William Caster, Mid Upper Gunner – Gray crew 1944

I have received the sad news that Bill Caster, Mid Upper Gunner with Alex Gray’s crew has passed away.

Bill and the boys arrived at Mepal on the 9th of March 1944 and over the following 6 months completed a total of 33 Ops, in both Stirling and Lancasters. The Grey crew undertook Mining operations during the swansong of the Stirling with the Squadron before converting to Lancasters and then participation in Ops in support of the allied invasion of Europe, before moving back to main War Ops, including the infamous 20th of July, Homberg Op where the Squadron lost 7 aircraft.

As a tribute to Bill and his crew, their Op history is listed below:

21/03/1944 – Mining off Cherbourg
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines off Cherbourg, but one was unsuccessful owing to the failure of navigational aids.

Stirling Mk.III EF233

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S J. Coucher, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:35 – Landed 22:00
Flight Time 02:25

22/03/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Six aircraft were detailed to lay mines in Kiel Bay. Only four took off, but they completed their sorties successfully.

Stirling Mk.III EF233

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S J. Coucher, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:20 – Landed 00:20
Flight Time 06:00

30/03/1944 – Mining of the coast of Holland
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines off the coast of Denmark and two off Le Havre. All were successful in clear weather and the trips were uneventful.

Stirling Mk.III EF207

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt G. Tedman, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:20 – Landed 04:50
Flight Time 02:30

18/04/1944 – Attack Against Rouen
Ten Lancasters were also detailed to bomb the marshalling yards at Rouen, one was withdrawn, but the remaining nine attacked in clear weather with ground haze.

Lancaster Mk.III ND802 JN-D “The Flying Scotsman’

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:55 – Landed 03:25
Flight Time 04:30

24/04/1944 – Attack Against Karlsruhe
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack Karlsruhe. One was withdrawn but the remainder carried out a successful attack with little opposition.

Lancaster Mk.III ND908 JN-M

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 05:50

26/04/1944 – Attack Against Essen
Fifteen aircraft (Lancasters) were detailed to attack Essen. Two were withdrawn, but the remaining thirteen took part in a successful and very concentrated attack. The defences were considered to be moderate and all the aircraft returned safely.

Lancaster Mk.I R5692 JN-P

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 04:25

01/05/1944 – Attack Against Chambly
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Chambly. Fifteen of these successfully attacked in clear weather, bombing being accurate. Two brief encounters with enemy aircraft took place and resulted in one being possibly damaged. One of our aircraft (Captain NZ41362 F/L. A/S/L. E.W. Sachtler) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III ND768 AA-F “Freddie”

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 03:30

07/05/1944 – Attack Against Chateau Bolgon Aerodrome
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack Chateau Bougon aerodrome near Nantes. All aircraft successfully attacked in clear weather and bombing was concentrated.

Lancaster Mk.III ND908 JN-M

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:25 – Landed 05:50
Flight Time 05:25

10/05/1944 – Attack Against Courtrai
Twenty three aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Courtrai. A concentrated attack was made with very slight opposition. One aircraft (Captain NZ413043 A/S/L. L. Drummond) was hit by A.A. Fire on the return journey and the Captain received slight injuries.

Lancaster Mk.I R5692 JN-P

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:13 – Landed 00:50
Flight Time 02:37

11/05/1944 – Attack Against Louvain
Twenty-four aircraft, representing the largest number of Lancaster aircraft so far detailed by this Squadron, were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Louvain. Twenty-three aircraft successfully attacked in good weather. One aircraft (Captain NZ414591 A/F/L. S. Clark) claimed a JU 88 destroyed in combat over the North Sea. Another aircraft (Captain 151118 A/F/L. D. Warren) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
P/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 01:30
Flight Time 02:40

24/05/1944 – Attack Against Boulogne
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen and eleven to attack a target at Boulogne. They all were successful in attacking their respective targets and good concentrated bombing was reported. Two aircraft attacking Aachen had combats with enemy aircraft, NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney claiming the destruction of an enemy night fighter and 170664 P/O. T. Buckley claimed strikes on a F.W. 190. There was no opposition from the Boulogne target.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:20 – Landed 02:10
Flight Time 01:50

27/05/1944 – Attack Against Aachen
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen, one of which returned early and two failed to return (Captains NZ414971 F/L. S. Fauvel and NZ421105 Sgt. Scott, F.). The remaining fifteen successfully bombed the target in clear weather, one aircraft (Captain NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney) had five successive inconclusive combats with an ME 410 in the Courtrai area.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:45 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 03:30

31/05/1944 – Attack Against Trappes
Twenty four aircraft were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Trappes. One was withdrawn and another returned early through technical trouble. The remainder, however, bombed in good visibility, reporting an accurate attack. One aircraft (Captain NZ422098 P/O. L. Bonisch) had a combat with an enemy aircraft which was seen to be shot down by another of our aircraft.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:59 – Landed 01:04
Flight Time 01:05

02/06/1944 – Attack Against Wissant
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack a target at Wissant, N. France. Owing to thick cloud over the target, twelve aircraft were unable to identify the markers and brought their bombs back. No opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:15 – Landed 03:20
Flight Time 02:05

04/06/1944 – Mining off the Hook of Holland
Three aircraft were detailed for mine laying, one off Calais, one off the Belgian coast, and the third off the Hook of Holland. All aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted areas without incident.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:25 – Landed 04:25
Flight Time 02:00

05/06/1944 – Attack Against Ouistreham
The target for No.3 Group was the coastal battery at Ouistreham in N. France. This target, and others in the same area were attacked by strong forces of Bomber Command aircraft immediately prior to the Anglo-American Invasion of the Continent. Twenty six aircraft from this Squadron participated and all were successful in bombing their target with the aid of markers. Opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:40 – Landed 07:10
Flight Time 03:30

06/06/1944 – Attack Against Lisieux
Twenty four aircraft took off, as detailed, to attack a target at Lisieux, in support of the invading forces which were establishing a bridge head in Normandy. All aircraft successfully bombed the target and an accurate attack was reported. Only slight opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:01 – Landed 03:16
Flight Time 03:15

08/06/1944 – Attack Against Fougeres
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Fougeres in N. France. Nineteen aircraft bombed successfully, one bringing its bombs back owing to the Bomb sight being unserviceable when over the target area. Two aircraft had inconclusive combats with enemy aircraft, but the remainder carried out their mission without incident, there being no opposition in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 02:30
Flight Time 04:30

10/06/1944 – Attack Against Dreux
Of the twenty four aircraft detailed to bomb Dreux, twenty two successfully attacked in good weather, the marshalling yards being visually identified until they were obscured by smoke. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with a JU.88. The aircrafts captained by NZ422098 P/O. L. Bonisch and NZ422267 F/S. Donaghy, T. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:05 – Landed 03:45
Flight Time 04:40

11/06/1944 – Attack Against Nantes
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack a military target at Nantes. All aircraft successfully bombing the target. Large fires and explosions were reported. Intense light A.A. Fire was encountered in the target area. the aircraft captained by NZ421072 P/O. C. McCardle, shortly after leaving the target area, was damaged by what is now thought to have been a light A.A. Shell exploding in the cockpit. The Captain received severe injuries and the Flight Engineer Sgt. Benfold, R., superficial injuries. The Air Bomber, AUS410489 W/O. Hurse, A. took over the controls, and with the assistance of the Navigator NZ4310159 F/O. A. Zillwood, brought the aircraft safely back to this country, where a perfect landing was executed.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:50 – Landed 05:20
Flight Time 05:30

14/06/1944 – Attack Against Le Havre
Twenty six aircraft were detailed to attack shipping in the port area of Le Havre. Twenty five aircraft attacked and a very concentrated and accurate raid resulted. Fires from an earlier attack were still burning when our aircraft were over the target. One aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble. Opposition was slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 01:35
Flight Time 02:00

15/06/1944 – Attack Against Valenciennes
Twenty four aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Marshalling Yards at Valenciennes. Twenty three aircraft attacked the primary target with the aid of markers. A.A. Fire was very slight, but fighters were active, two of our aircraft having combats with enemy aircraft. The aircraft captained by 175311 P/O. C. Crawford claimed hits on an enemy fighter, but sustained serious damage itself, the pilot, however, was able to land safely at Manstone. The aircraft captained by NZ421495 F/S. Betley, R. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 03:20

21/06/1944 – Attack Against Domleger
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack the constructional works at Domleger during daylight. Two aircraft failed to take off and the remainder were unable [to] locate the target, the markers not being visible owing to 10/10th cloud. they were instructed by the master bomber to abandon their mission, and apart from some aircraft which jettisoned their load, bombs were brought back. Opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.III ND747 AA-T

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:00 – Landed 20:50
Flight Time 02:50

23/06/1944 – Attack Against L’Hey
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the constructional works at L’Hey. All crews bombed on instructions from the Master bomber, and the glow of fires seen through clouds indicated a concentrated raid. Opposition was very slight, although one aircraft had an inconclusive combat with two enemy fighters.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 02:45

24/06/1944 – Attack Against Rimeux
Twenty five aircraft took off as detailed to attack the constructional works at Rimeux. Twenty four crews bombed successfully with the aid of markers, and an accurate raid was reported.   There were numerous searchlights in action, but the A.A. opposition was not serious. The aircraft captained by NZ424788 F/S. Bateson, B. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 02:35

30/06/1944 – Attack Against Villers Bocage
Twenty four aircraft in daylight were detailed to attack enemy concentrations at Villers Bocage, in support of the British and Canadian Armies advance in Northern France. Two aircraft were withdrawn, owing to technical faults, but the remaining twenty two aircraft all bombed their target successfully, and reported a very concentrated raid. Moderate, but heavy A.A. Fire was encountered over the target, but there was no fighter opposition. On return one aircraft landed at Woodbridge and another put down on one of our landing strips in Normandy (the Flight Engineer 1586862 Sgt. McDevitt, P.W. being slightly injured). A unique incident for the Squadron. Another aircraft was damaged by A.A. Fire, but reached Base and made a successful landing.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed 21:25
Flight Time 03:15

02/07/1944 – Daylight Attack Against Beauvoir
Twenty three out of twenty four aircraft detailed took off in daylight to attack the construction works supply site at Beauvoir. All aircraft successfully bombed the target and a concentrated raid developed. Opposition from A.A. fire was slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/O B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:59 – Landed 15:55
Flight Time 02:56

15/07/1944 – Attack Against Bois Des Jardine
Ten aircraft took off to attack the constructional works site at Bois Des Jardins. All aircraft bombed the target, but a scattered raid was reported owing to eight to ten tenths cloud. No opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/S Murray Smith, RNZAF NZ425948 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 02:45

17/07/1944 – Attack Against Vaires
The twenty seven aircraft previously detailed took off to attack the Vaires marshalling yard in daylight, but the aircraft were recalled shortly after setting course. On landing they were re-fuelled and kept standing by to attack a tactical target.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 dnc AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:21 – Landed 14:21
Flight Time 02:00

18/07/1944 – Attack Against Cagny
Twenty eight aircraft took off, as detailed, to make a dawn attack on the village of Cagny, in Northern France where the enemy had large concentrations of armour and troops situated. This attack was in direct support of the Allied 2nd Army, and all crews were successful in bombing the target with the aid of markers and a very concentrated raid was reported. Moderate A.A. fire was encountered, but only one of our aircraft suffered damage, this was captained by NZ421549 F/S. Moriarty, D. who was injured on the scalp and left eye, by fragments of perspex or shell splinters caused by an A.A. shell which exploded in the cockpit. In spite of his serious injuries, F/Sgt. Moriarty safely flew his aircraft back to base.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

P/O Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 04:42 – Landed 07:44
Flight Time 03:02

20/07/1944 – Attack Against Homberg
Twenty six aircraft took off, as detailed, to attack the oil refinery at Homberg. Nineteen aircraft were successful in bombing the target, with the aid of markers, which seemed well concentrated. Two good explosions were seen and smoke came up from the target area. Heavy A.A. fire was moderate, but fighters were very active, eight combats taking place. Seven aircraft failed to return, the captains were AUS22776 W/O. Gilmour, H., NZ428819 F/S. Howell, E., NZ421829 F/S. Mackay, K., NZ422057 F/S. Davidson, N., NZ42488 W/O. Whittington, H., NZ413219 F/S. Roche, G. & NZ414560 P/O. Burtt, H.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:40 – Landed 02:58
Flight Time 03:18

22/07/1944 – Mining in the Kattegat Area
Six aircraft were detailed to lay mines in the Kattegat area. All aircraft dropped their mines successfully, and crews reported an uneventful trip.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:07 – Landed 05:06
Flight Time 07:59

23/07/1944 – Attack Against Kiel
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Kiel, and all successfully bombed the target. A concentrated raid was reported and the glow of fires could be seen from the Danish west coast on return. A moderate A.A. barrage was met and two aircraft had combats with enemy fighters.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:42 – Landed 03:51
Flight Time 05:09

25/07/1944 – Attack Against Stuttgart
Fourteen aircraft took off to attack Stuttgart, only ten however, were successful, and they reported a concentrated raid to be developing, with many fires and explosions. Heavy A.A. fire was only slight in the target area, but enemy fighters were again active. Two aircraft had combats and one, captained by NZ425948 F/S. Smith, M. claimed a FW190 destroyed. On return two aircraft landed at Ford, one due to engine trouble and the other owing to damage to the petrol tank and rear turret by heavy A.A. fire. Of the four abortive sorties, one aircraft jettisoned after its starboard inner engine had caught fire when in combat, another failed to see any markers when over the target, and brought its bombs back, and the other two returned early owing to severe icing.

Lancaster Mk.I LM554 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
P/O Lyndon Clifford Perry, RNZAF NZ428925 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:39 – Landed 05:51
Flight Time 08:12

 

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

One thought on “William Caster, Mid Upper Gunner – Gray crew 1944

  1. peter haward

    I have been researching my father in law’s time in the 75th and discovered he was in the same crew as William ‘Bill’ Caster. My father in law was Peter Daines the navigator. It would be interesting to know anything more about his war time operations. I would be grateful for any information or photos of that time.

    Like

    Reply

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