Monthly Archives: February 2016

Thomas Fredrick Duck display dedication service, MoTaT, Auckland, 2 February 2016

Thanks again to Chris for this post………


The Thomas Fredrick Duck crew families and friends at the dedication service, MoTaT Aviation Hall, 2 February 2016 (NZ Bomber Command Association).

A wonderful gathering took place at Auckland’s Museum of Transport & Technology (MoTaT) on the 2nd of February, a meeting born out of friendships first made over 70 years ago.

A special dedication service was held for the “Thomas Fredrick Duck” display, put together by MoTaT and the NZ Bomber Command Association, and recently opened in MoTaT’s Aviation Hall. The display commemorates the crew of the famous 156 Path Finder Squadron Lancaster, JA909, GT-T, Thomas Fredrick Duck, as featured in Alan Mitchell’s book, “New Zealanders in the Air War”.

You can read the Thomas Fredrick Duck story here.

There is a very strong 75 (NZ) Squadron connection. All six New Zealanders in Jack Wright’s crew at 156 PFF Squadron had crewed together or got to know each other on their previous tour of op’s with 75, along with a seventh individual, Jack’s original Rear Gunner, Bruce Neal.

Members of the families of five of the TFD crew were represented at the service, plus the family of Bruce Neal, who would also have been part of the legend if tragedy had not intervened.

At 75 (NZ) Squadron, Feltwell, Pilot Jack Wright, Navigator Charles Kelly, W/Op Nick Carter and gunners Podge Reynolds and Bruce Neal, had flown Wellington BJ772, AA-D “Donald”, which proudly carried  nose art depicting an aviator-attired Donald Duck sitting in a half-shell. Navigator Alf Drew had flown with Neville Hockaday’s crew in BJ837, AA-F “Freddie”.

“Donald” and “Freddie” were in adjacent dispersals, so the two crews had got to know each other well. At the same time, Rear Gunner Ken Crankshaw had been flying as a “spare part” gunner with a variety of crews, including Squadron Leaders Frank Denton, Ray Newton, and Artie Ashworth. He ended up his tour flying with Frankie Curr and his crew.

After completing their tour, most of the “Donald” crew were posted to 30 OTU as instructors for six months, before being posted to 156 Path Finders Squadron at Warboys.

Tragically, Bruce was killed while instructing at a Bombing & Gunnery School, and never got the chance to re-join his mates at 156 PFF Sqdn.

Path Finder Lancaster crews needed two Navigators, so their mate Alf Drew was recruited to join them. Crankshaw was already at 156 when they arrived, so he joined the crew as Rear Gunner, along with an English Flight Engineer, Harry Hammond.

Legend has it that the boys had brought the original Donald Duck nose art with them, on a piece of Wellington canvas, but in fact their old “Donald” had been burnt out when a Boston bomber crash landed at Mildenhall, just before they were posted out. Apparently copies of the nose art were made at 156, and after the “Donald” and “Freddy” veterans had been allocated Lancaster GT-T for “Tommy”, “Duck” was applied to their new aircraft, along with the compromise name, “Thomas Fredrick Duck”.

After the TFD crew had safely completed their tour at 156, the nose art was removed from their Lancaster and kept by Nick Carter, and a second copy was kept by Jack Wright.

Many years after the war, the original art was donated by Nick to the Air Force Museum at Wigram, and the second copy was donated by the Wright family to MoTaT. The latter has become the centre piece of the new display.


Thomas Fredrick Duck copy artwork produced on canvas at 156 PFF Sqdn, 1943, signed on the back by a member of TFD’s ground crew, LAC Maund (NZ Bomber Command Assn).


A representative of each Thomas Fredrick Duck crew member family, in front of the display – L-R: Alf Drew’s son, RNZAF Chaplain S/L Stuart Hight, Charles Kelly’s son Steve, Jack Wright’s daughter Lesley, Ron Mayhill (NZBCA President), Nick Carter’s widow, Ken Crankshaw’s grandson Clayton (NZ Bomber Command Assn).

There was an impressive turn-out of around 50 people. Sadly, none of the crew survives, the last, Nick Carter, passing away last year. However it was very special that his widow was able to attend.

RNZAF Chaplain S/L Stuart Hight led the service, and NZBCA President Ron Mayhill DFC, Legion of Honour, Peter Wheeler and Chris Newey each spoke about aspects of the crew and the significance of the display in helping us to remember the contributions of the airmen of Bomber Command.

It was an uplifting and at times very emotional occasion to have all six families together, 70 years later, to pay our respects to these brave men, for individuals to be able to speak to the gathering, read items from diaries, logbooks and memoirs, recount favourite anecdotes, and then meet and chat afterwards. The respect and affection felt towards their skipper and crewmates was a strong common theme in the stories that have been handed down, and it must have been deeply satisfying for descendants to hear these shared again after so many years.

One very exciting thing that emerged from the gathering was the realisation that the families collectively hold a large amount of previously unknown material, so the full story of the Thomas Fredrick Duck boys is yet to be told.

It was just a shame that no-one from the family of Raymond “Podge” Reynolds could be located in time for the occasion. Raymond passed away in 1991 and is buried at Otaki – the NZBCA would very much like to hear from anyone who can help put them in contact with relatives.

– Thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for these photos.


R.C. Going crew 3.3.43 †


Four members of the Going crew with Stirling N6123 AA-Q “Queenie”. L-R: Sgt Francis Barkhouse (Frank) Stewart (M/U/Gnr), Sgt Clarence Sydney (Syd) Burton (R/Gnr), Sgt Kenneth Cedric Eyre (W/Op) and possibly Sgt Emrys Herbert Weaver (F/E)? – Martin Stewart.

Thanks again to Chris for supplying another post to keep the blog going and also many thanks to Stewart for sharing with us all his ongoing research.

Born in 1921, Raymond Cyril Going was the eldest son of Cyril and Irene Going of Maromaku in the Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand.

His mother died when he was 14, and his father re-married, the second marriage bearing seven children. Three of these younger siblings were to become famous in New Zealand for their rugby exploits, “the Going brothers”, in particular Sid, the legendary All Black halfback.

After the outbreak of war, Raymond joined the RNZAF, completing his Initial Training in New Zealand, and sailing from Auckland on November 17, 1941 aboard the S.S. Monterey to San Francisco. He graduated from Course 44, No. 6 SFTS, Dunville, Ontario: December 6, 1941 – March 27, 1942, then sailed for England for operational training and heavy bomber conversion.

The Going crew was posted in to 75 (NZ) Squadron on 13 February 1943.

It’s possible that their original Bomb Aimer was F/S Frederick Alexander Bandy RAF, 1318948, who is listed with them on the Form 540 under “A” Movements, however he did not fly their first op’. For whatever reason, that position was taken by Sgt Frederick Arthur William Willis RAF 1382215.

Pilot Raymond Going doesn’t appear to have flown a ‘second-dickie’ before taking his own aircraft and crew on their first op’.

It was only two weeks before they went operational, but fortunately, photos were taken and have survived. They include the Stirling bomber that they flew on their first (and last) op’, Stirling Mk 1 N6123, Q-Queenie. Queenie had arrived on Squadron on 15 January, and this was to be her seventh operational sortie.

See the full Op history for the Going crew here.

Charlie Shepherd, Armourer – 1941 – 1943

Sad news from Chris

In memory of Charles Campbell “Charlie” Shepherd, RNZAF (NZ391907); 1918 – 30.1.2016


Charlie at work, bombing up a 75 (NZ) Sqdn Stirling. – Charlie Shepherd collection, NZ Bomber Command Assn archives

Sad news with the passing of another original 75er, Cpl Charles Campbell Shepherd, NZ391907, who passed away just short of his 97th birthday on 30th January 2016, after a short illness.

Charlie Shepherd sailed from his native New Zealand to the UK in 1940 as an LAC armaments fitter, and was posted to 10 Squadron, RAF Leeming, on Whitleys.

He then served on 75 (NZ) Squadron at Feltwell, Mildenhall, and Newmarket, from 13 March 1941 to 9 June 1943. The NZ Bomber Command Assn hold copies of several photos that he took during his time at 75 (NZ) Squadron, for a brief glimpse into the life of the Armourers.

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Caption on reverse: “NZ groundstaff Feltwell 1941. All armourers. 75 Squadron”. – Charlie Shepherd collection, NZ Bomber Command Assn archives.


Ground crew working on 75 (NZ) Squadron Stirling AA-B. – Charlie Shepherd collection, NZ Bomber Command Assn archives.


Caption on reverse: “75 ARM 1941. J. Walsh, Bill Mason, Trotter, Ronnie Bartlett, could be Hartis, and C.C.S. Workers are ones without ties!” – Charlie Shepherd collection, NZ Bomber Command Assn archives.

Charlie later served on 486 NZ Squadron, Typhoons/Tempests, from 28 Sep 1944 to 8 May 1945, then went to 80 Sqdn.

He told a great story that some months after the war was over, an RAF officer noticed his New Zealand shoulder patch and asked what the hell was he doing still on an operational squadron, as everyone else had gone home. He apparently replied “I’m waiting for the next one!”. He thought he must have been overlooked as there weren’t many Kiwi ground crew in UK to start with. He eventually left the UK in December 1945.

After the war, Charlie lived in Maungatapere, Northland, New Zealand, and worked as a carpenter, joiner, and boatbuilder . He held a Private Pilots Licence at the age of 80.

– As always, thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn. for permission to reproduce these photos. Extra details from the 75 Squadron (RAF/ RNZAF) Association of New Zealand.