Monthly Archives: December 2015

Best Wishes for the Christmas holidays and the New Year!

Unfortunately a change of plans means Bev and I must head off down South, sooner than we had originally planned to be with Mum for Christmas.

I had planned to do a few more posts prior to Christmas and then, as I did last year, one for Christmas day.

Unfortunately that will all have to wait for when we get back.

I’d like to wish everybody all the best over the Christmas period and if I don’t post before, all the best for the New Year as well

 

Shrewsbury General Cemetery – Sgt. Alan John Francis RAFVR 1815847

DSC02858

Alan Francis was killed on or about the 17th of May 1943 when the Stirling Mk.I that he was  Gunner in suffered a double engine failure whilst on a training flight over Stoke-on-Trent.

On instructions from the Pilot, Leslie Charles Wright, the entire crew baled out. Sgt. Wright bravely stayed at the controls of the aircraft and in doing so, prevented the aircraft from crashing into Stoke-on-Trent. All of the crew landed safely, apart from Alan, who was found 4 days later in a field, one assumes a victim of a parachute failure.

As was common, a training flight sometimes included Ground crew and not a full compliment of Air crew. Certainly on that day, AC1 Bailey was on board. It would appear that Alan was also not regular crew. The Wright crew had only flown 4 Ops so far with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, but for all of these, the positions of Mid Upper and Rear Gunner had been filled by Fred Crowther and Bert Knox respectively.

Read the post about the crash and the headstone of Sgt. Wright here.

A bit of a puzzle…..

Looking back through the database things seemed to become more, not less complicated……

Interrogating the database under the 2 gunnery positions only identified a ‘J. Francis’ – this individual flying essentially the ‘Stirling Portion’ of the Jackson crew’s tour before continuing, with the majority of the Jackson crew (sans John Jackson) to crew under S/L Frank Andrews.

Referring to the ‘Official’ records, there are 2 Francis’ that are to be considered:

FRANCIS Sgt Alan John RAF (1815847) AG 4 to 17 May 1943, c/w J H R Carey as R/Gnr. Died Monday 17th May 1943, age 19, during a local training flight when his aircraft developed a double engine failure. Died on baling out. Buried Shrewsbury Ceneral Cemetery, England.

and

FRANCIS. F/Sgt J RAF (1319643) A/G x Oct 1942 to 21 Oct 1943. c/w J Jackson as MU/Gnr. then F A Andrews.

The second individual fits perfectly into the record that the database presents and on the face of it – that should be that.

However, for some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable with this…..

“Sgt. Francis” as we shall refer to him arrives after the ‘main’ Jackson crew. The  Squadron is in a period of transition  from Wellington to Stirling bombers and 75(NZ) is negotiating the transfer  of the Squadron by Flights, to Oakington for conversion training. To this end, the Jackson crew take on an extra gunner for the position of Mid Upper Gunner – Sgt. Francis and a Flight Engineer, Bill Riley.

This ‘new’ Jackson crew fly their first Op back on Squadron on the 16th of December 1942 – Operations, Gardening off Bordeaux.

Sgt. Francis undertakes all Ops with the Jackson crew, through the beginning of the new year, as Mid Upper Gunner including on the 18th of February a Gardening trip to the Gironde Estuary.

Now referring back to the database – there is a sudden gap until the 5th of May 1943, for which I have no explanation.

Scanning through the crew movements for April at the end of the Form 540 identifies the following:

page116 francis to 1657

this clearly shows 4 of the Jackson crew – including a Sgt. A. Jackson 1815847 and their movement to 1657 Conversion Unit.

At this point, I would observe that if the two personnel records previously stated are true, there is no way that the Sgt. Francis listed in the above movement could possibly exist – theoretically his service number would not be known to the person typing this record, for another month………

In the equivalent portion of the May 540 the same 4 airmen are recorded as returning back to 75(NZ) Squadron from 1657 CU. Once again, but now with his second initial, A.J. Francis 1815847.

page 158 francis to 1657

Perhaps, on the next page of this record for May there exists a clue to this puzzle:

J Francis and Beaver in from 1657

Sgt. A.J. Francis is listed again, with Sgt. T.E. Beaver – who was part of John Carey’s crew. Now, I believe, this has to actually be Sgt. J. Francis – the irony being that having misidentified Alan all this time as J. Francis, as soon as a J. Francis DOES arrive, they misidentify him as Alan.

FINALLY, in the October Form 540 Sgt. J. Francis 1319643  appears – just as he leaves to go to No.12 O.T.U.

J Francis to OTU Oct 1943

Based on the evidence, I believe that Alan John Francis was Mid Upper Gunner with John Jackson’s crew, from his first Op at the end of December 1942, until , or around the 13th of May 1943 when the crew flew to Bochum.

There is indeed an almost perverse irony that, it would seem that Alan’s replacement after his death on the 17th May was also called Francis.

 

John deserves his portion of the Jackson crew’s Op history to be presented, as do all the other members.

Perhaps finally he has a history – which until now seems to have been lost within the ‘Official’ records of the Squadron………..

John Jackson’s crew arrived at the Squadron, probably at some point early to mid July 1942, their first Op being on the 28th of July to Hamburg.

28/07/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Seventeen a/c were detailed to carry out an attack on the above target. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in target area and bursts were seen in dock area. A.A. fire was very accurate, light and heavy predicted. There were many accurate searchlight cones in parts but clear over target. Navigation was good by TR and DR. Six a/c failed to return to base

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. S.A. Warburton, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 05:15
Flight Time 06:15

29/07/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Saarbrucken
Ten a/c were detailed to attack the above targets and bomb load of 4000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs, 30lb and 4;b incendiaries was dropped in target area. Hits were observed in target area. A.A. fire was weak and searchlights scarce. A twin-engined fighter was seen on return route. Well. III, X3396 was attacked by JU88 but was able to evade it. Weather was cloudy. Navigation was TR and DR.

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. S.A. Warburton, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:59 – Landed 05:35
Flight Time 05:36

31/07/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Dusseldorf
Eleven a/c were detailed to carry out an attack on the above targets. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in target area. Good results were obtained and hits observed. A.A. fire was moderate and search lights although numerous, were ineffective. Well.III, X3396 was attacked by a JU88 but evaded successfully. F/Sgt. Lewis, rear gunner of Well.III, X3646 was struck and injured by a 4lb incendiary bomb falling from another a/c. Weather was good and navigation was by DR and TR

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. S.A. Warburton, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:25 – Landed 05:10
Flight Time 04:45

06/08/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Duisburg
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target, Bomb load of 4000lb, 250lb, incendiaries and flares were dropped in the target area. A.A. fire was heavy and in some parts scattered, ground haze caused searchlights to be ineffective. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was good. Navigation was fairly good bt T.R. and D.R. Wellington X3636, captained by Sgt. Jackson.J. was hit by A.A. fire which caused hydraulics to be unserviceable in his aircraft, he landed successfully on return.

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. William George Henry White, RNZAF NZ41717 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:50 – Landed 06:00
Flight Time 04:10

27/08/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Kassel
Twelve aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack. Bomb load of 4000 lb. 500 lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Numerous fires were seen in the whole area. A.A. fire was moderate, very few searchlights were encountered. Wellington BJ.584 captained by Sgt. Burril met JU88 when about 30 miles from target, combat ensued in which Sgt. Burrill’s aircraft was seriously damaged amid port engine put out of action. The rear gunner, Sgt. Gorman claims to have shot down the JU88 and to have seen it falling in flames to the ground, the bomb load was jettisoned, and he turned for home. The aircraft failed to maintain height and was down to 700ft at the Dutch Coast, being shot at by light A.A. fire. He crossed the sea still losing height and belly landed at R.A.F. Wattisham on return. The weather was fine, navigation was excellent. Wellington BJ.708 captained by F/Lt Osbourn failed to return.

Wellington Mk.III BJ.832 AA-Z

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John David Robert MacGillivary, RAFVR 922684 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward McDermot, RCAF R.96960 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:00 – Landed 02:50
Flight Time 05:50

16/09/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Essen
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of4,000lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area, large fires seen. A.A. fire was intense heavy and accurate, searchlights were in heavy concentrations. Wellington B.J.790 captained by Sergt. Blincoe K, was hit by A.A. ire in starboard main plain two minutes prior to bombing, which made a large hole between starboard motor and fuselage, making it impossible to turn to port. Near Dutch coast on return, the aircraft was attacked from underneath by an unseen enemy aircraft, being hit several times and the WOP. Being wounded in the back The enemy aircraft was not seen by any of the crew. On return the aircraft belly landed on the aerodrome with hydraulics unserviceable. Wellington B.J.772 captained by F/Sgt. Wright J.L. was attacked by a JU.88 on return after bombing. The enemy aircraft was fired at by the front gunner; after several bursts it was seen by the captain WOP and front gunner to explode in the air. A few enemy aircraft were seen by other aircraft but no attacks were made. The target area was covered by 8/10 to 9/10 cloud. Navigation was good by TR and DR.

Wellington Mk.III X.3959 AA-L/R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 05:30

18/09/1942 – Operations. Gardening of St. Nazaire
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. vegetables were successfully planted. Light tracer was encountered over St. Nazaire which appeared to come from the town. A few searchlights were seen operating independently. No enemy aircraft were seen, the weather was very clear at target area, navigation was by D.R. and T.R.

Wellington Mk.III X.3959 AA-L/R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. W.F. Thompson, RAFVR 962902 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 01:20
Flight Time 06:15

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

Wellington Mk.III BJ.832 AA-Z

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
P/O Alexander Fielding Minnis, RAFVR 126499 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:10 – Landed 01:00
Flight Time 05:50

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

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed 23:10
Flight Time 05:00

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

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:30 – Landed 01:30
Flight Time 07:00

22/10/1942 – Operations. Daylight Attack on Targets At Lingen
Two aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500lb. 250lb. incendiaries. The bombs were successfully dropped in the target area from a low altitude. One of the aircraft claimed successful hits on a railroad station. No A.A. fire was encountered and no enemy aircraft were seen. The cloud cover was good having a ceiling of 700ft. Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:30 – Landed 17:15
Flight Time 04:45

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

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:15 – Landed 03:20
Flight Time 09:05

25/10/1942 – Operations. Gardening of Frisian Islands
Two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. vegetables were successfully planted by one of the aircraft, the other aircraft returned early owing to the Wireless being unserviceable. No. A.A. fire searchlights or enemy aircraft were seen. It was cloudy over the Gardening area, although visibility was fairly good. Navigation was good by D.R. and T.R.

Wellington Mk.III BK.302 AA-?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:00 – Landed 06:30
Flight Time 03:30

There now follows a 3 week hiatus while the Jackson crew

16/12/1942 – Operations. Gardening off Bordeaux
Nine aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with 1500lb. vegetables. The take-off was rather cross wind and unfortunately during take-off the wind backed severely so that the flare path was dead cross wind. Three aircraft swung violently on take-off. Then Sergeant Frankin tried to take-off in Stirling I, R.9245, it swung as violently as the other aircraft, but went on, straightened and got airborne, only to crash a mile away from the aerodrome. Two mines exploded and all of the crew were killed. It later transpired that the starboard under carriage wheel had hit Devil’s Dyke, only four feet from the top. The under carriage carried away the oil tank to the starboard inner engine and this is presumed to have seized, causing the aircraft to spin into the ground. No other aircraft took off after this. The three aircraft who successfully took off all planted their vegetables in the allotted area. Some light tracer and a few searchlights were encountered, no enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was variable with heavy rain and hail storms over the gardening area, but clear generally. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.I BK617 AA-D

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis , RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:45 – Landed 05:00
Flight Time 07:15

08/01/1943 – Gardening off the North Sea of Denmark
Three aircrafts were detailed to carry out the above operations with vegetables of 1500 lbs.Two of the aircraft successfully planted their vegetables in the allotted area, the other aircraft captured by F/Sgt. Bailey, was forced to abandon the operation, as his port inner engine failed over the North Sea and he lost height. This put him in heavy icing cloud and forced him to jettison his bombs, all Sperry instruments went u/s. He eventually got “Gee” fix near English coast and arrive safely back at base. No A.A fire, searchlights, or enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was fairly good, as was also visibility, navigation was by D.R and T.R.

Stirling Mk.I BK617 AA-D

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Charles Raglan Davey, NZ413937 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edward Henry Gray, RNZAF NZ412878 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:20 – Landed 22:45
Flight Time 05:25

03/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with 4 lb. incendiaries. The crews were instructed to return if they hit bad weather, which unfortunately they did. Heavy cloud and icing were experienced forcing five aircraft to return early. Two aircraft attacked the target but they were unable to observe results owing to 10/10ths. cloud. Some A.A. fire and a few searchlights were encountered although low cloud prevented accuracy. No enemy aircraft were seen. Navigation was good. Two aircraft failed to return, they were Stirling 1 BK604 captained by P/O J McCullough and Stirling 1 R9280 captained by P/O K.H. Blincoe. This was a sad loss as they were two of the oldest captains in the Squadron, with them was also lost Sergt. Scott and P/O Henderson, two new captains gaining experience as second pilot. This leaving us with two headless crews.

Stirling Mk.I BK617 AA-D

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Randolph Ernest Redding, NZ414678 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edward Henry Gray, RNZAF NZ412878 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:25 – Landed 22:00
Flight Time 03:35

04/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Turin
Seven aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 1,000 lb. 500 lb., and 4 lb. incendiaries. Only five aircraft attacked the target, two returning early, one due to turret and inter comm., trouble and the other as the aircraft failed to climb over the Alps, he therefore bombed and objective in occupied France. The five aircraft attacking the target successfully did so on P.F.F. markers, large fires were seen from their own and other incendiaries. Light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered, which was inaccurate. A few searchlights were also operating. Some enemy aircraft were seen, but no combat took please. Heavy cloud was hit in France but the weather was good with clear visibility at the target area. Navigation was very good, by D.R. T.H., and visual. This /is considered to be a very good and concentrated operation.

Stirling Mk.I W7469 AA-T/C/O?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Randolph Ernest Redding, NZ414678 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edward Henry Gray, RNZAF NZ412878 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 02:25
Flight Time 07:40

13/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Lorient
Eleven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with bombs of 1,000 lb. and 4 lb. incendiaries. Nine aircraft are known to have successfully attacked the target, of the other two, one returned early owing to the mid upper and front turrets being u/s and the other aircraft failed to return. Fires were burning fiercely in the target area, although they appeared to be scattered. F/Lt. Trott had his aircraft damaged by flak at the target, the number two tank on the port side was holed, the trimming tab was hit and his aerial was shot off. He preceded to Middle Wallop and landed safely. Both heavy and light flak was encountered which was intense at first but later spasmodic and appeared to be swamped. Searchlights were seen in the early part of the attack but later went out. Some enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather was very good with clear visibility and no cloud. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling 1 R9316 captained by Sgt. R.A. Williams.

Stirling Mk.I BK602 AA-R

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:45 – Landed 23:15
Flight Time 05:30

14/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Cologne
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 1,000 lb. and 4 lb. incendiaries. All of the aircraft, with the exception of one which returned early owing to engine trouble, successfully bombed the target in 10/10ths cloud by means of P.F.F. sky marker flares, so the success of the trip could not be judged, although a red glow was seen on the clouds as the aircraft left the target area. Heavy and light A.A. fire was encountered, mainly predicted. Several enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. There was broken cloud from base to enemy coast, which gradually built up to 10/10ths cloud at the target area. Navigation was very good. A stranger from 214 Squadron landed on our runway and made the aerodrome completely unserviceable. Three of our aircraft therefore, had to be diverted to Lakenheath and Waterbeach.

Stirling Mk.I BK602 AA-R

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Richard Otway French, NZ415756 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:25 – Landed 23:55
Flight Time 05:30

18/02/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Seven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation, with mines of 1500 lb. six of the aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area and the majority of the parachutes were seen to open. One aircraft met flak at Cherbourg which proved to be quite accurate, but the aircraft was not hit. No searchlights were seen. Three enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather over the mining area was hazy, with visibility fair to good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.I BK647 AA-M

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 00:35
Flight Time 05:50

 

 

 

Jim McQueen RNZAF NZ404466

Sad news passed on from the New Zealand Bomber Command Association Facebook page:

“RIP Jim McQueen (NZ404466)WOP/AG No. 75 (NZ) Squadron.

Died in Auckland last night.

Having lost his first skipper (on a first op trip) Jim re-crewed with NZ’er Dobbin but they were shot down on their second trip, 11/8/42.

Jim had a dry sense of humour and wrote ” full board was provided for us at Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf until January 1945 when it was decided we should hike 500 miles west” .

What Jim didn’t say was he built and ran the secret radios in the camp to tune into BBC news, and the hike was the infamous Death March.

Many of his fellow “kreigies” considered he should have been decorated for his two and a half years as the camp radio man.

Post war Jim worked for the Union Bank in Fiji for many years, eventually retired and bought a motel in Whangarei and for the past three decades has lived in Manly just north of Auckland.

Jim was a great guy to listen to, extremely modest, and a bit shy about his “lack” of ops but totally enthusiastic when the subject of secret radios came up.

Another who will be greatly missed.”

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

Bristol (Canford) Cemetery – Norman Hathway Gale RAFVR 849986/ 151013

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A trip down to see Mum at short notice with Bev provided a chance to get to a relatively close cemetery in Bristol. As it appears to be my unique want, I of course marhed around about 30 graves before finding Normans. For anyone elses reference – in through the main entrance and about 30 meters right.

Norman Gale, who rests now in Canford Cemetery, Bristol is the last member of military personnel to be recorded on the blog, who were killed on the night of the 8th of September when Stirling Mk.III BK809 JN-T, piloted by Ian Menzies crashed on take-off into houses on the edge of Mepal airfield.

Norman and his crew arrived at Mepal on the 28th of August 1943, from 1657 H.C.U. Ian undertook, as was obligatory at that times it seems, 2 ‘2nd Dickie Ops’ prior to the crew becoming fully Operational on the 2nd of September.

27/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Nuremburg
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to return, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Good concentrated fires and heavy explosions were seen. A moderate barrage consisting of light and heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, and two aircraft received slight damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen, one short combat took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The weather was cloudy on the outward journey but clear over the target and visibility was good. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.III EE955 captained by F/Sgt. Higham.

Stirling Mk.III EH936 JN-W

P/O Hilton Clifford Williams, RNZAF NZ416219 – Pilot.
P/O Ian Robert Menzies, RNZAF NZ415002 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Trevor Gordon Dill, RNZAF NZ42292 – Navigator.
F/S Adrian Leslie Bernard Carson, RNZAF NZ411347 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. M. Williams, RAFVR 1314844 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. C. Dickinson, RAFVR 812100 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. W.A.C. Hemsley, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Ivon George Kaye, RNZAF NZ39558 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:31 – Landed 04:31
Flight Time 07:00

30/08/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Munchen-Gladbach
18 Aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. All aircraft with the exception of one which failed to return, successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very large fires which were well concentrated and spreading, were seen. All crews were of the opinion that this was a good attack. Moderate heavy A.A. fire and a few searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective. A great number of enemy aircraft were seen and some short combats took place. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. Batger, H. sighted an enemy aircraft 600 yards away, ahead and the front gunner fired a long and short burst, the enemy aircraft then disappeared and was claimed as possibly destroyed. . The aircraft captained by F/S McGregor,K. sighted an Me110 astern, the rear gunner fired a long burst. The enemy aircraft replied and dived away with smoke pouring from its engines. It is claimed as a possible destroyed. There was 8/10ths cloud at the target approaches although it was clear in the target area. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was  Stirling MK.III EH938 captained by Sgt. Parkin, T.

Stirling Mk.III BF434 AA-X

P/O Arthur William Burley, RAFVR 1315375/ 147201 – Pilot.
P/O Ian Robert Menzies, RNZAF NZ415002 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Reginald Hill, RNZAF NZ413216 – Navigator.
F/S Ewen McGregor Elmslie, RNZAF NZ417200 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R.W. Wilson, RAFVR 1035365 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Risbridger, RAFVR 577918 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J. Hubbock, RAFVR 1601799 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. A.F. Peters, RAFVR 1154968 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:30 – Landed 04:40
Flight Time 04:10

02/09/1943 – Mining in the Frisian Islands
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb., One aircraft returned early owing to a navigational failure, and brought its mines back. The remainder however, successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, although the parachutes were not seen to open owing to 4/10th cloud. No A.A. fire or searchlights were encountered. One unidentified aircraft was seen and a short combat took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was good on the outward route, but fog and patchy cloud was prevalent in the mining area. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 AA-V

F/O Ian Robert Menzies, RNZAF NZ415002 – Pilot.
P/O Derek Albert Arthur Cordery, RAFVR 136360 – Navigator.
P/O Norman Hathway Gale, RAFVR 849986/ 151013 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ralph Herbert Barker, RNZAF NZ417189 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor, RAFVR 943914 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. G. Bullivant, RAFVR 1395379 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Stewart Donald Muir, RNZAF NZ416967 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:25 – Landed 23:20
Flight Time 02:55

03/09/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb.. They all successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, and some of the parachutes were seen to open. A few searchlights and A.A. guns were encountered, but were ineffective. One enemy aircraft was seen but no combat took place. There was a clear sky in the mining area and visibility was good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 AA-V

F/O Ian Robert Menzies, RNZAF NZ415002 – Pilot.
P/O Derek Albert Arthur Cordery, RAFVR 136360 – Navigator.
P/O Norman Hathway Gale, RAFVR 849986/ 151013 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ralph Herbert Barker, RNZAF NZ417189 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor, RAFVR 943914 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. G. Bullivant, RAFVR 1395379 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Stewart Donald Muir, RNZAF NZ416967 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:35 – Landed 01:25
Flight Time 05:50

05/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Mannheim
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4lb. One aircraft had trouble shortly after take-off and was forced to jettison its bombs four miles north of CAMBRIDGE. The attack was well concentrated and large fires together with heavy explosions were seen. Moderate heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective. One aircraft on the return journey when near the FRENCH Coast was hit by A.A. fire. It received considerable damage and two of its engines were made unserviceable. The ENGLISH Coast was reached however, it belly-landed at Hunsden. Many fighters were seen and some combats took, place. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. H.BATGER sighted an enemy aircraft on the port quarter which opened fire on them and our aircraft corkscrewed. The Mid-upper and Rear Gunner then opened fire and the enemy aircraft was seen to dive to the ground in flames. It was claimed as destroyed. Our aircraft received considerable damage and the Flight Engineer Sgt. R. DALKINS was seriously wounded. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. R. WHITMORE sighted an enemy aircraft 100yds. astern, the Mid-upper and Rear Gunners opened fire, the enemy aircraft was seen to turn over and spin into the ground afire. It was claimed as destroyed. This was flowed by another enemy aircraft approaching from starboard to port astern, the Mid-upper and Rear Gunners again fired and the enemy aircraft broke away. One minute later an unidentified aircraft was seen firing at a Lancaster aircraft, which was afire. F/Sgt. WHITMORE’s Mid-Upper and Rear Gunners opened fire on the enemy aircraft, which disappeared. The Lancaster was then seen to break up. Some cloud was encountered on the way to the target, but there was a clear sky and visibility was good in the target area. Navigation was very good. One aircraft failed to return, it was captained by F/Sgt. WILKINSON, E.S.

Stirling Mk.III BK777 AA-U

F/O Ian Robert Menzies, RNZAF NZ415002 – Pilot.
P/O Derek Albert Arthur Cordery, RAFVR 136360 – Navigator.
P/O Norman Hathway Gale, RAFVR 849986/ 151013 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ralph Herbert Barker, RNZAF NZ417189 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor, RAFVR 943914 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. G. Bullivant, RAFVR 1395379 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Stewart Donald Muir, RNZAF NZ416967 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:00 – Landed 02:45
Flight Time 06:45

08/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Boulogne
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets. The carried their maximum bomb load in bombs of 1,000lb., and 500lb.. One aircraft crashed whilst taking off and two returned early. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Not many fires were seen but numerous huge explosions were observed. Some heavy and light predicted A.A.Fire and a few searchlights were encountered but caused no trouble. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was good and visibility was clear  except for slight ground haze. Navigation was excellent.

The aircraft that crashed during take-off was captained by F/O. I.R.MENZIES. Whilst taking off it swung off the runway and crashed into two houses on the far side adjoining the perimeter track. It caught fire almost simultaneously, and in the fire, various bombs exploded, causing the aircraft to be a total wreck. Three members of the crew, a W.A.A.F. Officer of R.A.F. Station MEPAL and an aircrew Sergeant, and 2 civilians were killed and other civilians were injured. The W.A.A.F. Officer and the aircrew sergeant lost their lives whilst trying to render assistance.

Stirling Mk.III BK809 JN-T

F/O. Ian Robert Menzies RNZAF NZ415002. Pilot. KIlled age 28.
Buried Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire.

P/O. Derek Albert Arthur Cordery RAFVR 136360. Navigator.

P/O. Norman Hathway Gale RAFVR 849986. Air Bomber. KIlled age 30.
Buried Bristol (Canford) Cemetery, Bristol.

Sgt. Ralph Herbert Barker RNZAF NZ417189. Wireless Operator.

Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor RAFVR 943914. Flight Engineer. Succumbed to injuries, died age 30.
Buried Buxton Cemetery, Yorkshire.

Sgt. Bullivant G RAFVR 1395379. Mid Upper Gunner.

Sgt. Stewart Donald Muir RNZAF NZ416967. Rear Gunner.
Died 16th June 1944 with 7(PFF) Squadron.

 

The Flight Sergeant and W.A.A.F Officer that were killed when attempting to offer assistance were;

F/Sgt Peter Gerald Dobson MiD RNZAF NZ439022. Navigator (Whitehead crew)
F/Sgt Dobson was killed by exploding bombs as he went to the assistance of the aircrew crew and the occupants of the houses. Buried Cambridge City Cemetery, England.
Mention in Despatches (14 Jan 1944):
“For bravery in action and meritorious fulfilment of duty”.

Section Officer Joan Majorie Easton WAAF/RAF 2986.
S/O Easton was killed when the bomb load exploded as she went to the assistance of the aircraft crew and the occupants of the houses. Buried Greenwich (Charlton and Kidbrook) Cemetery. London, England.

Additionally, another member of the Squadron came to the aid of the crash victims. Unlike Peter and Joan, Terence survived the incident and was awarded the British Empire Medal for his bravery that night.

Cpl Terence Henry King BEM RAF 610334. ELECT 1, Electrical Sect. Citation BEM (24 Dec 1943) “In September 1943, an aircraft which was taking off with a load of bombs crashed into two houses on the edge of an airfield and burst into flames. Corporal King hurried to the scene and, although fully aware that high explosive bombs were likely to explode at any moment, he went to the cottages a few yards from the burning aircraft to warn the occupants of their imminent danger and render assistance. An injured man was found and while Corporal King, with the help of a civilian, was taking him to safety a bomb exploded. The bravery shown by Corporal King was instrumental in saving a life and many more lives might have been lost had it not been for his prompt action in helping to warn occupants of the nearby houses. “

The crash of BK809 JN-T, 8th September 1943 – the aftermath can be read here.
Greenwich Cemetery (Charlton and Kidbrook), London – S/O Joan Marjorie Easton WAAF can be read here.
Cambridge City Cemetery – Aircrew headstones recorded can be read here.
Buxton Cemetery part 2 – Albert Leslie Mellor, killed 8th September 1943 can be read here.

Elton (All Saints) Churchyard, Bury – Sgt. John Olive RAFVR 978156

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Arriving at Elton Churchyard I was a little initially thrown to find myself at the dead end of a terrace street – more thrown, having left the car to be confronted by a rather imposing and apparently inaccessible gate with a code pad. Pausing to reassess the situation, I realised simultaneously that there another gate to it’s right and that the ‘church’ was in fact what appeared to be as series of flats.

Entering through the open gate I realised I was essentially stood in a gated plot, containing what remained of the churches graves. Right in front of me, first stone was Sgt John Olive, killed on the 10th of January 1941. The scene, to be honest felt a little sad – the stones partitioned by the church development and John’s gravestone marked with the rubber of a carelessly driven lawn mower – ignorant, or necessary maintenance simply a stipulation of property development……

John was  a consistent member of Brian McNamara’s crew from their first Op on the 14th of November 1940, through to their last Operation on the 8th of January.

BP McNamara crew Brian 4th from left aircraft

A photograph of the McNamara crew – date and location unknown, though suggestion of a ‘Dwarf’ artwork on the Wellington in the background confirms 75(NZ) Squadron and therefore Feltwell. Brian is stood 4th from the left – unfortunately, as yet the rest of the crew are unidentified.
Photograph courtesy of Wings Over Cambridge/ Dave Homewood – original image and page can be see here :
http://www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz/Brian%20Mcnamara.htm

The McNamara crews first Op saw  George Key present as 2nd Pilot. For the remainder of their Ops together, Alex Ryan took over this position. Thus the crew were:

P/O Brian Patrick McNamara, RAF 42856 – Pilot.
P/O Alexander James Ryan, RNZAF NZ391367 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Hunt, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Olive, RAFVR 978156 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Matthew Roy Ritchie, RAFVR 631868 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Ronald Edward Ashby-Peckham, RNZAF NZ40714 – Rear Gunner .

After the crews 7th Op, Sgt. Hunt as Observer leaves and is replaced by Richard Elliot.

P/O Brian Patrick McNamara, RAF 42856 – Pilot.
P/O Alexander James Ryan, RNZAF NZ391367 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Richard Booth Elliott, RAFVR 581379 – Observer.
Sgt. John Olive, RAFVR 978156 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Matthew Roy Ritchie, RAFVR 631868 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Ronald Edward Ashby-Peckham, RNZAF NZ40714 – Rear Gunner .

On the night of 10th of January 1941 The McNamara crew took off from Feltwell on Night Flying Training (N.F.T.)

75(NZ)Squadron Form 540 January 1941
Jan.10
At 10.00 hours on 10.1.41, P/O McNamara was detailed to carry out a Night Flying Test on aircraft T.2550, Letter “L”. After the N.F.T. his instructions were to proceed to Bassingbourn, drop P/O Ryan and bring back a new Pilot who was taking P/O Ryans’s place.

Cloud base at Feltwell was 1,500 feet and P/O McNamara was warned that south and westwards the cloud base would be lower, and , if he did not like it to return to base.

Operations Room was notified of this proposed cross country flight and P/O McNamara ascertained from Operations Air Control that Bassingbourn was serviceable, and gave his approx.. time of take of as 11.30 hours. Station Signals failed to contact the aircraft after it had taken off, E.T.A. base was 13.00 hours. At 14.30 hours Control commenced taking overdue action and rang Bassingbourn on P.B.K. but did not connect until 15.25 hours when they ascertained that the aircraft had not arrived. At 16.40 hours No.3 Group informed us that the aircraft had crashed at Heath Farm, Stapleford, near Duxford, and the following personel were killed or died from injuries.

P/O B.P. McNamara (Captain) unmarried. P/O A.J. Ryan (2nd Pilot) unmarried.
Sgt. Elliot R.B. (Navigator) unmarried. Sgt. J. Olive (W/Operator) unmarried.
Sgt. M.R. Ritchie (Front Gunner) unmarried. Sgt. R.E. Ashby-Peckham (Rear Gunner) unmarried. Seriously injured and taken to Addenbrooks Hospital.

P/O Brian Patrick McNamara, RAF 42856. Killed age 26.
Buried Feltwell (St. Nicholas) Churchyard, Norfolk.

P/O Alexander James Ryan, RNZAF NZ391367. Killed age 25.
Buried Feltwell (St. Nicholas) Churchyard, Norfolk.

Sgt. Richard Booth Elliott, RAFVR 581379. Killed age 19.
Buried Feltwell (St. Nicholas) Churchyard, Norfolk.

Sgt. John Olive, RAFVR 978156. Killed age 23.
Buried Elton (All Saints) Churchyard, Bury.

Sgt. Matthew Roy Ritchie, RAFVR 631868. Killed age 19.
Buried Biggar Croft Cemetery, Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Sgt. Ronald Edward Ashby-Peckham, RNZAF NZ40714. Seriously injured

‘Airmen of Steel’ – a new t-shirt in the store

t-shirt graphic

A more graphic style based on a classic logo design dating back even to pre World War II.
A less formal, more graphic design  – it’s the youngsters that will keep all this going – so buy them one and let them clear their diaries for 4 hours a day, most weeks, of most months for  a few years – at least they can say they got a T-Shirt for it 😛

You might just get it for Christmas if you order today – maybe!

Buy it here.

Colne Valley (Slaithwaite) Cemetery, Yorkshire – Sgt Ronald Broadley RAFVR 937347

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Hidden, below road level and running parallel to the A62 Manchester road, Colne Valley (Slaithwaite) Cemetery is not that easy to find and I would suggest that if you ever wish to visit it, trust in the instructions of your SatNav and (traffic allowing) stop when it says you are there – the cemetery has two entrances, one at each end, one looks initially more like an access track – the other a more formal entrance.

Ronald Broadley was killed on the 26th of July 1943 along with the rest of his crew, while returning from an Op on Essen.

13/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Aachen
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack targets as above, with incendiaries of 30lbs. And 4lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, large fires were seen which appeared to be scattered. Some light and heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered. The aircraft captained by P/O CC. Logan, was hit by A.A. fire in the starboard outer engine, fin and elevator, and had to make a landing at FORD, which he did successfully. Some enemy aircraft were encountered. The aircraft captained by P/O. A. Rankin was attacked by a JU.88 and the wireless operator was wounded. The rear gunner returned fire and the enemy aircraft broke away, returning astern and firing a short burst. The Stirling rear gunner then fired a long burst and the enemy aircraft gave a flash, spun half round and disappeared into the cloud , followed by an explosion on the ground. This aircraft was claimed as being destroyed. The aircraft captained by P/O. A.A. ALEXANDER sighted an ME210 on the port beam, 100 yards slightly below. As the enemy aircraft passed below, the front gunner fired a short burst, the Stirling corkscrewed and the enemy aircraft appeared astern, the rear gunner then fired a short burst and the enemy aircraft was seen to dive into the clouds, and is claimed as possibly destroyed. There was 8/10ths. broken cloud at the target, but visibility above that was good. Stirling Mk.III EE886 captained by F/O. C. EDDY on return, crash landed at OAKINGTON, the under carriage collapsed and the aircraft turned over and caught fire. The mid-upper gunner E.C. VICCARS was killed on impact and the remainder of the crew escaped although not without injuries. The captain, navigator, wireless operator and flight engineer were seriously injured, the remainder being slightly injured.

Stirling Mk.I BK646 AA-N

P/O Andrew Rankin, RAFVR 1345194/ 146332 – Pilot.
Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Mervyn Arthur Ericksen, RNZAF NZ416103 – Navigator.
F/S James Third, RNZAF NZ422671 – Air Bomber.
F/S Frederick William Thorstenson, RNZAF NZ414529 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Frank Morris Freeman, RAFVR 1575231 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. D. Catterick, RAFVR 1318470 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George Ogden, RAFVR 1573298 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:55 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 04:50

04/07/1943 – Mining off Ille de RE
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lbs., which were dropped successfully in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. Some light A.A. Fire and one searchlight were encountered, but were ineffective. No enemy aircraft were seen. There was no cloud in the mining area and the visibility was good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 04:10
Flight Time 06:10

08/07/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lbs., all of which were successfully dropped in the allotted area, and the parachutes were seen to open. Some light A.A. Fire and a few searchlights were encountered, which were ineffective. One unidentified aircraft was seen and a short combat took place, minor damage to the rear turret of our aircraft was sustained, and the unidentified aircraft was probably hit. A sea haze and patchy cloud were experienced in the mining area, but visibility was good. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Holden, RAFVR 993297 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:25 – Landed 05:45
Flight Time 07:20

24/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Twenty-three aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000lbs., 1,000lbs., and incendiaries of 30lbs., and 4lbs. Of these aircraft, two returned early due to unserviceable W/T and engine trouble respectively, and one aircraft failed to return. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. It was a very concentrated and successful attack. Very large spread fires were seen with black smoke rising to height of 1,400ft., some heavy explosions were also seen. A heavy A.A. barrage co-operating with searchlights were encountered and two aircraft were coned in the searchlights but neither were hit. The aircraft captained by F/O. G. TURNER whilst avoiding a searchlight cone, the starboard wing was struck by a JU 88approaching head on. The enemy aircraft turned over and dived to the ground, it was claimed to be destroyed.. The Stirling was badly damaged having more that 4ft. of the starboard main plane torn off, and the aileron and aileron controls being useless. The captain had extreme difficulty in controlling the aircraft, but kept it on an even keel with the assistance of the Air-bomber, and after the 3 hours return flight to base, made a perfect landing. Two other short combats took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was very good, with clear visibility, except for haze caused by smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.III EE890 captained by Sergeant H. Nichol.

Stirling Mk.I BF518 AA-E

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 06:00

25/07/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Essen
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 2,000lbs., 1,000lbs., and incendiaries of 30lbs., and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to take off, and two returned early, wing to engine trouble and an intercommunication failure respectively, and one aircraft failed to return. Sixteen aircraft successfully dropped their bombs on target area, which was an absolute mass of flames. Many huge explosions were seen in the midst of the fires. Moderate A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights were encountered, one aircraft receiving slight damage. An aircraft was held in a searchlight cone for 3 minutes, but avoided it by making diving turns. Some enemy aircraft were seen. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. H.C. WILLIAMS sighted an unidentified aircraft 400 yds away approaching from astern. The Stirling corkscrewed and the Mid-upper and Rear gunners fired a long burst, the enemy aircraft exploded in the air and dived to the ground. It was claimed to be destroyed. Another aircraft was sighted by them approaching on the port quarter, the Rear gunner fired two short bursts and the enemy aircraft broke away. The weather was hazy to the enemy Coast, but clear over the target. Visibility was good except for haze caused by smoke from the fires, which could be seen west of the DUTCH coast. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling MK.III EE892 captained by Sgt.. M. ASHDOWN

Stirling Mk.III EE892 AA-F

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551 – Pilot.
Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Stirling Mk.III EE892 AA-F came down in the sea off Southwold, Suffolk, while returning to base. Eyewitness reports indicated that the Stirlng was on fire before it struck the water. All on board perished. Four bodies were picked up by the Aldeburgh lifeboat crew. The cause of the crash is unknown.

Sgt. Michael Henry Charles Ashdown, RAFVR 1320551. Killed age 20.
Buried Worcester Park (Cuddington) Cemetery,

Sgt. Ronald Kenneth Harold, RAFVR 1335706. Killed age 22.
Commemorated on Panel 151 Runnymede Memorial – No known grave.

Sgt. Ronald Walter Threadgold, RAFVR 1457394. Killed age 21.
Commemorated on Panel 167 Runnymede Memorial – No known grave.

Sgt. Ernest Claude Denyer, RAFVR 1262911. Killed age 34.
Buried Staines (London Road) Cemetery.

Sgt. Ronald Broadley, RAFVR 937347. Killed age 22.
Buried Colne Valley (Slaithwaite) Cemetery, Yorkshire.

Sgt. Archie Cleveland, RCAF R.167518. Killed age 24.
Commemorated on Panel 179 Runnymede Memorial – No known grave.

Sgt. Harold Clyde Dawson, RCAF R.178318. Killed age 21.
Buried Scottow Cemetery, Norfolk.