, there may have been another one or two that came close, or perhaps even achieved the ton, but NE181 ‘Mike’, still probably beat them all………

Letter to Ron Birch from Gordon Gunter – The Meharry crew

RW Birch crew 75 Squadron photo 1 1

Another picture of the Meharry crew.
L to R: Reuben Birch, Tom Robinson, Eric Meharry, Joseph Spiers, R. Dale, Lawrence Wilson and Gordon Gunter.
Martyn/ Ernest Birch ©

An unexpected surprise has just arrived in my email – a letter written by Gordon Gunter, Flight Engineer in Eric Meharry’s crew to his Rear Gunner, Ron Birch. Many thanks to Martyn for passing this wonderful memento on – and within it lies a tantalising detail, that as Martyn notes, even by an incredibly long shot, might just lead us to the relatives, perhaps, of  Lawrence Wilson, A/B with the crew.

Gordon’s letter was sent from him after the crew had left Mepal and split up. Dated 23rd January (1946 I assume) and was sent from the Sergeants Mess, RAF 352 Maintenance Unit, 12 miles from Allahbad, North East India. I’ll say no more as to the text of the letter, other than that it seems to certainly have been written in a past time and in that respect I politely warn any reader in advance of what might not be termed ‘politically correct’ terminology within the letter.

Letter from Gordon Gunter 2

Airmail letter from Gordon Gunter to Ron Birch dated 23rd January (1946) part 1
© Martyn Birch

Letter from Gordon Gunter 1

Airmail letter from Gordon Gunter to Ron Birch dated 23rd January (1946) part 2
© Martyn Birch

RWB Card from Gordon Gunter inside

Enclosed picture from 352 MU, Allahbad, North East India. Gordon Gunter far right I think
© Martyn Birch

RWB Card from Gordon Gunter

Folded cover of enclosed photograph
© Martyn Birch

More information on the McCaskill crew, courtesy of Guy

Regular blog visitors will be aware that I have made a number of posts about Donald McCaskill’s crew who were all lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart, whilst returning from a raid on Stuttgart.

Guy  has been continuing to search for information on the crew and is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. As I always say regarding this subject and Guy’s efforts, anything that can still discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

Guy has recently contacted me with some new information and also a request, regarding his research – Over to Guy;

Sergeant Ernest Desmond COOK (19 years old) was a crew member of the Bomber Short Stirling BF513 of R.A.F. Sqn 75 which was shot down on April 15th, 1943 over Belgium and fell near the hamlet of Regniessart in the Municipality of Viroinval.

The authorities of the Municipality of Viroinval intend to organize in the year 2015 a remembrance of this event to pay tribute to these young men who gave their life to defend our freedom.
So, I would need help to get in touch with members of his family.

You will find below all the elements which I have concerning Ernest COOK.

  • His Parents Ernest and Esther Cook lived in Station road, Kintbury.
  • They had another son Gerald Cook who used to live at Mant Close, Wickham Newbury which is about 5km from Kintbury. He  passed away on 11th January 2005 but his widow, Hilda COOK, may still live there.
  • Gerald and Hilda had a son, Gary, who was born around December 1969. He, I believe to be a landscape gardener and still lives in the area.

I hope that somebody among the blog readers can help me to get in touch with one or several members of Ernest COOK’s family that possibly still survive. I think mainly of the members of the group of contacts in the UK.

Guy has also discovered some new information on Reginald Green, who featured in a previous post about the crew;

Reginald Green was native of Great Easton ( Leicestershire). Born in 1916, he was the oldest member (27 years old) of the crew of the Stirling BF513 and the only one to be married.
Thanks to Margaret Stamp, the reference person of the local history of Reginald’s home Village, which has invested in the researches and is a part of our group of contact.
Thanks also to Keith Sandars living in Medbourne  (Leicestershire).
Keith was the first contact on site  which allowed in particular to find Carol Anholm, the daughter  of Edna Searcy who had married in first marriage Reginald Green on April 26th, 1941.
Carol Anholm provided us with photos and documents which present a big value for us. Furthermore, the close relations, the family but also the inhabitants of Medbourne showed a lot of interest for the current researches as well as for the commemorative ceremony which will be organized to Viroinval on May 8th, 2015.
Edna, who had married Reginald Green in 1941, wrote a very moving poem  after the tragic death of Reginald in operations on April 15th, 1943. In fact, Edna and Reginald were separated from the day after their marriage and have gotten together only during a permission of 15 days before his departure for Newmarket.

“It was one cold November day
That my sweetheart went away.
To join the RAF had gone
To knock the bottom out of the huns.
No wedding for me while the war is on
He’d said to me before he was gone.
But only two weeks has passed away
Before he wrote and named the day.
April 26th had come
Now we meant to have some fun.
There I stood in snowy white
Loving the bridegroom as well I might.
One heavenly day with my husband I had
But it ended all too sad.
The very next day he had to go
Back to barracks full of woe.
The time had come for him to be a gunner
And he also was a runner.
Every day I spent in fear
Often shedding a silent tear.
His sergeant’s stripes he now obtained
A wireless op and gunner named.
Over to Frankfurt he had to go
But Smithy’s guns they failed to show.
My husband’s leave had come at last
But I guess it went too fast.
Fourteen days of love and laughter
Which I remember ever after.
Back to his crew he had to go
Back to the lads that he did know.
There was Jim, Ken, Don and Smut.
I sure did wish them the best of luck.
The fatal day it had to come.
I was riddling potatoes in the sun.
A telegram – an awful sight.
My husband had failed to return last night.
We all did cry, yes even Dad.
I really thought I should go mad.
I knew in my heart he wasn’t dead.
He seemed to tell me whilst in my bed.
I cried and cried but all in vain
It didn’t bring him back again.
The parson came to preach and pray.
I shall never forget that dreadful day.
Every day a letter came
And every one did bear his name.
But they didn’t make me any better.
All I wanted was his love letter.
Well my story now must end.
My broken heart I’ll never mend.
Unless one day I hear the news
That my husband’s alive with other crew’s”
Twenty years after her first poem, Edna wrote another one putting in perspective her life which continued. Indeed, in 1946, Edna remarried with Kenneth Burton and had two children; a son, Nigel and a daughter, Carol.  
“Its twenty years since last I wrote.
My broken heart has gone amok.
Five long years went slowely by.
But then I didnt stop to cry.
Another man had come my way.
Marry me darling he did say.
We married in July in the sun.
And we had lots and lots of fun.
Our darling son came very soon.
On easter day he sang his tune.
The lord had given me back my life.
And I mean to be a real good wife.
Our married life wasnt quiet complete.
We wanted something with 4 feet.
My brother gave me a lovely puppy.
He looked so cute fat and fluffy.
The years went by Nigel went to school.
I feltso lost without his tune.
A little girl came to live in our fold.
She had big blue eyes but never a curl.
Life was one sweet happy whirl.
We loved them both as we should.
They were so happy kind and good.
And my life is now complete.
We can hold the golden seat.
We live and laugh and love each day.
That is all I have to say.
So when you feel you cant go on.
And everything you do goes wrong.
Just kneel and pray to the lord and see.
That he will help you as he helped me.”
Edna died in 2010 at the age of 90 and is buried in Medbourne.

Reginald GREEN mariage cont

Edna and Reginald on their wedding day, April 26th, 1941.© Carol Anholm 

The first post about the McCaskill crew can be read here.
The second post including pictures of Donald McCaskill and his logbook can be seen here.
The third post containing information about Reginald Green, Wireless Operator witht e McCaskill crew can be read here.

MOTAT Lancaster to be repainted as NE181 JN-‘Mike’, ‘The Captains Fancy’

JNM cropped comp

NE181 JN-‘Mike’ – The Captains Fancy’ – the new paint scheme for the Lancaster on display at the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand.
Image via NZBCA Facebook page – © Peter West

I woke up this morning to see the exciting news on the New Zealand Bomber Command Facebook page, that the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland has announced their Lancaster will be repainted in the markings and nose art of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF NE181 JN-Mike – ‘The Captains Fancy’.

The Lancaster on display at MOTAT was built in June 1945. NX665 was destined for service in the Pacific as part of the proposed Allied invasion of Japan. However, Japanese surrender in September 1945 made the deployment unnecessary. The aircraft instead went into storage at Llandow until sold to the French navy in 1951.

Following acquisition by the French, NX665 was given the military registration WU13, and deployed first in France, then Morocco and Algeria on anti-submarine patrol, maritime reconnaissance, and air-sea rescue operations. After service in North Africa, WU13 returned to France in preparation for deployment in the Pacific with Escardrille 9S based in Noumea, New Caledonia. This was the aircraft’s last period of active service before being gifted to MOTAT as a good will gesture to New Zealand by the French Government.

‘The Captains Fancy’ holds a special fascination with 75(NZ) Squadron as it was the only aircraft in the Squadron to pass its ‘century’ of completed Operations. Perhaps inevitably because of this ‘fame’ there is a degree of ‘fogginess’ that exists around the aircraft, regarding the exact number of Ops credited to it and even in some quarters, what crew and what date the magic figure of 100 Ops final was recorded. The mystery is compounded by the fact that ‘Mike’ never carried more that 101 bombs (indicating Ops completed), even though research strongly suggests this figure is possibly 104 – after leaving Mepal for maintenance, it returned, but the ORB’s seem to contain inaccuracies regarding ‘Mike’s’ further flights and in some cases it is a matter of vigorous conjecture as to whether the  aircraft listed are others or in fact NE181. What we do know of course is that ‘Mike’ DID complete at least 101 Ops whilst with the Squadron – so I am very interested to see how MOTAT will present and try to communicate the disparity between the ‘official’, painted total and the higher figure that many, including myself, think she reached.

The bittersweet irony of this aircraft’s presence in the Museum is that the officers in 75(NZ) Squadron lobbied hard to have NE181 bought home (some believe the maintenance break towards the end of the war was as much to prepare ‘Mike’ for the flight back home as it was to simply overhaul her for further Ops). Despite the desire of the Squadron to bring the old girl back home with them, it would appear that the New Zealand government baulked at the fuel bill for the homeward flight……..

See a past post by Ian and Chris regarding the mystery of the final Ops and in fact whereabouts of NE181 here.

See the announcement on the NZBCA Facebook page here.
Visit the MOTAT Lancaster webpage here.