Monthly Archives: May 2014

Jack Richards – 1924 – 2014


Despite ill health, Jack made every effort to attend last years Association service of remembrance, here, stood in the Memorial Garden, at Mepal, with Association Chairman Kevin King on that sunny Sunday morning.

It is with great sadness that I must pass on the news that Jack Richards, President of the  Friends of 75 (NZ) Squadron Association  passed away yesterday, aged 90.

Jack had been President of the association since 2005 when the ‘Friends of 75 (NZ) Squadron’ was formed. Prior to that he was Chairman of the old association.

Jack, with others founded the UK 75(NZ) Association in the 70’s, and was responsible for the creation of the plinth and memorial garden. He was a great benefactor to the UK Association, as well as an ambassador with strong ties to New Zealand.

As a mark of respect to Jack, there will be no further posts on the blog for a week.

I am sure you all, as I do, pass our sincerest and most heartfelt condolences to Jack’s family.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha Jack

100,000 Views – utterly amazing…..

It seems as if I am celebrating every 10,000 view milestone with accelerating regularity. Despite this, it always feels like an achievement. Tonight I think we should really  stop and realise what we have all managed to achieve –   the blog has just recorded it’s 100,000 view.

I had absolutely no idea when I began this blog in the summer of 2012 that it would grow the way it has. Initially I began to write backwards as it were, recording past events of my research journey – I figured I would ‘catch up’ with the present day and it would then be a diary of my research journey about Bob and the boys he flew with.

In honest truth, I think I underestimated the reach of a blog and the interest it would generate – I was amazed when I saw it had been viewed 100, 200, 500, a 1,000 times. And then the amazing, heartbreaking and uplifting stories started to come…….

I know I always say this, but I honestly have to thank all of you. In real terms, I have become just a curator of the stories of the boy’s of 75(NZ) Squadron, without all of you who have given so generously stories, photographs, memories and your time, the blog would not be what it is today and I certainly would not be writing this 100,000 view post.

I am more determined than ever to try to ensure that everything that is passed to me will be presented on the blog – at times this is incredibly difficult to do, but I will keep going whenever I can – to those of you that have perhaps sent an email asking for information, or for those of you that have sent information, but have yet to see it posted, please bare with me, I will get back to you and it will be posted.

The strength of what we have managed to achieve is a tribute to the generosity of people – this information is yours, not mine. It is certainly not mine to take and store away, it is given to be shown and by showing it we will learn more, either about individuals, or small parts of a life or bigger tales of the Squadron.

If I didn’t envisage the way the site would grow, I certainly did not realise that the blog would also allow relatives to reconnect and meet each other, years after their Fathers, Uncles, Grandfathers or Great Grandfathers had flown together and sometimes died together as a crew – this has been an unexpected but truly rewarding aspect of my work on the blog.

And it also has been incredibly rewarding to try to help visitors, just as I was helped when I began my research journey – am I now an expert myself? – no, I don’t think so at all. I know more than when I started and I will know more tomorrow than I do today – but again, the blog has allowed me to connect with those who are experts and the sum of my knowledge is contained in the blog and the people who have contributed to it – we are all experts of small parts of the story – put together the sum is greater than the parts.

It has been an honour and a privilege to meet and work with all of you – I hope this will continue to the next 100,000 views.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha





Group Photograph, Air Gunners, Mepal 1945

Mepal gunners ?

With Both Ted Smith (second row from front, 5th from right)) and Norman Allen (second row from front, 4th from left) present in this photograph, I believe this to be a group photograph of Air Gunners, taken at Mepal sometime between March and June 1945. © Matt Smith

After my previous post about John ‘Ted’ Smith, I think its worth a re-post of one of the images. As I said in the last post, I have a very strong feeling that because of the presence of both Ted Smith and Russell Bank’s Rear Gunner, Norman Allen that this is another ‘trade’ group photograph from Mepal – this time of the Squadron Air Gunners. Based on the respective periods that Ted and Norman were at Mepal, this photograph could have been taken between March and June 1945. If anybody is able to identify any other individuals in this photograph then me might be able to narrow the date down further, though my gut feeling, as with the other photographs from 1945 is that it is probably round March.

I have added a numbered version of this photograph to the ‘Group Photographs’ section of the blog and as with all photographs in this section, once the page has loaded, if you click on the image, it will load larger and you should see your cursor has changed to a magnifying glass – click on the image again and you have zoomed into the maximum limit of the image – hopefully we can identify some more of the Squadron Air Gunners.

Go straight to look at the photograph here.

John ‘Ted’ Smith, Rear Gunner – Milsom crew (and Banks crew it would seem….)

jimmy wood  crew 2 BLOG

The photograph that started it all……..Ted Smith (Hop Head), Norman Allen, Jimmy Wood, Russell Banks, John Mossman (standing), Jock Fraser and Maurice Wiggins. © Jimmy Wood

At the end of July last year I posted this photograph from Jimmy Wood’s photo album of the Banks crew. The photograph had caused me a degree of frustration because (at the time) I couldn’t understand the presence of the individual stood up behind Jock Fraser and Maurice Wiggins. A signature  ‘J. B. Mossman’ seemed to make no sense to me – research indicating that this individual was possibly F/Sgt John Edward Barry Mossman, RNZAF NZ42112587, Wireless Operator with Wi Rangiuaia’s crew. I was also vexed by a second signature which seemed to read ‘Ted Smith ‘Hop Head” – this signature seemed all the more strange as it was next to Jack Britnell…..

I am pleased to report that my wonderings have been, at least partly answered. I have been contacted by John and Matt, Son and Nephew respectively of John ‘Ted’ Smith, Rear Gunner with the Milsom crew and latterly also it would appear, with the Banks crew…..Many thanks also to them for supplying some fantastic pictures of Ted, both from the War period and before it.

Read my original post about the Milsom crew here.

Clearly in hindsight, a fundamental mistake I was making was to assume that the individual next to the signature ‘Ted Smith’ was Jack Britnell – obviously, I now understand it was Ted!

I have become acutely aware, that errors do exist in the ORB’s and the problem I suppose I and others have is that we have to take what is recorded in them on face value. If I take my own knowledge of the Zinzan crew, I know that 2 entries concerning the identity of the Air Bomber are incorrect – Dad flew these 2 Ops, but the ORB’s list another individual for one and someone with the same surname for the other – its only because I have his logbook that I know the information to be wrong. I say this, because this post potentially throws up another inaccuracy regarding Ted Smith and John Mossman and the Banks crew. What follows is what individuals have told me and what I have gleaned from the ORB’s – and to put no finer point on the fact that they are utterly contradictory – however as I have already observed from personal experience with Dad, given the toss up between the ORB’s and known fact – its probably better to go with the known fact…….

Now, whilst my questions have been partly answered, they have thrown up another mystery – despite the fact that John and Matt say that Ted is in the the photograph because he flew with the Banks crew – and one must assume the same for John Mossman, there appears to be no evidence of this in the ORB of this. The story is further and tantalisingly complicated by a message from Jimmy Woods, Air Bomber with the Banks crew, via his son Roger, that John Mossman did fly with the Banks crew.

Based on a 3-way scouring of the 1945 Form 541’s:
Banks crew – Norman Allen and Jack Britnell are listed as flying in every Op with the Banks crew as Mid Upper and Rear Gunner respectively apart from in 3 cases. 3rd and 7th of May, Jack, then Norman flies as Rear Gunner for 2 ‘Manna’ Ops (these did not utilise Mid Upper Gunners). on the 14th of May (Exodus), Jack Britnell is replaced by Charlie Carey as Rear Gunner.

Milsom crew – The two ‘Johns’, Williamson and Smith, fly every Op, apart from the 2nd of May, when as standard for a ‘Manna’ Op, only Ted Smith flies, as Rear Gunner.

Rangiuia crew – John Mossman flies all Ops with the crew apart from 2. These are on the 10th and 12th of May and are ‘Exodus’ flights to Juvincourt in France. On both occasions, his position as WIreless Operator is taken by Pat Wilson.

Having looked at the crew histories like this, I now simply have no idea whatsoever what is going on, part from the terrifying thought that significant portions of the ‘541 are simply wrong.

‘But……….’, I hear you ask, ‘The 541 stop at June – Russ Banks, Ted Smith and John Mossman didn’t leave till July 1945, perhaps some of these flights were in July???….’

A slim chance perhaps – but Norman, Jimmy, Alex and Jack had left Mepal by the end of June – which means they simply couldn’t have been there to be in these photographs…..

Tantalisingly, Matt has passed on another  crew photo that was in Jimmy Wood’s photo album, showing the boys of the Banks crew, both including Ted and John Mossman…..


The Banks crew in front of LM276 AA-S. Back row, left to right – Ted Smith, Jimmy Wood, Russell Banks and Maurice Wiggins. Front row, left to right – Norman Allen, John Mossman and Jock Fraser. © Matt Smith

Based on the ORB’s, The Banks crew flew LM276 AA-S 8 times (one occasion, incorrectly listed in the ORB as ‘D’ on the 7th May). This is the only ‘S’ the crew flew, so we must therefore assume that the aircraft certainly in the picture above is LM276. Between the 27th March (Hamm) and the 14th of May (Juvincourt), the Banks crew flew 10 Ops – 7 of which were in LM276. The only other time the crew flew this aircraft was on the 28th of February to Gelsenkirchen – the Milsom crew did not arrive at Mepal until the 6th of March.

During this ’10 Op period’, the Milsom crew fly 8 times – however, there is a disparity of Ops in April – the Banks crew fly only 3 against the Milsom crew’s 5. In May, the Banks crew fly 6 times, against 3 for the Milsom crew. Whilst through absolutely no proof or argument whatsoever, it might be during May that  Ted might have picked a up a few Ops with the crew – additionally, overall looking at the 2 crew’s Ops history , they appear ‘out of sync’ as it were. I have noticed that certainly towards the latter stages of the war, the larger number of crews on station seem to suggest rotated groups of aircrew, that fly as ‘sets’  on raids – these ‘sets’ seem to, broadly speaking, dovetail between each other in the Ops in the ORB.


The Banks crew in front of an unidentified aircraft. Back row, left to right – John Mossman, Jimmy Wood, Maurice Wiggins and Russell Banks. Front row, left to right – Jock Fraser, Ted Smith and Norman Allen. © Matt Smith

Additionally to these crew photographs, Matt has also passed on the following group training photograph taken whilst Ted was  in Canada.


A group training photograph from Canada of Air Gunners, Ted Smith, standing furthest to the right. © Matt Smith

Mepal gunners ?

With Both Ted Smith (second row from front, 5th from right)) and Norman Allen (second row from front, 4th from left) present in this photograph, I believe this to be a group photograph of Air Gunners, taken at Mepal sometime between March and June 1945. © Matt Smith

This second  photograph I think is potentially the most interesting. Ted can be seen in this picture, second row from the front, fifth from right. Initially I wondered if this was possibly another training group photograph, however on closer inspection, I realised that also on the second row from the front, this time fourth from left is, (I am pretty sure) Norman Allen, A/G with the Banks crew. The arrival of the Milsom and Banks crew at Mepal are  a month apart, so I am disinclined to believe that this is a training group photograph and that perhaps this is actually a  Squadron photograph of Air Gunners from Mepal, one would assume close to the end of the war. Based on a comment Chris made on the full Squadron photograph couple of weeks ago, a figure of approximately 70 crews were at Mepal by the end of the war – if one assumes that by this point the aircraft were essentially ‘double crewed’ the number of individuals in this photograph would be about right – I think…….

I would be fascinated if anybody can either prove or disprove this theory (having shown the picture to Kevin, he tends to agree with my theory) – if anybody can recognise any more 75(NZ) Air Gunners in the photograph, then it must be another photograph for the ‘Group Collection’



Ted in competition for the Ashburton Motorcycle Club, pre-war. © Matt Smith

In correspondence with John, he said that Ted was a bit of a motorcycle nut. Ted was Mid Canterbury Motorcycle Club champion several years running in the late 1930’s – what would be today’s moto-cross.  He worked as a motor cycle mechanic pre and post war.  John says he certainly wouldn’t be surprised if someone has some stories about Ted and motorcycles at Mepal!


Landing, or taking off?? © Matt Smith

Ted Smith motorbike

Ted in his racing top from when he rode for the Ashburton Motorcycle Club (AMCC). © Matt Smith

AMCC Ted far left (side on)

A group photograph of the Ashburton Motorcycle Club – Ted is sat on his bike far left. © Matt Smith

So, as always, if anybody reads this and can shed light on this little conundrum, I and I am sure Matt and John, would love to hear from you.

A little more about the Lukins crew…..

Crew cpd and cont for blog

The Lukins crew at Mepal, sometime in 1945. Peter Carrie is stood at the far right of the picture, the individual next to him is an unknown ground crew member. The crew’s Rear Gunner, Tom Benson is stood second in on the left of the group. Whilst we still don’t know the positions within the photograph of Duncan Ross and Bill Reid, we at least now know their full names. © Peter Carrie/ Kerry Major

After the very high viewing figures of my post about Chelsea Pensioner Peter Carrie, Flight Engineer with Bernard Lukins crew last weekend, I thought it was making a post about a little more that I have now discovered about them.

As with many of the RAF/ RAFVR boys that flew in the Squadron, the RAF’s decision to destroy the Personal Occurrence Records (POR’s) at the end of the War, means that now the Squadron records only list many of them by initial, rather than name – so I am constantly pleased to receive names where they are known.

This afternoon, I was contacted by Malcolm, whose Grandfather, James ‘Jimmy’ Shaw, was a Pilot at Mepal between February and June 1945. As well as being able to give me the christian names of all the boys in the crew, Malcolm also sent a small clipping that had originally been posted on a forum, I assume, from Bert Donald, Jimmy’s Wireless Operator.

Amazingly, within the paragraph, Bert remarked that he was still in touch with two members of the Lukins crew – Duncan Ross, the Air Bomber and Bill Reid, the Wireless Operator, so Duncan and William, pleased to meet you…….

Additionally and I feel awful for missing it, Sgt. T. Benson, Rear Gunner with the Lukins crew is of course Tom Benson – Brian had previously been in contact about his Father, but in the activities of last weekend, I completely failed to make the connection – but all details are now updated!

So, I suppose the message is if you know even only the christian name of a relative who flew with 75(NZ) Squadron and particularly if they were RAF/RAFVR, please get in touch – if they weren’t killed in action, as terrible as that sounds, I apologise, the probability is that we don’t know their names.

Request for Information – Canberra bombers (a little off piste I know)

I was contacted by Steven this afternoon, who is currently writing/ editing a book on the Canberra bomber – Steven is  desperately looking to interview air and ground crews that operated the B.2 type that was on the loan from the RAF.

Now, I have absolutely no knowledge of the Canberra Bomber, or its use in 75 Squadron in New Zealand after the War, but I am quietly confident that there is someone out there who either flew or maintained these aircraft, or knows someone who did – so please if you see this post and would like to assist Steven in his endeavours, as always, contact me on the usual mail address of and I will forward your details or comments to him.

thanks in advance


Project ORB update – Form 540 July 1945 complete – 1945 complete

AIR27:648 1945 75SQD ORB 309

The final page of the 1945 Form 540, announcing the disbandment of 75(NZ) Squadron, on the 15th October 1945. © The National Archives

I am really pleased and proud, to announce that with the completion of the July Form 540 by Brian, we now have a complete set of Form 540’s for 1945.

Read Form 540 July 1945 here.

This has been a remarkable effort and I feel so proud for the completion of this first year from the ORB records of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, because I had absolutely no hand in doing it whatsoever – it was entirely completed by people who volunteered to do the job! A massive thank you to all those who completed portions or full months to make this possible;

So massive thanks to the following people:

As I  always say  when I make an announcement about the completion of another month of the ORB, please, if you want to contribute something by way of taking a month to do,  contact me! More people read these pages when they are published than have so far stepped forward to help transcribe them, so without wanting to sound arsey on such an upbeat post, maybe its time to put something back into the project!

Thanks again to all those that helped make the completion of 1945 possible



75 Squadron in Colour – The Air Force Museum, New Zealand

Image Preview

Ground crews preparing No. 75 Squadron Lancaster ‘P’ for an operation at RAF Mepal, 1944. 2006/517.9e. © Air Force Museum of New Zealand

I’m pleased to announce, for those of you that remember my earlier post about never before seen colour photographs from Mepal, that the Air Force Museum in New Zealand have now presented  the complete collection on their website.

These amazing and incredibly rare colour images come from a collection by Ralph Herbert Barker, from Hawera, who born in November 1922. Ralph was Wireless Operator with Ian Menzies crew. Ralph was one of the survivors of the take-off crash of BK809 JN-T, in which not only Ian Menzies and the Pilot but also, P/O. Norman  Gale the Air Bomber and Sgt. Albert Mellor the Flight Engineer were killed. The casualties also included 2 occupants of the house that the Stirling hit and also F/Sgt Peter  Dobson and Section Officer Joan  Easton who both went to the aid the survivors of the crash, but were killed when the bombs on board exploded.

After 3 months of medical leave, Ralph returned to Mepal. Initially he flew with a number of crews before finally flying 10 ops with F/L Francis Fox.

Read more information about the crash of BK809 here.
Visit the gravestones of Ian Menzies and Peter Dobson here.
Visit the Air Force New Zealand website and view all the colour photographs of Ralph’s, including a detailed biography, here.
View my original post about these colour images here.

The Artic Star – Now, here’s a thing……..


I was contacted to day by Paul, whose Uncle, F/Sgt Arthur Stafford Christie RNZAF NZ402982, who was lost on the 21st June 1942, age 21, on return from a raid on Emden, he now rests in Schieemonnikoog  Cemetery, Netherlands.

Pauls query, based on little knowledge of his Uncle’s operational history was whether he might have flown within the Arctic Circle. A mail to Kevin (and the reminder I should read the books I have before asking other people) Identified the Narvik reconnaissance flight by F/L Aubrey Breckon, 10th – 12th  April 1940, in Wellington L4387 – with a flying time of 14 hours 30 mins, it was one of the longest flights undertaken by a Wellington bomber…….

Now, the awarding criteria for the Artic Star (thank you Wikipedia) is as follows:
“The Arctic Star is awarded for operational service of any length north of the Arctic Circle, defined as 66° 32’ North Latitude. The inclusive qualifying period of service is 3 September 1939 to 8 May 1945. Though the Arctic Star is intended to recognize the service of personnel in the Arctic convoys of World War II, other members of the military and civilians may qualify. Eligibility is defined as follows:

and now it gets interesting……

“Aircrew of the Royal Air Force are eligible if they landed north of the Arctic Circle or served in the air over this area. Non aircrew on operational service in the area, for example ground crew or those sailing with CAM ships (Catapult Aircraft Merchant Ships), are also eligible.”

I would love to think that perhaps a relative of one of the boys who took this flight, or perhaps someone who knows them, might see this post. It would be wonderful if a relative could get the Arctic Star for this astonishing mission.

The crew on this reconnaissance mission were as follows:
F/L Aubrey Arthur Ninnis Breckon RNZAF
P/O Donald Joseph Harkness RAF
Sgt Robert Henry Hughes RAF
LAC Edwin Peter Williams RNZAF
A/c Thomas Leonar Mumby RAF
Also on board was Lt. Cdr. F O Howie, Royal Navy, who was there to assist with shipping recognition and naval reconnaissance


Emotional journey for Kiwi WW2 bomber pilot’s family

A number of people have passed on the link at the bottom of this post that shows an article form TVNZ One News about a moving reunion for the Niece of Brian Roche who was killed with 4 other members of his crew when their Lancaster crashed in a potato field in Heythuysen in Holland. The villagers have remembered the airmen every year since, but it was only this year that Brian’s Niece, Sharnee McGill travelled from New Zealand to take part in the remembrance ceremony. Here she met Ria Schmeider, whose Father had arrived at the crashed aircraft to discover a suitcase full of sensitive navigation documents. At personal risk to himself and his family, he kept and hid the documents from the Germans.

The Roche crew’s Lancaster crashed on its return from Homberg – one of seven aircraft lost on the nightmare Op to this target on the 21st July 1944 – the Squadrons highest single loss total during the War.

Roche Crew – 5 crew killed, 2 captured.
Lancaster Mk.I ME752
F/S Gerald Brian Roche RNZAF NZ413219 – Pilot.
Died age 21. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery Nijmegen Netherlands.
F/O Horace Callow RNZAF NZ427185 – Navigator.
Died age 27. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands.
F/S John Burgess RNZAF NZ4211008 – Air Bomber.
PoW no. 442. PoW camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft Vii. Promoted to W/O while a PoW. Safe UK 26 May 1945.
Sgt Jack Frank MacDonald Barson RAFVR 1324529 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 21. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Netherlands
Sgt Joseph Armstrong RAFVR 1684332 – Flight Engineer.
Died age 40. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery War Cemetery, Netherlands.
F/S William Edward Mcgee RNZAF NZ427902 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Successfully evaded capture and was safe in the U.K. 14 September 1944.
F/S Keith Emmett Smith RNZAF NZ425179 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 21. Buried Jonkerbos War Cemetery Nijmegen Netherlands.

An emotional journey

Peter Carrie, Flight Engineer – Lukins crew

Crew cpd and cont for blog

The Lukins crew at Mepal, sometime in 1945. Peter Carrie is stood at the far right of the picture, the individual next to him is an unknown ground crew member. The crew’s Rear Gunner, Tom Benson is stood second in on the left of the group© Peter Carrie/ Kerry Major


In a remarkable recreation of the above photograph, Peter stands alone under S ‘Sugar’ at the RAF Museum Hendon. © image owner unknown at this date – I have tried to find out and will amend details when able to – but the image is too moving to not include in this post…….

Many thanks to Kerry for passing on these images of his Grandfather , Peter Carrie who flew with Bernard Lukins crew as Flight Engineer between February and July 1945. If the stories of the boys who flew in the Squadron are all not remarkable, then Peter’s is even more so.  Born 1915 in Dundee, Scotland, he joined the Army  at 19  in the Tank Corp and served in India and the Khyber Pass. During WW2 he was evacuated from Dunkirk , they found him covered in dead bodies and thought he only had hours to live – in Kerry’s words, he was like a ‘pin cushion’ with shrapnel  wounds all over his body. The King sent a letter to his parents when he made it to a military hospital informing them of his condition. The Army found him unfit for service so Peter joined the RAF and ended up with Bernard Lukin’s crew at Mepal in February 1945. Often when I state superlatives I add, ‘as far as I am aware’ – in this case I don’t have to. Peter is the only Chelsea Pensioner to hold the Bomber Command clasp.

Training group cpd cont fx for blog

A group photograph taken during Peter’s training to become a Flight Engineer. Peter is second row from the back, 4th from left. © Peter Carrie/ Kerry Major


13.2.45 Administration
156733 F/S Lukins B.L. and crew arrived on posting from 1669 C.U.

Five days later the Lukins crew would begin their tour with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

18.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against  Wesel
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L
F/O Bernard Lincoln Lukins RAFVR 1586733/195347 – Pilot
F/S F. Gunningham RAFVR –  Navigator
F/S Duncan Ross RAFVR – Air Bomber
F/S William Reid RAFVR – Wireless Operator
Sgt Peter Carrie RAFVR – Flight Engineer
Sgt A. Crossfield RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt Tom Benson RAFVR 1901416 – Rear Gunner

F/O Charlie Green Joins the crew as Mid Under Gunner.

19.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against  Wesel

Lancaster Mk.I RA510 AA-J
Same crew

RA510, AA-J suffered an engine failure immediately after take-off. The port-inner engine was shut down and feathered then the Lukins crew proceeded to The Wash where the bomb load was jettisoned before returning to base, landing at 15.10hrs.

28.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Lancaster Mk.I PB741  AA-E
Same crew

2.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Cologne
Lancaster Mk.I HK576 AA-G
Same crew
The raid, was not a success as the G-H equipment failed to function correctly and all Squadron aircraft failed to bomb. The main raid was highly destructive, with the Pathfinders marking in clear weather conditions.
This was the last RAF raid on Cologne, subsequently captured by American troops four days later.

4.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wanne-Eickel
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
Same Crew

6.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Salzbergen
Lancaster MK.III PB418 AA-C
F/L S. Cowen takes over position of Flight Engineer from Peter Carrie

7/8.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dessau
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
Sgt. Carrie returns as Flight Engineer
Sgt. Crossfield swaps to Mid Upper Gunner position and Sgt. Benson takes over Rear Gunner position

11.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Essen
Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J
Same crew

A milestone was reached on the Essen Op, when the largest number of aircraft sent to any target so far in the war, took place with the dispatch of 1,079 aircraft to Essen. The force comprised 750 Lancasters (21 ex 75 Sqn), 293 Halifaxes and 36 Mosquito’s from all bomber Groups. Only three Lancasters were lost.
4,661 tons of bombs were dropped through complete cloud cover on Oboe-directed sky- markers. It was an accurate attack and the resulting devastation virtually paralysed Essen until American troops entered the city some time later.

12.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J
Same crew

Following on from the previous day’s record force of 1,079 aircraft to Essen, the area-raid on Dortmund by 1,108 aircraft from all Groups established  a new record that would stand till the end of the war. Three aircraft types were again involved; 748 Lancasters, (21 ex 75 Sqn), 292 Halifaxes and 68 Mosquito’s. Two Lancasters were lost.
A record 4,851 tons of bombs was dropped through cloud by the force. The only report from this unfortunate city indicated that the attack fell mainly in the central and southern districts. An investigation conducted after the war on the effects of the bombing stated that, ‘ . . . The final raid stopped production so effectively that it would have been many more months before any substantial recovery could have taken place . . . ‘

14.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Heinrich Hutte
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
Same crew

27.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Hamm
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
Same crew

09/10.4.45. Gardening Ops – Mining, Kiel Bay
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
Same crew

14/15.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Potsdam (Berlin)
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
Same crew

This was the first raid by Bomber Command four-engined aircraft in the Berlin defence zone since March 1944. This time the approach across parts of Germany recently captured by Allied troops led to only one Lancaster being lost – shot down by a night- fighter.

It was also the last raid of the war by a major Bomber Command force on a German city. The aiming point was the center of Potsdam and the intention was to destroy the local army barracks, and the railway system. The raid was successful and severe damage was caused not only in Potsdam, but also in northern and eastern districts of Berlin.

20.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Regensburg
Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F
F/L S. Cowen replaces Peter again as F/E
P/O Lukins & crew, found it unnecessary to drop their smoke-puff. Their bombs were observed bursting on the railway junction south of the A/P and north of the river.

A daylight op of 100 Lancasters of 3 Group, including 20 from 75(NZ) Squadron, were detailed to carry out attacks on the fuel- storage depot at Regensburg, on the Danube, 7 miles east of the Czechoslovakia/ German border. It was an accurate raid with only one aircraft lost.

This was the last raid in the current campaign against German oil targets, waged since June 1944. Much of Bomber Command’s effort during this period, sometimes at considerable loss, has been devoted to these oil operations helping not only the Allied ground forces on the Western front, but also those fighting in Italy and on the Eastern front.

22.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Bremen Daylight op
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
W/O V. Peplow replaces Peter as Flight Engineer
PB418, P/O Lukins & crew, observed their bomb bursts on the A/P (Aiming Point) while in good formation. Then their starboard engine failed.

22.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Bremen
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
W/O V. Peplow in as Flight Engineer

3.5.45. Operation Manna –  Supply drop at The Hague
Lancaster Mk.I NN773 AA-G
No Mid Upper Gunners flew on this Op.
P/O R. Fairbairn replaces Peter as Flight Engineer

The aircraft detailed for this Op were airborne Mepal at or about 11.20hrs.
 A total of 50 supply packs were carried – 25 for Delft and 25 for The Hague. 
Crews had no difficulty identifying the targets at each dropping zone. Of the 10 packs dropped, 4 hung up. The packs contained an undisclosed number of food bags many of which fell free of the packs and burst open on impact. One of these bags contained flour which burst in mid-air. Other bags falling directly on the white cross, broke open scattering the contents.
Fewer people than on previous days were now turning up, but they still were enthusiastic in their praise for the aid. At one drop zone, crews noted the field appeared to be guarded by soldiers.
In general, all crews reported well-concentrated dropping of supplies taking place.
The 10 aircraft returned to base safely on completion of the task, landing between 13.24 – 1359hrs.

7.5.45. Operation Manna –  Supply dropping, Delft
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
Sgt. Peter Carrie returns to the crew as Flight Engineer
LAC Waldock as Passenger

This was the largest number of 75(NZ) Squadron Lancasters detailed for supply dropping to the starving people of Holland, in this series of humanitarian aid operations.

10.4.45. Operation Exodus – Prisoner Repatriation from Juvincourt, France
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-R
F/O David Jones replaces Duncan Ross as Air Bomber
F/L Owen joins the crew as Flight Engineer

5 Squadron aircraft were detailed for the evacuation of 336 ex Prisoners of War from Juvincourt to RAF Ford.

12.5.45. Operation Exodus – Prisoner Repatriation from Juvincourt, France
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
F/L Fuller replaces F/O Jones in Air Bombers position

15 Lancasters were detailed for the operation in which 360 Prisoners of War were returned home. The total to-date was 1,224.

15.5.45. Operation Exodus – Prisoner Repatriation from Juvincourt, France
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
F/S A. Griffiths takes Air Bombers position

24.5.45. Operation Exodus – Repatriation of Belgian refugees to Brussels and Prisoners of War to England
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
F/S Duncan Ross returns in Air Bombers position

Just two aircraft were made available, not only for the return of Prisoners of War but also for repatriation of Belgian Refugees to Brussels. The aircraft departed from RAF Waterbeach, England with 20 refugees – 10 on each aircraft. After offloading their Belgian passengers at Brussels, each crew then took on board 12 Prisoners of War for the return journey to England. This brought the number of POW’s returned home by the squadron to 2,219.

26.5.45. Operation Exodus – Repatriation of Belgian Refugees to Belgium and Prisoners of War to England
Lancaster Mk.I NN747 AA-D
F/L Lukins & crew, had a minor taxiing mishap while at Brussels, damaging the wing. Their planned uplift of 24 ex Prisoners therefore had to be cancelled.

That days operation completed 75(NZ) Squadron’s contribution to Operation Exodus. Between 9 May and 26 May 1945, 134 sorties were flown during which 2,354 Ex Prisoners of War were repatriated to England and 152 Belgian refugees to Brussells.

8.6.45. Viewing the Effects of Bombing
Lancaster Mk.I RE510 ‘E’

I know Kerry would love to find out more about his Grandfather and given that the majority of the crew, being RAF, only currently exist as first initials, so would I. If you know anything about the boys that flew with Peter Carrie and Bernard Lukins, as always, please get in touch……

Clasp award

Presentation of Bomber Command Clasp to Peter Carrie by General Sir Redmond Watt, KCB KCVO CBE DL on the 23rd of April 2014. © Peter Carrie/ Kerry Major

The citation at the awarding of Peter’s Bomber Command clasp was as follows:
“We are here today to mark a significant event in the life of In-Pensioner Peter Carrie.  Peter has the distinction of having served with both the Army from 1934 – 1940 and the RAF from 1943 – 1946.  After much public pressure to recognise those who bravely set out from bases all along the east coast across France and Germany on perilous missions, the Bomber Command clasp was finally instituted in 2013.  To that end, Peter is the only Chelsea Pensioner to qualify for such an award.
Peter was as a Flight Engineer on many Lancaster bombing missions,including those on Hamburg and Wesel.  He served with 75 (NZ) Squadron, which was constantly engaged against Germany from 1940 to VE day.  According to statistics, this squadron flew more sorties than any other Allied heavy bomber squadron.  It suffered the second highest casualties of all the Allied squadrons, and dropped the second largest weight of bombs of any Allied squadron.Miraculously Peter and his crew members made it safely home following each mission, although on many occasions his aircraft was hit by enemy flack and even lost the occasional engine.  
Some 55,000 Airmen who served with Bomber Command were killed during wartime raids and Peter can testify to losing many friends and colleagues on these daring missions.  He will be the first to say that he was no hero and saw his brave feats as just part of his job, however his modesty belies a man of integrity and immense courage in the face of such danger”.

Francis Max McKenzie, Pilot – killed 23rd June 1943, on return from Mülheim

IMG_20140411_100209 fxd

P/O Francis Max McKenzie, posing in front of a Stirling, possibly when he was with 75(NZ) Squadron at Newmarket. © Nesta Ward

Many thanks to Nesta for passing on these images and accompanying information on Max McKenzie, Pilot of Stirling Mk.III BK810, AA-G who was killed on the 23rd June 1943, whilst returning from a raid on Mülheim. After being first hit by flak, then attacked by a night-fighter, all the crew managed to successfully bail out apart from Max and the Air Bomber, Jack Blank. Regular readers might recall a post a made in January, after being contacted by Benny, the Founder and Chairman of ‘Planehunters‘, an aircraft recovery team in Belgium, who had found the crash site of BK810. You can read this original post here.

Subsequent to this initial contact, I made contact with Nesta, whose Father’s Brother was Max McKenzie. After her Father died, her Mother subsequently married the Rear Gunner of BK810, Eric McGonigal. The testaments of those who survived that night, form the following  account of the loss of Max McKenzie, Jack Blank and BK810.


Max McKenzie with his Canadian buddy Freddy Piper who also did not survive the war. Taken probably during training, at No.11 O.T.U. RAF Westcott. © Nesta Ward


The fledgling McKenzie crew taken whilst training at No.11 Operational Training Unit. From left to right – A.E West – navigator, B.H. Broadhead- wireless operator, Eric McGonigal- rear gunner, Jack Blank – Bomb aimer, Jim Chrystal- mid upper gunner.© Nesta Ward

On June 22 1943, at 23.35 Pilot Francis Max McKenzie ( known as Max) and his crew of six left Newmarket airfield, Cambridgeshire on their fourth operation. They were flying a Short Stirling Bomber Mk.III BK810 AA-G.

Five hundred and fifty seven Allied aircraft lumbered into the sky that night at precise intervals, heading for the German city of Mulheim, an important centre for the steel industry and a major rail outlet from the Ruhr to southern Germany. It was to be another massive raid in the Battle of the Ruhr involving 242 Lancasters, 155 Halifaxes, 93 Stirlings, 55 Wellingtons and 12 Spitfires. Once over target, according to those who returned that night, the Pilots were looking through a thin layer of stratus cloud on to a spectacular scene of hundreds of search lights massed in cones. Flames and smoke rose to hundreds of feet.

On their third operation four nights previously, Max and his crew had to return with their load of bombs from a raid over Le Creusot because they could not identify their target. But this night over Mulheim, their bombs dropped into a hellish inferno. With their mission accomplished Max made a right curve to reach a position of 5125N, 0630,0 in the vicinity of Huls am Niederrhein, heading towards Nooordwijk.

Suddenly they were hit by flak. Within minutes the crew had the fire under control. Max continued to fly on course. Nearby, Hauptmann Wilhelm Herghet, a German fighter pilot slipped underneath the Stirling and fired his 20mm guns into the wings, which contained the fuel tanks. With a blazing wing and loss of power, Max gave the order to bail out. He held the plane on course till he thought everyone had jumped. The last crew member to leave the plane saw Max struggling to leave his seat. The blazing plane crossed the border into The Netherlands and crashed at Oostrum, just west of Venray at 0210.

Young Jack, the bomb aimer, died after the jump from the plane; no one knows exactly how he died. The rest of the crew, navigator Sgt. Albert West,  Rear Gunner Sgt. Eric McGonigal, Mid Upper  Gunner Sgt. R G Chrystal,  Flight Engineer  Sgt. R.A. Triptree and Wireless Operator Sgt. Basil Broadhead survived the parachute jump.

Eric McGonigal evaded capture for two weeks. He hid in fields by day, foraging for food at night. He was desperate enough to eat green potatoes.The Germans captured him while he was crossing a hump backed bridge-  with his head down  he slowly reached the top and discovered them coming up the other side. Under great pressure, he was interrogated, stripped of his uniform and gear before being sent to a POW camp.

For the rest of his life Eric knew great fear when seeing anyone in uniform- even though he knew this to be completely irrational.

Sgt B M Broadbent evaded capture longer but was caught in Apeldoorn.

POW Camps
Sgt A. E. West – POW Camp 357               Kopernihus / Germany
Sgt E.W. McGonigal POW Camp 357       Kopernihus / Germany
Sgt R.A Triptree POW Camp 357              Kopernihus / Germany
Sgt Y.R. G Chrystal POW Camp L6            Luft 6 Heydenhrug
Stg B.M Broadbent POW Camp  UB         Muhlber /  Elbe

Until 2012 the McKenzie family assumed that Pilot  Max McKenzie had gone down with the plane. But the release of a local Dutch policeman’s ‘Proces-Verbal’ in 2007, after official documents were declassified , told a different story. He witnessed the bomber coming over and subsequently crashing. He found Max’s body with his parachute, lying one kilometre from the wreckage. Max had managed to get out  but the altitude was too low to save his life. Thirty- five allied aircraft did not make it home that night and 198 men lost their lives, this included 4 aircraft and 23 airmen from 75(NZ) Squadron. In Mulheim and Oberhausen 578 people died and 1174 people were injured. Sixty- four percent of Mulheim was destroyed.

MAx comped portrait and gate

P/O Francis Max McKenzie, RNZAF NZ41244. Killed on the 23rd June 1943, age 26. © Nesta Ward



Bootle Cemetery – Aircrew headstone recorded

Warner John crpd

Many thanks to Kath for finding the time to go to Bootle Cemetery for me to record the gravestone of Sgt John Albert Warner RAFVR 220933, Rear Gunner with the Kinross crew. Stirling Mk.III EF163 JN-L was one of 4 aircraft from the Squadron that took off to lay sea mines around the Frisian Islands on the 16th December 1943. The aircraft, Piloted by P/O Colin John Kinross (RNZAF NZ417069) crashed at Bedinghams Farm, 2 fields north west of the farm buildings, in Sutton, Cambridgeshire, in part through bad visibility and also, it is theorised, a hung up mine, that may have effected the aircraft’s centre of gravity.

Colin and his Navigator and Air Bomber, F/O Ralph Francis Jenkin (RNZAF NZ416119) and  F/S Ronald Harry Emmerson (RAAF AUS.410330) lay in the Cambridge Cemetery.

Sgt Raymond Askew (RAFVR 1477972), Flight Engineer rests in  Seaton Hirst (St John) Churchyard Ashington, Sgt Willis Arthur Savage (RAF 1503913), the crew’s  Wireless Operator lays in Pendelbury (St. John) Churchyard.

The Mid Upper Gunner, Sgt. S. Newman, survived the crash, injured.

Newmarket Cemetery – Aircrew headstones recorded

Newmarket Cemetery CWWG PlotOnce again, many thanks for his continuing efforts regarding the contribution of gravestone images for the Roll of Honour – having already provided Cambridge and Feltwell cemeteries, he has now added Newmarket to the list.


FRANKLIN Welch Lawrence Whitcombe

On the night of the 16th December 1942 nine Stirling bombers of the Squadron were detailed to undertake a Gardening Op off Bordeaux.

The surface wind at Newmarket around take off time was fluctuating and tending toward crosswind. Then it backed severely so that the flare path was downwind. During take-off at 21.45hrs, the first three aircraft swung badly on take off, but this was promptly rectified and they became airborne.

The next Stirling due to take off, R9245, Piloted by Sgt. Benjamin Franklin, was subjected to the  same wind effect causing it to swing dangerously, but Sgt. Franklin kept power on to counter it and continued the take-off attempt. The aircraft became airborne briefly but crashed a mile away from the airfield. Two mines exploded and all the crew were killed.The remaining aircraft, due  to take off were grounded.

It was later established that the starboard undercarriage had hit Devil’s Dyke (a mound around the perimeter of Newmarket airfield) and broke off the oil tank to the starboard inner engine, causing it to seize and turning the aircraft into the ground.

The other 3 members of the crew, Sgt Edgar William Harvey RNZAF NZ41902 is buried Lakenham (St. John the Baptist and All Saints) Churchyard, Sgt Tom Pascoe RAFVR 1308491 rests in Ashburton (St. Andrew) Churchyard Extension and Sgt Eric James Burbridge RAFVR 1392526 lays in Wandsworth and Streatham Cemetery, Surrey.


WALSH Moffatt Reddiclife Curtis Stuart

Nine Stirlings were dispatched on the 9th April 1943 from Newmarket to attack targets at Duisburg. On return, a brief wireless message was received from Stirling Mk.III BK770. This short distress signal was all that was heard from the aircraft. A ground report was later received advising an aircraft had crashed at Valley Farm, Bressingham, Norfolk. Soon after impact an explosion was observed and the aircraft burst into flames. None of the crew survived. BK770 was the first Mk.III Stirling to be lost by 75(NZ) Squadron.

The remaining 2 members of the crew, Sgt John William Scudder RAFVR1291875 is buried in Streatham Park Cemetery and Sgt Jack Herbert Worthington RAFVR 574819 rests in Worthing (Durrington) Cemetery Sussex.


Harvey JOHNSTON,Clubb

Nine aircraft were sent to attack targets at Duisburg on the night of 13th May 1943. The Stirling Mk.III BK721, captained by S/L Edward Robert Myddleton Appleton, suffered a starboard inner engine failure during take off. The resulting loss of power prevented the aircraft from gaining the necessary speed and more crucially height and it collided with the earth mound round the airfield  perimeter – the  ‘Devil’s Dyke’ before crashing a short distance from the NW end of the runway, killing all crew members except the Squadron Leader Appleton and the Wireless Operator F/S Stanley Cocks, who were both badly injured.

The remainder of the crew, not buried in Newmarket Cemetery are, Sgt James Samuel Andrews RAFVR 634968, buried Guilford Cemetery, Surrey, Sgt Bernard Arthur Riley Moore RAFVR 1106308 rests in Cheltenham Cemetery and Sgt Joseph Wykes RAFVR 1127228 lays in Dalbeattie Cemetery, Urr, Kirkcubrightshire.


Stockport Crematorium – Aircrew panel recorded

Duke John Lawrence

Many thanks to Neil for visiting Stockport Crematorium for me, to record the engraved panel for Sgt John Lawrence Duke RAFVR 2210530 who died of his injuries 2 days after the crash of Lancaster Mk.I ME450 AA-W, on its return from a raid on Dortmund. The aircraft returned with the rest of the Squadron and was seen flying in formation over Mepal, but for some unknown reason crashed soon after, very close to Chatteris gasworks. The crash killed 5 of the 7 crew.

The Navigator and Air Bomber, Sgt George William McManus (RAFVR 1806217)  and F/S Joseph McKenzie Alfred (RAFVR 1810280), respectively lay in Cambridge Cemetery. The crew’s Pilot, F/O Noel Humphrey Thorpe (RNZAF NZ428168) is buried in Ilford (Barkingside) Cemetery, Essex, Sgt Frederick Henry Saffill (RAFVR 1882066) the Mid Upper Gunner, rests in Maldon Cemetery, Essex.

Aabenraa Cemetery, Denmark – Aircrew headstones recorded


Many thanks to David for recording the gravestones of the 75(NZ) Squadron airmen who rest in Aabenraa Cemetery in Denmark on his recent visit with his Father, John McFarland and other family members, to remember his crew mates that were lost on the 18th of April 1944 and now rest in Gram Churchyard.

SAWTELL, Arthur Hartley

On the evening of the 24th of January 1944 15 Stirling bombers took off from Mepal on a Gardening Op to Kiel bay. All aircraft returned except for Stirling Mk.III EH948, Piloted by Harold Bruhns. The only body recovered was that of the Mid Upper Gunner F/S Arthur Hertley Sawtell RAAF AUS.417521, who was aged 19. The rest of the crew are remembered at the Runynmede Memorial in Surrey:

P/O Harold Henry Bruhns RNZAF NZ42367      age 22
Sgt Eric Arthur Wilkes RAFVR 1575513               age 22
F/S Laurie Licence Butler RNZAF NZ421672      age 22
Sgt Robert Ewen Hall RAFVR 1392121                age 25
Sgt James William Harry RAFVR 1601839          age 20
Sgt Woolf Jack Summers RAFVR 1395702         age 22


LAMMAScrew full comp

On the evening of the 23rd of April 1944, 5 Stirling Mk.III bombers left Mepal to carry out a Gardening Op in the Keil Bay area. One aircraft had to return early owing to engine trouble and one,  Stirling Mk.III EF137 AA-E failed to return. This aircraft, Piloted by F/S Mauson Lammas RNZAF was outbound to target when it was attacked by a German night fighter believed to have been piloted by Oberfeldwebel Rudolf Frank of 3./NJG 3. A fire started and a little later the bomber disintegrated in the air and fell in the sea off Vemmenæs at 23:20 hours killing the whole crew.

On the 24th at 03:42 it was reported by The Civil Air Defence that 3 bodies had been found. One had been found in the sea while two had fallen to their death in the fields.
At 09:15 it was reported that 7 bodies had been found. Two were found in the sea, one in some scrub near the beach while Tail gunner Larson was found in his turret.

To read an earlier post about the Lammas crew, click here.