Monthly Archives: April 2016

75(NZ) Squadron RAF Crew Op Histories – a little tweek

Subsequent to my announcement on Monday, within the ANZAC Day 2016 post, of the completion of all crew histories throughout the War, I realised a small problem……

Attempting myself to use them to add and correct some details, It dawned on me very quickly that I would need an eidetic memory to actually find individuals within the chronological format that I had layed out – the lists so far indicate 552 crews flew Operationally in their own right.

To try to make the identification easier, I have added a full list of all Pilots listed alphabetically. I have placed this alphabetical list at the top of the menu subsection and then the individual years sit below that.

Additionally, I have also moved the crew sub-section out from under the “75(NZ) Squadron RAF” menu item at the top of the page and re-positioned it in it’s own right next to “Dads crews” under the title “75(NZ) Squadron RAF crews“.

The original “75(NZ) Squadron RAF” menu item still exists and currently contains empty pages to be filled at some point with a history of the Squadron and information about the airfields it flew from (if anybody has information on  the home’s of the Squadron, don’t be shy, I would welcome it!)

A quick jump to each section is below:
Alphabetical list of Crews – here.
Crews starting 1940 – here.
Crews starting 1941 – here.
Crews starting 1942 – here.
Crews starting 1943 – here.
Crews starting 1944 – here.
Crews starting 1945 – here.

The eagle eyed among you might have noticed that there has also been a slight addition to the tag line of the site. Originally saying “About my father and the aircrews of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF”, I have added “- the largest online resource for 75(NZ) Squadron RAF in the world”

I have added this for the simple reason that it is.

And it is, because of the tireless work of Chris, and everybody else who has been generous enough to give an item, information or their time to this wonderful, crazy, amazing project.

Here’s to all of you!

KIA KAHA!

P/O Trafford McRae Nicol and the Jarman crew, 1942

Fernie-1stJarmanCrew[4]

The first Jarman crew, in front of Vickers Wellington X3636, AA-R, probably March 1942.
Back row, L-R: John Fernie, Wireless Operator, Trafford Nicol, 2nd Pilot, Eric Jarman, Captain, Stanley Hall, Navigator.
Front, L-R: Jim Harris, Rear Gunner, Ron Davey, Front Gunner / Bomb Aimer.
– NZ Bomber Command Assn, Stan Brooks collection, via Anna Rhodes-Sayer.

Thanks as always to Chris and special thanks to James and Barbara Ogilvie and the Nicol family for sharing these photos and their own research. Thanks to Anna Rhodes-Sayer and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for permission to reproduce the main crew photo.

Trafford McRae Nicol was born in 1921, son of James Alexander & Louisa Clara Nicol who lived in Inglis St., Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand.

He went to school at Rongotai College, and Wellington College, and enlisted in the RNZAF in early 1941, aged 20, undergoing Initial Training (probably at Levin), then pilot training at No. 2 Service Flying Training School (2 SFTS), Woodbourne.

TraffordMcRNicol-Course14BWoodbourne[3]

Graduation photo for No. 14B (War) Course, 2S.F.T.S., Woodbourne, 1941. Trafford Nicol, back row, second from right.
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Five other 75 (NZ) Squadron pilots appear in this group:

– middle row left, Graham Murdoch, whose path closely followed Trafford’s (see below);
– next to him, Alan Tolley, lost with all the crew of Stirling BF506, AA-P on 21st April 1943 in a raid on Rostock ;
– front row left, a very young Cyril “Mac” Baigent, DSO, DFC, AFC, later to become Wing Commander and Commanding Officer of 75, the youngest CO in Bomber Command;
– next to him, John McCullough, DFC, lost with Stirling BK604, AA-S on 3 Feb 1943.
– William Horne, who flew 2nd Pilot with S/L Ray Newton.

Trafford then sailed to England, and went through Operational Training at 12 O.T.U, Chipping Warden:

TraffordMcRNicol-23CourseChippingWarden[3]

No. 23 Course – Pilots – Chipping Warden, UK, December 1941.
Back row, L-R: 3. Rip Rogers (+), 4. Johnny Wilmshurst (missing), 5. Cyril Wrightson (+).
Middle row, L-R: 4. ? Buller (+), 6. Roy Willson (+).
Front row, L-R: 1. Roy Spear (missing), 2. Jim Cowan (missing), 3. Trafford Nicol (+), 4. Stinker Murdoch (+), 8. John Keenberg, 9. Ric Richardson (+), 10. Rupert Smith (missing).
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Again, several of the pilots named in this photo went on to serve with 75 (NZ) Sqdn.

Sgt Johnny Wilmshurst was lost with all his crew on a daylight op’ to Duisburg on the 10th of July.

Incredibly, P/O Graham “Stinker” Murdoch and P/O Rupert John Smith, both died on the same night captaining separate aircraft, both with all crew lost, on the 9th of June during a raid on Essen.

And equally incredible, Sgt Cyril Wrightson died flying 2nd Pilot with F/S Mahood, with all crew lost, on the night of the 22nd/23rd of April during a raid on Cologne, the same operation that resulted in Trafford Nicol’s death.

75 (NZ) Squadron Operational Record Book,  Form 540, March 1942: P/O Nicol, T.M. Posted to this unit from No, 12 O.T.U w.e.f. 10.3.42

Trafford was posted in from 12 OTU on the 10th of March, together P/O Graham Murdoch, and must have joined Eric Jarman’s crew within a day or two.

Sgt Eric “Rick” or “Riki” Jarman came from Yeppoon, in Queensland, Australia, and was a clerk at Rockhampton before he enlisted in the RAAF in September, 1940.

He had arrived at 75 (NZ) Sqdn in November the previous year, and had been flying as 2nd Pilot with S/L Peter Kitchin. The squadron had flown very few operations during this period as Bomber Command re-assessed strategies after a disastrous Berlin raid on 7/8 November, and then as 75 became busy training and converting from the 1C Wellingtons to the new Mark IIIs.

Jarman carried out his first Night Flying Test as Captain of his own aircraft on 9 March, a 15 minute flight in Wellington III  X3587, AA-P.

The Jarman crew were:
Sgt Eric George Delancey Jarman, RAAF AUS404507 – Pilot
P/O Trafford McRae Nicol, RNZAF NZ411929 – 2nd Pilot
Sgt Stanley Frederick Hall, RNZAF NZ402182 – Navigator
Sgt John Alexander Fernie, RAF 980003 – Wireless Operator
Sgt Ron S. Davey, RAF – Front Gunner / Bomb Aimer
Sgt Richard James Harris, RNZAF NZ402999 – Rear Gunner

Stanley Hall and Richard Harris had arrived separately on Squadron only a week or so earlier, but John Fernie and Ron Davey had been on the Squadron since November the previous year.

Fernie originally crewed up with Sgt Robert Arthur Colville RNZAF, and had already flown 7 op’s.

He had very fortunately not been on board when Colville took Wellington X3355, AA-Y up for an air test on 28 February, although as was the norm at the time, four ground crew had gone along for the ride. Just after take-off, Colville lost his starboard engine, and then as he attempted to turn back to the airfield to make an emergency landing, the port engine failed as well. The aircraft crashed near Lakenheath, killing two of the ground crew, and leaving the 2nd Pilot Sgt Woodham fatally injured. Colville and the other two ground crew were seriously injured, Colville almost losing both legs.

Davey had flown 2 op’s with Sgt Giddens, but for some reason Giddens left the Squadron in December. Davey may have trained with other crews during January and February.

RIck Jarman flew his first Op as skipper on the 13th March 1943, bombing targets at Dunkirk. Twelve days later, Trafford Nichol would join the crew as 2nd Pilot for an OP to Essen and St.Nazaire on the 25th of March.

The Jarman crew would fly a further 7 Ops, before they boarded Wellington Mk.III X.3487 AA-O on the 22nd of April, that night flying to Cologne.

22/04/1942 – Operations – Attack Against Targets at Cologne
Ten Well.III a\c were detailed attack the above targets. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 100lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs, 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in the target area but no results seen owing to cloud. There were only a few searchlights active and A.A. fire was slight. Well.III, X3487 captained by P/O Jarman was attacked by a JU.88 which attacked once and broke away to port. The results of this short attack were however serious the second pilot, P/O Nicol being mortally wounded, the rear gunner Sgt. Harris being killed and the Navigator Sgt. Taylor and W/Op. Sgt. Fernie were wounded. The bomb load was not dropped on the target but was dropped in the sea. The a/c was brought back to base and crash landed. Well.III, X3705, captained by F/S. McLachlan, was also attacked and the second pilot killed (P/O. Fountain) and Sgt. Tutty was wounded. F/Sgt. McLachlan managed to reach base and crash land.

Wellington Mk.III X.3487 AA-O
a/c shot up by JU88 and crash landed on return. Sgt. Harris was killed in the attack. P/O Nicol died of injuries the day after

P/O Eric George Delancey ‘Rick/ Riki’  Jarman , RAAF AUS.404507 – Pilot.
P/O Trafford McRae Nicol RNZAF NZ411929 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. William Henderson Taylor, RAFVR 1051621/ 122053 – Navigator.
Sgt. John Alexander Fernie, RAFVR 980003/ 127783 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R.S. Davey, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Richard James Harris, RNZAF NZ402999 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 04:40
Flight Time 06:25

Feltwell Station Log Wednesday 23rd April 1942: “0442 O.75 crash-landed (18th) last A/c.”

Rick Jarman was awarded the DFC for his part in the incident:
DFC citation E.G.D. Jarman, RAAF:
Citation DFC (Imm) (15 May 1942) “One night in April 1942 this officer was the captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Cologne. Whilst over the target area, the aircraft was hit by shellfire and sustained damage. The navigator, wireless operator and front gunner were injured, but despite this, Pilot Officer Jarman flew on to make his attack. On the return journey it was discovered that a bomb had not fallen owing to the damage caused by the enemy’s shellfire whereupon Pilot Officer Jarman altered course and headed for the North Sea so that the bomb could be jettisoned. Before reaching the sea, however, his aircraft was subjected to an attack by an enemy fighter whose fire killed the rear gunner, wounded the second pilot and inflicted further damage on the aircraft. Skilfully controlling the bomber Pilot Officer Jarman continued his flight and after jettisoning the bomb in the sea, he finally reached this country where he made a safe landing with the undercarriage retracted.”

They crash-landed at 4:40 in the morning. Trafford was badly wounded, and passed away later that day.

From “New Zealanders in the Air War”, by Alan Mitchell:

On these five operations only one aircraft was lost, but several injured men were brought back. One, Pilot Officer T. McRae Nicol, of Welling­ton, had been badly hit in the abdomen by shell-splinters. He was in great pain when they lifted him tenderly from the aircraft into the ambulance, but he had a smile for Olson.

I’ve got a guts full of lead, sir,” he told the CO., almost proudly. Morphia eased the rack of the pain, but although he probably knew he had little chance of survival, he remained cheerful until he died.

Trafford’s niece, Barbara remembers reading a letter from the Squadron’s Chaplin to Trafford’s parents saying that Trafford was a great leader, was always so positive and one of his favourites.  The letter also said that a WAAF had given Trafford a cup of hot tea before he was removed from his Wellington, and that the hot tea may have caused more damage to his stomach.  Barbara says she always thought that it was funny how her uncle died in the war from a hot cup of tea…….

Trafford was buried with full military honours at Feltwell’s St. Nicholas Churchyard, Row C Grave 11, on the 29th of April.

His crewmate Jim Harris was buried the same day at St. Nicholas Churchyard, Row B Grave 11.
 
Returning from the same Cologne operation in the early hours of 23 April, another night fighter had attacked the McLachlan crew’s Wellington X3705, AA-F, killing 2nd Pilot P/O Cedric Fountain, RNZAF (NZ41981). They also struggled to reach Base, and had crash-landed at Feltwell about an hour before the Jarman crew.  Trafford, Jim and Cedric were all buried at St Nicholas Churchyard on the same day, and the photograph of the funeral party suggests that the three airmen were taken on the same carriage:

TraffordMcRNicol-Funeral-Felwell-27May1942[3]

P/O Trafford Nicol’s funeral, Feltwell, 29 June 1942.
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Rick Jarman eventually flew 41 op’s to complete his tour with 75 (NZ) Squadron on 3 August, and after a stint instructing at 27 OTU, went on to a second tour with 460 Squadron. He was promoted to Squadron Leader, but sadly on their 9th op’, he and 5 of his crew were lost over Germany on 28 April 1944. The crew is immortalised in a famous painting, “Bomber Crew”, which was still being worked on by the artist when they were shot down.

Trevor Smith went on to skipper his own aircraft, but was lost with all his crew on the 9th of July, during a raid on Wilhelmshaven. Fernie and Chunn survived the war.

– Read more about the events of the night of 22nd /23rd of April, within a post about Feltwell Cemetery here  (about half way down the post)

To read the crew history in full, please click here to be taken to the Jarman crew Op history page.

Again, special thanks to James and Barbara Ogilvie and the Nicol family for sharing these photos and their own research. Thanks to Anna Rhodes-Sayer and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for permission to reproduce the main crew photo

 

The Stirling from Enter – Remembering the McCullough crew – Wierden Cemetery

12 cropped

4 of the crew of BK.604 AA-S – “the Stirling from Enter”
from left to right: P/O John McCullough – Pilot, Sgt. Francis Frederick Allen – Flight Engineer, Sgt. Paul Rodney Trevayne – Rear Gunner and Terence Austin Murphy – Air Bomber.
Wierden Cemetery

Many thanks to Russell for passing on the following information from Kees Kroon regarding a ceremony of remembrance that took place last Thursday at Wierden Cemetery, in Holland.

Whilst the ceremony remembered 25 airmen that rest in the cemetery, special interest went to the 4 crew of Stirling Mk.I BK.604 AA-S, who lost their lives whilst participating in Operations against Hamburg on the 3rd of February 1943.

Poppies from Down Under in Wierden.

On Thursday 21 April 2016 at 13.30 hrs. about 25 interested people came together at the old cemetery in Wierden to witness the ceremony of commemoration for the 25 airmen resting in Wierden, especially for those from the Short Stirling bomber from no. 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. This aircraft was shot down in the night from 3rd to 4th of February 1943 and crashed at the Goorseweg in Enter. Four crew members lost their lives and rest in Wierden, the other four became prisoners of war.

Among those present were representatives from the community council and Historical Association from Wierden and from the R.Nl.A.F. Association. They were joined by the pupils from group 7/8 (age 10 – 12) from Immanuel school Wierden which has adopted the graves bringing a floral tribute every year. Originally this ceremony was planned on ANZAC-Day (25 April) but due to the school holiday that week is was moved some days forward.

Organizer and master of ceremony was Mr. Kees Kroon, board member of the HKW, the Historical Association Wederden (the old name for Wierden) and president of the regional department of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Association.

Mrs. Ria Broeze, president of the HKW, welcomed all present (especially the school children and emphasised the importance of remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom, one of the many items that the HKW carries high in its banner.

Her speech was followed a short explanation from Kees Kroon, about the ceremony and how things had developed during the past months after he and Mr. Diederick ten Brinke (from Enter) had met and had discovered that they had very much in common regarding the air war 1940-1945. Diederick has been in contact for many years with relatives of sergeant Terence (Terry) Murphy, Air Bomber of the “Stirling-from-Enter” and collected a tremendous amount of detailed information about the bomber and its crew, a truly magnificent accomplishment. To this information was added what was known by the Hist. Ass., keeping the Murphy-family informed step by step.

This resulted  in a letter of gratitude from the Murphy-family to the children of group 7/8 of the Immanuel school which was presented to them a few weeks ago and which was greatly appreciated.

After these introductions Diederick ten Brinke gave an very detailed and revealing reproduction of the events that led tot he crash of the bomber. The target, the way the Stirling was attacked and shot down, the fate of the crew members, the “German side of the event, everything was explained in detail an illustrated by pictures giving all present a very good idea of what happened on that fateful night. Perfect research, resulting in a very moving story that was listened to with great attention and that was highly appreciated.

Next step was the distribution of 25 poppies (for the 25 fallen airmen resting in Wierden) to the children plus representatives of the community council and Hist. Association from Wierden, after which these were placed on the graves. This was followed by one minute of silence, both very dignified and emotional events.

In total the Murphy-family and NZ-RSA send 50 poppies and the remaining 25 ones were given tot he pupils, a gesture that was received with great enthusiasm and a stimulus for the school to maintain the yearly floral tribute to the fallen airmen for many years to come.

Kees Kroon emphasized that contact with other relatives of crew members from the “Stirling from Enter” have been found and contacted, may be resulting in further developments and Ria Broeze closed this short, but dignified and moving ceremony with many thanks to all present (especially the children) and a very appropriate poem, with an invitation for coffee/tea at the Historical Association nearby.

cermony 6 image comp

From top to bottom: Wierden Cemetery, Kees Kroon, Ria Broeze and Diederick ten Brinke conduct the ceremony in front of assembled crowd, local school children take and place poppies on the graves of all 25 airmen who rest in the cemetery.

In writing this post it strikes me simultaneously that this sort of  ceremony, with this level of local engagement takes place in many locations in Europe and it would be nice to hear from anybody who does this sort of thing.

Simultaneously, it makes me wonder if the same is done in this country in the towns and villages where airmen lay – if it’s not, I think it should be. Perhaps if someone reads this and shares my opinion, click here to see the location of 75(NZ) Squadron airmen who lay at rest in the UK.

ANZAC Day 2016

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Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.

In the spirit of ANZAC day and the opportunity it provides for us to remember the fallen, I wish to announce a significant addition to the blogsite.

What now must be about three and a half years ago I began to slowly transcribe the contents of the Form 541 ‘Details of work carried out‘. Broadly speaking, for those of you that are not familiar with the physical contents of the Squadron Operational Record Books, that I often mention, FORM 541 lists all aircraft and crews that took part in all Ops throughout the period of the War.

The transcription from these forms to a database has been good and bad. It has been very useful and efficient regarding individual queries about crew, but it has also been, at times, a right royal pain in the arse……….

Now that I try to remember the various ‘stages’ of completion I outlined over the last 3 years, I can now, to be honest, not recall a single one.

Suffice to say, in broad strokes, it is now done.

We now have, online, for all to look through and perhaps add to, an Operational history for every crew that flew Ops between 1940 and 1945. By extrapolation, we also therefore have a record of every Op that every individual undertook throughout the same period.

Each year can be viewed through each of the following respective links:

Crews starting 1940.
Crews starting 1941.
Crews starting 1942.
Crews starting 1943.
Crews starting 1944.
Crews starting 1945.

By Navigation each year can alternatively be accessed from the top menu under ’75(NZ) Squadron RAF’ and then from that drop menu under ’75(NZ) Squadron RAF Crews’

No such collection exists anywhere else on the web for 75(NZ) Squadron RAF and to the best of my knowledge, I think, it may be unique as a ‘fixed’ collection, as opposed to a dynamic search and return data based approach for any Squadron from the War.

The ordering and layout may undergo some subtle changes as we move forward, but I have applied the following approach.

Each crew is placed, relative to their first Operational sortie. This is important to note because there may be situations when a Pilot begun flying as a ‘2nd Dickie’ in one year, but began flying with ‘his’ crew in another.

Because each history exists on its own page, a rule and structure had to be decided on and in keeping with  protocols within the documents these histories were built from, this is the Pilot.

I appreciate if an individual possibly flew with a number of crews, this might make the tracing of their history a little circuitous, but if it proves that problematic, I am happy on contact to generate a ‘custom’ individual history directly from the database.

The creation of these pages means broadly 2 things:
1. Visitors can search and access crew histories.
2. Information can be added to these pages as it is donated.

The blog will obviously continue as the main method of communication information, but I have become aware as information has increased, that a blog post becomes quite unwieldy regarding a long and detailed Op history.

In the future, a new post about a crew, or individual,  will contain perhaps one or two images and a broad outline of the crew, but a link will be placed to take an interested reader to that crew’s Op history page.

In this way, relatives will have a single static location to visit regarding information on their loved ones.

Perhaps in the spirit of today’s remembrance, I would also note that even though we may never receive new information on a particular crew, their bravery and participation now exists as a permanent record for all to find and read – none of those brave boys will be forgotten……..

This project continues and is certainly not (if it ever will be) complete. There is more information to gather from official documents, more (I am sure) contacts to be made with relatives and the process of adding to each page what currently exists in the 600+ posts the blog already contains. As a matter of relative priority the next project is to ensure loss and burial details are added to all pages where a crew, or crew member was lost.

I am sure there are buried within the many pages, mistakes and errors – I would simply ask, that in the same spirit that I have taken regarding making my last three and a half years efforts accessible to all, others who might have information and corrections, share them to refine and improve the database – if knowledge is not shared – it has no value.

I must also, belatedly, thank you all for your continuing support and the passing of the amazing milestone of 300,000 views – daily traffic, despite my relative silence over the last few months means a great deal to me and I know i have to get back to my email and respond to what is a sizable list of contacts – I will get to you all !

Looking back, I have to be honest and say it’s been a day to day struggle to deal with things over the last few months, but despite this, the blog keeps on being visited and people keep reaching out – and its this that keeps me going – thanks to you all.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

 

Ake AKe Kia Kaha