It never ceases to amaze and please me when, after a post, a relative of another of the crew contacts me. I have to confess, Rosalind probably broke all records to date, when after posting the story about Arthur Smith, the Crawford crew and the crash of ND801 ‘Get Sum Inn’ she had placed a comment on the post within 30mins! I am a little ashamed that I have only just got round to posting this remarkable set of photographs of Rosalind’s Father and the rest of the Crawford crew.
Rosalind’s Father was Francis Geoffrey Boulton, Navigator with the Crawford crew. Known as Geoff, he suffered a broken neck in the February 3rd crash and this explains his absence from the last recorded flight by the crew on the 26th of May 1945 (Form 541).
Ros has passed on a number of photographs and a puzzle exists in terms of who is in some these photographs if we subtract Geoff, Bruce Crawford and Mike Smith……..
Taken obviously at some point through Geoff’s training, in my mind, the white flashes on the caps and the generally plump and happy demeanor of the individuals in the photograph suggest that this might actually be No 1 Aircrew Reception Centre, RAF Regent’s Park.
This second picture of Geoff, is possibly from his trade training – none of the individuals in the picture, apart from the chap with his hands on the shoulders of the little boy, have brevets or stripes – both awarded after this stage of training, prior to crew formation at O.T.U.
My suspicion is that these 2 pictures are also from Geoff’s time, training as a Navigator.
As will all trainee aircrew, after completion of ‘trade training’, he would have gone To O.T.U, formed into a crew, progressed through a Conversion Unit and at this point in the War, completed a final week at a Lancaster Finishing School, before being posted to an OPerational Squadron – in the case of Geoff and the rest of his crew, 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal, Cambridgeshire.
The following 2 images (above and below) provided me with enough to go on, in terms of known individuals and visible brevets to make a stab at identifying all the airmen in the photographs. My logic was as follows, based on the known identities of 3 – Geoff the Navigator, Bruce Crawford the Pilot and Arthur Smith the Rear Gunner. Picture 1 (top image) – obviously I have begun with Bruce, Geoff and Arthur. At this point I did not know who the other members of the crew in this photograph were.
Picture 2 – Looking at the individuals to the right of this photograph, the airman second in has what appears to be a 2 letter brevet (uniform badge). This means he is the other air gunner in the crew, thus, I believe Sgt. J. Tutty.
The airman on the far right of the photograph I think has a ‘B’ brevet – thus I think he is Sgt. C. Bullock. The airman on the far left of the picture seems to have a WOAG (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) badge on his right shoulder – I think therefore he is the Wireless Operator Sgt. D. Scott. By a process of simple elimination this means that the 7th member in the top picture is missing from this lower photograph and thus must be Sgt. R. Allred, the crew’s Flight Engineer. Based on this, I then named the individuals in Picture 1
This third group photograph has provided far more discussion in the Sommerville household. Bev’s vehement refusal to believe the individual on the front row far right was Arthur Smith, finally was infact proved to be correct – having latterly shown the image to Arthur’s daughter Pauline, she also felt this wasn’t Arthur.
After the Dormund crash on the 3rd of February 1945, The Crawford crew did not fly together again until the 25th of May. On this Op, Geoff was still absent and his position of Navigator was taken by P/O McGarry. Geoff returned to the crew, first under taking a formation flying exercise on the 15th June 1944. Three more training flights took place during the rest of June.
Through July of ’44, Geoff and at least Bruce, flew another 4 times – interestingly, the logbook page for July seems to suggest through the ‘Summary for 75 NZ Squadron’ that perhaps at this point the crew’s time with the Squadron was at an end – I have never seen however a final tally entry like this, only to then see another flight after it – perhaps an indication of the lack of necessary immediacy to ‘get out’, now the War in Europe, at least, was 2 months over………
The crew history that I originally posted in my first post about the Crawford crew and ND801 “Get Summ Inn’ (here) shows that certainly the 2 gunners in the crew, Arthur Smith and Sgt. Tutty completed a number of Ops after Dortmund, both surviving the crash relatively unscathed. This might in some part suggest at least their absence from this picture.
Frustratingly, Form 541 ceases to exist at the beginning of July, so unless we hear from someone else, it might be difficult to put names to the faces in this last photograph.
I am aware, though not of the specific details of Geoff’s career after his time in 75(NZ) Squadron, but the final photograph shows Geoff and 3 unknown individuals in sunnier climes, in front of the Taj Mahal in India – now sporting an “R.A.F. moustache”