Shrewsbury General Cemetery – Sgt. Alan John Francis RAFVR 1815847

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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

 

 

 

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