Date Target Notes Code Pilot Duration
1 09/05/43 Mining in the Ile De Re Area JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 06:24
2 12/05/43 Duisburg JN-T F/S Rothschild 01:38
3 13/05/43 Bochum JN-T Sgt. Sedunary 04:47
4 21/05/43 Mining off the Frisian Islands JN-T Sgt. Wood 03:57
5 25/05/43 Dusseldorf JN-T F/S Rothschild 01:09
6 29/05/43 Wuppertal JN-T F/S Rothschild 02:07
7 11/06/43 Dusseldorf JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 04:23
8 19/06/43 Krefeld JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 06:38
9 21/06/43 Attack Against Targets at Krefeld JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 03:34
10 22/06/43 Mannheim (actually Mülheim) JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 03:34
11 24/06/43 Wuppertal JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 04:27
12 25/06/43 Gelsenkirchen JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 03:53
13 03/07/43 Cologne JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 05:00
14 24/07/43 Hamburg JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 06:55
15 25/07/43 Essen JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 04:15
16 27/07/43 Hamburg JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 05:40
17 29/07/43 Hamburg JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 04:10
18 02/08/43 Hamburg JN-T Sgt. Mitchell 06:30
19 10/08/43 Nurenburg JN-T W/O Mitchell 06:45
20 12/08/43 Turin JN-T W/O Mitchell 08:30
21 16/08/43 Turin details in Mepal log regarding fog at base and alternate return destinations for aircraft – try to sort out which went where JN-T W/O Mitchell 07:45
22 17/08/43 Peenemunde JN-T W/O Moseley 07:35
23 23/08/43 Berlin JN-T W/O Mitchell 02:20
24 24/08/43 Mining in the Frisian Islands JN-T F/S Henley 06:25
25 26/08/43 Mining in the Gironde Estuary JN-T F/S Henley 06:20
26 27/08/43 Nurenbburg JN-T F/S Henley 07:10
27 30/08/43 Munchen-Gladbach JN-T F/S Henley 04:05
28 05/09/43 Mannheim JN-T W/O Mitchell 06:45
29 08/09/43 Boulogne JN-T F/O Menzies crashed on take off
Total Op hours 142:41

08/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Boulogne
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets. The carried their maximum bomb load in bombs of 1,000lb., and 500lb.. One aircraft crashed whilst taking off and two returned early. The remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Not many fires were seen but numerous huge explosions were observed. Some heavy and light predicted A.A.Fire and a few searchlights were encountered but caused no trouble. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was good and visibility was clear  except for slight ground haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK809 JN-T

F/O Ian Robert Menzies, RNZAF NZ415002 – Pilot.
P/O Derek Albert Arthur Cordery, RAFVR 136360 – Navigator.
P/O Norman Hathway Gale, RAFVR 849986/ 151013 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ralph Herbert Barker, RNZAF NZ417189 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor, RAFVR 943914 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. G. Bullivant, RAFVR 1395379 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Stewart Donald Muir, RNZAF NZ416967 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time Crashed on take off

The aircraft that crashed during take-off was captained by F/O. I.R.MENZIES. Whilst taking off it swung off the runway and crashed into two houses on the far side adjoining the perimeter track. It caught fire almost simultaneously, and in the fire, various bombs exploded, causing the aircraft to be a total wreck. Three members of the crew, a W.A.A.F. Officer of R.A.F. Station MEPAL and an aircrew Sergeant, and 2 civilians were killed and other civilians were injured. The W.A.A.F. Officer and the aircrew sergeant lost their lives whilst trying to render assistance.
Page 587, 1943. Form 540/ 541 AIR27/ 646  75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal. National Archives.

F/O Ian Robert Menzies, RNZAF NZ415002 – Pilot.
Died of Injuries age 21.
Son of Douglas and Violet Menzies, of Gisbor
Buried Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire, England..
Grave location – Grave 13940.

F/O Derek Albert Arthur Cordery, RAFVR 136360 – Navigator.

F/O Norman Hathway Gale, RAFVR 151013 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 30.
Son of Thomas Redstone Gale and Millie Gale, of Bristol; Husband of Elizabeth Ellen Gale, of Bishopston. Bristol.
Buried Bristol (Canford) Cemetery, Avon, England..
Grave location – Sec. J. Grave 278.
‘In memory of Norman And John (M.E.) “Still living, still loving, Still ours”‘

P/O Ralph Herbert, Barker, RNZAF NZ417189 – Wireless Operator.

Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor, RAFVR 943914 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 30.
Son of Albert and Lucy Mellor, of Buxton; Husband of Gladys Mellor, of Buxton.
Buried Buxton Cemetery, Derbyshire, England..
Grave location – Grave 3439
‘Great love
Hath no man than this
That a man lay down
His life for his friends’

Sgt. G. Bullivant, RAFVR 1395379 – Mid Upper Gunner.

F/S Stewart Donald Muir, RNZAF NZ416967 – Rear Gunner.

S/O Joan Marjorie Easton, 0 2986 – Section Officer.
Killed age 26.
Buried Greenwich (Charlton and Kidbrook) Cemetery, London, England..
Grave location – Sec. C. 1st Gen. Joint grave 793.
S/O Easton was killed when the bomb load exploded as she went to the assistance of the aircraft crew and the occupants of the houses.

F/Sgt Peter Gerald Dobson MiD RNZAF NZ439022. Navigator.
Died Wednesday 8th September 1943, age 28.
F/Sgt Dobson was killed by exploding bombs as he went to the assistance of the aircrew crew and the occupants of the houses.
Buried Cambridge City Cemetery, England.

Additionally, another member of the Squadron came to the aid of the crash victims. Unlike Peter and Joan, Terence survived the incident and was awarded the British Empire Medal for his bravery that night.

Cpl Terence Henry King BEM RAF 610334. ELECT 1, Electrical Sect. Citation BEM (24 Dec 1943) “In September 1943, an aircraft which was taking off with a load of bombs crashed into two houses on the edge of an airfield and burst into flames. Corporal King hurried to the scene and, although fully aware that high explosive bombs were likely to explode at any moment, he went to the cottages a few yards from the burning aircraft to warn the occupants of their imminent danger and render assistance. An injured man was found and while Corporal King, with the help of a civilian, was taking him to safety a bomb exploded. The bravery shown by Corporal King was instrumental in saving a life and many more lives might have been lost had it not been for his prompt action in helping to warn occupants of the nearby houses. “

The crash of BK809 JN-T, 8th September 1943 – the aftermath

crash report p1 header

Many thanks to Peter for passing on via Dave, these news clippings of the time that report the events and aftermath of the take off crash of BK809 JN-T on the evening of the 8th September 1943.

Dave’s email regarding these news clippings also tells us a little bit about Peter and his recollections of the Squadron’s time at Mepal.

“Peter lived at the top of the road when the crash happened and has fascinating memories of that time.  He tells me that most of the houses in the road had all their windows blown out and some were damaged by shrapnel. In daylight nothing remained of the two houses except an enormous crater where they once stood.  As a boy he called those dispersals his own and when nobody was about he regularly went through the fence to check for treasures left by the airmen during the day, broken perspex, .303 rounds and cases, etc. It would have been always the same aircraft parked there and he remembers AA-A  in particular.

The villagers often listened in to the Tower radio and would count the aircraft out  on a raid and check them back in again afterwards.  He particularly remembers an intruder coming in with the bomber stream undetected until it opened fire!  The radio English was forgotten he says and the language was BLUE!”

This story has been presented and added to a number of times on the blog and it has always been a source of personal frustration that the  (Squadron) records I have, whilst providing details of the Squadron personnel who were killed in the crash and subsequent explosion, only refers to the deaths of the occupants of the houses as ‘civilians’

Perhaps ‘pleased’ is not the right word, but now at least we can know the names of the non Squadron victims of this terrible accident. John Randall, who lived in one of the houses that was destroyed in the explosion after the crash and Edward Kirby, a member of the National Fire Service (N.F.S).

The newspaper clippings provide a remarkable commentary on the events of the night and are good enough quality to be able to read quite easily, so rather than unnecessarily transcribe it, or extracts of it, please take the time to read what follows.

crash report p1

crash report p2

crash report p3

crash report p4

Also in Dave’s email, he remarked that Peter had tried, unsuccessfully, to have a memorial for the civilians that died that night placed in the local Church. Dave wondered out loud – and I tend to agree with him – what the chances are and what would have to be done to get a memorial to all those that perished that night erected near the crash site of BK809 JN-T.

If anybody has any thoughts on this last idea – please get in contact with me.

As I said at the top of this post, this story has been discussed a few time already on the blog – if it interests you and you haven’t seen the previous related posts, here are some that you hopefully, will find of interest.

To read about the events of that night in September 1943, click here.
To see the gravestones of F/O. Ian Robert Menzies (RNZAF NZ415002), Pilot of ND809 and F/S Peter Gerald Dobson MiD (RNZAF NZ439022), a member of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, who went to offer assistance after the crash, click here.
To view the gravestone of Sgt. Albert Leslie Mellor RAFVR 943914, Flight Engineer with Ian Menzies crew that night, click here.
To view the gravestone of Section Officer Joan Marjorie Easton (WAAF), who was also killed that night while attempting to help the survivors of the crash click here.