Daily Archives: May 4, 2014

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

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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.

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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

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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.

Max4

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

Max8

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.