Many thanks to Mike for contacting me recently about George Augustus Shotun Williams, with a query regarding his presence in the Squadron. Mike had visited the site and came back to me with a question about the recorded Navigator for Jack Wright’s crew – listed at this point as a F/Lt C. Williams. Mike, thanks to impeccable prior research, noted that on the day of the Wright’s crew arrival at Mepal, on the 28th of November 1944, 2 other crews also arrived, all from No.31 Base.
On all the operations that Jack Wright took part in from the 5th December 1944 to the 2nd of January 1945, his navigator was shown as Ft/Lt C. Williams. At this point, the only Navigators of a rank of F/Lt. was C. Williams of the Wright crew, Ron Payne, Jack Brewster and Arthur Creagh.
As Mike noted: “As ‘A’ Flight leader Jack Wright seems to have assembled an experienced crew, many with a DFC and mainly composed of officers, and George Williams fits into this perfectly. He was a navigation instructor at RAF Stradishall before he transferred to 75(NZ) Sqdn”.
The additional fact that George’s service record clearly shows his arrival at Mepal on the 28th of November clearly identifies him as ‘C’ Williams. Anyone who has spent any time in Squadron documentation knows the number of errors present when one, as it were, knows the truth and it would seem that up until Mike’s contact, George was lost in these errors – to this end it’s always a wonderful personal feeling when we are able to add another name and thus another actual person to the Squadron’s history.
George flew 6 Ops with Jack Wrights crew, the last being on the 2nd of January 1945, to Nuremberg. On the 20th of February he was posted to 218 Squadron. Ironically Mike reports that here at 218 he is recorded as ‘H’ Williams
If anybody is able to shed any further light on Georges wartime career, i am sure his family would love to find out.
Whilst not directly related to 75(NZ) Squadron, an interesting
week spent and worth mentioning to you all. Always at this point of the summer,
after a busy year at the University I invariably sink into a panic of how to
spend what only feels like a very short month before going back for the new academic
year. This year was no different, but seizing the nettle Bev and I decided to
at least make sure we got away for a week. A very quick and deliberate google
thrash turned up a restored Bomber Command Control Tower in North Yorkshire –
and we thought well, that’s different, why the hell not and so it was booked.
I am loathe to turn this post into a TripAdvisor review, suffice to say, that Tholthorpe Control Tower is an amazing place to stay and really worth a week if you wish to stay not only in an immaculately restored and appointed period building, but perhaps more importantly to all of us who have visited RAF Mepal airfield to be left perhaps with that gnawing feeling of disappointment that so little of it all now remains, that the Control Tower at Tholthorpe is the same 343/43 design that stood at Mepal. It’s quite an amazing feeling to stand and look either through the windows, or climb the metal staircase to the roof, to stand and gaze out on what is now agricultural land to know that once, heavy bombers took off for the same period of time as Stirlings and Lancasters did from Mepal.
From Wikipedia…. RAF Tholthorpe was a Royal Air Force air station operated by RAF Bomber Command during the Second World War. The station, which had been opened in the late 1930s as a grass airfield, was located near Easingwold, North Yorkshire, UK. Tholthorpe airfield operated as a sub-station of RAF Linton-on-Ouse.
August 1940 to December 1940, Tholthorpe was a landing field for Whitley bombers
of No. 58 Squadron RAF and No. 51 Squadron RAF based at
January 1941 to June 1943, Tholthorpe underwent maintenance to upgrade to Class
A standards, with three intersecting concrete runways designated main 10-28 at
2,000 yards, 06-24 at 1,430 yards and 16-34 at 1,400 yards.
was assigned to No. 6 Group RCAF in June 1943. RCAF squadrons
stationed here included No. 434 Squadron “Bluenose”, 431
Squadron “Iroquois”, 420 Squadron “Snowy
Owl”, and 425 Squadron “Alouette”.
No. 434 Squadron, flying Halifax bombers, was formed and headquartered at Tholthorpe airfield from June 1943 until the squadron was moved to Croft. In July 1943, 431 Squadron moved to Tholthorpe airfield from Burn. It was later moved to Croft airfield as well. Not only were the operational squadrons quartered here, also their service echelons, -respectively Nos. 9431 and 9434 Service Echelon, which were formed from the ground crew of nos. 431 and 434 Squadron on 3 November 1943 and who moved with their squadrons on to Croft in December 1943.
In December 1943 No. 420 and No. 425 Squadrons (together with their service echelons, nos. 9420 and 9425 Service Echelon) were moved to Tholthorpe airfield from Dalton and Dishforth respectively. These squadrons had returned from service with Wellingtons in North Africa, and it took them several weeks to work up on the newly acquired Halifax bombers. They were therefore unable to fly their first raids from Tholthorpe until mid-February 1944. No. 420 Squadron flew 160 operations from Tholthorpe airfield and lost 25 Halifaxes. No. 425 squadron flew 162 operations from Tholthorpe airfield and lost 28 Halifaxes. In all, 119 Halifax bombers were lost from Tholthorpe. In April and May 1945 nos. 420 and 425 Squadron converted to Avro Lancasters, which they took with them when they left for RCAF Debert, Nova Scotia, Canada in June 1945.
Just to let everybody that we have just passed the latest big viewing milestone – 600,000 views!
Almost 13 months to the day since we passed the half a million mark, you, the blog audience have added another 100,000 views to our tally and with it we get another small step closer to the magic figure of 1 million views. I think the passing of this new milestone, in the time it has happened is all the more remarkable given my silence regarding posts for essentially 1/4 of the year owing to the self inflicted loss of my laptop!
I have received questions over the years regarding what has been claimed to be my unnecessary emphasis on statistics and particularly the total viewing figures. In the past, I have tried to explain, but now I simply refute these queries. Put simply, this website has become, the largest single resource for 75(NZ) Squadron RAF in the world. It has achieved this by having the most comprehensive collection of records, information and images on the Squadron, which is freely accessible to all. This complete open door policy regarding information is vindicated by the volume of visitors and views that are recorded.
Frustratingly I am picking my way through the busiest part of my professional year – assessment, the awarding of Degrees, the preparation for our annual London show and planning for next academic year means that I am waiting for a clear gap in the next few months to present new material that has come to me over the last 6 months or so – all of you have have contacted me, please be patient – it will all be presented as soon as I can!.
Without sounding like a broken record – please can everybody share the site – so many relatives of the boys who flew with the Squadron have made contact over the years, that it makes me think that there are still many more that have yet to find the site. Please, share the site address, on social media, through the facebook groups you are members of – we need to find these people and we need to encourage them to share what they have or might know.
Also, please, please, please apply for your relatives service records! I cannot overstate the value and importance of the contents of these records to me and the site. Many dates and locations, because of the points of formation of a crew and their subsequent training means that details supplied for one person means that the same details of movement and training can be added to up 6 other individuals. As soon as I can, I will make a downloadable template available to hopefully streamline the transfer of personal details etc that I need for the database.
Thanks to Chris for this piece, on the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Allied liberation of Europe.
The Air Force Museum of New Zealand in Christchurch holds a copy of the 75(NZ) Sqn Operations Log, a document which we were not previously aware of, and which gives us a much more detailed insight into 75 (NZ) Squadron’s contribution to D-Day. On the night of 5th of June 1944, 75(NZ) Squadron had prepared twenty-six Lancasters (a record at that point), and they took off either side of 0330hrs in the morning of the 6th to attack the coastal battery at Ouistreham. They were timed to reach the target at first light, and, on arrival, found a layer of cloud at 7,000 feet, with occasional gaps, through which some crews were able to see the markers. The bombing appeared to be fairly concentrated, no opposition was met, and all aircraft returned safely to Mepal after a round-trip of less than four hours.
Ouistreham was at the eastern end of the invasion area, where Sword and Juno Beaches would be the scene of the Anglo-Canadian landings. However Mepal crews had not been told of the invasion, but they knew something was up as they were told that more than a thousand aircraft would be operating throughout the night, and that they must adhere to assigned flight routes, heights and times, and not jettison bombs over the Channel.
From the 75(NZ) Sqn Operations Log: At 0730hrs,15 minutes after the last aircraft had landed back at Mepal, one of several ‘top secret’ messages came through from Waterbeach:
”D-Day is 6-6-44, H Hour 0600”
There were also messages about the distinctive markings of aircraft, and tight restrictions on the use of I.F.F.
At 0810hrs Waterbeach advised the Colours of the Day: 1400 – 2000 RY – Q – O 2000 – 0200 RG – J – I Chaffinch OX 0200 – 0800 GG – C – D 0800 – 1400 GY – H – W
Duty Beacon 62 – 285
At 1105hrs Group requested 24 Lancasters be made available for an attack that night, Bomb Loads 18 x 500, petrol 1250 (gallons).
W/T call signs were advised: A & B Flt M.K.H. and C Flt P.O.K.
At 1130hrs Target and Aiming Point coordinates were advised and an amendment to the Bomb Load, specifying 90% .025 fusing and 10% long delay (spread evenly over a period of 6 to 36hrs). H Hour 0235hrs.
At 1610hrs W/C Leslie put the petrol up to 1366 (gallons).
At 1620hrs Waterbeach advised the route coordinates (there and back). They also advised a bomb jettison location and repeated the instructions not to jettison in the Channel, mentioning “a very considerable volume of shipping”.
At 1935hrs the target was altered to one of two possible targets (Lisieux one of them) and new route coordinates were advised.
“Note: The alteration in route is to avoid low flying airborne forces, which are again operating tonight”.
“A/C in two waves … 75 Sqdn 12 A/C in 1st wave, 12 2nd wave”.
I.F.F. not to be used except in real emergency – sets were to be sealed in the “Off” position. “Window” and photography instructions given.
2130hrs – target confirmed as Lisieux. Strict adherence to routes and times required. Crews to fly below any bad weather over England, up to Thames Estuary, then climb through clouds to 7 or 8000 ft. Keep that height over enemy coast if weather fine, but if 5/10 cloud or more, drop below cloud and bomb below. Be prepared to come down below cloud over the target if markers are not visible. Balloon locations advised. PFF Aiming Point marking colours advised (Red & Green at H-3 to H-2, followed by Yellow & White)
At 2250hrs new instructions came through from BC HQ:
– no Window- if crews can’t visually identify the target must not bomb any other target – if any light flak received do not fire back (could be ours) – route coordinates confirmed, H Hour brought forward to 0135hrs.
At 2344hrs the first of 24 Lancasters took off from Mepal to attack the railway junction in the town of Lisieux, some twenty miles to the east of Caen.. They reached the target to find a thin layer of cloud at 5,000 feet, which obscured the aiming-point, but the Oboe markers could be seen clearly, and the bombing was considered accurate and concentrated. All returned home safely, the last landing at 0359hrs early on the morning of the 7th.
Many thanks to Joan and Michael Wilcox who have generously passed on the story of Ted Wilcox and the ‘Bomb spitting soda syphon’ artwork that adorned R1162 AA-Y “Yorker.
Edward (Ted) Thomas Wilcox was born in Durban, South Africa on 8 March 1913. His family moved back to England in 1914, later moving to Birmingham where his father was employed at the Austin Motor Works.
an early age Ted had shown a talent for painting and drawing and in 1924 he
went to the Birmingham School of Art where he studied art, design and silver
working. In 1930 he started work for a company making stained glass and later worked
for the Austin Motor Works. Subsequently, he left Birmingham and worked in
London as a commercial artist. His artwork was often used in technical
publications, advertising literature and car owner manuals.
was granted an emergency commission with the RAFVR on 12 April 1939, gazetted
on 14 May 1939 as an acting Pilot Officer and began training as an Air Gunner.
married Mary Dalton on 3 May 1940 and three days after the wedding, reported to
9 Bombing and Gunnery School at RAF Penrhos, Wales for a further three weeks
June he was posted to 11 Operational Training Unit (OTU), RAF Bassingbourn,
training on Wellingtons.
14 August 1940, Ted was posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron at RAF Feltwell as an Air
Gunner. Ted and Mary lived at Laburnum Cottage, Hockwold.
with several crews – S/L “Breck” Breckon, P/O Charles Pownall (5 op’s), P/O Ian
Gow and F/O Peter Kitchin (6) – before settling into the crew of P/O Edgar Lockwood
as rear gunner.
He flew ten operations with Lockwood between November 1940 and January 1941.
Meanwhile, Mark 1C Wellington R1162 was received on 19 December 1940 from No 9 MU, Cosford, allocated the code AA-Y “Yorker”.
The Lockwood crew picked up the new aircraft and flew their first op’ in her on 1 January 1941.
We don’t know why, but the crew decided to personalise the Wellington and Ted was commissioned to create a piece of nose art for “Yorker”. The story has become part of family legend. How he acquired some aircraft linen fabric, using his own hand as model and making free with Mary’s kitchen table, created a beautifully detailed ‘R.A.F’-branded soda-water siphon, with bombs spraying from the nozzle. The completed painting was then fixed to the side of Yorker by the application of aircraft dope.
only got to fly four air tests and three operations in the plane he had
decorated. Having completed his tour at 25 op’s, Ted left the squadron on 2
his artwork, “Yorker” and her crew would soon become famous, in England and
back in New Zealand, when they featured in a series of publicity photos taken
at Feltwell, several of which appeared in the newspapers of the day. It was one
of the most striking pieces of nose art of its time and is still admired today.
photographer was Mr PHF “Bill” Tovey, the same official RAF photographer who
took the iconic “airmen walking past Wellington” photo that came to represent
the public face of 75 (NZ) Squadron.
know that Tovey took that photo at Feltwell on the 10th of May 1941.
likely that he was also the photographer when another set of publicity photos was
taken at Feltwell on 9 April 1941, showing preparations for a raid on Berlin.
According to information on the back, these were syndicated through Fox Photos
(a London press agency). Both sets feature Yorker’s nose art.
Ted kept one of these, an original, black and white photograph showing the Wellington with his artwork, the pilot inside the aircraft and crew member outside looking up. Newspaper captions stated that it was “an RAF pilot and his observer” with a “’siphon and bombs’ mascot on their Wellington.” The pilot is P/O Oliver Rayner Matheson DFC RAF and the observer is P/O George Eric Fowler DFC RAF.
had taken over the crew and aircraft after Edgar Lockwood had completed his
was Matheson’s last operation – he and the
crew took a different Wellington to Berlin that night, R1409 AA-N “Nuts”, but apparently
R1162 “Yorker” made a much more photogenic subject.
it turned out, Matheson and Fowler were each awarded an immediate DFC for their
photo of Tempelhof aerodrome and making a second run over the target to deliver
their load that night, despite having sustained flak damage.
After that, 2nd pilot Sgt Bob Fotheringham took over the crew.
In June, a photo of the Fotheringham crew in front of Yorker’s nose art appeared in the NZ newspapers:
From 75(NZ) Squadron Ted had gone to 18
Operational Training Unit (18 OTU) at RAF Bramcote where he continued as an Air
Gunner until 27 April when he was posted to 27 OTU, RAF Lichfield.
Amazingly, his old “kite” followed him!
R1162 was transferred to 27 OTU on the 16th of August 1941 and Ted’s logbook records one more flight in her on 26 October 1941, piloted by a F/L Denton. She failed to return from the third One Thousand Bomber raid on Bremen, on the night of the 23rd/24th of June 1942, one of 23 OTU aircraft and crews lost that night.
Ted’s wife, Mary, died in January 1966 whilst Ted was stationed at RAF St Athan, some three months before he retired from the RAF. Ted Wilcox died peacefully on 7 July 1995, aged 82, and is buried in Llywel Church, Trecastle, Powys, South Wales, alongside his daughter Gaywood Patricia (nee Wilcox, Chaffer) Griffin.
My memory was pricked yesterday, when I received a comment from Bruce, identifying his Father, John Fernie in the above photo.
Originally posted, now almost 5 years ago, Chris had come across it in the National Library of New Zealand and had begun to tentatively try to identify individuals within the group.
It sounds awful in a way to say that I had ‘forgotten’ about this photograph, but as soon as I saw Bruce’s comments, I thought I must number up a copy and add it to the Group section of the menu. Clearly great minds think alike – as I received an email form Chris this morning, not only with a numbered up version of the photograph, but also an incredibly comprehensive list of identified individuals in the picture! There are still a few gaps, so, as always if anybody is able to fill the final gaps, please get in touch.
You can read the original post here. And you can see the new numbered up photograph, with the list of names here