Thanks as always to Chris for keeping the posts going whilst I struggle to stay on top of things and now have to turn my attention the the start of a new year at University. This post is equally frustrating and exciting – the first of the 2 pictures, as Chris notes later on, I have also seen before and I am sure when and or wherever I saw it, that it was captioned as well – which makes the arrival of this post doubly infuriating! The second photograph I have never seen before, so hopefully we might be able to add names and a story to the boys in the picture, as always, fingers crossed………
These two wonderful crew photos come from the NCBCA archives, and in both cases, the story behind the photo, and identity of the crews have been lost.
Any help in identifying them will be greatly appreciated by Peter Wheeler, the NZBCA archivist.
The first, above, has the staged look of a newspaper shot, as the crew members, perhaps sitting on the back of a truck, study some round objects, with a JN-coded Lancaster parked behind. The Pilot (right) appears to have Squadron Leader’s stripes and a DFC ribbon.
My theory was that this is S/L Nick Williamson, DFC (RNZAF) and his crew, around the time that they made the very first heavy bomber landing in France after D-Day, on a fighter strip in the Normandy beach-head on 30 June 1944. They were flying ND917, JN-O back from Villers Bocage, when they put down, possibly at Plumetot, in order to seek medical aid for his flight engineer, who had been wounded by flak.
The round objects look to me like they could be camembert cheese boxes (one of the crew seems to have removed the lid while another looks at it or smells it?). Perhaps they had picked up souvenirs from their sortie into France?
The Pilot looks a bit like Williamson, going by another photo that I have seen, however he doesn’t have the “New Zealand” shoulder flashes, which Williamson would have worn. So that probably shoots down my theory.
So who are they, and what was the occasion?
The second photo, is a very interesting one in that it shows the rear gunner’s turret in detail, and G-H stripes on the inside of the tail fin:
This photo came from P/O Jack Meehan, Wireless Operator with the Glossop crew, 22 Jul to 24 Dec 1944, however he can’t remember who the individuals are or how he came into possession of the photo.
And I’m sure I have seen at least one of these faces before, but I can’t remember where.
Again, anyone who recognises the photo, or an individual, please let us know and help the NZBCA fill in the gaps in their information, and re-establish the provenance of these historic pictures.
Thanks very much, and thanks, as always, to Peter Wheeler for permission to publish these photos.