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.

2 thoughts on “Bristol (Canford) Cemetery – Norman Hathway Gale RAFVR 849986/ 151013

  1. juliaathome

    Well, well, well, I visit Canford Crematorium on a regular basis as my parents are laid to rest there. My father probably knew that someone from his squadron was buried here but I certainly did not and will make a point of paying my respects when I visit next week. Thanks for bringing this to my attention Simon. Julia

    Like

    Reply
    1. 75nzsquadron Post author

      Sorry Juila – I had actually meant to mention it when we met – but with the hours of nattering I completely forgot – there are 2 in South Wales and a third not far from Chippenham also….

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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