Request for Information. James Allison McConnell, Pilot – 1942

Many thanks to Robin for contacting me regarding his Great Uncle, James McConnell, who flew with the Squadron as a Pilot for a tragically short period in late 1942, before being killed along with the rest of his crew on a raid on Milan in October of 1942.

Interestingly, the ORB’s throw up the fact that after Skippering his crew for their first Op, Jim flew as 2nd Pilot on their second Op, Gerald Jacobson being listed as the Pilot for the Aachen Op.

As I have remarked on previous posts from this earlier period of the War, it seems a little like a room I am still unfamiliar with. I am pleased to say that the Op history for the McConnell crew benefits from my continuing advances with the Squadron database and now that I am in these ORB’s, my familiarity with names and crews is increasing.

If anybody has a copy of the 1942 Chorley, I’d be grateful if someone could look up this crews last Op – to Milan on the 24th of October – working through the crews later Operational flights, there seems to be a number of inaccuracies in the recording of their Wellington, which I actually believe to be BK725. The 1942 ORB seems to occasionally describe this aircraft incorrectly as BJ752. Looking on the web, I was slightly puzzled to see references to BK725 as being an aircraft from 90 Squadron. I’d also like to know it’s designator letter.

As with all of these sorts of posts, I’d love to think we might here from a relative of another member of the crew and Robin might be able to learn a little about his Great Uncle, Jim McConnell……..

30/09/1942 – Operations. Gardening off Terschelling
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation, 1500lb vegetables were successfully planted. A convoy was seen at the garden which was machine gunned. Light A.A. fire was encountered, no enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was fine with patches of thick haze. Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III X.3747 AA-? (3)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonki, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:35 – Landed 23:10
Flight Time 03:35

05/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Aachen
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 30lb. and 4lb. incendiaries were dropped in the target area, large fires were seen in built up area, which appeared to spread between MAASTRICH and AACHEN. Heavy and Light A.A. fire was moderate, with a few scattered searchlights. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather over target was good with slight ground haze. Navigation was by D.R. T.R. and visual.

SONY DSC

Extract from Howard Jacobson’s logbook showing the flight with the McConnell crew on the 8th of October to Aachen. © Denis Jacobson

Wellington Mk.III X.3747 AA-? (5)

P/O Gerald Howard Jacobson, RNZAF NZ41333 – Pilot.
Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 01:40
Flight Time 06:20

06/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Osnabruck
Fourteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4,000 lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Scattered fires were seen, flares were lighting up the whole area. Considerable light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered. Searchlights were numerous and operating mainly in cones. The weather was good with low cloud and slight haze at target area. Navigation was good bt D.R. , T.R. visual, pinpoints, loop and fixes. Wellington DF639 captained by Sgt. Rhodes G.W. failed to return.

Wellington Mk.III X.3747 AA-? (6)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 00:45
Flight Time 05:40

08/10/1942 – Operations. Gardening off Ile De Groix
Two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. mines were successfully planted in the allotted area by one of our aircraft – the other aircraft returned early owing to failiure of electrical equipment. No A.A. fire, searchlights or enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was fine, navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III X.3747  AA-? (1)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:50 – Landed 20:05
Flight Time 01:15

09/10/1942 – Operations. Gardening off East Frisian Islands
Seven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. vegetables were planted in the allotted area. No A.A. fire was encountered, one searchlight was seen to be sweeping the sea in the area. 10/10th. Cloud was over the allotted area, visibility was poor. Navigation was by D.R., T.R. loops, fixes and map reading.

Wellington Mk.III X.3747 AA-? (8)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:05 – Landed 22:30
Flight Time 04:25

13/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Kiel
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4,000 lb and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Large fires were seen particularly on West side of Fiord. Light, medium and heavy A.A. fire was encountered over a large area, searchlights were also seen on the way to the target. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was clear, with no cloud over the target, visibility was good by the light of flares. Navigation was D.R, T.R. visual and pin-points. Wellington X3954 captained by Sergt. Watters failed to return. Wellington BJ837 captained by Sergt. Davey crashed at R.A.F. Station Lakenheath on return owing to shortage of petrol, four of the crew were injured. All taking part considered this to be a very successful raid.

Wellington Mk.III BK.725 AA-? (1)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:20 – Landed 01:00
Flight Time 06:40

15/10/1942 – Activities of “A” Flight at Mildenhall. Operations. Attacks Against Targets at Cologne
Seven aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb loads of 4lb. incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Large files were seen, which clearly lit up the town on both sides of the river. Several dummy fires were seen, light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered, searchlights were numerous but poorly predicted. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. There was no cloud and visibility was good, except for slight ground haze. Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III BK.725 AA-? (2)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 00:05
Flight Time 04:45

23/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Genoa
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 1,000 lb. 500lb. and 250lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area, some aircraft claimed to have also bombed Savona. A few light A.A guns and one or two searchlights were encountered. No combats took place. The cloud base at target was down to 3 to 4,000 feet. The aircraft came below this cloud to bomb. Navigation was good by D.R., T.R., loops and fixes.

Wellington Mk.III BK.725 AA-?  (3)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:15 – Landed 03:25
Flight Time 09:10

24/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Milan
Five aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 1,000lb. 500lb. 250lb and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Some slight A.A. fire was encountered, cloud stopped searchlight activity. No combats with enemy aircraft took place. 10/10ths cloud from the French Coast to the target made identification of the target difficult. Navigation was difficult owing to cloud preventing the use of Astro. Wellington Z1652 captained by Sergt. Hugill and Wellington BK725 captained by Sergt. McConnell failed to return.

Wellington Mk.III BK.725 AA-? (4)

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock, RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.

Aircraft failed to return – Missing

5 aircraft from 75(NZ) Squadron RAF took off from Mildenhall between approximately 5 minutes to and 5 minutes past 7 on the evening of the 24th of October to join a force of  71 aircraft on an attack on Milan. As the ORB for the Op records, the force hit bad weather as soon as they reached the French Coast on the outbound leg and this persisted to the target. Little information about the raid can be garnered from the Squadron documents, though it appears to be a matter of record that all of the Squadron’s aircraft bombed the target.

In the absence of raid map, one must therefore conjecturise that the McConnell crew were bought down over France on the return leg of the Op. Records identify the crew was bought down by ‘enemy action’ at St. Roch, Valenciennes, approximately 25 miles North East of Cambrai. All of the crew were killed in the crash and were buried at Valenciennes (St.Roch) Communal Cemetery, France.

Sgt. James Allison McConnell, RNZAF NZ414646 – Pilot.
Died age 21.

Sgt. Selwyn Clarence Smith, RNZAF NZ41952 – Navigator.
Died age 29.

Sgt. Douglas Noel Tonkin, RNZAF NZ413285 – Wireless Operator .
Died age 22.

Sgt. Arthur Quinn, RAFVR 1095594 – Front Gunner .
Died age 21.

Sgt. Vallance Albert Oliver Dimock , RNZAF NZ412317 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 22.

 

3 thoughts on “Request for Information. James Allison McConnell, Pilot – 1942

  1. Reg Mulder

    With regard to your question about first skipper and the second Op as CoPilot: the first Op was gardening of the coast, the second an attack over enemy territory. I could be interesting to verify if we have other cases where gardening (a relatively easy target) is preceding more difficult Ops where a more experienced skipper takes control

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  2. Kevin King

    I have been contacted by Bernard Feutry in France. He is researching aircraft and crews that crashed in his area. He is researching BJ726 captained by A J McConnell. He would like to make contact with family members of the crew. He can be contacted at
    bfcp77@orange.fr
    Kevin

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