21/7/43 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal, Nr. Ely, Cambridgeshire

75(NZ) Squadron RAF . Aircrew pose on and around a Stirling Bomber

Sometime on Wednesday, 21st of July 1943 14 young men arrived at Mepal airfield, near Ely, Cambridge. It was the home of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. They arrived at the Squadron like many young men had done before them. 6 of the 15 like many before and after them would die with the Squadron. Both crews had trained at 1651 Conversion unit. The Mayfield Crew and the Roberts crew were now on operational duty with Bomber Command.

The boys arrived almost half way through 1943, so far the Squadron had flown 87 operations, totalling 655 sorties at the cost of 39 aircraft. By the end of that year, their contribution would take the Squadron to 148 operational raids flown, totalling 1,150 sorties flown with the loss of 72 aircraft. These were dangerous times.

At the end of the previous month, the Squadron had completed its move from Newmarket to a new airfield at Mepal. Under Outstanding Events the move was recorded in a rather matter of fact way;

The Squadron was moved to R.A.F. Station, Mepal (Satellite to Waterbeach). The advanced party proceeded on the 27th. June 1943, the Main Party on the 28th. June, and the Rear Party on the 29th. June 1943. This was successfully carried out with the assistance of Motor transport provided by No. 2 M.T. Coy. Cambridge.

Page 499, 1943. Form 540/ 541 AIR27/ 646  75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal. National Archives.

From the ORB for July 1943, Mayfield crew arrivals at the base are as follows;

1562617 Sgt Sommerville, R. (A/B) Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/49 dated 19/7/43.
NZ417084 F/S Pilot Mayfield, A  Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/43 dated 19/7/43.
NZ416427 Sgt. A/G Hulena, J  Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/43 dated 19/7/43.
1356658 Sgt. A/G Bullen, R  Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/49 dated 19/7/43.
134695 P/O Nav Jarmy, J  Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/49 dated 19/7/43.
1624186 Sgt. F/Eng Warburton, A  Posted from  No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/49 dated 19/7/43.
NZ417207 F/S. WO/AG. Gee, W.J. Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/43 dated 19/7/43.

It is difficult to understand the arrival of Sgt. Weaver. It would appear that he did not actually arrive with the rest of the crew from 1651 C.U. What further confuses the situation is that the previous month, another WOAG by the name of Weavers arrives at the Squadron. This second individual has the correct first initial (based on subsequent crew lists for operations), but appears to have been crewed with another Pilot. The ‘first Sgt. Weaver’ arrives a day before the boys on the 20th July.

From ORB page 527 1943, movements for July
1214092. SGT. WO/AG. Weavers, F. Attached from No. 1 A.G.S, w.e.f.20/7/43. (Authy. 25G/ 2502/ 63/ P2(78).

From ORB page 504 1943 movements for June
1290831 SGT. W/AG. Weavers, R. Posted from Base Mildenhall (N/E) w.e.f. 1.6.43 (Authy. P/N3G/449./43 dated 23.6.43

I have no real understanding of the movement coding/ nomenclature, but the individual arriving in July seems to share a similar movement code structure to the other aircrew (Bob et al). At the moment I don’t actually know which one is the Sgt. Weavers that started with the Mayfield crew.

Subsequently I have discovered that there was in fact another member of the Mayfield crew that arrived with the boys from Waterbeach on the 21st July. Flight Sergeant Walter Gee, it would appear arrived at Mepal, but departed very soon after. My postulation is that the first Sgt. Weavers is in fact the individual that was drafted into replace Walter.

Secondarily, other individuals, who would ultimately become part of the Mayfield crew arrived at the base;

NZ416421 F/S WO/AG Lake, W Posted from 1665 CU w.e.f. 29 July 43. Authority P/N 3G/965/43 dated 26/7/43
1032870 Sgt. A/G Darbyshire, T Posted from 1665 CU w.e.f. 30 July 43 Authority P/N 3G/966/43 dated 28/7/43

6 thoughts on “21/7/43 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal, Nr. Ely, Cambridgeshire

    1. 75nzsquadron Post author

      Hello Andrew
      If you can contact me, maybe directly through email regarding your Uncle, I can perhaps put up a post – who knows, we might just find something out about him and the boys he flew with.

      I look forward to hearing from you



      1. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Dear Simon

        Very many thanks for your kind offer. Let me get together all the correspondence and papers my father managed to gather while he was alive, see what I can glean and summarise for you.

        Best regards

        Andrew Ashdown


      2. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

        Dear Simon

        I have an apology to make. Having looked into the file I have now found the full story – as far as my late father was able to ascertain with the help of 75 NZ Sqd Assoc., the Suffolk & Norfolk Aviation Museum, Royal Br Legion Lowestoft, RAF Duxford and a German (Luftwaffe?) source in Freiburg. Messrs. Stan Brooks, Bob Collis and Michael Bowyer were particularly helpful. The point is, the exact circumstances were never resolved beyond the aircraft ditching off Southwold and the Aldeburgh Lifeboat being called out. Of the crew of 7, only 4 were recovered, my uncle being one of them. He was buried at Cuddington; the three lost were commemorated at Runnymede.

        My father assiduously kept the Logbook, from flight training in Dec ’41 up until the last mission over Essen 25 July 43; also photograph albums, medals, personal notes, the lot – an impressive little archive.

        I think I wrote because there is still this question of exactly what happened but it appears this we shall never know.

        I must thank you for your offer of help and I hope the story can in some way be put into the Association’s notes or other suitable publication, although there will have been hundreds of similar stories. My grandfather touchingly had his headstone inscribed ‘One of the Few’ which was not strictly true. It means a lot to us, naturally, and we keep these things as a family heirloom – I hope my children will learn from it. We like to think we are honouring his memory. I have myself been to Cuddington and to St. Clement Danes to see his entry in the books there.

        Thank you again.

        Yours sincerely

        Andrew S Ashdown


  1. Ian

    I messaged about a son of a veteran asking for information about a W Townsend,you send me info back and thank you.
    You asked me do i have any more info,well his first name was Walter,he was born and bred in Wakefield,training in Ontario and served full tour which included Manna and the repatriation effort.
    Bomb Aimer Walter Townsend aircraft number AAK



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