Monthly Archives: October 2014

Basil Broadhead, Wireless Operator, the McKenzie crew – an amazing story

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

A massive thanks to Hub for passing on an amazing story about his father Karel and Basil Broadhead, Wireless Operator with the Max McKenzies crew, one of 5 survivors of the crew, when their Stirling Mk.III BK810 AA-G was first fit by flak, then attacked by a night-fighter over over Holland, whilst returning from a raid on Mülheim on June 23rd 1943.

Regular readers might recall a post I made at the beginning of this year ofter being contacted by Benny, the founder and Chairman of ‘Planehuners’, an aircraft recovery team in Belgium, who had found the crash site of BK810. (read this original post here).

A later post in March of this year contained a significant amount of information about the crew and the night of the crash from Nesta, whose Father’s Brother was Max McKenzie. (this second post can be seen here).

At around the same time I was contacted by Hub – I was amazed to discover that Hub’s Father, Karel had in fact helped Basil Broadhead after the crash and I am no really pleased to present the story of these events that Hub has just completed and sent to me.

The information that relatives now regularly send to me about the boys that flew in the Squadron still amaze me regarding the stoical bravery they showed on a nightly basis, never knowing if they would return. It makes me really proud to now be able to tell a tale of a member of the resistance, whose selfless heroisim in helping allied airmen, essentially signed their own death warrant if ever they were to be caught by the German Gestapo. It humbles me now to understand the appreciation and continuing celebration that the people of Europe show in remembrance of the aircrews that fought to free them.

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Certificate of Appreciation form the Air Chief Marshall of the RAF to Karel, thanking him for his efforts in aiding the escape or evasion of commonwealth forces. © Hub Achten

Afbeelding127

A Certificate of Appreciation from Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America to Karel for his efforts in assisting allied personnel. © Hub Achten

What follows is Hub’s presentation of the individuals and events that started on the 21st June 1943 and that were to involve Basil Broadhead and Karel Achten, his Father.

21/6/43 Halifax HR799 crashed at Klein Oirlo, Castenray.
On June 21st 1943,  20 year old pilot Bill Hickson and his crew left Graveleyn airfield in Halifax II HR799 heading for the German city Krefeld. When dropping markers over Krefeld , HR799 was attacked by a German fighter plane, an ME110. Bill and his crew had to bail out. The parachute of 2nd pilot Henry Krohn didn’t open and he lost his life. Rear Gunner Maxie Brown lost his life as well probably because he was trapped in his turret. Bill struggled through the escape hatch before bailing out and one of his boots hooked and was torn off in the slipstream. The boot was found by Piet Martens and ended up in the private ww2 collection from Wies Peeters out of Broekhuizen. On request the of Bill Hickson’s son, Wies returned the boot to New Zealand and on his 87th birthday, in 2009,  Bill got his boot back.

The burning plane crashed in a hamlet called Klein Oirlo. Four airmen from his crew were captured by the Germans, but Bill was able to evade capture. In his RAF uniform, wearing only one boot and with scorched hair, he was on the run for 6 weeks. In Veulen he ended up at a farm and he talked to the farmer’s wife, Miss van Staveren. He was lucky because it appeared that her son Cor was a member of the resistance. Bill stayed at the farm with the family van Staveren where he was hidden for a while until the Gestapo searched the area and he was forced to move to the shelter in a nearby wood in Oirlo where he met Basil Broadhead from  BK810 who had already been there for a while.

22/6/43 Short Stirling BK810 crashed at Oostrum
On June 22 1943 at 23:35 left from Newmarket airfield in England the Short Stirling Bomber Mk.III BK810 from  75(NZ) Squadron RAF.  BK810 was part of a massive raid  heading for the city of Mulheim in the German Ruhr area. Involved in this bomb attack were 242 lancasters, 155 Halifaxes, 93 Stirlings, 55 Wellingtons and 12 spitfires.

The crew of the BK810 consisted of:
P/O. Francis Max McKenzie, 26, Pilot, 41344, RNZAF
F/Sgt. John Frederick Blank, 20, Bomb aimer, 422175, RNZAF
Sgt. A.E. West, Navigator, 421947, RNZAF.
Sgt. E.W. McGonigal, Rear gunner, 421329, RNZAF.
Sgt. R.A.W. Triptree, Flight engineer, 1323983, RAF.
Sgt. J.R.G. Chrystal, Mid upper gunner, 520430, RAF.
Sgt. B.H. Broadhead, Wireless Operator, 415986, RNZAF.

On their way back they were hit by flak. A fire started but was quickly gotten under control by the crew. Shortly after a German fighter pilot slipped underneath the Stirling and fired his 20 mm guns into the wings , which contained the fuel tanks. With a blazing wing and loss of power,  Pilot Officer Max Mckenzie gave the order to bail out. The blazing plane crossed the Dutch border and crashed at Oostrum at 02:10. Max Mckenzie was the last one of the crew who left the plane – but the altitude was too low for the parachute to save his life. His body with his parachute was found one kilometer away from the crash site. John Blank (20 years old) the Air Bomber, did not survive the jump from the plane. He died after the jump but it is unknown what exactly happened.

Navigator Sgt. A.E. West , Flight Engineer Sgt. R.A.W. Triptree and Upper Gunner Sgt. J.R.G. Chrystal survived the parachute jump but were captured by the Germans and sent to a POW camp.

Rear Gunner Sgt. Eric McGonical evaded capture for 2 weeks. The Germans captured him while he was crossing a bridge. He was desperate enough to eat green potatoes.

Wireless Operator Sgt. Basil Broadhead survived the parachute jump and was helped evading capture by a member of the resistance, pilot helper Karel (Kai) Achten out of a nearby village Oirlo. At first Karel hided Basil in his parents’ house and later on in the woods in Oirlo in an underground shelter. In a letter that Basil sent in 1946 to the family Achten he wrote; “I remember the hole in the wood very well”. Later on Basil Broadhead got company in the shelter in Oirlo from Bill (William) Hickson, pilot off the Halifax HR799 of the 35th Squadron Pathfinder Force RNZAF. The Halifax crashed in Klein Oirlo, Castenray.

The escape
From the shelter in Oirlo Basil Broadhead and Bill Hickson were put on an underground escape line to Sittard. There was a new escape line organized by the resistance that runs via the Waddenzee where they would be picked up by an English boat. Later on it turned out that this was a trap put up by traitors and the Germans. This betrayal was part of the notorious “England spiel”. Five airmen and two members of the resistance in Sittard were going to escape to England via this new route. In the beginning of august 1943, the airmen Broadhead, Hickson and Brown from New Zealand and the Englishman Evans were transported to a temporary safe house in Tilburg.

The Group was escorted by Harrie Tobben, a member of the Sittard resistance and Harries fiancée, Jet van Oyen. Jet looked like a schoolgirl and carried a Luger pistol in her handbag. At the address in Tilburg they had to wait for further travel instructions. This small house in Tilburg was located at the Diepenstraat where Coba Hulskens lived. It was a shelter for Jews, resistance people and stranded allied aircrew.

Later on Coba was arrested by the Germans and sent to the Concentration Camp Ravensbruck where she was gassed to death.

The time of waiting came to an end with the message that the Group on august 6th 1943 had to travel by train to Apeldoorn where they would be picked up at the train station. Jet van Oyen decided to travel with Harrie through Holland as far as possible to say goodbye. Paul Gulikers, the second member of the resistance who also wanted to escape to England, was traveling via Venlo because he had to pick up the Polish pilot Morski. He would join the travelling group at the train station in Nijmegen.

The capture
After arriving in Apeldoorn the group were met by  resistance members, Vastenhoudt, Jordens and Van Wesemael. Later on it tramspired that they were infiltrated traitors who worked for the Germans. One of them advised Jet van Oyen to travel immediately back to Coba in Tilburg because the travelling was going to be very dangerous. Transportation was arranged to bring the Group “Englandtravellers” to a shelter where they could stay during the night. After arriving, the five airmen and the two members of the resistance, who were hoping, via an escape line from the Waddenzee, to reach England, were taken by surprise and captured by the Germans. The airmen were taken as Prisoners Of War for interrogation to the Abwehr.

The captivity
Basil Broadhead ended up in POW camp “Stalag 4B” near Dresden. After the war he wrote to Karel Achten; “I was there till the end of the war. However it was not so bad there.”

Bill Hickson was sent to the POW camp “Stalag Luft 3”in Sagan, near Berlin. There he helped in preparations for the escape of 76 airmen through a tunnel. Later on this was the subject of a well known movie called “The Great Escape”.

The two members of the resistance, Paul Gulikers and Harrie Tobben, were taken to the “Untersuchungsgefangnis” in Haaren (Holland) where they stayed for 2 months. They were sentenced to death because of their assistance of allied airmen. The death penalty was later reduced to imprisonment in a German prison. They ended up as “nacht und nebel” prisoners in the discipline prison in Hameln Germany. Nacht und Nebel was a special punitive measure to pick up resistance people without legal proceedings and vanish them without leaving a trace. Harrie Tobben did not survive; he died on March 15 1945 of a disease. Paul Guliker returned after the war to Sittard where he died on June 5 1975.

The capture in Apeldoorn of the 5 airmen and the two resistance members was kept secret because the Germans planned to use this escape line to arrest more airmen and members of the resistance.

The people behind the “Englandspiel” arranged a coded message on “Radio Orange” saying that the group arrived safely in England. This was of course not true, but was done so that the resistance did not know they had been betrayed.

On September 30th 1943 Jet van Oyen was arrested at the train station in Eindhoven when she was traveling with a Polish Pilot to Coba in Tilburg. She was sent home in November and after her release tok no further part in the resistance.

Karel (Charles, as Basil Broadhead wrote in his letter) Achten was captured on November 14th 1944 and deported to a work camp near Wuppertal. He came back home in May 1945 in a bad shape and very malnourished. Basil Broadhead wrote about him; I am sorry Charles was arrested but I hope he is all right now .

letter from Basil 1946

A letter from Basil to the Achten family, written on the 28th May 1946. © Hub Achten

 

 

 

Martin Roy Westgarth, Navigator – Brown crew

Sadly I must also announce the passing of another member of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

Also on the 6th of October, Martin Westgarth, Navigator with Des Brown’s crew, passed away. Martin married a WAAF who was stationed at Mepal after he finished his tour and stayed in the UK. Kevin informs me that he believes that Martin was the the last surviving RNZAF member in the UK.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

 

Bill Pridmore, Air Gunner – Blewitt crew

It is with great sadness that I must report the passing of Bill Pridmore, Air Gunner with the Blewett crew who passed away recently on the 6th of October.

Bill was one of 4 members of the crew who survived a crash on the return from the 17th of January 1945 from a raid on Wanne Eickel, claiming the lives of the Pilot, Tim Blewitt,  Johnny Wilson, the Air Bomber and after succumbing to his injuries, the crew’s navigator Bryant Cornell.

Ake Ake KIa Kaha

Maurice Thorogood, Navigator – Martin and McKenna crew 1945

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F/L Maurice Thorogood, Navigator with the Martin and then McKenna crew. With 75(NZ) Squadron RAF from January to July 1945. © Mary Morris

Many thanks to Mary for contacting me regarding her Father, Maurice Thorogood, who was a Navigator with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF between January and July 1945. Maurice arrived, I believe with Wallace Martin’s crew on the 16th January and flew 3 Ops with the crew between the 28th January and the 1st of February. For a reason, which is not clear, it would appear that Wallace Martin left the Squadron early in February, having flown only 3 Ops with his crew.

On the 2nd of February Lawrence McKenna arrived on posting from No.3 L.F.S – having already completed a tour with 101 Squadron and being awarded a D.F.C.

Whatever the specific details of Wallace Martin’s departure from the Squadron, it would appear that Lawrence McKenna essentially took over the ‘headless’ crew and it was this ‘new’ crew with F/L Mckenna as Skipper that completed their tour with the Squadron.

In addition to flying with the McKenna crew, Maurice also flew 2 ops with Wing Commander Mac Baigent. His role seems to have been a lead navigator, providing a new crew with Op experience with Mac Baigent acting as Pilot.

Very interestingly, there also seem evidence of more errors in the Operational Record Book.

On the 16th of May, 26th of May and 22nd June Maurice’s Logbook clearly shows details of 3 Ops that are not, in the first case correctly recorded in the ORB and in the second 2 cases, not recorded at all. These Ops are placed in the Op history, though of course in the absence of a crew list for the second 2 flights, we must assume, based on the relative consistency of the McKenna crew, that the ‘normal’ crew remained unchanged.

Mary has taken the trouble to scan over a series of parts a remarkably detailed Op chart for the 9th of April Op to Kiel and also included for this Op, what I will describe (in ignorance of its proper title) as the Navigation route list for this Op. Both of these documents, thanks to Mary scanning them in parts, means that they are astonishingly detailed and should certainly be clicked on to zoom in and see that detail.

16/01/45
W.R. Martin and crew arrive on Posting from No. 31 Base.

28/01/1945 Attack Against Cologne (Gremberg)
Twenty aircraft attacked Cologne (Gremberg) as ordered, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C. “50 G.P. and Munro bombs. Cloud broke to nil just before the target and crews were able to identify the marshalling yard. Accurate slight to moderate H/F was met over the target. No fighters were seen. Bursts were seen on the marshalling yard. All returned to base.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (41)

P/O Wallace Bassett Martin RAAF AUS.424429 – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood RAFVR 1322861/ 139697 – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent RCAF J.29721 – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy RAAF AUS.423476 – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper RAFVR – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland RAFVR 196611 – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills RAFVR 1445361/ 196610 – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:31 – Landed 16:24
Flight Time 05:53″

29/01/1945 Attack Against Krefeld M/Y
Nineteen aircraft attacked Krefeld marshalling yard in ten tenths cloud, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C., and 250 G.P. Bombs. Aircraft bombed in formation with the aid of instruments. A good concentration was reported. Slight H/F over the target was the only opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (42)

F/O Wallace Bassett Martin – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:25 – Landed 15:49
Flight Time 05:24

01/02/1945 Attack Against Munchen Gladbach
Seventeen aircraft bomber Munchen Gladbach. No results were observed owing to cloud being ten tenths over the target.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (43)

F/O Wallace Bassett Martin – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 13:01 – Landed 18:33
Flight Time 05:32

16/02/1945 Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aircraft attacked Wesel as detailed. Slight accurate H/F was encountered over the target but no fighters were seen. A concentrated raid was reported.

Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-B  (23)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 12:45 – Landed 17:45
Flight Time 05:00

18/02/1945 Attack Against Wesel
Twenty aircraft attacked Wesel. Twenty one were detailed but AA”R” F/S Scott, returned early through technical trouble. Aircraft bombed on special equipment in ten tenths cloud with tops about 10,000 ft. Leaders were satisfied it was a good raid. Very slight H/F was only opposition.

Lancaster Mk.I LM740 AA-B (48)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 12:02 – Landed 17:10
Flight Time 05:08

19/02/1945 Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aircraft were again detailed to attack Wesel. AA”J”, captained by F/S Lukins, B.L., returned early through engine trouble. Cloud was 1-10/10ths with some haze. A few crews were able to identify the river bend. Bombing appeared to be accurate. Very slight H/F was the only opposition.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (49)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 13:30 – Landed 18:23
Flight Time 04:53

23/02/1945 Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Sixteen aircraft attacked Gelsenkirchen as detailed. There was ten tenths thin cloud over the target with horizontal visibility between 500/ 1000 yds. Formation keeping was very difficult in these conditions, but crews reported quite a good bombing concentration on special equipment and leaders. Opposition from flak was very slight and no fighters were seen. F/S Barr, D. landed at Warboys.

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F (69)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:51 – Landed 17:12
Flight Time 05:21

24/02/1945 Sea Mining in Oslo Fjord
Two aircraft laid mines in the Oslo Fiord area. Both crews reported a good trip without opposition. Cloud 8 – 10/10ths.

Lancaster Mk.I PB741 AA-E  (33)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 17:05 – Landed 00:29
Flight Time 07:2

07/03/1945 Attack Against Dessau
Thirteen aircraft attacked Dessau as ordered. Aircraft bombed in 10/10ths haze and thin cloud. Crews were given instructions by M/B to bomb on skybmarkers but some were able to make out T.I’s and in two cases identify the street. Fires were burning over a wide area when aircraft left the target. Flak practically nil in target area. Some E/A were seen and AA”S” F/L Spilman had a short inconclusive encounter. A satisfactory operation.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (2)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Robert Sinclair Milsom – 2nd Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 17:34 – Landed 02:04
Flight Time 08:3

11/03/1945 Attack Against Essen
Twenty one aircraft were again detailed for operations, tis time against Essen. Very slight H/F was the only opposition. Cloud was 10/10ths. A gradual blackening of the cloud tops was all that could be seen

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-D  (101)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:59 – Landed 17:07
Flight Time 05:0

18/03/1945 Attack Against Bruchstrasse
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the coking areas and Bensol plant at Bruchstrasse. Cloud was 10/10ths over the target with tops at 6/7,000 ft. Crew report formation was good through the target and bombs fell away together. No results were seen. Slight H.F was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (8)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 17:03
Flight Time 05:2

27/03/1945 Attack Against Hamm (Sachsen)
Twenty one aircraft attacked Hamm (Sachsen) as detailed in ton tenths cloud, tops about 8,000 ft. Formation was well packed in the run in. No results were seen other than smoke pushing up through clouds after bombing. Very slight flak was the only opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J (11)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:21 – Landed 15:50
Flight Time 05:29

09/04/1945 Attack on Kiel
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack Kiel, carrying 8,000 H.C., 4,000 H.C.N. AND 500 A.N.M. A good concentration of bombing was carried out which appeared to have been a good prang. Many fires and explosions were seen. There was no fighter opposition. Flak was moderate.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (13)

090445photo_0007crtd

Target photograph for Kiel, 4th of April 1945. McKenna crew. © Mary Morris

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Maurice Thorogood’s operational navigation chart for Kiel op, 4th of April 1945. © Mary Morris

FR9April45 joined red144

Maurice’s Navigational route list for Kiel Op, 4th April 1945 (front of sheet). © Mary Morris

FR9April45 joined and red144

Maurice’s Navigational route list for Kiel Op, 4th April 1945 (back of sheet). © Mary Morris

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 19:43 – Landed 01:44
Flight Time 06:01

13/04/1945 Attack on Kiel
21 aircraft were detailed to attack Kiel. The target was covered by 10/10 cloud with tops 4/5000. Bombing was concentrated and fires were seen on leaving the target. Flak was slight. M/B was clearly heard. (AA’K’ F/O. Morgan W.) returned early, bombs were jettisoned. This was also a leaflet raid.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J (14)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 20:42 – Landed 02:13
Flight Time 05:3

18/04/1945 Attack on Heligoland
25 aircraft were detailed to attack the target HELIGOLAND. Weather was good with good visibility. Crews were able to identify northern top of Island and also western edge. The rest of the Island was obliterated by smoke. Bomb bursts on fires. The crews bombed as ordered by the Master Bomber and bombing was thought to be well concentrated, but there was some overshooting as well as undershooting.

Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F  (8)

W/C Cyril Henry ‘Mac’ Baigent – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/S F. Leaman – Air Bomber
F/S James Frederick Freestone – Wireless Operator
F/S William Thomas Soper – Flight Engineer
F/S  D. Nash – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt.  H. Poet – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:15 – Landed 15:07
Flight Time 04:52

This appears to ostensibly be Ronald Drummond’s crew (obviously minus Ron and with Maurice as Navigator)

20/04/1945 Attack on Regensburg
20 aircraft were detailed to bomb REGENSBURG. Perfect visibility and the river, dock and target areas could be made out. Bombing appears to have been fairly well concentrated  round the target starting with a slight undershoot but some bombs also spread to the M/yards beyond. The crew on starboard side of formation claimed direct hits on railway bridge. Flak slight but accurate.

75NZRegensburg

Target Photograph for Regensburg Op – 20th April 1945, McKenna crew. © Mary Morris

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (17)

photo 3 crted

‘Operational take-off of Squadron’ – believed to be from the Regensburg Op. © Mary Morris

photo 2crtd

Caption on back of second photo: No.75( NZ) Squadron en route for Regensburg 20.4.45. Leading aircraft: S/L McKenna (P), F/L Thorogood ( N), P/O Mills G.A. A/G(rear), P/O Sizeland. © Mary Morris

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 09:40 – Landed 17:07
Flight Time 07:27

22/04/1945 Attack on Bremen
21 aircraft were detailed to attack BREMEN. 2-5/10ths cloud over target and many crews made out river bend and factory area. Bombing results were satisfactory though slight overshooting and undershooting but not outside built up area. Flak from Wilhemshaven and Bremen was at intervals moderate and very accurate. Flight Engineer (Sgt. R. Clark) of AA/P was killed. No fighters seen.

Lancaster Mk.I HK806 AA-B  (21)

W/C Cyril Henry ‘Mac’ Baigent – Pilot
F/S Leslie Esterman – Navigator
F/O M. Thorogood – 2nd Navigator
F/S Francis Lachlan Fraser – Air Bomber
F/O Owen Dudley Dunning – Wireless Operator
Sgt. W. Richardson – Flight Engineer
Sgt. Milton Edwin Bardsley – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Stuart Henry McKechnie – Rear Gunner

Take Off 15:16 – Landed 20:44
Flight Time

Again, it seems as if Mac Baigent takes up a crew, minus the Pilot, but with Maurice on an initial Op. In this case it was Edward Plowman’s crew – ironically, or bizarrely, Ed Plowman also flew on this Op, but as 2nd Pilot with Charlie Stevens and his crew.

29/04/1945 Supply Dropping in the Delf Area
9 Aircraft were detailed for Supply Dropping in the Delft area. The operation was uneventful and crowds were seen waving and cheering. Quite a number of packs hung up.

Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A  (23)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 12:36 – Landed 15:00
Flight Time 02:24

02/05/1945 Supply Dropping at Delft
21 Aircraft were detailed for Supply Dropping at Delft. This mission was successful. The crowd were not as large as usual, but more flags were observed. F/O E.Ohlson reported having seen Germans in barracks cheering and waving white flags. F/O R, Flamank saw Germans waving from gunposts on the coast.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (19)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:48 – Landed 14:17
Flight Time 02:29

09/05/1945 Repatriation of Prisoners of War
10 Aircraft were detailed for repatriation of Prisoners of War. The number of men brought back was 240. S/Ldr. B. Mckenna (AA.J) crashed when taking off at Dunsfold for Base. There were no injuries and the crew returned with F/Lt. M. Adamson (AA.K). Complaints were made of the bad landing procedure at Dunsfold.

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-J  (78)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 07:42 – Landed – no record
Flight Time no record

12/05/1945 Evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt
15 Aircraft were detailed for the evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt. The total number returned for the day was 336. F/O G. Cleminson (JN.O) developed a hydraulic leak at Juvincourt. He had to stay overnight and on the return trip next day, brought another 24 men. The total number of men brought back to date is 1320.

Lancaster Mk.I HK561 AA-Y  (49)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St.Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 08:30 – Landed 13:07
Flight Time 04:37

16/05/1945 Evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt
4 Aircraft were detailed for the evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt. 96 men were brought back bringing the total number now to 1967.

logbook 16th May 1945 crp

Extract from the logbook of Maurice Thorogood, showing unrecorded flight to take G/C Campbell OBE to oversee repatriation of allied Prisoners of War. © Mary Morris

4 aircraft are listed for this Op, but it does not include the McKenna crew.

26/5/1945 Repatriation of Belgian Refugees to Brussels and Ex-Prisoners of War to England
7 Aircraft were detailed for the repatriation of 71 Belgian refugees. 120 ex Prisoners of War were brought back on the return trips. Flight Lieutenant Lukins was involved in a slight mishap at Brussels and some of the crew were brought back by another aircraft.

Logbook 26th May 1945 crp

Extract from logbook of Maurice Thorogood, showing participation as Navigator with the Clarkson crew on the 26th of May. © Mary Morris

F/O Ronald Thomas Clarkson – Pilot
Sgt. D. Brooks – Navigator (As listed in ORB, incorrectly)
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/S W. Apps – Air Bomber
F/S Edgar Ernest Willaim Clark – Wireless Operator
Sgt. R. Walmersley – Flight Engineer
F/S K. Connelly – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Firth – Rear Gunner

12/06/1945 Viewing the Effects of the Bombing Offensive
5 Aircraft were detailed for viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (21)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/S A. Griffiths – Air Bomber
F/O W. Wilson – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 14:31 – Landed 19:23
Flight Time 04:52

22/06/1945 Checking German Radar Equipment

Logbook 22nd June 1945 crp

Extract from the logbook of Maurice Thorogood showing unrecorded op (ORB) on the 22nd of June 1945. © Mary Morris

This Op is not listed in the Operational Record Book – we must assume this was the ‘normal’ McKenna crew.

29/06/1945 Checking German Radar Equipment
2 aircraft were detailed for viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive. 11 aircraft were detailed for the Post Mortem Operation for checking German radar equipment.

Lancaster Mk.I NN747 JN-O ” (61)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O O. O’Dwyer – Air Bomber
F/O W. Wilson – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:11 – Landed 15:44
Flight Time 05:33

Bob Bray 1919 – 2014

bray_3058533b

Wing Commander Robert Walter Bray D.F.C & Bar

Many thanks to Ed for making me aware of the passing of Wing Commander Bob Bray who has recently passed away, aged 93. A veteran of 92 Operations over occupied Europe and th winner of 2 Distinguished Flying Crosses.

The following is an extract from Bob’s obituary, published in the Telegraph on the 1st of October, 2014. The full obituary can be read online here.

Wing Commander Bob Bray, who has died aged 93, flew 94 bombing operations over occupied Europe and won two DFCs.

Robert Walter Bray was born on May 5 1921 in Sheffield and educated at King Edward VII Grammar School in the city. He joined the RAF in June 1940 and trained as a pilot.

In June 1941 he joined No 75 (NZ) Squadron to fly the Wellington, and over the next six months bombed many targets in Germany . In September he attacked La Spezia in Italy . On December 23 he took part in a raid on Düsseldorf, his 32nd and final operation with No 75 Squadron. He was later awarded his first DFC .

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

Request for information – Solingen, 4th of November 1944

soligen

Target photo taken by Jack Wall, A/B with Jack Bailey’s crew over Solingen on the 4th of November 1944. The information at the foot of the photograph contains the following information: Squadron Base – Mep is Mepal. Date. Height. Compass bearing. Time. Target. Bomb Load. Camera and Flash setting. Pilots Rank and Name. Aircraft letter and Squadron number.

I was contacted by Matthias last week with information of a potentially fascinating project. Matthias works for the local TV station in Wermelskirchen who are preparing to make a programme about the raid on Solingen on the 4th of November 1944. He is keen to gather as much information as possible – and has contacted me to put out a request to any relatives of the boys who flew on the Op, who might have any information, whether it be stories, photographs or even perhaps logbook notes. Matthias is particularly keen to try to make contact with any relatives of Harry Scott’s crew, who were all lost on the Solingen Op.

Having put together the complete crew list for this Op, I was fascinated to see perhaps a tie up in a detail mentioned in this post and elsewhere on the blog. The first aircraft in the Op list below is LM266 AA-A. The AIR14/3463 Damage Report for this Op lists this aircraft as being hit by debris from an exploding aircraft. Putting in a blind, but optimistic search into the blog through up a post I had made about the myth of the ‘Scarecrow’ and amazingly, the logbook entry by John Dickinson (Mid Upper Gunner with Charlie Spain’s crew) that recorded a ‘Scarecrow’ was Solingen – Whilst I cannot be sure, the proximity of the 195 Squadron aircraft  (HK658 ) to LM266, the fact that John witnessed it, I think, makes it quite a possibility – of the 4 aircraft lost on this Op (3 from 195 and ND917 from 75(NZ) Squadron), only HK658 is listed in the AIR14/3463 Damage Report as exploding – and in fact identifies 2 other aircraft, both from 195 Squadron being hit, Like LM266, with the debris.

log27&28 scarecrow crop

Extract form John Dickinson’s logbook for the Solingen raid, 4th November 1944, noting the loss of a Lancaster by a ‘Scarecrow’. © Dickinson Estate

04/11/1944 – Attack Against Solingen
Twenty one aircraft took off to attack Solingen in daylight, carrying 8,000 lb, 4,000 lb, 1,000 lb, 500 lb, 4 lb incendiaries and No.17 Clusters. All crews dropped their bombs in the target area, but the raid appeared to be scattered. Flak opposition was moderate. One aircraft captained by NZ428797 F/O J. Scott, failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-A ” (43)
Damage not due to Enemy Action – Hit by debris from an exploding Lancaster – thought to be 195 Sqdn HK658 ‘C’ (exploded)

F/L Alan Roy Bidwell Barton, RNZAF NZ413930 – Pilot.
P/O John Gerald Birch, RNZAF NZ429035 – Navigator.
Sgt. William Semple, RAFVR 1558692/ 190519 – Air Bomber.
P/O John Alister MacDonald Stuart, RNZAF NZ404633 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. H. Smith, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie John Moore, RAFVR 2219346/ 188668 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. F. Williams, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:51 – Landed 16:23
Flight Time 04:32
Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (15)

W/C Roy John Alexander Leslie, RAFVR/ RNZAF 36255/ NZ2427 – Pilot.
F/L Frank Ross Dawes, RNZAF NZ417273 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
F/S Ronald Vincent Kemp, RAFVR 1492881/ 188505 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. A. Funnell, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. George Woods, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Cliff Newman, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

This appears to essentially be Nelson Bright’s crew – though I have no information to explain why Nelson is absent.

Take Off 11:45 – Landed 16:07
Flight Time 04:22
Lancaster Mk.I HK593 AA-H  (6)

F/O Jeffery Baines, RNZAF NZ414577 – Pilot.
Sgt. Peter Allen Holt, RNZAF NZ4211049 – Navigator.
F/S John Kennedy Clements, RAAF AUS.418070 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. J. Brown, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Aldridge, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. D. McCleod?, ? – Mid Upper Gunner. No apparent record of this individual
Sgt. E. Bates, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:44 – Landed 16:15
Flight Time 04:31
Lancaster Mk.I HK576 AA-G  (25)

F/O Raymond Arthur Cumberpatch, RNZAF NZ427543 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman Frederick Wilson, RAFVR 1584666/ 190665 – Navigator.
F/S Clayton Dickson Williams, RNZAF NZ4214071 – Air Bomber.
W/O Lindsay Roy Switzer, RNZAF NZ422008 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Sinclair, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Tom Grady, RNZAF NZ416829 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Walter Dalziel Sneddon, RNZAF NZ425436 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:45 – Landed 16:01
Flight Time 04:16
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C  (32)

F/L Leslie Arthur Martyn, RNZAF NZ417082 – Pilot.
P/O Thomas Issac Elliot, RNZAF NZ421364 – Navigator.
P/O Allan Roy Frank Dunkerley, RAAF AUS.423083 – Air Bomber.
P/O Henry James Abrahams, RAFVR 1313153/ 183761 – Wireless Operator.
F/S A. Golembeck, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. George Lindsay, RAFVR 1624589 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Andrew Roy Wright, RCAF J.88789 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:42 – Landed 16:10
Flight Time 04:28
Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J  (60)

F/O Maurice Edward Dare, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/O Gordon Howe Warren, RNZAF NZ4212904 – Navigator.
F/S Norman Farquhar McDonald, RNZAF NZ429073 – Air Bomber.
F/S William Donovan Neville, RNZAF NZ425538 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Dunbar, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Alfred Thomas Bannan, RNZAF NZ425760 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Gordon Lawton, RNZAF NZ4210874 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 16:08
Flight Time 04:28

Lancaster Mk.III PB421 AA-K  (29)

S/L Roy Campbell Earl, RNZAF NZ411388 – Pilot.
F/O Edgar William Lovejoy, RAFVR 745516/ 142868 – Navigator.
F/O J. Rich, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
P/O Patrick Hugh Finnegan, RAFVR 1344819/ 159025 – Wireless Operator.
W/O Leslie Howells, RAFVR 1417820/ 187820 – Flight Engineer.
W/O W. Brown, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/O William Henry Goodridge, RAFVR 635318/ 53370 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:41 – Landed 16:03
Flight Time 04:22
Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M ‘Mother’ (50)

F/L Wylie James Wakelin, RNZAF NZ391390 – Pilot.
P/O Percival McDowell Johnston, RNZAF NZ4215865 – Navigator.
P/O Graham Barker Appleby, RNZAF NZ422653 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John De Hoop, RAFVR 1810752/ 191161 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Leveridge, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frank Watts, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Kennedy, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 16:20
Flight Time 04:40
Lancaster Mk.I HK574 AA-R  (39)

F/O Donald Francis Atkin, RAFVR 1585981 – Pilot.
F/S Eric Thomas Coulson, RNZAF NZ429310 – Navigator.
F/S Reginald John Thurston, RNZAF NZ4210046 – Air Bomber.
F/S Wesley Murray Curtis, RAAF AUS. 423524 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. A. Jones, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. W. Madden, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. G. Johnstone, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:45 – Landed 16:30
Flight Time 04:45
Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U  (19)

F/O Charles Thomas Spain, RAFVR 921159/ 178068 – Pilot.
F/S P. Johnson,   – Navigator
F/S Leonard Charles James, RNZAF NZ4211046 – Air Bomber.
F/S Laurence Percy Bergman, RAAF AUS.424579 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. D. McNeil, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Townson Dickinson, RAFVR 2221282 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. John ‘Steve’ Chamberlain, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:35 – Landed 16:15
Flight Time 04:40
Lancaster Mk.I NN710 AA-Q  (25)

F/O Kenneth William Cooper, RAFVR 1440684 – Pilot.
F/S Ian Campbell Cowie, RNZAF NZ425738 – Navigator.
Sgt. J.J. Fitzgerald, RAFVR 658963 – Air Bomber.
F/S Vernon John Smith, RNZAF NZ416826 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Alderson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. W. Cousins, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Clayton, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 16:15
Flight Time 04:35
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L ‘Lucy’ (42)

F/O Martin Adam Kilpatrick, RNZAF NZ421919 – Pilot.
P/O Raymond Sinclair Tait, RNZAF NZ4213951 – Navigator.
Sgt. M. ‘ Jock’ Cattenach, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Wesley Geoffrey ‘Geoff’ Davenport, RAFVR 1817811/ 196353 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Benjamin Charles ‘Ben’ Barton, RAFVR 56702 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Albert ‘Titch’ Halliday, RAFVR 1899145 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Robert ‘Bob’ Olive, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 16:20
Flight Time 04:40
Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S ‘Sugar’ (30)

P/O Douglas Ross Sadgrove, RNZAF NZ425292 – Pilot.
F/S Robert Trevor Dixon, RNZAF NZ4212652 – Navigator.
Sgt. D. Stimpson, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S Frederick Flemming, RNZAF NZ425241 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Bernard John Mahoney, RAFVR 1628335/ 190539 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Robert Samuel Bawden, RNZAF NZ4212629 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Douglas Dallimore, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 16:20
Flight Time 04:40
Lancaster Mk.III ND801 JN-X ‘Get Sum Inn’ (69)

F/L Thomas Christie Waugh, RAFVR 159174 – Pilot.
P/O Colin William Hannam Woonton, RNZAF NZ429055 – Navigator.
F/S Robert Irwin Swetland, RAFVR 1098818, 186577 – Air Bomber.
F/S P. Kidd, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. N. Southgate, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S James Baird Nickels, RNZAF NZ425852 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S David Frank Sage, RNZAF NZ424824 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:31 – Landed 16:24
Flight Time 04:53
Lancaster Mk.III NE181 JN-M ‘The Captains Fancy’ (73)

S/L John Mathers ‘Jack’ Bailey, RNZAF NZ412183 – Pilot.
P/O Jack Geoffrey Brewster, RNZAF 130520 – Navigator.
F/O Jack Christopher Wall, RAFVR 143421 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Richard Pickup, RAFVR 98926/ 188816 – Wireless Operator.
F/O Norman Bartlett, RAFVR 54290 – Flight Engineer.
P/O Thomas Douglas Gregory, RAFVR 1283636/ 183718 – Mid Upper Gunner.
W/O Roy Corfield, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:29 – Landed 16:03
Flight Time 04:34
Lancaster Mk.I HK597 JN-P ‘Bad Penny IV’ (29)

F/O Francis Colin Wood, RNZAF NZ414715 – Pilot.
F/S R. Johnson, RAFVR – Navigator.
P/O Leslie Ronald Hurcombe, RAFVR 153900 – Air Bomber.
F/S Arthur Albert Charles Taylor, RAFVR 1583883, 186770 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. A. Gibbs, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. A. Wolley, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. G. Mahoney, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:31 – Landed 16:04
Flight Time 04:33
Lancaster Mk.I HK563 JN-W ‘The Paper Doll’ (51)

F/O Leonard Boyer, RAFVR 1602332/ 184498 – Pilot.
F/S M. Mendes, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Allan Jospeph Couper, RAAF AUS.430013 – Air Bomber.
F/S Roderick Wilfred Blue, RNZAF NZ426307 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Burkell, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. R. Adlard, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. H. Davies, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:33 – Landed 16:00
Flight Time 04:27
Lancaster Mk.I HK600 JN-T ” (20)

P/O Patrick Leo McCartin, RAAF AUS.419328 – Pilot.
Sgt. John Miles, RAFVR 845847/ 187426 – Navigator.
P/O Leonard Arthur Martin, RAFVR 153528 – Air Bomber.
F/S Phillip Francis Smith, RAAF AUS. 427206 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William John Warlow, RAFVR 1653307 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Dennis George Albert Bryer, RAFVR 1874880 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. John Gray, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:34 – Landed 15:59
Flight Time 04:25
Lancaster Mk.III ND917 JN-O ” (70)

F/O John Harold Scott, RNZAF NZ428797 – Pilot.
Died Saturday 4th November 1944, age 29, during a raid on Solingen. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.

F/S Alister Henry Scott, RNZAF NZ428259 – Navigator.
Died Saturday 4th November 1944, age 27, during a raid on Solingen. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.

F/S Kenneth Peder Christian Andersen, RNZAF NZ429128 – Air Bomber.
Died Saturday 4th November 1944, age 28, during a raid on Solingen, Germany. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

F/S Edward John Francis Howard, RNZAF NZ424469 – Wireless Operator.
Died Saturday 4th November 1944, age 24, during a raid on Solingen. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt. Howard Mansel Thomas, RAFVR 1895708 – Flight Engineer.
Died Saturday 4th November 1944, age 26, during a raid on Solingen. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt. John Thomas Beardmore, RAFVR 1818755 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Died Saturday 4th November 1944, age 19, during a raid on Solingen, Germany, Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt. Joseph Thomas Bayes, RAFVR 1595589, 185783 – Rear Gunner.
Died Saturday 4 November 1944, age 35, during a raid on Solingen, Germany. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

Take Off 11:31 – Landed Missing
Flight Time Missing
Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V  (65)

F/O Robert Gordon Cuming, RNZAF NZ428083 – Pilot.
F/S John Gilbert ‘Jack’ Scott, RNZAF NZ4213321 – Navigator.
F/S Sydney George Sewell, RNZAF NZ423916 – Air Bomber.
F/S John Durant ‘Jack’ Christie, RNZAF NZ426309 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J.C. Lambert, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William ‘Bill’ Scott, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. D. McElligott, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:35 – Landed 16:20
Flight Time 04:45
Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D  (38)

F/L Victor John Andrew, RNZAF NZ421343 – Pilot.
P/O Eric James Osborne, RNZAF NZ422795 – Navigator.
F/S Edward James Sinclair, RNZAF NZ428261 – Air Bomber.
F/S D. Roberts, RAAF AUS.426010 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Huckle, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. E. Hadigate, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. William Henry Grout, RCAF R.109213 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:30 – Landed 16:05
Flight Time 04:35

Allan Mason Forbes Alexander. 1919 – 2014

AllanAlexander_Allan1

F/L Allan Mason Forbes Alexander, Pilot. 1919 – 2014

It is with great sadness that I must report the passing of F/L Allan Mason Forbes Alexander at the age of 95, after a short illness.

Born in 1919, he volunteered to join the RNZAF the day that war was declared. Allan arrived at 75(NZ) Squadron RAF on the 13th of June 1943, flying 5 Ops (2 as 2nd Pilot) from Newmarket, before the Squadron moved to Mepal at the end of June 1943. Allan and his crew continued to complete a further 21 Ops at Mepal, before their final, on the 8th of October to Bremen. Of a final Op total of 25 for the Alexander crew, over half were completed in Stirling Mk.III BK777 AA-U ‘Allexander’s Ragtime Crew’ – one of the few Stirlings from the Squadron that we have artwork for.

Very early in my research journey I came across a website devoted to ‘The crew of AA-U’ and the information contained within it and the subsequent contact with 2 of Allan’s children let me learn about Allan and the boys he flew with and as I researched further, I realised that both Allan’s crew and my Father’s crew had flown on 14 of the same Ops in 1943, including Peenemünde on 17th August 1943. This early contact and a radio interview that Allan did with Radio New Zealand allowed me to begin to understand the story of my own Father.

My deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the Alexander family.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

More reading on the Alexander crew:
Read a transcription of Allan’s interview with Radio New Zealand here.
Read about Allan and his crew here.See some more pictures of the Alexander crew, courtesy of the NZBCA archive here.