Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Air Forces Memorial, Runnymede

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I am pleased to announce a fairly significant addition to the Gravestone Project for the Roll of Honour pages of the blog. A chance to visit my Sister in the summer while down with  Mum led me to the snap decision to go over the the Air Force Memorial at Runnymede.

In hindsight, a little more planning might have helped. At least I had the sense to extract and reorder those from the Squadron in panel, rather than date or name order……….

I had been to Runnymede before – but walking through the drizzel to the gate entrance, my recollections of my earlier visit felt dream-like. The memorial building was not at all as I thought I remembered it – somehow smaller, less spread out.

I had last been when, I think, I was perhaps about 9 or 10. I had gone, if I recall with Mum, Dad and I think Sandra, who today we were visiting. Like a dream, I had broken images of Dad, walking alone, stopping, searching the panels, pausing before walking onto another one. At the time I had little idea and even less interest as to what this place was, let a lone why I was required to be there.

Again with many things since Bob’s passing, I have occasionally found myself stood, or sat in a series of bittersweet puddles –  and this was another of them……..

The Air Forces Memorial, or Runnymede Memorial, in Englefield Green, near Egham, Surrey, is a memorial dedicated to the 20,456 men and women from the air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II. Those recorded have no known grave anywhere in the world, and many were lost without trace. The name of each of these airmen and airwomen are engraved into the stone walls of the memorial, according to country, squadron and date of loss.

The memorial was designed by Sir Edward Maufe with sculpture by Vernon Hill. The engraved glass and painted ceilings were designed by John Hutton, and the poem engraved on the gallery window was written by Paul H Scott. It was the first post-World War II building to be listed for architectural merit.

In practical terms my photographic endeavours were not made easier by torrential rain and variable light conditions. The panels are tall – much taller than I imagined – and I was loathe to stand on the seats between each set of panels. Lifting the camera to arms length went some way to ‘square’ the camera to some of the names higher up, but, again I have to thank Photoshop and my camera’s massive resolution for the quality of some of the images.

Armed with the list and slowly disappearing light I set to the task and am (relatively) pleased to say I managed to record 144 – approximately half the names I needed to. On reflection I am glad I only managed half – it means I have to go back and returning means I will go back better prepared – probably to take all of them again.

Perhaps fate, perhaps just numerical chance, but it meant a lot to find and photograph 2 names in particular – and if another 2 people find and read this post, they have my warmest regards and thoughts.

Church SIDHU COMP

AKE AKE KIA KAHA!

Please view individual names within the relevant alphabetical sections of the Roll of Honour pages of the blog, in the top menu bar.

Laurie Haddock, Mid Upper Gunner – Lumsden crew

Laurie Haddock lumsden crew - is this them B&W

F/Sgt. Laurie Haddock, Mid Upper Gunner with the Lumsden crew, stood far left – but are any of the rest of the Lumsden crew in the picture ??? © Deborah Brown

Many thanks to Deborah for passing on this picture of her Father Laurie Haddock, who was the Mid Upper Gunner with Charlie Lumsden’s crew between April and June 1945.

Deborah identified Laurie on the far left of the picture, but wondered out loud if the other individuals in the photograph were in whole or in part the Lumsden crew. Noting the attire I mentioned that it seemed a bit to summery for what by all accounts was the rather damp and chilly climes of Mepal and Deborah replied that Laurie had been in Burma shortly after the War.

With a recent post about Don Mackenzie, Rear Gunner in the Lumsden crew getting an unexpected surprise with the presentation of his Bomber Command clasp (read here), Deborah hopes that perhaps a relative of Don’s might see this photo and possibly shed some light on its subjects……..

Fingers crossed………….

Duxford 2015 – Battle of Britain Commemoration

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The inevitable pressures at the start of a new teaching year mean I can’t offer a great deal of reportage on my trip down to Duxford yesterday with Bev, suffice to say it was an astonishing and remarkable tribute to Fighter Command and their victory over the Luftwaffe in 1940, which became simply known as the ‘Battle of Britain’.

It was my first time to Duxford and I will obviously be going again, when there aren’t the crowds of an event.

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The day was about Fighter Command, Spitfires and Hurricanes. I felt a bit defensive, feeling a little like the only representative of Bomber Command – but I probably wasn’t. I have often tried to explain to people the nature of a Squadron and perhaps its similarity between following one, rather than another football team. I am not sure the analogy between Fighter and Bomber Command, but I did feel a little as if I was on another’s patch.

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Nevertheless, it was breathtaking to listen to the Merlins rip the air apart and even more lump in the throat inducing to watch 20 piston engined fighter aircraft from, literally another century, ‘ploughing the field’

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Bev and I were not alone. With us, we bought the Pilot’s Wings and War Medal of Sgt. Philip Aubrey Thomas ‘Pat’ Reid, Pilot.

Pat Read, too late for the Battle of Britain, was killed on the the 3rd of March 1943, age 22, whilst instructing with a trainee at No. 7 (P) A.F.U. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft they were in, lost power and crashed. Both were killed instantly.

Sgt. Philip Aubrey Thomas ‘Pat’ Read, RAFVR 1380251, was my Uncle.

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Eric Reginald Jones RNZAF NZ404375 – Pilot, 1941

eric jones RNZAF CONT

Many thanks to Barbara and her Mother Lil for passing on the above portrait of Father and Husband respectively, Eric Reginald Jones, who flew with the Squadron between  September 1941 and the  January 1942.

As well at the portrait of Eric, his family also passed on an extract of Eric’s recollections that he wrote some years after his service and also pertinent pages of his logbook. At least initially, I must confess that my attention was very much drawn to the personal recollections that Eric had written. “A letter to my Grandchildren” was penned by Eric some 50 years after the war and, as you will read later goes into particular detail regarding his second Op as 2nd Pilot with Bob Bray.

After Barbara’s initial contact I inevitably looked for and found Eric in my database and at the time, thought there seemed to be a few discrepancies between what I had listed and what Eric recorded in his logbook. A closer inspection last night has thrown up the fascinating fact that there appears to be a mistake in the FORM 541 for 1941…………

I will let all of this unfold in a perhaps more manageable chronological order and I hope, in this way, it will make sense to you all.

Eric arrived at Feltwell on the 29th of September 1941, 15 days later he undertook his first Operation as 2nd Pilot with Bob Bray’s crew.

“This Feltwell place was about fifly miles north of London, fairly close to Cambridge, and we lived away from the airfield in tents, but within easy walking distance of the aerodrome, Our tents (four man) were erected under the trees which lined the drive leading up to a large country house, and we walked to the ‘drome each morning for breakfast and whatever came next.”

Recorded in Eric’s logbook, this is the first Op of 3 that do not appear to have been recorded, or perhaps have been recorded incorrectly in the Form 541 for this month.

13/10/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Bremen and Dusseldorf
Six* Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to attack the above targets. A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 1,000 lb GP, 500 lb GP, 250 lb GP and SBC’s of 4 lb incendiaries. Considerable A.A. fire was experienced North and West of the target area, both light and heavy. Target was bombed and fires were observed on leaving. Many large cones of Searchlights were active West and North of the target. Enemy aircraft were seen on the return flight over the Dutch coast but no attacks were made on our aircraft. An unidentified aircraft followed Sgt Taylor and crew in X9977 for about 40 minutes. No attacks were initiated. The aircraft was using a hand lamp for signaling. The weather was 10/10 cloud over target area, with haze. Navigation was by Lorenz, QDM’s, Astro Fix and DR.

Form 541 Lists the participating crews as follows:

Sgt. S.J.G. Isherwood
P/O J.F Fisher
Sgt. R.H. Tye
P/O W.R. Methven
Sgt. N.G.C. Ramsey
Sgt. Taylor

Op 1

Mk.Ic X.9628 AA-A

*Sgt. Robert Walter Bray, RAFVR 113927 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Sidney Joseph Lawrence Levack, RAFVR 971231 – Observer.
Sgt. Walter Victor Ashleigh Phear, RNZAF NZ37168 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Partridge, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Monk, RAF – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – Landed
Flight Time Not Known

15/10/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Cologne and Boulogne
Ten Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. A mixed bomb load was carried consisting of 1,000 lb, 500 lb, 250 lb GP’s and containers of incendiaries. Captains report that bombs were dropped on the target by estimation, but owing to slight haze over the target results were not seen. A considerable amount of heavy AA fire was experienced in and around the target area. Fire was accurate over Aachen. Searchlight activity was intense throughout the route but ineffective in the target area because of the cloud. Weather was fair en route but thick ground haze over all target area. Navigation was by Astro, D/R, QDM. Pinpointing and Lorenz check. Two of these aircraft, Z8945, captained by Sgt Barker, and X9916, captained by Sgt Matetich failed to return to base.

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9628 AA-A

Sgt. Robert Walter Bray, RAFVR 113927 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Derek Clare, RAFVR 103536/ 951765 – Observer.
Sgt. Keith Douglas Sarginson, RNZAF NZ391978 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Partridge, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Monk, RAF – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:20 – Landed 23:20
Flight Time 05:00

“I did that on the morning of fifteenth October and on reporting to “A” flight, found out that our crew was down for Ops that night. Cologne, also in Happy Valley and not too far from Dusseldorf, was the target. During the morning hours the plane would be air tested to make certain that engines, hydraulics, guns, radios etc. were in good order, and afterwards the plane would be fuelled and bombed up. In the meantime, the crew would have some lunch and sleep or rest in the afternoon, ready for some wakeful hours in the night.

Briefing for the operation would take about thirty minutes, where the route to and from the target would be noted, expected weather conditions en route given by the Met. Ofiicer, aiming point specified, which could be industrial complexes, railway yards etc and anything else that was of interest to the airmen. The evening meal was the next on the list, and there must have been plenty of brussels sprouts and carrots around, as they appeared on the menu often, and I was soon sick of the sight of them.

Getting near time for take off, and we dress up in the warmest clothes we have, topped off with fleecy lined flying jacket and pants, with overalls on top of that, several pairs of socks on our feet and flying boots, and waddle out to the truck which will drop us off at the right place. Climb up into the old Wimpy per ladder, through a hatch in the floor, sort out all the gear and make certain there will be no hold-ups later on. Time to start up, and the silence is broken by the sound of twenty four engines starting up, being warmed up, and then run up to take off revs, while the magnetos are tested, and then the line of aeroplanes begins to move out along the taxi ways, to the take-off point. There’s the green aldis light and away we go. Brakes hard on, control column hard forward, and full revs, and the tail comes up until the plane is in flying position. Brakes off, slam the control column as far forward as it will go, to keep the tail up, and we gradually gain speed as we use up the runway. Come on, come on, there’s six hundred gallons of gas and four thousand pounds of bombs to lift off, and Bob, the pilot, holds her down until we run out of space, then eases back on the control column and we are over the boundary fence and on our way. Ease back to climbing revs and we go, very slowly, to twelve thousand feet, which is just about as high as a Wimpy will go with a heavy load.

Soon the coast of Holland is coming up, and all along this coast the Germans have set up a searchlight barricade, and with the help of a well organised radar tracking system, are very good at making a rendezvous between a German fighter and an Allied bomber. There are some broken clouds around, and Bob makes the best possible use of them, and the front and rear gunners and one new chum Second Pilot looking out of the astrodome see nothing of any fighters. That’s the first obstacle passed, and as long as we don’t go too near any town or cities, we should be clear of flak until we near Happy Valley, so it’s keep a good look out, up, down, front, back and sideways, for German fighters.

Cloud most of the way, and at one stage the airscrews are ringed with St. Elmo’s Fire, caused when atmospheric conditions are right, and I reckon an enemy fighter could pick us out from a fair distance. Still, that doesn‘t last long, and soon, in the distance, we pick up cones of searchlights and the flak over Cologne, and I must say the Jerries could put on an excellent fireworks display, with dozens of searchlights and the flak guns pumping all they had into the centre of the cone of light, where some poor blighter was getting the daylights knocked out of him.

A good time to go in while the flak and lights are busy elsewhere, so straight and level when conditions permit, we head towards the aiming point, and all hell breaks loose. A bluish searchlight, which we reckoned was radar controlled, catches us, and very soon we are blinded when some more lights join in. So bright I can’t see a thing, and I can imagine Bob, with his head down low and flying on instruments, working like a one armed paper hanger, as he reverses course, and twists and tums, and dives and climbs in an effort to put the flak off. I can see the flak bursts, I can hear some of them, and I can smell them, and we eventually finish up at three thousand feet with no great damage done to anyone.

In the clear now, and back we go as high as we can once again, but watch out for fighters as they usually hang around on the outskirts of the flak. Someone else held in the searchlight cone and keeping some of the guns occupied, and we are ready for another run. We weave around a bit until our navigator can pick up the aiming point, then it is straight and level once again, bomb doors open, and I think we all heave a great sigh of relief when we hear “bombs away”.

There’s those searchlights, and they latch on to us once again, and the flak gives us a real good pasting as we dive and twist and tum and once again finish up at three thousand feet, which is just about .303 range, and kid stuff for the eighty-eight millimeter guns that had been annoying us. Once again no great problems barring for few small holes in the fuselage, which were patched up next day.

Right, back we go, and with a much lighter aeroplane we are soon back at a safe operating height where we can open our thermos flasks and have a quick snack while we go hell for leather back home again. Dodge the towns and cities, back through the searchlight belt along the coast, pick up a beacon to give us some idea of where we are, and we are soon over England once again. Still keep a good look out as we are not out of the woods yet, and there are barrage balloons around, other planes flying around with no lights showing, and there could be some German intruders waiting to knock us down when we come in to land. However, we are looking good and soon the truck is taking us for debriefing by the Intelligence Officer, where we tell our little story and enjoy a welcome cup of coffee laced with rum and served up by one of our Air Force ladies, off to breakfast and into bed for some well-earned rest. That was the end of my second operational flight which was quite a short one taking five hours, but one of the more interesting ones, and I only had to do another twenty eight ops to complete a tour when I would have earned a break from operational flying. Casualties ran at about five percent on average, just work that out for yourself!”

20/10/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Bremen
Six* Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to attack the above target. One of these aircraft, captained by Sgt Parnham, crash landed at Marham. Target area was bombed but results were not observed owing to low cloud. Activity was observed North and North West of target following river at Oldenburgh. Heavy and medium A.A. fire was met and a belt of searchlights was observed at Bremen and Oldenburgh. Three enemy aircraft were seen but no attack was made. Weather was poor, with low cloud and thick ground haze over the target.

Form 541 Lists the participating crews as follows:

S/L F.J. Lucas
Sgt. J.F.M. Parnham
Sgt. N.G.C. Ramsey
Sgt. G.S. Nunn
Sgt. R.H. Tye
P/O J.F. Fisher

Op 3

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9628 AA-A

*Sgt. Robert Walter Bray, RAFVR 113927 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Derek Clare, RAFVR 103536/ 951765 – .
Sgt. Keith Douglas Sarginson, RNZAF NZ391978 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Partridge, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Monk, RAF – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – Landed
Flight Time Not Known

22/10/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets Mannheim
*Six Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. A mixed load was carried and consisted of 1000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs and containers of incendiaries. Owing to the weather conditions operations were marred, but a fire was bombed in a town on the Rhine, probably Mannheim and bomb bursts seen. There was  slight A.A. activity and searchlights were ineffective where seen. Electrical storms, thunder cloud and snow storms were met throughout operations. Navigation was good. D.R. and special beam No.6 used. Icing (black) was experienced over Continent. Unable to see through windscreens owing to accumulated snow, from Belgian coast onwards. Severe weather conditions made accuracy impossible. One of these aircraft, X.9914, captained by Sgt. Taylor, failed to return to base.

Form 541 Lists the participating crews as follows:

S/L F.J. Lucas
Sgt. J.F.M. Parnham
Sgt. N.G.C. Ramsey
Sgt. G.S. Nunn
Sgt. R.H. Tye
P/O J.F. Fisher
Sgt. Taylor – listed as missing/ FTR, but not listed as crew on Op

log 2 mannheim

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9628 AA-A

*Sgt. Robert Walter Bray, RAFVR 113927 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Derek Clare, RAFVR 103536/ 951765 – Observer.
Sgt. Keith Douglas Sarginson, RNZAF NZ391978 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Partridge, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Monk, RAF – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – Landed
Flight Time Not Known

01/11/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Kiel
Eleven Wellington Ic Aircraft from this Unit were detailed to attack the above targets. The whole Operation was marred by bad weather there being 10/10th. Cloud throughout the trip and no results were observed. Bomb load consisting of 1000lbs, 50lbs, 250lbs and incendiaries was dropped on un-identified town, and on area to the West of the target. Very heavy predicted A.A. fire was encountered over target area together with 75m.m. tracers. Searchlights were isolated and ineffective owing to cloud. One M.E. 110 enemy aircraft was seen but no attack was made. Navigation was good, Astro and D.R. loop being used. A convoy fifteen miles off the Wash fired at the aircraft until the colours were fired. There was a surprising lack of enemy fighters.

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9628 AA-A

Sgt. Robert Walter Bray, RAFVR 113927 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Derek Clare, RAFVR 103536/ 951765 – Observer.
Sgt. Keith Douglas Sarginson, RNZAF NZ391978 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Partridge, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Monk, RAF – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:40 – Landed 23:55
Flight Time 06:15

07/11/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Berlin and Ostend
Fourteen Wellington Ic aircraft were detailed from this Unit to attack the above targets. Two of these aircraft, X.9951, captained by F/O Methven and X.9976, captained by Sgt. Black, failed to return to base. A mixed bomb load was carried consisting of 1000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs and containers of incendiaries. Bombs were dropped in target area and some large fires were started, but results were not clearly observed owing to heavy cloud over target area. A considerable amount of heavy flak was met over target area but searchlights, where seen, were ineffective. No enemy aircraft were met throughout the trip. Weather was poor with 10/10th cloud over target area. Navigation was good, Astro and D/R loops being used. Wellington Z.1091, captained by P/O Sandys returned to base owing to engine trouble. Wellington Z.1068, captained by Sgt. Parham returned to base owing to Navigator being sick.

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9628 AA-A

Sgt. Robert Walter Bray, RAFVR 113927 – Pilot.
Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Derek Clare, RAFVR 103536/ 951765 – Observer.
Sgt. Keith Douglas Sarginson, RNZAF NZ391978 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Partridge, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Monk, RAF – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:30 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 10:45

Between the 11th and 16th Eric undertook 8 flights at No. 5 B.A.T. at Honnington.

“November 1941, I had completed six freshman trips with Bob and it was time to take over my own crew and my own Wimpy, so I finished up with one Canadian and four Englishmen, most of whom stayed with me until January 1942. Lousy weather in the middle of winter, and we managed another three operations, before I was sent on a Blind Approach training course, which I found most interesting. Just two of us in a Wimpy, an instructor and pupil, which was me, and the object was to find and fly on a radio beam, when the pupil was surrounded by a screen and couldn’t see a thing outside of the aeroplane. We found this beam many times in the week I was there, and before I was finished I could fly on the beam, and come in over the same fence post ready for a landing, every time a coconut, and then the instructor would whip the screen away, and we would open up and go around again for another practice run.

Fog, darkness and dirty weather didn’t worry me after doing that course, and I reckoned as long as I could find that beam I could put the aeroplane down in the right place no matter what the weather was like. There were other aids for lost airmen, such as friendly searchlights which would raise the beam to the vertical and then lower it until it pointed to the nearest RAF statiora used in really dirty weather. There was another system which used a flashing light which sent out a two letter code in morse, the code being changed daily, and all one had to do was read the letters, look up the position of the light as shown on a piece of paper, and bobs your uncle. These flashing beacons were situated near airfields and there were heaps of them around and they were a great help when a crew wasn’t too sure where they were or didn‘t have a clue just where they were.”

23/11/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Dunkirk
Seven Wellington Ic aircraft were detailed from this Unit to attack the above targets. A mixed bomb load was carried consisting of 500lbs, 250lbs and containers of incendiaries. Bombs were dropped on target area and flashes seen but full results were not seen. Heavy A.A. fire was met over target area and searchlights in large cones were active. No enemy aircraft were met. Weather was fair with 7/10th. Cloud over target area and freezing level was at 9,000ft. Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.3176 AA-E

Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – Pilot.
Sgt. Higgins, RAF – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Hanstock, RAF – Observer.
Sgt. McKinley, RAF – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Oulton, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. James William Hinton, RAF 1150584 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:25 – Landed 20:25
Flight Time 03:00

26/11/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Emden and Ostend
Seventeen Wellington Ic aircraft were detailed from this Unit to attack the above targets. A mixed bomb load was carried consisting of 4000,lbs, 1000lbs, 500lbs. 250lbs and containers of incendiaries. Very bad weather prevented the target being identified and results were not observed. A few bombs were however dropped in target area and one flash was seen. The remainder were brought back to base. Heavy and light predicted A.A. fire was met over target area and cones of searchlights were active. One single engine aircraft and one Junkers 88 enemy aircraft were seen but were successfully evaded. Weather was extremely bad and marred the whole operation. 10/10th cloud was met throughout the journey to and from the target. Navigation was D.R. and Q.D. M.s. One of these aircraft, Z.1114, captained by Sgt. Evans, returned to base with engine trouble.

Wellington Mk.Ic Z.1108 AA-X

Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375 – Pilot.
Sgt. Higgins, RAF – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Joseph Guy Quinn, RAFVR 1256373 – Observer.
Sgt. Duxton, RAF – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. McKinley,   – Front Gunner.
Sgt. James William Hinton, RAF 1150584 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 21:50
Flight Time 02:30

“Getting around to December I941, and the big news is the arrival of our first child, Valerie, and the news that all is OK at home in New Zealand. Ouma and I must have kept the Postal Service fairly busy with a two way traffic, and the cameras in NZ worked overtime, as I soon had a good collection of photos of Ouma and the new arrival.

December 1941 was quite a newsy month as on the seventh the Japanese made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour which was an American Naval Base in Hawaii, and almost finished off the Pacific section of the American Navy, which included about four battleships. Things really started to hum when the Japs started running rampant in the Pacific with their attacks on Singapore, Malaya, Burma and any other place they could knock off easily, and the Allied forces, which at that time was the British Empire almost on its own, started sending some reinforcements to the Far East”

02/01/1942 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Brest
Five Wellington IC aircraft from this unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. Bomb load consisting of 500 lbs and containers of incendiaries was dropped in the target area but results were not observed owing to 10/10th cloud. A.A. fire was only slight, only a few searchlights were active and no enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was poor and there
was 10/10 cloud throughout the operation. Navigation was entirely by D.R. Wellington aircraft R1457 returned to base with it’s bomb load.

Wellington Mk.Ic Z.1083 AA-K
Sgt. Eric Reginald Jones, RNZAF NZ404375  – Pilot.
Sgt. Young, RAF – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Joseph Guy Quinn, RAFVR 1256373 – Observer.
Sgt. Allan, RAF – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Oulton, RAF – Front Gunner.
Sgt. James William Hinton, RAFVR 1150584 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:10 – Landed 21:50
Flight Time 05:40

“The RAF called for volunteers and I reckoned the Far East was a lot closer to NZ than Britain was, and my name went in. Another factor was that I was getting rather lonely in 75 as the twelve New Zealand pilots who accompanied me’ to that station had been reduced to two in five months, and the other fellow was in hospital, having been shot up by a night fighter.

I reckon it was a good time to find a new stamping ground.”

Flying Officer William Harcourt Coleman, DFC and crew, 1939-40.

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As always, many thanks to Chris, for the following very detailed post about William Coleman, one of the founding members of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF………

My home suburb of Devonport in Auckland is situated at the end of a peninsula, accessed by Memorial Drive, an avenue of Pohutukawas and Norfolk pines. Each side of the road is lined with memorial plaques, in honour of the sons of the borough that were lost in the First and Second World Wars.

One of these plaques, I recently discovered, is dedicated to William Harcourt Coleman, one of the founding members of 75 (New Zealand) Squadron.

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I know the Coleman family well, and there is quite a connection between our two families, on my mother’s side – she grew up in the same street as William’s first cousins, and her mother (my grandmother) and William’s aunt were best friends. My boys play cricket and rugby with the Coleman boys, and to see the family likeness in photos of William is quite un-nerving!

WilliamHarcourtColeman-crop[4]

Flying Officer William Harcourt Coleman, DFC Photo: Weekly News, via Auckland War Memorial Museum.

William Harcourt Coleman was born on the 29th of November 1916, in Christchurch, NZ., son of Vernon Harcourt & Claudia May Monica Coleman (née Dunphy, later Walton). The family was originally from Devonport in Auckland, but had moved South at some point .

Educated at Christchurch Technical College, William Coleman must have caught the flying bug early, as he was a member of the Christchurch Gliding Club by the age of 15.

William moved back to Devonport with his mother, and was listed as a Pilot under training with Auckland Aero Club, Mangere, by February 1935, training under Squadron Leader D. M. Allen. He gained his ‘A’ Licence on 14 December 1935, aged 19.

In 1936 he was recommended for an RAF Short Service Commission, and sailed for England on 14 January 1937, probably responding to RAF recruiting advertisements that appeared in the New Zealand press at the time, and before the New Zealand Government air training scheme came into operation.

William arrived in the UK on 17 Feb 1937.

He was accepted into the RAF, granted a Short Service Commission, and posted to 11 E & RFTS (No. 11 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School, Perth, Scotland) on 5th April 1937 as Pilot under training, probably on Tiger Moths.

From there he was posted to RAF Personnel Depôt on 31st May 1937, and then to 6FTS (No. 6 Flying Training School), Netheravon, on 5th Jun 1937, flying Hawker Hart and Hawker Fury biplanes.

He won his Pilots wings on 4th Sep 1937, and on 8th January 1938 was posted to 97 Squadron, flying Handley Page Heyford, and Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers.

He attended a navigational course at the Civil Air Navigation  School, Air Service Training Ltd, in Ansty from 13th February – 12th May 1938, flying Avro Cadets, Hawker Harts, and  Handley Page Harrow & Armstrong Whitworth Whitley bombers.

Then, in January 1939 he was briefly attached to 166 Squadron, RAF Leconfield, flying Handley Page Heyford bombers.

In 1937, the New Zealand government had purchased 30 of the latest Vickers Wellington bombers, and was now assembling a small group of pilots, aircrew and technical staff to accept the aircraft as they came off the production line, prepare them, and train for the very-long-distance delivery flights back to New Zealand. The plan was to fly them back in 5 flights of 6 aircraft each.

The “New Zealand Flight” had been formed at RAF Marham on 1st June 1939, made up of an initial recruitment of New Zealanders already with the RAF in England, then a group arriving from New Zealand later in June, led by Squadron Leader Cyril Kay, and some RAF personnel, mainly ground crew with experience on Wellingtons. William transferred to the RNZAF on a Short Service Commission on 7th July 1939 and joined the Flight at Marham.

When war broke out on 3rd September 1939, he was one of eighteen New Zealanders in the Flight – twelve pilots and six ground crew. Their Commanding Officer was Squadron Leader Maurice W. Buckley, a veteran of the First World War, and early aviation pioneer in New Zealand.

1NZFlight-officers1939[3]

The original 12 Pilots of No. 1 (N.Z.) Flight at Marham in 1939. W.H. Coleman second from right, between Fred “Popeye” Lucas and Bill Williams. W/C Maurice Buckley sixth from left; S/L Cyril Kay, fifth from left. The Wellington Mark 1C in the background has had gun turrets and other armaments removed for the flight back to New Zealand. From “The Restless Sky”, by A.V.M. Cyril Kay, C.B, C.B.E, DFC.

At this point, only six Wellingtons had been delivered – these first six were to make up No. 1 New Zealand Flight, the first batch of aircraft to fly home, expected to depart for New Zealand on 1st October 1939.

William was listed to fly as 2nd Pilot on Wellington NZ310:
Vickers Wellington 1C, NZ310, ZM-ZAF
Captain F/O A B Greenaway, 2nd Pilot P/O W H Coleman
Crew: Cpl W Pomeroy, AC1 A E Emery, AC1 E P Williams.

With the declaration of War, the New Zealand Government immediately placed the Wellingtons at the disposal of the British Government.

The men themselves were for some weeks uncertain about their future. They wanted to stay and fight but were keen to stay together as a complete unit. Both Jack Baldwin, Air Office Commanding No. 3 Group RAF Bomber Command, and  Air Chief Marshal Sir Edgar Ludlow-Hewitt, AOC in C, Bomber Command, agreed and supported Buckley’s request to form a Dominion Squadron within the RAF.

Around this time, the unit came to be known as the New Zealand Squadron, even though not yet formally established as such.

In January 1940 the New Zealand Squadron moved from RAF Marham to RAF Stradishall for a short period, then on 16th February 1940 to RAF Feltwell in Norfolk.

The NZ Government approved the formation of a New Zealand Bomber Squadron within the RAF on 1 March 1940. A month later (8 April) the British Air Ministry officially approved the formation of No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, to be formed around the existing New Zealand Flight.

On 1st April a formal ceremony was held to mark the formation of 75 (NZ) Squadron, attended by the NZ High Commissioner Bill Jordan, Inspector General of the RAF, ACM Sir Edward Ludlow Hewett, and head of No. 3 Group Bomber Command, AVM Sir Jack Baldwin.

FeltwellMarchPast1April1940[4]

March-past by original members of the NZ Flight (W.H. Coleman left end of fifth row?). From “Popeye’s War”, by Lorie Lucas.

Formation of the squadron required that a second (“B”) flight be created to complete establishment. This took place on 29 May 1940.

Pilot Officer Coleman’s first operational sortie was one of the Squadron’s earliest, a leaflet drop by three 75 (NZ) Squadron Wellingtons to Nienburg, Petershaven and Minden in north-west Germany, on the night of 6/7 April 1940.

6/7 April 1940. Raid No. PCB.146  – Reconnaissance and Nickel operations to Nienburg, Petershaven and Minden

Wellington 1.A serial no. P.9210, code AA-?.
Up 19.15; Down 03.20 (landed Bircham Newton)

P/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (1)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C Edwards, RAF, W/T Operator
A/C Shuttleworth, RAF, Front Gunner
A/C John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

– See the Captain’s report in the attached entry from the 75 (NZ) Squadron Operational Record Book (ORB) Form 541

6th april cropped and cut

20 April 1940 – Vickers Wellington B 1.C R.3159 received from Vickers Armstrong Ltd., Weybridge, Surrey. She was coded “AA-K” and later became the Coleman crew’s regular “kite”.

21/22 April 1940. Bombing raid on Aalborg aerodrome, Denmark.
Wellington 1.A P.9212, AA-F.
Up 18.35; Down 01.05

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (2)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
A/C Shuttleworth, RAF, Front Gunner
A/C John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

Note: William’s rank now listed as Flying Officer.

– See the Captain’s report in the attached entry from the 75 (NZ) Squadron Operational Record Book (ORB) Form 541.

second op crpd and joined

7/8 May 1940. Bombing raid on Stavanger aerodrome.
Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 19.10; Down 01.43

Crew as above (3).

– Captain’s Report, dated 8 May 1940 (text reproduced below):

OperationalReport8May1940[5]cpd and cut

Target:- Bombing raid on STAVANGER aerodrome.
As Captain of aircraft R.3159 “K” I took off from Base at 19:00 hours and set course in formation with two aircraft of 75 (NZ) squadron. Coast was crossed at 1930 hours. The North Sea crossing was made at approximately 3,500 feet due to cloud. A submarine was sighted at 20:26 hours, on the surface, at 20:35 position BFWY 5550. No action was taken. Low cloud was encountered about 100 miles off the Norwegian coast, appeared to be 10/10th, height of top estimated 6000 to 7000 feet. My aircraft was still in formation with other two aircraft at 22:00 hours. Target was covered with cloud and leader made a sweep of the area but no break in the cloud could be found, but the mountains could be seen at one period protruding through the low cloud.

At 22:31 DR position was Stavanger and the Leader set course for Base. During this time it was still twilight and no difficulty was experienced in maintaining a formation on the return journey, when bad visibility and cloud necessitated breaking up. At 00:05 hours bombs were jettisoned from 8,000 feet. Navigation was carried out by DR and Loop bearings and fixes on the return journey. Homing bearings were used on nearing English coast. Coast was crossed north of Bircham Newton at 01:24 hours and landing was made at Base at 01:38 hours.

Whilst approaching Stavanger it was interesting to note that Motala was picked up on the loop and used until the reading coincided with Stavangers bearing from Motala. Stavanger, the aircraft and Motala were then in a line, however little use could be made of this information.

Time in Air:-                       6 hours 35 minutes
Distance covered:-            992 miles
Petrol Consumed:-            511 gallons
Petrol Miles per Gallon:-  1.94
Petrol Gallons per hour:-  78.6

12/13 May 1940. Bombing Attacks on Target A.J.8 (Krefold – Verdingen)
Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 21.10; Down 02.00

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (4)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
A/C John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

Note: None of the three aircraft detailed for this attack carried Front Gunners. Apparently the practice at the time was for the Wireless Operator to man the front guns as the aircraft neared enemy territory.

Captain’s remarks: 12 bombs were released in a stick from 11,000 feet. Results of bursts not observed but fires started from previous attacks. Four bombs dropped in a stick from 10,000 feet at 23.06hrs by TCB.194 after locating target at 23.05hrs, these noticed to burst each side of existing fires. A further 4 bombs dropped.

– Captain’s Report, dated 12 May 1940:

I took off from Feltwell at 21:08 hours and set course for Felixstowe, arriving at 21:34 hours.

Landfall was made on Dutch coast at West Kappelle at 22:07 hours. Numerous fires were seen during the leg to target. Black-out was good, though the moon was helpful and only patchy cloud was experienced, vertical visibility from 10,000 feet was difficult. Dutch searchlights proved annoying, and A.A. fire was experienced until appropriate signals were given. Target was located at 11:05 hours by the large bend in the river Rhine, which was only visible by the reflection of the moon in certain positions. Four bombs were dropped in stick, from 10,000 feet from North East to South West. Two bombs were observed to burst either side of existing fires. The cross roads were not visible. Light A.A. and searchlights were experienced, but were inaccurate.

Mechanical transport was observed on secondary road running S.W N.E. Movement was to the S.W. A stick of four bombs were dropped. One was observed to burst at head of column moving west, on the road leading out west of the town and a burst was seen between the first two vehicles. No. 18 bomb hung up and was jettisoned in region of target. Further to the east great numbers of searchlights were active in the Ruhr area.

After bombs had been released aircraft dived to 1,800 – 2,000 feet heading approximately east, and gunners opened fire on searchlights. The front gun caused three searchlights to be immediately doused, and accurate flak fire which was being experienced ceased. The rear gunner also reported searchlights dowsed upon bursts from his guns. A landfall was made at Ramsgate at 00:58 hours and arrival at Base was 01:39 hours. A landing was made at 02:00 hours.

15/16 May 1940. Bombing Attack on Target A.7 (Holten Sterkrade) and Target A.H.18 (Bridges at Turnhout)

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 21.40; Down 01.15

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (5)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
A/C Shuttleworth, RAF, Rear Gunner

– Captain’s Report, dated 16 May 1940:
Night Operation on Target A.H.18. I took off from Base for target allotted at 21:40 hours. Bomb load consisted of 12 – 250 lb bombs, 50% of which were long delay and 50% N.D.T.

Arrived vicinity of target at approximately 23:10 hours, but due to haze and poor visibility accentuated by the moon, observations became difficult. A search was made for the target by attempting to intercept canal between the town of Antwerp whose fires were burning, and Turnhout. Height was reduced to 2,000 feet in attempts, covering period 23:10 – 00:05 hours, to sight the canal and run on to target. At one stage the canal was observed momentarily reflected, but in attempting to turn on to it, it was lost. Eventually, efforts were abandoned and landing was made at base with the bomb load.

Observations. Whilst in the vicinity of Brasschaet Aerodrome at 2,000 feet a balloon cable was reflected clearly against the moon, extending above the aircraft. A watch was kept but the balloon was not sighted.

A.A. Fire. First experienced over Westkapelle area, but ceased upon appropriate signal given. Occasional fire was seen coming from outskirts of Antwerp, and about 8 miles NE. It was inaccurate. No signal was given from the aircraft for fear of unnecessarily giving away it’s position. Spasmodic fire was also experienced whilst near the target but was disregarded.

Searchlights. Several were seen near Westkapelle and held us, but were extinguished when signal was given from our aircraft. Two momentarily held us near the target, one white and one blue. The blue light came on suddenly and caught the aircraft immediately but apparently we were not observed, the beam wandered.

Enemy Aircraft. None were observed.

Weather. No cloud over target area, but haze vertical visibility difficult even from 2,000 feet. At times fields could be seen but only when the aircraft was in certain positions relative to the moon. A certain amount of very high cloud cir. stratus was observed, but it did not aggravate the situation. Cloud base over Norfolk was 5,000 feet, eventually came 10/10ths at 3,000 feet broken clouds were encountered and bumps were violent. Aircraft emerged from cloud at 2,000 feet.

Navigation. Landfall was made on the Dutch coast on journey out three miles south of Westkappelle at 22:56 hours. Return journey was completed on DR and a landfall was made on the English coast at Aldenburgh at 00:49 hours, and two homing bearings were obtained from Feltwell. A landing was effected at 01;15 hours, ETA Base was 01:14 hours.

Remarks. Blackout was good, with the exception of a group of numerous coloured green, blue, and orange lights seen at Flushing. Fires at Antwerp were very prominent.

Time in Air –    3 hours 35 minutes.
Miles Flown –   542.
Petrol –            550 gallons

17/18 May 1940. Bombing Attacks on Targets A.64, A.72, A.79, M.435, M.464, M.458, AC.6 and AC.7.
Six aircraft were detailed to make attacks on targets in the Ruhr area. Widespread fog on return necessitated aircraft being diverted to other aerodromes.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 22.15; Down 02.35

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (6)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C Walter Stanley Kitson, RAF, (580055), W/Operator
A/C John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

– Captain’s Report, dated 18 May 1940:
Bombing attack on targets A.64, M.435, M.464.

Raid Number. TBC.215
Results. Due to low cloud and bad visibility, rain and severe icing, combined with intense A.A. and Flak Fire and innumerable searchlights, when the machine emerged from the cloud base, the target was not bombed. At one period during 00:18 hours – 01:00 hours target A.64 and target M.435 were observed, and preparations were made for bombing. However, the target became lost before action could be taken, further searches proved fruitless, so bombs were brought back to Base. At one time the aircraft was over the center of the Ruhr area and as precision bombing was hopeless, and in view of recent orders, concerning promiscuous bombing, the bombs were not dropped.

Observations. None could be made in the vicinity of the target or the Ruhr because of the weather conditions; and when attempts were made to emerge from cloud over the Ruhr at 6,600 feet, searchlights and A.A. Fire made reconnaissance impracticable.

A.A.Fire. Proved intense and amazingly accurate despite use of cloud base at 6,600 feet. Black bursts were seen 50 to 70 yards directly ahead of aircraft, and two reports were heard and felt immediately below the aircraft. The rear gunner reported bursts on aircraft level on either side and to the rear, also intense light flak in target areas. The machine was holed but no damage was done.

Searchlights. Observed in great numbers, blue, red, and white, and held the aircraft whenever it emerged from cloud. When one was dowsed, another came on to the aircraft. At one time it was estimated the aircraft was held by practically a dozen beams.

Enemy Aircraft. None observed.

Weather. Clear with bright moon on the journey to the Dutch Coast. At approximately 15 miles east of Rotterdam – where landfall was made – at 11,500 feet, the ground was obscured by 10/10ths cloud at 9,500 feet. The moon became partially obscured by high alto stratus cloud. Upon ETA the aircraft emerged from cloud at 8,000 feet and a further 10/10ths layer was found at 7,500 feet, the base of which was found to be roughly 6,600 feet. Vertical visibility was bad and rain and ice was then encountered along with the searchlight and A.A. opposition. On the return journey the area over the North Sea proved to be clear, until arrival at the English Coast, where our landfall was made at Felixstowe at 02:11 hours, and a course was set for base, and cloud broken at 400 feet when ground mist became apparent. Landing was made at Base at 02:35 hours.

Navigation. One back bearing was obtained on journey out before crossing the English Coast. Remainder of the journey to target was carried out by D.R.  Homing bearings were obtained upon return journey upon striking the Coast.

Petrol Consumption. Amount Taken :- 567
Amount Used:- 367
Miles Per Gallon:- 1.7
Miles Covered:- 620
Oil Used (Port):- 2 Gallons
Oil Used (Starboard):- 2 1/2 Gallons
Time in Air:- 4 hours 20 minutes

19/20 May 1940. Bombing Attacks Over Enemy Territory (Haybes).
Seven Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to make an attack on the above target. All crews experienced accurate A.A. fire during bombing, only a few going unscathed. Four aircraft received moderate to minor flak damage. One aircraft had a 5″ shell pass through the port aileron without exploding. Aircraft control was not lost.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 22.15; Down 02.35

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (7)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C Walter Stanley Kitson, RAF, (580055), W/Operator
A/C Shuttleworth, RAF, Rear Gunner

– Captain’s Report, dated 19/20th May 1940:
Airborne at 21:46 hours with 6 – 250 lb N.D.T Bombs, 6 x Containers of 4 lb Incendiaries.
Raid number KCB.241   Time Off 21:46   Time Landed 02:20.

Target “A”.
Runs made from East to West and bombs dropped in three salvoes. One bomb was observed to drop wide of the target and the other two salvoes were observed to fall on the road on either side of the bridge.

Target “B”.
Five containers were dropped in the wood about half a mile south of the road through Haybes in the centre of a ring of searchlights. Five fires were seen to be in the progress on leaving the target. In the region of 51 43N 01 40E at 22:30 hours gunfire was observed on the surface of the water. The flashes observed seemed to be rather heavier guns than those used for A.A. No traffic was observed on the railways or roads in the vicinity of the targets.

Light flak encountered on both targets “A” and “B” reaching up to 6,000 feet. Fire not particularly accurate at “A”, but as other planes were in the vicinity the flak may have been intended for them. At “B” flak fire accurate and intense. No heavy A.A. encountered.

A great number of searchlights at Charleroi and Haybes. Machine picked up very accurately by searchlights at both places named above. Evasive action taken by altering speed and height, but aircraft still held.

No enemy aircraft observed.

Over target “A” weather was clear with a slight ground haze. Targets well illuminated by moonlight from the Southwest. Over target ”B” there was a layer of alto-stratus cloud with base at 8,000 feet, moon effectively obscured by this cloud bank, though ground could be recognised.

Navigation was by D.R. and Map reading over major portion of operation. On returning over the French coast an M/F bearing was obtained and one homing bearing used at the English coast.

A parachute flare was dropped over target “A”, though was not found particularly helpful. On the first attack on target “A” the six 250 lb G.P. bombs did not release and eventually had to be dropped as a single bomb, two bombs and then a salvo of three. One container of incendiaries did not release.

Time in Air – 4 hours 35 minutes. Miles per Gallon – 1.6. Distance covered – 635 miles.

21/22 May 1940. Bombing Operations Over Enemy Territory (Aachen and Dinant).
Eight Wellington Aircraft from this Unit were detailed to make an attack against the above targets.

Wellington 1.A L.7784, AA-D.
Up 21.40; Down 02.15

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (8)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
A/C John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

– Captain’s Report, dated 22 May 1940:

2. Bomb Load. 12 x 250 lb G.P.  N.D.T. bombs.

3. Raid No. KCB 249.

4. Crew. As above.

5. Results. A stick of 12 x 250 lb bombs was dropped at 00:02 hours from 400 yards early and the last burst was seen about 300 yards late. The stick was dropped approximately at right angles across the target.

6. A.A. Fire. Light flak was seen below aircraft at 6,000 feet. Heavier flak was observed reaching 10,000 feet and a certain amount of A.A. which did not appear very accurate. Other friendly machines were over the target at the same time and this apparently complicated the enemy A.A. and searchlight defences which in our case were not particularly intense.

7. Searchlights. Numerous searchlights were seen in the vicinity of Masstrecht and the target. They held the aircraft only momentarily, and it was obvious the other aircraft presence were making their task difficult.

8. Enemy Aircraft. The presence of enemy aircraft over and in the vicinity of the target was made apparent by the firing of three starred cartridges. At one stage these cartridge were seen followed by a white light switched on on the aircraft.

9. Weather. Clear sky over target with moon lightly obscured at times by high Currus. A very light haze covered the area but did not prove difficult re visibility.

10. Navigation. D.R. was used via Felixstowe and Dunkirk. Landfall on the outward journey was made on the French Coast at 22:50 hours and new course was set for target. The return journey was made on D.R. also and two or three homing bearings were used to check course to Base, Base was reached at 02:03 hours and a landing was made at 02:15 hours.

11. General Remarks. None.

Time In Air:- 4 hours 35 min.
Total Miles Covered. 622 miles.

wellington[1][4]

Wellington L.7784, AA-D, the “Wimpy” flown by the Coleman crew on 21/22 May 1940. – NZ Bomber Command Assn archives.

Note: This night saw 75 (NZ) Squadron’s first operational loss, F/O Collins’ crew hit by AA fire while attacking the bridge at Dinant, Belgium. Both pilots were killed in the crash but the other crew-members bailed out safely, thanks to courageous efforts by John Collins in controlling the burning aircraft long enough to enable them to escape at low level. They survived and were captured.

23/24 May 1940. Bombing Operations Over Enemy Territory.
Five aircraft from this Unit were detailed to make individual attacks on communication targets in France and Belgium.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 21.30; Down 01.40

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (9)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
A/C Shuttleworth, RAF, Rear Gunner

– Captain’s Report, dated 24 May 1940:
Bomb Load. 12 – 250 lb G.P. N.D.T.

Results. Target could not be located due to rain and bad visibility and 10/10th cloud at 6,000 feet in target area. At 23:20 a convoy estimated aproximately 50 vehicles with lights was observed on the road between Wavre and Gembloux, and a stick of six bombs was dropped. Two bursts were reported on or near the road as it was clearly seen momentarily in the bursts. An attempt was made to drop a second stick but all the convoy lights had been doused on the first burst. Finally a second stick was dropped on a row of searchlights bordering Namur. Two were estimated as direct hits.

Observations & Reconnaissances. Nil.

A.A. Fire. None was experienced over the convoy which was bombed from 5,400 feet but light and heavy accurate flak was experienced at that height at Namur at 23:28 hours.

Searchlights. Very numerous about Namur but due to the drizzle and mist at the time proved ineffective and passed over the aircraft many times without holding it.

Weather. Base cloud over the target was 6,000 feet to 10,000 feet. Light rain and mist made observations difficult. The moon, not being apparent, made lights only indication of ground. Conditions remained similar on return journey to Belgian Coast and rain squalls were skirted and lightning was seen on the Belgian Coast. Upon arrival at English Coast visibility increased until a clear sky and moonlight was experienced at base.

Navigation. Journey out via Felixstowe and Ostend was made on D.R. and journey home with the added use of three homing bearings. Base was reached at 01:20 hours and a landing made at 01:40 hours.

Time in Air :-  4 hours 10 minutes.
Total Mileage :- 620 miles.

28/29 May 1940. Bombing Operations Over Enemy Territory (Rouers and Menin).
Three aircraft from this Unit were detailed to make individual attacks on the above target.

Wellington 1.C R.3165, AA-L.
Up 23.05; Down 02.00

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (10)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C Green, RAF, W/Operator
A/C John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

– Captain’s Report, dated 29 May 1940:
2. Bomb load consisted of one container of incendiaries (4lb) and 11 x 250 lbs G.P. N.D.T. bombs.

3. Raid No. NCB.314

4. Results. Arrived in vicinity of target at 23:15 hours D.R and glided down from 5,000 feet to 1,200 feet, but low cloud and mist made visibility impossible and due to strict orders given that no bombs were to be dropped except on target or alternative targets, bombs were brought back. A flare was dropped, but though the aircraft circled, it could not be seen. It was sighted by the following aircraft who later reported it as being valueless due to low cloud and mist.

5. A.A. Fire. None observed.

6. Searchlights. A small number were active around the target area but the aircraft was flown directly through them and was not picked up.

7. Observations & Reconnaissance. Dunkirk was seen to be burning and from the repeated flare up of fires it appeared as though oil or petrol was alight. In the vicinity of Lillie a glow patch was reflected on the low cloud, no fires could be seen. Ground activity was apparent in this area by repeated flashes of artillery. Black out was good, only occasional desultory lights were seen.

8. Enemy Aircraft. None observed.

9. Weather. On journey out cloud extended in broken layers from 1,000 feet to 8,000 feet. Rain and thunder conditions experienced crossing channel. In target area, broken layers of cloud 8/10th was encountered. At 1,200 feet cloud layers were still below the aircraft. Vertical visibility through holes in layers was bad. At times only the moving reflection of light on the mist and cloud indicated enemy searchlights were endeavouring to locate aircraft.

10. Navigation. Journey out was completed on D.R. and target area was reached on E.T.A. i.e. 23:15 hours. A course was set for base at 23:30 hours and three homing bearings enabled the navigator to reach base at 01:50 hours and a landing was made at 02:00 hours.

31 May/1 June 1940. Bombing Attacks on Target G.1. (Nieuport).
Nine aircraft were detailed to make an attack against the above target.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 22.25; Down 01.05

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (11)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
A/C Green, RAF, W/Operator
A/C Shuttleworth, RAF, Rear Gunner

Captain’s Report, dated 31 May 1940:
2. Bomb load. 14 – 250 lbs G.P. fused D.A. & N.D.T.

3. Raid No. – PCB320.

4. Results. Three sticks were dropped from 7,000 feet comprising of 4, 5, and 5 bombs respectively across the target. The first stick caused violent explosions and a large fire in a building. These explosions continued throughout the duration of the attack and could still be seen some time after leaving the area. The 2nd and 3rd sticks were seen to burst near the first stick, but no accurate observation could be made regarding effect.

5. Observations, reconnaissance etc. No rail or road movement seen. Small moving lights were observed out to sea and on the beach in the defended area.

6. A.A. Fire. Desultory and not very accurate.

7. Searchlights. None around target though 3 held the aircraft for about 30 seconds south of the area.

8. Enemy Aircraft. No enemy aircraft were seen.

9. Weather. After crossing the English coast on journey out cloud 10/10 reaching 7,500 feet was encountered. Cloud 9/10 base approximately 10,000 feet. Over target area cloud at 7,500 feet dispersed and haze was very evident and made observations difficult. Upon return journey weather was similar and haze at 2,000 feet was experienced after English coast crossed.

10 Navigation. Navigation was by D.R. Homing was resorted to near the English coast to prevent any possibility of flying over Harwich.

11. General Remarks. Difficulty was experienced in locating target due to haze and poor visibility, a flare was used and the canal leading to target located. The first stick caused a fire which was used as a mark for dropping the further two sticks.

3/4 June 1940. Bombing Attacks on Target A.28 (Dusseldorf).
Eight aircraft were detailed to make individual attacks on the above target. Heavy A.A. fire was reported in the region of Rotterdam airport. Searchlights were also experienced in great numbers over a wide area. The weather was good but a slight ground haze made targets difficult to locate. Fog was encountered on return to base, necessitating some aircraft having to divert to other airfields.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 21.30; Down 02.55

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (12)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt Green, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

Bomb Load; 8 x 250 lb G.P fused NDT, 1 x 250 lb G.P fused 8 hour delay, and 1 container of   incendiaries.

Dropped a stick of 9 – 250lbs. G.P. and one container of incendiaries across the target. Near misses were observed and fires were started in the proximity of the target. A dull red fire emitting clouds of black smoke was also seen near the Eastern boundary. Owing to the industrial haze accurate observations could not be made.

5 June 1940. P/O F.T. Poole posted to this unit from 214 Squadron, Stradishall. Frank Poole, a New Zealander granted short term service commission with the RAF just after war broke out, became William’s 2nd Pilot.

5/6 June 40. Bombing Attacks on Cross-Roads and Marshalling Yards at Cambrai.
Seven Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out attacks against the above target. Two aircraft carried 6 x 500 lb G.P. bombs, and the other five carried 12 x 250 lb G.P. bombs

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 22.25; Down 01.45

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (13)
P/O Ian Ronald Gow, RAF (40820), 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt Green, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt Shuttleworth, RAF, Rear Gunner

7/8 June 40. Bombing Attacks on Chimay, St. Valery, Abbeville, Pont Remy.
Eight aircraft were detailed to carry out individual attacks on targets but one was one hour late in taking off due to enemy air raid alarm, arrived to find target covered in fog and returned to Base with bomb load intact.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 22.45; Down 02.45

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (14)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt Green, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

Target Abbeville.

9/10 June 40. Attacks Against Communications Targets.
Seven crews were detailed to make individual attacks on Communications targets at Rocroi & G5; Rocroi & Revin; Charleville & G6, and G9. Little enemy activity was observed between Dunkirk and Charleville, although the latter target was heavily defended.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 22.10; Down 02.05

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (15)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt Shuttleworth, RAF, Rear Gunner

Target Charleville and G.6. Started four large fires in area of G.6, and dropped stick of 4 – 250lbs. bombs on CHARLEVILLE starting two large fires of a dull red and circular nature.

11/12 June 40. Operations.
Six aircraft and crews proceeded on Special Duty to “PAMELA” as below. Attacks on the Black Forest, in an effort to cause widespread forest fires.

Wellington 1.C R.3166, AA-M.
Up ??.??; Down 0?.??

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (16)
– rest of crew as above?

14/15 June 40. Incendiary Raid on Black Forest East of Achern and Oberkirch.
One aircraft took part in raid with four aircraft from No. 37 Squadron*, and he carried 6 – 250lbs. containers holding 10 – 25lbs. incendiary bombs each. These bombs were dropped in target area and fires started, but due to torrential rain encountered, slowly extinguished. No road, rail, river or seaborne traffic observed. No A.A. fire in target area, slight at OSTEND, GHENT and STUTTGART. Ice formation experienced from 7000 – 13000ft. 10/10 cloud over most of route. Navigation by D/R. Two thirds of flight carried out on instrument panel.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K.
Up 21.45; Down 04.40

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (17)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

Navigation to and from the target was by D.R. No winds could be found; the Met winds were only accurate over the first leg of the flight. One fix was obtained on return, which placed the aircraft’s position over London at 03.58hrs. Two drift sights were possible over France by using the rear gun sight on fires observed. The aircraft landed safely at 04.40hrs.

*Note No. 37 Squadron was also based at RAF Feltwell at the time.

17/18 June 1940. Bombing Attacks on Target A.73.
Seven Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to make individual attacks against the above target in the RUHR district.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K
Up 22.30; Down 02.40

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (18)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

Carried out the attack on a heading of 120° Mag. and observed the bomb bursts straddling the road/railway and on to the target. Two bomb bursts among the rest appeared much larger. The incendiary fires that started shortly faded in intensity, indicating less flammable undergrowth or construction material.

19/20 June 1940. Bombing Attacks on Targets M.39 and L.82.
Five of the eight aircraft from this Squadron to carry out attacks carried 5 – 500lbs. S.A.P. bombs, two others 5 – 500lbs. G.P. bombs and remaining machines loaded with 9 – 250lbs. bombs and one case of incendiaries. Weather was good over whole part of route and moon was to pilot’s advantage, and all aircraft located and attacked targets, with exception of LCB.474 who attacked rail and road bridges at DUSSELDORF. Searchlights numerous over AMSTERDAM and OSNABRUCK and balloons noticed to flying over all main towns on route. Only one enemy machine seen, an ME109 off Dutch coast, but did not attack. Navigation was by D/R and visual fixes and homing bearings.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K
Up 22.30; Down 03.15

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (19)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

24/25 June 1940. Bombing attacks on targets F.19 & A.108.
Eight Wellington aircraft took part in attacks, which were successfully carried out, bomb bursts observed, and fires seen to start, while thick haze in target area made identification difficult. Two balloons observed to be flying over KASSEL area, and a flare path extinguished at KESSEL aerodrome on approach of first aircraft. A.A. Fire extremely thick and fairly accurate, over both targets. Searchlights very numerous, and weather fair throughout, except for haze. Navigation by D/R, visual fixes, and homing bearings. All aircraft returned safely.

Wellington 1.C R.3159, AA-K
Up 22.25; Down 03.15

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (20)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

Located Dortmund and dropped a flare to illuminate the target (Factory A.108) better. However, the flare became expended before the bomb run was completed. No further flares were dropped owing to thick haze. Attacked blast furnaces in the vicinity of A.108 from 9,000 feet at 00:35 hours. Strikes were observed but no material damage determined. A few small fires started, but did not last more than 2 minutes

26/27 June 1940. Bombing attacks on targets M.431, H.49, AND M.122.
Targets successfully attacked by eight aircraft taking part from this unit, and large explosions and bomb bursts observed, on aerodromes and buildings at M.122, with large fires being started, which were visible until coast was crossed. At H.49 damage not observed, but felt to be severe. During operations, a number of dummy flare paths observed, and balloons seen at 10,000 feet over HAMM. A.A. fire on the whole was very heavy, both heavy and light flak experienced, and searchlights intense. The weather was not good, thunderstorms prevalent making observations difficult in most areas, and icing experienced above 8,000 ft in clouds. Navigation by D/R, visual fixes and homing bearings.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 22.10; Down 02.35

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (21)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

Bomb load dropped in one salvo, estimated hit target in SE corner. Numerous small fires started, which caused small explosions sometime after target had been left.

28/29 June 1940. Bombing attacks on Target C.37.
Eight aircraft from this unit detailed to carry out attacks on above target, Chemical works at KOLN. CB.525 was unable to identify target accurately owing to thick haze and engine trouble, so bombed WAALHAVEN aerodrome at ROTTERDAM. Bursts observed and hits registered during all attacks, and fires started. CB.529 also could not pin-point target, so bombed blast furnaces at COLOGNE. Many balloons seen over all main areas in RUHR, and A.A. fire particularly heavy, also over ANTWERP. Fog experienced on return to base with result that three aircraft had to land at WITON.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 22.25; Down 02.20

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (22)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

Made full use of small lake and patch of woods to West of target [for purposes of identification], and bombs dropped in stick from 11,000ft, but no bursts seen due to intense searchlight activity, while hits assumed to be registered.

30 June / 1 July 1940. Bombing attacks on forest south of FRANKFURT.
Six aircraft from this unit started out to attack above target, but unfortunately one CB.543, had to return to base with a burst oil pipe in the rear turret after some time in air. Target was located and bombed, and fires were started, but did not persist. Village of WALLDORF was bombed inadvertently. Little inaccurate light flak experienced over FRANKFURT, but heavy over RUHR, and many hundreds of searchlights operating in latter, but only a few in target area itself. Weather good throughout trip, but fog was experienced on return to base, resulting in three aircraft being directed to WYTON, where they landed safely.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 21.45; Down 02.50

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (23)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

A line of fires two miles long laid on course 230 degrees Mag. from FRANKFURT. Attack carried out from 11,000ft. Target area left at 00.25hrs, and for distance of 15 miles 14 fires still seen to be burning until cloud obscured them. Thought that fires would not spread to any degree.

2/3 July 1940. Bombing Attacks on Target A.28 in RUHR.
Five Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to make individual attacks on Target A28 in the Ruhr Valley. Owing to poor weather conditions over the whole of the target area, they diverted to alternative targets.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 21.45; Down 02.45

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (24)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

CB.557 reports that no attacks were made by him. Aircraft returned to base.

6/7 July 1940. Bombing Attacks on Target D.1 – Submarine Yards at BREMEN.
Five Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to make individual attacks on D.1. The operation was not a complete success due to the extremely bad weather encountered. Only two aircraft reached target and dropped their bomb load.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 21.40; Down 03.40

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (25)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt John Dowds, RAF (632780), Rear Gunner

F/O Coleman’s crew got a fleeting glimpse of the target through a break in the clouds and dropped one stick of their entire bomb load from 8,000ft. No results possible.

They had to abort the mission after their trailing aerial was lost due to a lightning strike, meaning loss of communications. They returned and had to divert to RAF Abingdon because of bad weather at base, eventually landing at 03.45 hours.

8/9 July 1940. Bombing Attacks on Alternate target (Z61) for A.73 – Benzine Plant at MORS.
Six Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to make individual attacks against target A73 (Benzine Plant at Mors). The alternate target was Z61.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 21.40; Down 01.50

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (26)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

Bombs and incendiaries seen to burst S.E. of WAALHAVEN aerodrome by CB.591. No fires were seen. No hits on aerodrome. They observed two enemy aircraft taking off but no contact was made.

18/19 July 1940. Bombing Attacks on Target K.56. (Rottenburg Airfield)
Six Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. Heavy A.A. fire was accurate and intense from 10,000 feet to 14,000 feet over Oldenburg, Bremen and Hamburg. Searchlight activity was very active over the whole area. The weather was 10/10ths cloud up to 12,000 feet en route to the target, but in the target area it was fine and clear.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 21.40; Down 04.00

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain (27)
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt Shuttleworth, RAF, Rear Gunner

Unable to locate primary target accurately, so carried out an attack on an alternate aerodrome, at UTERSEN. Results not observed.

On the night of 20/21 July the squadron had its second loss, F/O Samuel Miles McKenzie Watson and crew, in Wellington 1C R.3165, AA-L, the aircraft the Coleman crew had flown on 28/29 May. Detailed to attack Horst (Gelsenkirchen), they were shot down by a night fighter, all killed.

“About this time, Flying Officer Coleman, one of the New Zealand Flight originals, was awarded the DFC. After some celebratory drinks in the mess as a warm-up, he went along with Bill (Williams) and Popeye (Lucas) to Lakenheath, where the wives had turned on a special hero’s supper.”
– From “Popeye’s War”, by Lorie Lucas.

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) AWMM London Gazette, September 1940
Citation DFC (22 Oct 1940):
Flying Officer Coleman took part in twenty seven bombing attacks on Germany, Holland, Belgium and France since the beginning of 1940, one major bombing attack on Denmark and one night reconnaissance and raids over Germany. By his consistent determination and outstanding skill as captain of aircraft this officer set an example of the highest order.

Presumably at the same time, his Navigator, Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF, was awarded the DFM:
Citation DFM (13 Sep 1940): Not available. The Squadron Commander’s recommendation for this award was:
“This airman has, since the beginning of the year, been employed as an Air Observer on operations against the enemy. He has been a member of Flying Officer Coleman’s crew on all flights that this officer has made.

His courage and devotion to duty coupled with his skill as a Navigator and Bomb Aimer, has enabled Flying Officer Coleman to produce consistently good results. He has taken part in operations as follows: 1 night reconnaissance and “Nickel” raid into Germany, 1 major bombing attack on Norway, 1 major bombing attack on Denmark and 27 major bombing attacks on Germany, Holland, Belgium and France.”

“Next day they were all on call, but the target that night was scrubbed when the weather packed in.
The met report for the night of 25/26 July forecast 10/10ths cloud with visibility of less than one mile. Popeye’s target this night was the aircraft works at Gotha, and others in the flight went off to Kassel.”
– From “Popeye’s War”, by Lorie Lucas.

25/26 July 1940. Bombing Attacks on KASSEL, targets F.10, M.434.
Of the nine Wellington aircraft taking part in the above operations from this Unit, one GB.661 (F/O Coleman) failed to return, and Squadron thus suffered its third loss since operations began.

Wellington 1.C R.3235, AA-?
Up 21.20?;  – missing

F/O William Harcourt Coleman, RNZAF, Captain
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, 2nd Pilot
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, RAF. (518807), Navigator
Sgt John Dowds, RAF (632780), Front Gunner
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF, W/Operator
Sgt William Donald Francis Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377), Rear Gunner

Note: There had been a change in policy, and crews from this operation forward went back to carrying Front Gunners, ie., six-man crews rather than the five-man crews that had been the norm over the past few months.

No-one knows for sure what happened, but the crew made it to the target and dropped their bombs. The official report said: “Wellington 1C R3235 on the way back from the attack on the marshalling yards in NW Germany, the wireless operator’s Mayday signal came through, but nothing more.”

The crew was listed as “Missing”.

Squadron and family members did not find out what happened to the crew until years later.

Kassel was heavily defended, as confirmed by F/L Adams and other crews who had to undertake violent evasive action to avoid being struck. So it’s possible that Coleman’s aircraft received serious flak damage over the target, but was not totally disabled, allowing the crew to head off westward, with Coleman managing to stay airborne for 320km, almost making it to the coast of Holland.

Early on the morning of 26th July, 1940, Wellington B.IC R3235 of 75 (New Zealand) Squadron, RAF, crashed into the Ijsselmeer, the inland sea near Amsterdam, 1km east of Uitdam. There were no survivors. The bodies of the airmen washed ashore, that of F/O Coleman on the 3rd of August, 1940.

All 6 crew members were buried in the Amsterdam New Eastern Cemetery:
F/O William Harcourt Coleman, DFC, RNZAF (397811 / NZ2526). Age 23. (Plot 69. Row A. Grave 21).
P/O Frank Twain Poole, RAF, (42722). Age 25. (Plot 69. Row A. Grave 17.)
Born 14 Aug 1915, son of of Charles Herbert and Mary Jane Poole, of Invercargill, Southland, New Zealand.
Sgt Norman Wilson Brown, DFM, RAF. (518807). Age 24.
Sgt William Eric Nevill, RAF. Age 23.
Born 1917, the son of William Thomas Nevill, and of Violet Gertrude Nevill, of Edmonton, Middlesex.
Sgt John Dowds, RAF (632780). Age 19. (Plot 69. Row A. Grave 23)
Son of Mr. and Mrs. D. Dowds, of Musselburgh, Midlothian.
Sgt William Donald Francis “Don” Annan, RNZAF, (NZ391377). Age 20.  (Plot 69. Row A. Grave 19.)
Son of Fredrick Andrew John Annan and of Annie Isabell Annan (nee MacRae), of Napier, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.

Headstones2

– from Freedom Is Not Free (http://www.basher82.nl/).

Three of the New Zealanders in the crew were reported missing in the Weekly News, and copies of the photos that were published are now held by the Auckland War Memorial Museum:

NZCrew-photos-WN[3]

Many thanks to the Coleman family for sharing information and giving permission to post this tribute.

References: A History of No 75 Squadron, RNZAF, Part II, Chap 1, Operational Diary – 75 (NZ) Sqn RAF, 1937-1940, Development of the New Zealand Flight and operations flown during the ‘Phoney War’ period, compiled by Sqn Ldr R.C.Macfarlane, AFC, RNZAF (Rtd).; 75 (NZ) Squadron ORB’s and Appendices; Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph; Errol Martyn via the Wings Over New Zealand forum; “Popeye’s War”, by Lorie Lucas; “The Restless Sky”, by A.V.M. Cyril Kay, C.B, C.B.E, DFC.; Freedom Is Not Free (http://www.basher82.nl/).

A quarter of a million views – thank you all so much

DAD031

Love Bob xxx

As regular readers know, I have always tried to record and thank everybody when the blog has reached another viewing milestone.

Today I do the same, but almost breathlessly, given that we have reached the magic quarter of a million mark. Writing this, I have a smile from ear to ear every time I type quarter of a million.

Quarter of a million

I have reflected many times on occasions like this that the scale of interest and support has never ceased to amaze and touch me – and, without sounding repetitive, I do this again. I continue to come into contact with new people, relatives and interested individuals and it is their generosity and desire to share stories of the members of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, both air and ground crew which allows me to keep posting and you all to keep viewing them.

The reservoir of information has steadily increased and recently, my ability to process and present this wonderful information seems to have, annoyingly,  decreased……

We also now have an online store for memorabilia that contributes to the UK Squadron Association and the Memorial Garden in Mepal.

The Squadron database reached a significant milestone while I was down in Wiltshire visiting my Mother – lack of internet and my Mothers eclectic TV viewing habits allowed me to complete “phase 2” of the database.

We now have every operational flight with aircraft type, serial and where known, flight and individual designator number. We now have at least a surname for every crew member of every crew who flew on all of these Ops.

As I think I have explained before to give a sense of scale of this activity, the database is approximately 8,400 rows long as a list and each row currently is made up of about 85 cells that contain pieces of information about the Op, aircraft or airmen in any particular crew. When complete therefore, the database will contain in total, approximately 714,000 pieces of information.

The generosity of people contacting me about their relatives means the database already contains new personal information – specifically the Christian names of the RAF airmen that flew with the Squadron and also, just as importantly, designator letters and names of individual aircraft that are totally new information.

In real terms the database project in content is now about 50% complete and as sections of information are completed, the natural tendency and inevitable likelihood is that extra information will be added. At a point of ‘critical completion’ the database ‘en masse’ will be made freely accessible to the public. Whilst a database/ search interface might allow swifter interrogation of the data, I am at least personally cautious about reducing the boys of the Squadron to data returns. To this end, I would still prefer to present static, laid out biographies of crews and or individuals, based on gathered filtering of the gathered information.

Perhaps ironically, my decision to start the database was simply if I could understand who the other crew that like my Father’s had been told on the 20th of November 1943 that they, on instruction from 3 Group needed to be made an example of to the other aircrews in the Squadron. They were tour expired – in Bob’s crews case after 21 Ops – the remaining crews at Mepal that early winter had to be shown it was possible to survive the ‘Chop’ Squadron. Of course as things develop you tend to get distracted (or I do) and to be honest I am actually no closer to knowing who that other crew was – but I shall.

Given that after Dad died at the end of August 2011, I knew nothing of his time in the War, let a lone anything about 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, its been a hell of a journey. I know more now than I could have possibly anticipated and have the utter privilege of presenting material that in many cases has never before been seen. I am humbled and proud of the task that has befallen me, albeit, perhaps at least initially unwittingly…..

Dad is perhaps still rather a nebulous cloud – I certainly know more, but in real terms, relatively little. My Mum, Wife and myself have on occasions mused that perhaps the joke is on me – this was Dad’s final problem, set to his only son to try to figure out. Perhaps as ignorant as me at the end of his journey and the start of mine as to what would be discovered and where the path would lead – if he could come back, only long enough for me to scream at him for not talking to me about it, he would probably nod, grunt affirmatively a number of times and then swear – and that would be enough.

The mystery of Jock Sommerville in some small part continues. Having completed the name stage of the database, I perhaps indulgently did a data sweep for the AIr Bombers of the Squadron. I know that some will say that its not about best or highest and I would normally agree, but this was a search that it felt as if I had spent the previous 2 1/2 years working to – building a huge machine (readers familiar with Douglas Adam’s ‘Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy’ will know where I am going with this) to perform a single calculation.

The answer as we all know was 42 – in this case the Ops Dad completed and the answer (subject to final checking) is that F/O (highest rank with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF) Robert Douglas ‘Jock’ Sommerville had the second highest tally of Ops flown for any Air Bomber in the Squadron – I find this incredible, amazing and heart breaking that he did this – very probably in ignorance of this fact himself – and that I have to now type this without him to tell you all this fact about this quiet, funny, warm, pig headed, bullish, generous man.

and so, if on reading this, people, for what ever reason take offense at my statistical analysis, my stripping of history and the horrors of Bomber Command to discover something about my dad, I will answer as Jock would in the same situation:

bollocks……………

 

In some respects, it’s been a strange summer. Having finally shed the infection and dragging symptoms from it that I picked up before Christmas, my expectation was that I could use my leave to try to get at least slightly back on top of the mountain of information I still have to share. However, a new car as perhaps always provided an excuse to drive and enjoy it and as a result a fair few days have been spent driving between the North East and North West coast recording gravestones for the Roll of Honour section of the blog – I have posted some already and I have some still to present. Sitting behind the wheel, eye on the satnav, it began to dawn on me that apart from the Marker stone at the airfields the Squadron flew from and the plinth stone in the Memorial Garden in the village of Mepal, nowhere else on the mainland of the UK are our Squadron airmen and their losses commemorated.

By geographical necessity, the boys I have been visiting this summer were all killed over or on British soil, however I am not aware of any specific memorial information that identifies the sites or areas that these losses occurred.

Having been running this amazing project for the time I have, I am all too aware of the wonderful opportunity it provides for a multitude of new ‘projects’. I wish to propose another.

By the time this blog has recorded another 250,000 views, that between us and whatever number of other individuals or groups we must become involved in, this will be rectified.Their names and sacrifice will be commemorated in a physical memorial at or as close to the point of their loss as can be achieved.

I don’t know how we will do this, where the money will come from or who will help, but I figure by saying we should do it, it might give a few people the thought they would like to get involved and that’s a start – and at this point, that’s what we need.

Thank you all again – without all of your help and interest, there would be nothing for me to type now.

Simon

“Buzz” Spilman, Gerry Abrahams and the Spilman crew, 1945.

DSC_0239 (2)

The Spilman crew, back from left to right: Gerry Abrahams, Wireless Operator; Tom Corlett, Bomb Aimer; Norm Holbrook, Navigator; Harry Thorne, Flight Engineer. Front, from left to right: Vern Clouston, Mid Upper Gunner; Sidney “Buzz” Spilman, Pilot; Pat Burke, Rear Gunner. – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of ”Buzz” Spilman.

Many thanks to Chris for this post on Gerry Abrahams and the Spilman crew. I think its fitting given the contribution that Chris has made regarding posts to the blog since the start that he should tip us over the 250,000 views count – thanks Chris for all your efforts!

A letter to the Editor in The New Zealand Herald (Auckland’s daily newspaper) caught my eye a few weeks ago, commending the New Zealand cricket team on their sporting manner during the recent test and one-day series in  England. The writer began by saying “As someone who had the pleasure of serving with  your forces in the last war …”, and that’s probably what caught my eye, even though I’m also a Black Caps fan.

The letter was signed by a “Gerry Abrahams, Birchington, Kent” – could this be 75 (NZ) Squadron veteran Gerry Abrahams? A quick check with Dee Boneham and Glen Turner via the 75 Squadron Assn Facebook page confirmed Gerry’s location as Birchington, not far from Manston, where he volunteers as a guide at the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum.

Shortly afterwards Gerry himself popped up on the Facebook page, contributing to a thread of great historical importance, listing the pubs frequented by the boys based at Feltwell and Mepal, 1940-45!

I mentioned in the thread that he probably drank with my uncle, both being W/Op’s, both being in crews that were partial to Percy’s Pub in Sutton, and both being named Gerry!

I also mentioned an entry in my uncle’s diary for 13 March 1945: “The W/Ops had a fair beat up in Sutton at the Royal Arms. Old Flip (?) swallowed his false teeth & finished up in Ely hospital.”

And sure enough, Gerry says he was there! Not an evening to easily be forgotten, by the sound of it.

So since I have been sitting on these photos of Gerry and his crew, I thought I should post them here, as a tribute, and as a “thank you” to Gerry, his skipper “Buzz”, who still lives in Nelson, NZ, the other members of their crew, and the hard-working ground crews of “B” Flight.

”Buzz” Spilman did his basic training at ITW Levin, then went through fighter pilot training; Tiger Moths at Harewood and Harvards at Woodbourne. He shipped out for England in November 1941 on the troopship Monterey, via the Pacific Islands and Hawaii (passing through only 10 days before the Japanese attacked!) to Canada. He crossed the Atlantic on the SS Letitia, arriving in Liverpool on Christmas Eve 1941. After a stint as a flying instructor, he transferred to Bomber Command, and after further training, was posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron. He was still only 22.

2.1.45: Administration. NZ4210535 F/S Stevens, C.M. and NZ413138 F/L S.L. Spilman. and crews arrived from No. 31 and No. 73 Bases respectively.

B Flight Commanding Officer S/L Bob Rodgers took the crew on their first op’, a daylight G-H attack on rail marshalling yards.

05/01/1945 – Attack Against Ludwigshafen
Twenty one aircraft attacked Ludwigshafen, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 G.P. 500 M.C., and Munro bombs. Visibility was clear. H/F was met, but all aircraft returned safely. A scattered raid was reported.

“A good concentration of bombs in target area and stream well together; should have been a good attack. Good concentration about 200 yds from river bank.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B
Hit by flak 5 times (AIR14-3463)

S/L John Robert “Bob” Rodgers, RNZAF NZ413956, Pilot.
F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:32 – Landed 17:32
Flight Time 06:00

06/01/1945 – Attack Against Neuss
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack Neuss but the operation was cancelled just prior to ‘take-off’. However, one hour after this cancellation, the operation was put on again. The fifteen crews were briefed a second time and eleven aircraft made an accurate attack on Neuss. Four aircraft captained by F/O Cumberpatch, F/S Russell, F/O Crawford and F/lt. Hannan had technical trouble and returned early. On this attack the aircraft carried 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., and Munro bombs. Cloud was nine to ten tenths. Crews bombed with the aid of instruments and sky markers.

“A lot of small fires and some smoke rising; quite good flares seen after leaving.”

Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:47 – Landed 20:49
Flight Time 05:02

8.1.45. The crew ferried Lancaster PB761, AA-Y back to Mepal from RAF Waterbeach, a 25 minute flight, presumably after heavy maintenance. This was the aircraft that crashed 9 days later at Woodditton, Suffolk, England on the way back from a raid on a benzol oil plant at Wanne- Eickel, Germany, killing Pilot Tim Blewett, Navigator Bryant Cornell, and Johnny Wilson, Air Bomber.

11/01/1945 – Attack Against Krefeld
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack Krefeld, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500G.P., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. Seventeen aircraft bombed the target in tenths cloud with special equipment and two aircraft bombed last resort. Slight H/F was met over the target, but no fighters were seen.

“Nothing to report.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston*, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke*, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

*NOTE Clouston and Burke swapped positions at this point and the change seems to have been permanent.

Take Off 11:41 – Landed 16:57
Flight Time 05:16

13/01/1945 – Attack Against Saarbrucken
Eighteen of nineteen aircraft detailed carried out a successful daylight attack on Saarbrucken Marshalling Yard, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500G.P., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. W/Cdr Baigent in ‘A’ had to return with his full load after reaching the target owing to technical trouble which prevented release of bombs. Crews bombed on special equipment. The Marshalling Yard was visible and many bursts were seen on the target. No opposition reported. All aircraft were diverted owing to bad visibility at Base.

“Blue puffs very good. A2/D* bombed 50ft above, was in no formation causing me to take avoiding action.”

* Lancaster LL674, A2-D, 514 Squadron, based at RAF Waterbeach, was lost two weeks later.

Lancaster Mk.I PB761 AA-Y

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:41 – Landed 18:17
Flight Time 06:36 (Landed Port Reath)

14.1.45. Ferrying PB761, AA-Y from Port Reath back to Mepal, 1 hr 55 mins.

15/01/1945 – Attack Against Langendreer
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Langendreer, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. One aircraft ‘D’ captained by F/O Leadley failed to reach the target owing to starboard inner engine failing. No results were observed owing to ten tenths cloud. Flak was slight over the target. No fighter opposition was encountered.

“Hit by flak when stream turned short and passed over Gladbach. Had to feather port outer. Stream weaved when flak came up and had no window cover.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R
Hit by flak once (AIR14-3463)

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:33 – Landed 16:59
Flight Time 05:26

16/01/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Seventeen aircraft attacked Wanne Hickel in ten tenths cloud, tops 6/7000 feet, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P. 500 ANM, 500 M.C. 250 G.P. and Munro bombs. Crews bombed with the aid of instruments and sky markers. Flak was moderate. The general impression was that bombing was concentrated on markers and red glow seen through cloud. The aircraft captained by NZ426235 F/S Wood, J, was attacked by a F.W. 190. The rear gunner opened fire, but no hits were observed and our aircraft suffered no damage. The aircraft captained by NZ414376 F/L T. Blewett unfortunately crashed in this country. The captain and Air Bomber NZ426234 F/O J. Wilson were killed. The Navigator 1398282 F/S Cornell, B.T. died later as a result of severe injuries.

“A promising attack.”

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy”/ “Love”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:31 – Landed 04:27
Flight Time 04:56

22/01/1945 – Attack Against Duisburg
Fifteen aircraft attacked Duisburg carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 G.P. (I.D) 250 G.P. and Munro bombs.Visibility was good. Crews saw the Rhine. Fires and explosions were seen coming from a concentrated area. A successful attack was reported. No opposition encountered.

“Good attack plumes of black smoke seen after bomb bursts and red glow on route home.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:20 – Landed 21:54
Flight Time 04:34

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.

“Bombing seemed accurate on Marshalling Yard.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:25 – Landed 16:12
Flight Time 05:47

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.

“Seemed a very good attack.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:10 – Landed 15:40
Flight Time 05:30

09/02/1945 – Attack Against Hohenbudburg
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Lutskendorf, but the target was changed during the afternoon to Hohenbudberg. This operation was carried out in 8/10th cloud with tops about 10,000. Flak was slight to moderate and S/L effective. A scattered raid was reported.

“Fair concentration of bombing.”

Lancaster Mk.I HK561 AA-Y “Liefy”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 04:14 – Landed 08:41
Flight Time 04:27

13/02/1945 – Attack Against Dresden
Twenty aircraft attacked Dresden as detailed. Very slight H/F was only opposition. The first aircraft over the target reported thin cloud which had cleared for later aircraft. Some aircraft were able to bomb visually. Crews reported the whole town was well alight and could see the glow of fires 100 miles away on return A highly successful raid.

“Good attack with very little flak. No S/L no fighters.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:14 – Landed 07:11
Flight Time 08:57

14/02/1945 – Attack Against Chemnitz
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Chemnitz. Nineteen attacked primary. AA”J” F/O R.J. Pearson, returned early through engine failiure. Cloud was ten tenths with tops 16-17000 over the target. Aircraft bombed with the aid of special equipment. No resilts were observed, very slight H/F was met over the target. AA”D”, captained by F/L G.S. Davies failed to return.

“Master Bomber ordered bombing on navigational aid on good D.R. but later he changed to Wanganui flares. These were disappearing into cloud.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:41 – Landed 05:12
Flight Time 08:31

16.2.45. Two brief Air Tests with S/L Rodgers, in AA-T and AA-X.

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

“Lead-in erratic – rather scattered bombing released over green puffs.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:59 – Landed 17:07
Flight Time 05:08

19/02/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aitcraft 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.

“Bombing concentrated and seemed to be going into centre of town. Some fires had started.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F “The Seven Sinners”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:33 – Landed 18:30
Flight Time 04:57

20, 21, 23.2.45. G-H Photography and G-H Bombing practice, 2:25 – 2:35 hrs each.

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.

“Several G.H. Leaders released at the same spot, a very poor visibility.”

Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 17:27
Flight Time 05:47

25.2.45 Air Test – Lancaster I, HK562, AA-L “Lucy” (aka. “Love”), 10 mins.

26/02/1945 – Attack Against Dortmund
Eighteen aircraft attacked Dortmund as detailed. Cloud was ten tenths over the target with tops 5-6,000 ft. No results were seen but bombing is thought to be concentrated. NZ428168 F/O N.H. Thorpe crashed in this country after passing over base in formation. Four members of the crew were killed.

“Formation flying above bombed through the formation and broke it up rather badly.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:39 – Landed 16:14
Flight Time 05:35

27/02/1945 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Gelsenkirchen, carrying 4000 HC 500 ANM 500 MC bombs. NZ426904 F/O M. Adamson and NZ425292 F/L D. Sadgrove returned early through engine trouble. Cloud was ten tenths. Leaders met slight to moderate H/F. No results were seen.

“Attack seemed scattered. Also a squadron was seen 1,000 ft above overtaking with bomb doors open. Squadron believed W.P.” (90 Squadron)

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:28 – Landed 16:24
Flight Time 04:56

01/03/1945 – Attack Against Kamen
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack Kamen, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500ANM., 500 M.C. and Munro bombs. F/O D. Barr in AA”C” jettisoned and returned early through engine trouble. Crews bombed on special equipment as the target was obscured by ten tenth cloud. Flak was negligible.

“Consider very good run into target – checked with own G.H. fix. Good concentration of smoke puffs.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Babington Shearer, RNZAF NZ4210512 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:46 – Landed 17:18
Flight Time 05:32

02/03/1945 – Attack Against Cologne
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack Cologne. No aircraft bombed owing to special equipment failiure. Three aircraft jettisoned due to flak damage to engines, the remainder bringing their bombs back. F/O Woodcock was wounded in the neck and his engineer F/Sgt. Gibb in the legs but landed safely at base.

“G.H. Leaders did not bomb. Formation went on to Coblenz area before turning off. Bombs brought back.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 DNC AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:11 – Landed 18:22
Flight Time 05:11

04/03/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Wanne Eickel. JN”O” F/O D. Barr returned early through engine failiure. Crews bombed with the aid of special equipment in 10/10ths cloud. No results were seen but crews were satisfied that it was a good attack. Slight to moderate H/F was experienced.

“11.50 hrs 51.30 N 04.00 E G.H. Fixes were not correct as checked by D.R. from 10.45 hrs. W/T Received intermittent. Broadcast only partly received.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 09:45 – Landed 14:47
Flight Time 05:02

06/03/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Five aircraft attacked Wesel carrying 4,000 H.C. and 500 ANM Bombs. These aircraft comprised the first attack and later three more aircraft carrying the same type bombs attacked. On both attacks aircraft had an excellent run in and report bomb flashes well concentrated round target area. Flak opposition was slight. No fighters were seen.

(One of the three 75 (NZ) Sqdn a/c in the second wave.)
“If photo comes out it should be to port of bombing run as aircraft went to port to avoid other aircraft.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:22 – Landed 23:32
Flight Time 05:10

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 Skymarkers 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.

“Good concentration of bombing and fires.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/S William Mallon, RNZAF NZ427521 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:23 – Landed 02:10
Flight Time 08:47

The Combat Report says that at 9.12pm and flying at 18,000 ft, a FW.190 dived on the a/c from the port quarter, the Mid Upper Gunner, F/S Clouston firing immediately and ordering the Captain to Corkscrew Port. Clouston fired continuously until the E/A, which didn’t fire back, broke away 300 yds to Starboard. Clouston observed hits on the wings and fuselage.

CombatReportSpilmanDessau7Mar45

Combat report, 7 March 1945.

10/03/1945 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen Buer
Twenty one aircraft attacked Gelsenkirchen as detailed. Aircraft bombed in light formation and all bombs were dropped together. Cloud was ten tenths. Slight H/F was encountered.

“Good formation over target G.H. run steady HS4/5 W/T set became heated was switched off and sprayed, fire averted.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:20 – Landed 17:25
Flight Time 05:05

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.

“Good bombing of target – could see brown smoke coming through the cloud.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:42 – Landed 17:11
Flight Time 05:29

14/03/1945 – Attack Against Heinrich Hutte
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Crews found the target covered with 10/10ths cloud. Formation was good though the target and bombs fell away together. Very accurate moderate H/F was met on the run in and over the target. F/Lt. E. Parsons in AA”E” failed to return. His aircraft was seen to be hit causing it to spiral into cloud. F/S McLernon landed at Woodbridge but returned to base the following day.

“Very concentrated attack with good formation.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:32 – Landed 18:28
Flight Time 04:56

23/03/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack Wesel carrying 1,000 M65 (RT), 1,000 M65 (B.T.) and Munro bombs. The target was attacked with the aid of special equipment. There was no cloud over the target but the visibility was poor owing to smoke. All crews reported a good concentration of bombs on the A/P. Very slight H/F was experienced.

“A well concentrated effort. Should be very successful.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:12 – Landed 19:04
Flight Time 03:52

29/03/1945 – Attack Against Salzgitter
Twenty one aircraft attacked Saltzgitter as detailed. Cloud was ten tenths, tops up to 19,000 ft and thin cloud and contrails persisting above, reducing visibility to 500yds. No results were observed and a scattered raid is reported. Flak moderate.

“Formation very poor due to poor weather conditions. No release pulse – number aircraft bombed together.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M
Hit by flak once (AIR14-3463)

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:40 – Landed 19:05
Flight Time 06:25

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.

“Lots illuminating flares and red and green TI’s with some explosions on target. Good bombing on target. Large glow seen.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/O Allan Ralph Baynes, RNZAF NZ427453 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:33 – Landed 01:54
Flight Time 05:21

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.

“Clear visibility. Good concentration of bombing.”

Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C “Charlie”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/O William Roy Brinsden, RNZAF NZ427573 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:26 – Landed 15:08
Flight Time 04:42

22/04/1945 – Attack on Bremen
21 aircraft were detailed to attack BREMEN. 2-5/10ths cloud over target and many crows (???) 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.

“Bomb bursts around A/P seen on run in. Air Bomber appeared to overshoot by 15 seconds according to GH check. AA/S was next leader, this aircraft was level with it for bombing.”

Lancaster Mk.III RF157 AA-X
Hit by flak 6 times and category ‘AC’ damage.

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/S Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:18 – Landed 20:36
Flight Time 05:18

DSC_0240 (2)

The Spilman crew, with ground crew. Gerry Abrahams, standing, second to left; “Buzz” Spilman centre front. – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of ”Buzz” Spilman.

The crew appear to have been tour-expired after the Bremen op’, and most of the crew were posted out. Buzz stayed on, moving with the squadron to Spilsby.

13.8.45 – NZ413138 F/L SL Spilman Pilot was posted to No. 109 OTU for Instructor duties.

At the end of the war Buzz moved on to transport command in India, before returning to New Zealand. He worked at Air New Zealand predecessor Teal Airways in administration for seven years before heading back to flying as an aerial topdressing pilot.
He and Mrs Spilman retired to Nelson in 1980.

After the war Gerry had a successful career as a civil aviation pilot. These days he volunteers as a guide at Manston’s Spitfire and Hurricane Museum.

The two crewmates met up in 2012 when Buzz came over to the UK with the RNZAF Bomber Command vet’s for the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial.

As always, many thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn. for permission to reproduce the above photos.