I am really excited to announce a very significant step forward with the Nominal Roll project. All letters, A-Z have now been created and populated with all aircrew names that appear on the Roll as operational aircrew.
In addition to this, “A” has been completed based on the first pass of information held in the database.
I have said many times before, the term ‘completed’ is a very relative one. It seems each time I return to an individual and metaphorically stare at them, another small piece of information comes to light and thus can be added – contacts this week alone have added the first names of 5 of the boys.
Additionally to this, I have dragged Kevin and Chris on board and we have had a massive increase in photographs of Squadron members, as well as new information to add.
At this point we have 431 photographs – 12% of the 3578 individuals listed – I am sure we will find many more – with your help!
Also, for easier access and perhaps to catch the eye of new visitors to the site, I have now created a specific top menu item that takes you to the downloadable aircrew information form – PLEASE if you haven’t filled one in, or thought about it and then forgot – go back, roll up your sleeves, put on your glasses, make a cup of tea and make your contribution to the Squadron, this site and the individual you are remembering!
Many thanks to Kevin for providing me with advance warning that today is Ralph Brumwell’s 100th birthday – I am sure you will all join with me in wishing Ralph the most heartfelt wishes on this remarkable milestone.
This notable event also gives me an excuse to make use of the Nominal Roll database to provide the following summary of Ralph’s time with the Squadron!
Ralph William Brumwell, D.F.C. RAF 127140 – Pilot Born on Saturday, 24 July 1920. Arrived Saturday, 20 May 1944 at R.A.F. Mepal, Cambridgeshire, aged 23 from No.31.Base.
1st Tour Ops total with Squadron – 27 total sorties undertaken 28 (96 % completion rate)
Undertook 28 Ops as Pilot , including 1 DNC – 17/07/1944 Attack Against Vaires
Tour History 27/05/1944 Attack Against Aachen, 28/05/1944 Attack Against Angers, 30/05/1944 Attack Against Boulogne, 31/05/1944 Attack Against Trappes, 02/06/1944 Attack Against Wissant, 12/06/1944 Attack Against Gelsenkirchen, 14/06/1944 Attack Against Le Havre, 21/06/1944 Attack Against Domleger, 23/06/1944 Attack Against L’Hey, 24/06/1944 Attack Against Rimeux, 30/06/1944 Attack Against Villers Bocage, 02/07/1944 Daylight Attack Against Beauvoir, 07/07/1944 Attack Against Vaires, 10/07/1944 Attack Against Nucourt, 12/07/1944 Attack Against Vaires, 15/07/1944 Attack Against Chalons Sur Marne, 17/07/1944 Attack Against Vaires (DNC), 18/07/1944 Attack Against Cagny, 01/08/1944 Attack Against Le Nieppe, 12/08/1944 Mining in the Gironde Estuary, 14/08/1944 Attack Against Hamel, 15/08/1944 Attack Against The Aerodrome at St. Trond, 16/08/1944 Attack Against Stettin, 18/08/1944 Attack Against Bremen, 29/08/1944 Attack Against Stettin, 31/08/1944 Attack Against Pont Reny, 05/09/1944 Attack Against Le Havre, 06/09/1944 Attack Against Harqueboc Le Havre
Operational Duration (first to last Op) – 3 months 10 days
Posted out from 75(NZ) Squadron Monday, 25 September 1944. Time with Squadron – 4 months 5 days
Awards & Citations LONDON GAZETTE 8th of December 1944 Distinguished Flying Cross Ralph William BRUMWELL (127140), R.A.F.V.R., 75(N.Z.) Sqn
This officer has completed many operational sorties against a wide variety of targets in Germany and Northern France. He has shown himself to be a cool and resourceful captain of aircraft and has displayed outstanding courage and keenness to engage the enemy. In August 1944, Flight Lieutenant’ s aircraft was detailed to attack a target at Le Nieppe. Several hits were sustained by anti-aircraft and on engine was rendered unserviceable. Although the damage to his aircraft was severe, he successfully flew it back to base and execute a perfect landing.
Once again Ralph – all the best wishes for the day and literally in your case………
Very sad news was received recently of the death of Ron Mayhill DFC KLH, distinguished 75(NZ) Squadron veteran and past President of the New Zealand Bomber Command Association.
Ron leaves behind a very significant legacy, not only from his long service with the Association, but in the form of a significant historical record of his time with the squadron. Ron was the Bomb Aimer in John Aitken’s crew, arriving at Mepal just one day after D-Day, June 1944.
Ron and his skipper Jake Aitken shared a camera and between them captured many of the images that would come to define our memory of those times. Their regular “kite” was Lancaster ND782, “U-Uncle”. Ron survived 27 operations before their Lancaster was hit by flak when just about to drop their load on a flying bomb supply depot at Pont Remy. Ron was wounded in the eye and face by splinters of perspex and since he had missed the target indicators, they had to go around again. For completing the bombing run, despite his injuries, he was awarded the DFC. “Once you’re in a war there’s no way out. It’s not just courage — you’re on a treadmill and you know what you’re facing and we just decided: right, if you’re going to get killed we’re going to sell our lives dearly and we’re going to fight.” – Ron Mayhill DFC, “Memories Of Service”, NZ On Screen. By the time he had recuperated, the rest of his crew had completed their tour and been posted to No.3 Lancaster Finishing School as instructors, so Ron’s tour of operations was also over.
He became a school teacher after the war, apparently a very good one, at Pukekohe High School and later at Auckland Grammar, where he taught for 27 years.
During that time he wrote books on geography, and after he retired, together with and encouraged by his old crewmates, decided to write a memoir of their wartime experiences.
He eventually found a publisher in England, but frustratingly was told to cut the book down to half the size! Published in 1991, “Bombs On Target” by Ron Mayhill FC (Patrick Stephens) is one of the two definitive books covering the Lancaster years at Mepal (“Luck and a Lancaster” by Harry Yates DFC being the other).
With Ron’s insightful writing, sense of humour, Kiwi perspective and Bomb Aimer’s technical detail, the book is a mine of information, and it immerses the reader in the life of an airman at Mepal in 1944. It’s one of those books that you don’t want to end … and we are very grateful that men like Ron and Harry Yates took the time to record their experiences in such wonderful detail.
In 2012 he travelled to London as part of the official RNZAF veterans group to attend the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial. Ron was very happy to share his great knowledge of Bomber Command and was very generous with his time – he recorded several interviews and spoke often at functions, services and schools. He made many memorable addresses at Bomber Command services, thought-provoking and well-researched.
Ron had been fit, sharp and active and it was only a deterioration in his eyesight and hearing that caused him to step down as President of the New Zealand Bomber Command Association in late 2018, a role that he performed admirably right up to the age of 94.
Ronald Desmond Mayhill passed away on Thursday 9 July 2020.
A great man and a very nice man – he will be sadly missed.
I am pleased/ relieved to announce that the Nominal Roll for the Squadron is now complete! Possibly, this sounds a lot better than it actually is, but it represents a significant point as I now have an individual Op history attached to every individual who flew Operationally with the Squadron. As I have observed many times previously, this was never going to be a quick or easy project. Starting with a blank sheet of paper and interrogating my original crew history spreadsheet, I have now, over a number of years, generated a basic list of names and then to these, attached Operational histories. Additionally, I have begun to add extra information to individual records from published sources and the extensive, if patchy historical records that exist and that are accessible.
The size of the basic list, when extracted from the spreadsheet into a Word document is 1249 pages – if laid out end to end, it would be 370 meters long…….
The histories I now have are are highly variable in size, both by duration and Op count, ranging from a number of individuals who completed 2 tours with the Squadron to, too many, who excruciatingly only have a single Op recorded, on which they were lost…..
Soberingly, based on the arrived figure of 3,480 individuals who flew operationally, based on total losses for the Squadron of 1,139, the maths shows an almost exact 1/3 chance of not surviving the Squadron, once you had arrived. Clearly, not simply by fancy, the unofficial moniker of “The Chop Squadron” was chillingly true.
I am keen to try (eventually) to provide as detailed a record for all individuals as I can. For some this will be a proud point of reference for a family, for others it will be simply a record of their contribution and a permanent statement of their commitment and bravery through the War.
The database has been built to be flexible and to accept whatever information I am able to gather on an individual. In truth, a lot of this information I have no way of gathering without the help of all the readers of this site. Without being unnecessarily wordy, I am keen that these records have a narrative feel to them – after all, it is these boy’s story that is being told – a small thing like a date of birth allows me through the database to have an age for the individual airman when he arrived at the Squadron. A service record allows their journey prior to Operational duties to be known and also the date of arrival and departure from 75(NZ) Squadron, as well as where they went afterwards. Working through Errol Martyn’s breathtaking record of all RNZAF losses – “For your Tomorrow” I have been able to add to all RNZAF aircrew lost on Operations, small details of life – whilst known on this site as a Pilot, an Air Bomber or Rear Gunner, it’s touching to discover that they were also clerks, shepherds, plumbers, plasterers and teachers. The extensive records held and accessible in the Australian National Archives, for those RAAF aircrew that flew with the Squadron provides the same personal insight into an individuals life before service and in many cases the pain when they were lost.
I am also pleased to say that WordPress have recently provided an alternative method of creating pages. One addition is a 2 column block, which means that, where it exists, a photograph of the individual can also be included. A sneak peek of what I envisage for the Nominal Roll when it becomes live can be seen here – this is ‘Z’, mercifully small, but it let’s you see the planned layout and the wonderful visual addition to a record that a picture makes – by coincidence Vernon Zinzan, my Father’s 2nd Tour Pilot.
I have also produced a pro forma for submitting individual information, which can be downloaded here
I still have a lot of information to add to the database and I hope I might receive more based on this request! – at a point in the next month or so I will begin uploading information in the format previously mentioned…………