Arthur George Smith, Mid Upper Gunner – Crawford crew, 1944 – 1945

ND 801 002wm

From Form 541 75(NZ) Squadron RAF 03.2.45. Attack Against Dortmund “Aircraft crashed on landing. Pilot, Nav, W/Operator, Engineer and A/Bomber injured and in hospital. Prt. Outr. Failed prior to reaching target and overshot on landing. Camera completely wrecked”. © Pauline Whittall

Many thanks to Pauline for contacting me regarding her Father, Arthur George ‘Mike’ Smith, Mid Upper Gunner with Bruce Crawford’s crew. As is often the case when a relative contacts me about a member of aircrew who served with the RAF, its an opportunity to add a christian and usually a middle name to the usual initials that exist within the RAF records for the Squadron. In addition to this small but nevertheless important extra piece of information that Pauline has supplied, she has also provided an additional and I believe, a significant new piece of information relating to the Lancasters that flew with the Squadron.

It has always been a considerable frustration, relative to other blogs and websites on other bomber squadrons, that the record of names and nose art for 75(NZ) Squadron aircraft seems to be so scant. Well, it would appear that we have a new one to add to our list – Lancaster Mk.III ND801 JN-X ‘Get Sum Inn’ – the nose art seems to be a flag, the vertical pole clearly visible, but on closer inspection there also seems to be a horizontal bar with ties to the top of the flag. In the bottom left hand corner, its difficult to see if there is a small additional detail or perhaps just damage to the nose art owing to the crash. Additionally, its interesting to note 2 other things, firstly ND801 had racked up 85 Ops (perhaps this was number 86) and also that the bomb tallies clearly are made up of darker and lighter bomb silhouettes – I will stick my neck out at this point and hazard a guess that these possibly distinguish daylight and night Ops…..

The Crawford crew arrived at Mepal on the 21st of December 1944, from No.31 Base. 6 days later Roderick Crawford, the skipper, flew a familiarisation Op with Wylie Wakelin’s crew.

27.12.44 War Ops – Attack Against Rheydt.
F/L Wylie Wakelin and crew
Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M
P/O Roderick Crawford as 2nd Pilot.

The following day, the Crawford crew undertook their first Op.

28.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Gremburg Marshalling Yards/ Cologne
Lancaster Mk III PB132 AA-X
F/O Roderick Bruce Crawford RNZAF NZ427551. Pilot
Sgt. Francis Geoffrey Boulton RAFVR. Navigator
Sgt. C. Bullock RAFVR. Air Bomber
Sgt. D. Scott RAFVR. Wireless Operator
Sgt. R. Allred RAFVR. Flight Engineer
Sgt. Arthur George Smith RAFVR. Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. J. Tutty RAFVR. Rear Gunner

29.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Koblenz
Lancaster Mk.I LM733 AA-R
Same crew

31.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
Same crew

3.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmynd Oil Refinery
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L
Same crew

5.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Ludwigshafen
Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D
Same crew

6.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Neuss
Lancaster Mk.I PB761 AA-Y
Same crew

7.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Munich
Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M
Same crew

11.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Krefeld
Lancaster Mk.I NG447 AA-T
Sgt. Scott is replaced by an airman, whose name is indecipherable from the Form541 records

13.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Saarbrucken.
Sgt. Bullock flies with Zinzan crew as A/B
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L

15.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Langendreer
Lancaster Mk.I NG447 AA-T
F/S C. Pratt Replaces flies with the crew as Wireless Operator – perhaps this is the same individual who flew the 11th of January Op to Krefeld with the crew.

16.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Sgt. Scott returns to crew as Wireless Operator

28.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Cologne/Gremberg
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Same crew

29.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Krefeld marshalling yards
Lancaster Mk.I ME450 AA-W
Same crew

1.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against München Gladbach
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Same crew

2.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wiesbaden
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Same crew

3.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk III ND801 JN-X
Same crew

From ORB Form 541
No report. Aircraft crashed on landing. Pilot, Nav, W/Operator, Engineer and A/Bomber injured and in hospital. Prt. Outr. Failed prior to reaching target and overshot on landing. Camera completely wrecked.’

ND 801 001

The inevitable destruction caused by a Lancaster when crash landing. Pauline, Arthur’s daughter comments ‘Apparently it ran into the garden of the houses at the end of the runway and killed the chickens in the hen house’. © Pauline Whittall

ND 801 003

The final image showing confirmation of identity – ND801 JN-X. © Pauline Whittall

Additionally:
F/O Crawford & crew lost power in their port-outer engine just prior to reaching the target but completed their attack before returning home on three engines. However, on landing back at base at 21.47hrs, the aircraft undershot the approach and crashed heavily on the airfield. The Pilot, Nav, W/op, Engineer and Air Bomber all received injuries and were hospitalised‘.

It is difficult from the above description to understand the exact injuries listed to all of the crew except the gunners. One must assume all were relatively serious. Going through the Form 541 for the rest of 1945, there appears to have been the odd fill in for Sgt. Tutty and  Arthur – however, particularly in Arthur’s case, with a name as common as Smith, in places his apparent presence on a crew list might be a typo. The Ops that might have included the 2 Crawford crew gunners are as follows and includes a commentary where appropriate. Their absence from regular Ops or even their arrival in new crews is perhaps not unusual, given by this point in the War, the Squadron was essentially ‘double crewed’ in each flight – as such, even if an airman wanted an Op it might have been difficult to find a space to fill………

8.3.45. War Ops – Attack on Dattlen
Lancaster Mk.I RF127 AA-W
Vernon Zinzan crew
Sgt. J. Tutty Rear Gunner.

9.3.45. War Ops – Attack on Dattlen
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
Ronald Russell crew
Sgt. A. Smith Rear Gunner.

20.3.45. War Ops – Attack on Hamm Marshalling Yards
Lancaster Mk.I NF981 JN-K
Ronald Russell crew
Sgt. A. Smith Rear Gunner.

20.3.45. War Ops
– Attack on Hamm Marshalling Yards
Lancaster Mk.I RF157 AA-X
Charlie Stevens crew
Sgt. J. Tutty Rear Gunner.

14.4.45. War Ops – Attack on Potsdam
Lancaster MK.X RF190 AA-F
Bob Milsom crew
A. Smith Rear Gunner*

11.5.45. War Ops – Repatriation of Prisoners of War at Juvincourt
Lancaster MK.X RF190 AA-F
Bob Milsom crew
A. Smith Rear Gunner*
*I suspect these 2 possible Ops are actually typos in the records, especially as the regular Rear Gunner for the Milsom crew was John ‘Ted’ Smith – and that on a subsequent Op Ted is listed as ‘D Smith’.

Perhaps the fitting end to Arthur’s and the Crawford crews story is that it does seem that they finally got to fly again as a crew, albeit without the original Navigator Sgt. Boulton, who we must therefore assume had injuries perhaps too severe to allow him to fly again.

26.5.45 – Viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive
F/O Crawford, R.
P/O McGarry, J.
F/S Bullock, C.
F/S Scott, D.
Sgt. Allred, R.
Sgt. Smith, T.
Sgt. Tutty, J.
S/L Godfrey passenger
LAC Jones Passenger
LAC Baxter Passenger

Form 541 ends after this month, so it is impossible to know if Sgt. Boulton did finally get back to the crew, or if in fact, the Crawford crew ever flew again with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

Given the content of these images, and the discovery of, I believe, a new name and noseart, I would politely request anybody wishing to re-post or re-present these images on the web, please read the copyright section of this blog before doing so.

11 thoughts on “Arthur George Smith, Mid Upper Gunner – Crawford crew, 1944 – 1945

  1. Rosalind Ebbrell

    Hi All,

    I’m so excited I can hardly speak!
    I am Rosalind Ebbrell (nee Boulton), the daughter of Navigator Sgt. F. Boulton RAFVR. Navigator!

    He survived the crash, albeit with a broken neck, and they did indeed return to fly in June 1945 but just looks like small operational flights! I have his log book as proof and some pictures of the crew if you are interested. My Mum Maureen, his widow, is very happy for me to contact you regarding this.

    Dad was recovering in hospital after the crash and I think it was the gunner who managed to rescue the clock he used to use. Believe it or not, it is still working!

    The last date in the log book was 15th July 1945. After then Dad was sent out to India.

    I’m happy to provide copies of his logbook for your records. It would be lovely to get in touch with relatives of the crew if they wish. Dad did keep in touch with the pilot but didn’t manage to get over to NZ to see him.

    Dad sadly died 12 years ago. He would have loved to see this post.

    Kind regards,

    Rosalind Ebbrell (nee Boulton!)

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      1. pfkdogrescue

        The shop belonged to Fred and John Bellairs and stood on the High Street where the estate known as “Bellairs” now stands. According to a friend of mine, mr Sid Gage, who witnessed the remains of the Lanc being loaded onto a “Queen Mary” in the High Street by crane.

        Damage to the property was limited to a chicken shed and the only casualties on the ground were a few chickens. However things could have been very different since he believed that the fully armed aircraft cleared the petrol dump by only six feet before sliding across what is now the school playing field just beyond. !!

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  2. Chris Newey

    I agree pfkdogrescue – sign from a pub or inn, as in “Get Sum Inn” … Simon, you’re working too hard if that connection didn’t automatically spring to mind !

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    Reply
    1. Pauline Whittall (nee Smith)

      You’re welcome for the photos. It’s so nice finding out so much more about Dad’s time in the 75th and the record of his ops in the Crawford Crew is very interesting as part of our family history research. He, like many other servicemen who have lived through wars, did not say a lot about things that happened, he would only talk about the planes and service life in general – he did love the Lancs though.

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      Reply
  3. Averill Thompson nee Crawford

    I have just found all this information on the Crawford crew … Bruce Crawford is my father and I have a lot of info, photos, diaries of his … I haven’t studied all your info yet in depth but I couldnt believe my eyes when I googled dad for another reason Averill

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    Reply
    1. Rosalind Ebbrell, nee Boulton

      Hello Averill, how lovely you found this. My father always spoke highly of Bruce your father.

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      Reply
      1. Lew Crawford

        Thrilled to have found all this information on the Crawford crew! Bruce Crawford was my dad’s brother. A wonderful man I much admired and grateful he survived the war. I can’t provide new information on Bruce but no doubt my cousin Averill will in due course.

        Lew Crawford

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