Allan Alexander and the crew of AA-U


Allan Mason Forbes Alexander, Pilot. Taken around 1943 © Allan Alexander/ NZBCA Archive

Many thanks to Chris for his continuing stream of photographs from the NZBCA Archive visit. This time some wonderful photographs of Allan Alexander and his crew. Allan and the crew of AA-U hold a fond place in my heart. They were the first crew that I ‘discovered’ on the internet after Bob passed away and really provided me with a first understanding of a ‘crew’ and the relationship they had.


Mid Upper Gunner with the Alexander crew – Armstrong ‘Doc’ Lyon © Allan Alexander/ NZBCA Archive

Armstrong ‘Doc’ Lyon, Mid Upper Gunner with the Alexander crew. Whilst I wait to be corrected, I think the only American in 75(NZ) Squadron. Born in Marbarth, Pennsylvania, Armstrong went to Canada and enlisted in Montreal 25th June 1941. After his tour with Allan, ‘Doc’ completed a second tour with 214 Squadron, where he was commissioned and also awarded the D.F.C.

Distinguished Flying Cross – No.214 Squadron – Award effective 5 February 1945 as per London Gazette dated 16 February 1945 and AFRO 563/45 dated 29 March 1945. American in the RCAF.
No citation other than;
“completed… numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.”

Public Records Office Air 2/8830 has recommendation dated 16 November 1944 when he had flown 56 sorties (288 hours 35 minutes). It is a particularly interesting document in that the Station CO, G/C T.C. Dickens, writes on 19 November that Lyon is;
“A really excellent Air Gunner…The personal successes of the Warrant Officer have proved an inspiration to all aircrew on the Station, in that over two operational tours this Air Gunner is officially credited with four enemy night fighters destroyed (one shared) and two damaged.”


Allan stood in front of BK777 AA-U ‘Alexanders Ragtime Crew’. The other individual is unknown, but judging by the relative darkness of his uniform, could be Australian. © Allan Alexander/ NZBCA Archive

The Alexander crew flew the majority of their tour with 75(NZ) Squadron in BK777 AA-U. When I first came across the Alexander crew, I was ignorant to the fact that AA-U had nose art – a post on the Wings Over New Zealand forum alerted me to the artwork and also the name of  BK777 – ‘Alexanders Ragtime Crew’.


One must assume, one of the aircraft the Alexander crew flew in, though it is impossible to tell whether it is AA-U, or another. © Allan Alexander/ NZBCA Archive



Stirling bomber being refuelled – identities of individuals unknown. © Allan Alexander/ NZBCA Archives


View across the wing of a Stirling bomber – perhaps BK777 AA-U – and perhaps Allan standing on the far starboard engine ? © Allan Alexander/ NZBCA Archive



Allan, sat middle of middle row ‘C Squad’ 19A Course, 16th August 1941 I.T.W. Levin © Allan Alexander/ NZBCA Archive

Read more about the Alexander crew here.
Read a transcript of an interview Allan did with New Zealand Radio here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s