B.A. Franklin crew 26.09.42 †

14/09/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Wilhelmshaven
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack. Bomb load of 4,000lb. And incendiaries were dropped in target area. A few fires were seen. Light and heavy predicted accurate A.A. fire was encountred, searchlights were in small groups, widely dispersed. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was clear over target with moderate ground haze. Navigaiton was by D.R. and T.R.

Wellington Mk.III BJ.772 AA-D “Donald”

F/L John ‘Jack’ Leonard Wright, RNZAF NZ405781 – Pilot.
Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Charles Wynne Brunsdon Kelly, RNZAF NZ403562 – Observer.
Sgt. Maurice Allington Nick’ Carter, RNZAF NZ391694 – Wireless Operator.
F/S Raymond Clifford ‘Podge’ Reynolds, RAFVR NZ403030 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Bruce Neal, RNZAF NZ411771 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:53 – Landed 00:33
Flight Time 04:40

05/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Aachen
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 30lb. and 4lb. incendiaries were dropped in the target area, large fires were seen in built up area, which appeared to spread between MAASTRICH and AACHEN. Heavy and Light A.A. fire was moderate, with a few scattered searchlights. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather over target was good with slight ground haze. Navigation was by D.R. T.R. and visual.

Wellington Mk.III Z.1738 AA-?

S/L Robert Stanway Crawford, RAFVR 39717 – Pilot.
Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Observer.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RAFVR NZ41902 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:30 – Landed 01:20
Flight Time 05:50

28/11/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Turin
Four aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 1000lb and 500lb were dropped in the target area by three of the aircraft. The captain of the other aircraft being forced to jettison his bombs in the Alps, as one engine cut and he was unable to maintain height with his bomb load. This raid was very successful, large fires being seen in the whole of the town, it appeared to be on fire from end to end. It is thought by the crews that both the Lancia and Fiat works were ablaze. There was some light A.A. fire at target, but heavy and light A.A. fire was encountered at Dieppe and Amiens area. Only one searchlight was seen at Turin, a few enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. The weather was cloudy to the Alps, it then cleared and was clear but hazy at Turin. BK608 captained by F/Sgt Blincoe ran short of petrol nearing base, the engines were failing and the aircraft was losing height, when at 900 feet he gave his crew the option of bailing out, two of the crew, the Navigator and the Rear Gunner baled out at 600ft and landed safely about 2 miles North of Stradishall, the aircraft crash landed at Stadishall, none of the crew being injured.

Stirling Mk.I BF.398 AA-F

W/C Victor Mitchell, RAF 37755 – Pilot.
Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Navigator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RNZAF NZ41902 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Joseph Lawrence, RCAF R.70294 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Eric James Burbridge, RCAF 1392526 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:16 – Landed 02:33
Flight Time 08:17

26/09/1942 – Operations. Gardening off East Frisian Islands
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. Vegetables were successfully planted. A small amount of A.A. fire was encountered from A.A. ships. No searchlights or enemy aircraft were seen. Considerable cloud was encountered with ground haze at base. Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III Z.1738 AA-?

Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – Pilot.
Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Observer.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RCAF NZ41902 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:30 – Landed 22:35
Flight Time 03:05

06/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Osnabruck
Fourteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4,000 lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Scattered fires were seen, flares were lighting up the whole area. Considerable light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered. Searchlights were numerous and operating mainly in cones. The weather was good with low cloud and slight haze at target area. Navigation was good by D.R. , T.R. visual, pinpoints, loop and fixes. Wellington DF639 captained by Sgt. Rhodes G.W. failed to return.

Wellington Mk.III Z.1738 AA-?

Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – Pilot.
Sgt William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Observer.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RNZAF NZ41902 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:10 – Landed 00:20
Flight Time 05:10

08/10/1942 – Operations. Gardening off Ile De Groix
Two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. mines were successfully planted in the allotted area by one of our aircraft – the other aircraft returned early owing to failure of electrical equipment. No A.A. fire, searchlights or enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was fine, navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – Pilot.
Sgt William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Observer.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RAFVR NZ41902 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:50 – Landed 00:50
Flight Time 06:00

20/11/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Turin
Four aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4lb. Incendiaries were dropped in the target area by two of the aircraft, the other two aircraft returned early, their bombs being dropped over South France and in The Wash. Large fires were seen in the centre of the Town. A smoke screen was seen, suspected to have come from generators on the South of the Town. A few light A.A. guns were on the river bend, near Marshalling Yards, and some light also on the North of Town, all were very inaccurate. No searchlights were seen. Some enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather over the target area was very good, visibility being also good. Navigation was good by Astro, D.R, and T.R., The target being easy to identify by the bend in the river.

Stirling Mk.I R.9243 dnc AA-C

Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – Pilot.
Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Navigator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RNZAF NZ41902 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Joseph Lawrence, RCAF R.70294 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Eric James Burbridge, RAFVR 1392526 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:26 – Landed 20:30
Flight Time 02:04

02/12/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Frankfurt
Five aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bomb load of 4lb. Incendiaries, but a series of misfortunes left only two to get away successfully. One of these, Stirling I, BK618 captained by Sergeant Scott, failed to return, so the night was an unhappy one. One aircraft failed to take off, one swung so badly on take-off that after two attempts the sortie was abandoned, and the third unsuccessful aircraft returned early with the port outer engine dead, this being due to hitting the top of a drem pole shortly after take-off. The one successful aircraft, Stirling I, R.9243 captained by F/O Trott, dropped its bombs in the target area from 10,000 feet and fires were seen to start. Slight heavy A.A. fire was encountered, some searchlights were also seen operation in cones. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was hazy to the target, but clear with good visibility in the target area. Navigation was good, the town being identified by the bend in the river.

Stirling Mk.I BK.615 AA-?

Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – Pilot.
Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Navigator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RNZAF NZ41902 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Joseph Lawrence, RCAF R.70294 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Eric James Burbridge, RAFVR 1392526 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:12 – Landed 03:39
Flight Time 01:27

16/12/1942 – Operations. Gardening off Bordeaux
Nine aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with 1500lb. vegetables. The take-off was rather cross wind and unfortunately during take-off the wind backed severely so that the flare path was dead cross wind. Three aircraft swung violently on take-off. Then Sergeant Franklin tried to take-off in Stirling I, R9245, it swung as violently as the other aircraft, but went on, straightened and got airborne, only to crash a mile away from the aerodrome. Two mines exploded and all of the crew were killed. It later transpired that the starboard under carriage carried away the oil tank to the starboard inner engine and this is presumed to have seized, causing the aircraft to spin into the ground. No other aircraft took off after this. The three aircraft who successfully took off all planted their vegetables in the allotted area. Some light tracer and a few searchlights were encountered, no enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was variable with heavy rain and hail storms over the garden area, but clear generally. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.I R.9245 AA-?

Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – Pilot.
Sgt William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Navigator.
Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RNZAF NZ41902 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Joseph Lawrence, RCAF R.70294 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Eric James Burbridge, RAFVR 1392526 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:11 – Landed 22:12
Flight Time crashed after take-off

During take-off at 21:45hrs, three aircraft swung badly but this was promptly rectified and they became airborne. Then R9245 (Sgt Franklin) experienced similar wind effect causing it to swing dangerously, but Franklin kept power on to counter it and continued the take-off attempt. The aircraft became airborne briefly but crashed a mile away from the airfield. Two mines exploded and all the crew were killed. It was later established that the starboard undercarriage had hit Devil’s Dyke (a mound around the perimeter) and broke off the oil tank to the starboard inner engine, causing it to seize.
Sgt. Benjamin Allan Franklin, RNZAF NZ414277 – Pilot.
Killed age 21.
Son of Philip and Henretta Franklin, of Mount Eden, Auckland City, New Zealand.
Buried Newmarket Cemetery, Suffolk, England..
Grave location – Plot P. Grave 434.

Sgt. William Henry Whitcombe, RNZAF NZ41561 – Observer.
Killed age 32.
Son of Eric Whitcombe and of Jane Morton Whitcombe (Nee Henderson), of Pahiatua, Wellington, New Zealand.
Buried Newmarket Cemetery, Suffolk, England..
Grave location – Plot O. Grave 399.

Sgt. Edgar William Harvey, RNZAF NZ41902 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 27.
Son of John Lambert Harvey and Sarah Harvey, of Milford, Auckland, New Zealand; Husband of Josephine Emma Harvey. of Milford.
Buried Lakenham (St. John the Baptist and All Saints) Churchyard, Norfolk, England..
Grave location – Sec. E. Grave 25.

Sgt. Harold Rangi Welch, RNZAF NZ41709 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 23.
Son of Harold Lawrence Vere Welch and May Welch, of Taradale, Hawke’S Bay, New Zealand.
Buried Newmarket Cemetery, Suffolk, England..
Grave location – Plot P. Grave 417.

Sgt. William Joseph Lawrence, RCAF 70294 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 22.
Son of Joseph and Edith Lawrence, of Oakville, Ontario, Canada.
Buried Newmarket Cemetery, Suffolk, England..
Grave location – Plot P. Grave 449.
‘In loving memory
Of our son Bill
Who died so far from home’

Sgt. Eric James Burbridge, RAFVR 1392526 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 21.
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Lewis Burbridge; Husband of Freda Joan Burbridge, of Streatham.
Buried Wandsworth and Streatham Cemetery, Surrey, England..
Grave location – Block 12. Grave 300.
‘In everlasting memory
Of my dearest husband Eric
For ever in my thoughts’

Sgt. Tom Pascoe, RAFVR 1308491 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 21.
Son of Vivian and Elizabeth Pascoe, of Ashburton.
Buried Ashburton (St.Andrew) Churchyard Extension, Devon, England..
Grave location – A. 3.
‘So he passed over,
And all the trumpets
Sounded for him
On the other side’