D.C. Brown crew 23.3.44

Bert Billing 2 images comped

Two portraits of Bertram William Billing, Wireless Operator with Desmond Browns crew, between March and November 1944. Bert completed his tour with 75(NZ) Squadron having logged an astonishing 39 Ops. © Michael Billing

 Administration 23.3.44
NZ42710 Sgt. Brown and crew arrive from No.31 Base

01 04 Bert RAF Group Back Middle

A photograph of the Brown crew, date and location unconfirmed. In the back row of 5, Bert is stood in the middle. To the far right, identifiable by his Pilots wings is Des Brown, on the other end of the back row is Ray Rattle, the Flight Engineer. We can now also identify the 2 Airgunners in the crew – stood as a pair in front, to the left, Mid Upper Gunner Les De’Lungo and to the right Tom Fitzpatrick, the Rear Gunner. (many thanks to Kevin king for adding identities to this picture after the post was made) © Michael Billing

Michael has also supplied a number of other photographs, which he assumes are members of the Brown crew. Subsequent to this post being made, Kevin, has identified the individual in the picture below and the following one as Les De’Lungo the Brown crew’s Mid Upper Gunner – the identities of the other individuals are still unknown.

Possibly Brown crew compd

A set of images of whom me must deduce are also members of the Brown crew. Certainly the top image and the second image clearly shows Les De’Lungo, who appears in the previous group photograph of Airmen. The identities of the remainder of theses individuals are so far unconfirmed. © Michael Billing

09/04/1944 – Attack Against Lille
Four Stirling aircraft were detailed to attack Lille. One jettisoned its load on the outward journey, but the remainder successfully attacked the target.

Stirling Mk.III EF465 ??-? (22)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:45 – Landed 00:10
Flight Time 01:25

11/04/1944 – Mining off La Rochelle
Five Stirlings were detailed for mine laying off La Rochelle, one was withdrawn but the remainder successfully completed their mission.

Stirling Mk.III EF233 ??-? (13)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:25 – Landed 00:50
Flight Time 04:25

18/04/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Seven Stirlings were detailed to lay mines in Kiel Bay, one was withdrawn and one failed to return (Captain NZ415820 F/O. H. Murray).  The remaining five successfully completed their mission.  On return they landed away.

Stirling Mk.III LK396 ??-? (17)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Cunningham, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:45 – Landed 03:05
Flight Time 06:20

Squadron conversion to Lancasters – detachment to No.3 L.F.S. RAF Feltwell
Des Brown, Bert and the rest of the crew arrived just as 75(NZ) Squadron RAF was beginning the approximately 7 week long conversion from Stirlings to Lancasters. The first Lancaster arriving with the Squadron just 10 days before. By the end of March, another 19 aircraft at arrived at the Squadron. The Brown crew had so far flown 3 Ops in Stirlings and on the 24th April 1944 were detached to No.3 Lancaster Finishing School at RAF Feltwell, to undergo conversion training. They returned to the Squadron on the 30th of that month. 10 days later, they would be operational again.

10/05/1944 – Attack Against Courtrai
Twenty three aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Courtrai. A concentrated attack was made with very slight opposition. One aircraft (Captain NZ413043 A/S/L. L. Drummond) was hit by A.A. Fire on the return journey and the Captain received slight injuries.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752 AA-O (10)

F/S Lawrence Michael O’Connor, RNZAF NZ424505 – Pilot.
F/S Robert Ronga Scott, RNZAF NZ429372 – Navigator.
F/S Walter Bernard Robinson, RNZAF NZ426059 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Raven, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. H. Lewis, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Howell, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 00:40
Flight Time 02:40

11/05/1944 – Attack Against Louvain
Twenty-four aircraft, representing the largest number of Lancaster aircraft so far detailed by this Squadron, were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Louvain. Twenty-three aircraft successfully attacked in good weather. One aircraft (Captain NZ414591 A/F/L. S. Clark) claimed a JU 88 destroyed in combat over the North Sea. Another aircraft (Captain 151118 A/F/L. D. Warren) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I LL865 ??-? (10)

F/S Lawrence Michael O’Connor, RNZAF NZ424505 – Pilot.
F/S Robert Ronga Scott, RNZAF NZ429372 – Navigator.
F/S Walter Bernard Robinson, RNZAF NZ426059 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Raven, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. H. Lewis, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Howell, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:45 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 03:00

19/05/1944 – Attack Against Le Mans
Twenty four aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Le Mans. Good results being reported.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752DUP AA-O (2)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 03:30
Flight Time 05:00

21/05/1944 – Attack Against Duisberg
Twenty five aircraft took off to attack Duisburg, of which twenty one attacked the primary target. Three returned early with various technical failures and one failed to return (Captain NZ421803 P/O. W. Willis). Another aircraft (Captain AUS413157 P/O. A. Humphreys) was attacked by an enemy fighter and the navigator 1438903 F/Sgt. Hill, A. was injured, the aircraft also being damaged.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752 AA-O (12)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:55 – Landed 02:40
Flight Time 03:45

22/05/1944 – Attack Against Dortmund
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund of which eighteen completed their mission successfully. Three aircraft returned early and two failed to return (Captains NZ417016 P/O. E. Burke and NZ42354 P/O. C. Armstrong). The raid was well concentrated and carried out in good weather with excellent visibility. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with a JU 88. Otherwise the operation was uneventful.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752 AA-O (13)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 02:45
Flight Time 03:55

24/05/1944 – Attack Against Boulogne
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen and eleven to attack a target at Boulogne. They all were successful in attacking their respective targets and good concentrated bombing was reported. Two aircraft attacking Aachen had combats with enemy aircraft, NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney claiming the destruction of an enemy night fighter and 170664 P/O. T. Buckley claimed strikes on a F.W. 190. There was no opposition from the Boulogne target.

Lancaster Mk.III ND756 AA-R? (9)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:25 – Landed 02:10
Flight Time 01:45

27/05/1944 – Attack Against Aachen
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen and eleven to attack a target at Boulogne. They all were successful in attacking their respective targets and good concentrated bombing was reported. Two aircraft attacking Aachen had combats with enemy aircraft, NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney claiming the destruction of an enemy night fighter and 170664 P/O. T. Buckley claimed strikes on a F.W. 190. There was no opposition from the Boulogne target.

Lancaster Mk.I ME691 AA-R (17)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S A. Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:49 – Landed 02:49
Flight Time 02:00

28/05/1944 – Attack Against Angers
Twenty two aircraft were detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Angers. Six of these were withdrawn, two returned early with engine trouble, but the remaining fourteen aircraft successfully bombed the target in good weather. A good concentrated attack was reported, and opposition was only slight.

Lancaster Mk.III HK553 AA-S (2)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:50 – Landed 01:55
Flight Time 07:05

31/05/1944 – Attack Against Trappes
Twenty four aircraft were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Trappes. One was withdrawn and another returned early through technical trouble. The remainder, however, bombed in good visibility, reporting an accurate attack. One aircraft (Captain NZ422098 P/O. L. Bonisch) had a combat with an enemy aircraft which was seen to be shot down by another of our aircraft.

Lancaster Mk.III ND782 AA-U (15)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:50 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 04:30

11/06/1944 – Attack Against Nantes
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack a military target at Nantes. All aircraft successfully bombing the target. Large fires and explosions were reported. Intense light A.A. Fire was encountered in the target area. the aircraft captained by NZ421072 P/O. C. McCardle, shortly after leaving the target area, was damaged by what is now thought to have been a light A.A. Shell exploding in the cockpit. The Captain received severe injuries and the Flight Engineer Sgt. Benfold, R., superficial injuries. The Air Bomber, AUS410489 W/O. Hurse, A. took over the controls, and with the assistance of the Navigator NZ4310159 F/O. A. Zillwood, brought the aircraft safely back to this country, where a perfect landing was executed.

Lancaster Mk.III ND782 AA-U (21)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Peter Neech, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:45 – Landed 05:25
Flight Time 05:40

12/06/1944 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack Gelsenkirchen and all took part in a very concentrated raid, A.A. Fire not being so intense as expected. Although enemy fighters were active, no combats took place with our aircraft.

Lancaster Mk.III ND920 AA-P (18)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
Sgt. R. Ede, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Peter Neech, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Howell, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:30 – Landed 03:30
Flight Time 04:00

01/08/1944 – Attack Against Le Nieppe
Sixteen aircraft took off to attack the Constructional Works Site at Le Nieppe. All aircraft reached the target area and the ten which were at the head of the bomber stream, bombed with the aim of markers, but later aircraft were instructed not to bomb, and these brought their bombs back. There was slight A.A. opposition but no fighter activity. There was 10/10ths cloud at the target.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (16)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 21:40
Flight Time 02:35

03/08/1944 – Attack Against L’Isle Adam
Twenty out of the twenty one aircraft detailed took off to attack the Supply Dumps at L’Isle Adam, near Paris. They all attacked in clear weather and a very successful and concentrated raid was reported. There was no fighter opposition and only slight A.A. fire was met in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (17)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:00 – Landed 15:30
Flight Time 03:30

04/08/1944 – Attack Against Bec D’Ambes
Twenty aircraft were required to attack the Supply Depot at Foret De Nieppe, but this operation was cancelled, and the same aircraft were detailed to attack the Oil Storage and Refinery at Bec D’Ambes near Bordeaux. All took off and nineteen attacked the primary target in clear weather. A good concentrated raid developed and many fires and explosions were seen with smoke rising to 10,000 ft. There was no opposition. One aircraft attacked Pauillic owing to flying in the wrong bomber stream.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (18)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:25 – Landed 21:15
Flight Time 07:50

07/08/1944 – Attack Against Mare De Magne
The target was enemy troops and armour concentrations at Mare De Magne, being made in direct support of the Allied Armies advance in the Caen area. Seventeen aircraft were detailed, all of which took off and dropped their bombs with the aid of markers, and a concentrated raid developed. Opposition from A.A. fire was very slight, but a few enemy fighters were active. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat and another (Captain 150278 .F/O. G. Brunton) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (19)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:05 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 03:40

08/08/1944 – Attack Against Lucheux
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Petrol Dumps at Lucheux, behind the enemy lines. All aircraft were successful in their mission, in good visibility. A good concentration of fires with smoke rising to 9,000 ft., was left burning. There was only slight A.A. opposition, but enemy fighters were active, and three of our aircraft had inconclusive combats, two suffering damage but no casualties.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (20)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 01:15
Flight Time 03:00

09/08/1944 – Attack Against Fort D’Anglos
Seventeen aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Army Fuel Depot at Fort D’Anglos. All were successful in bombing with the aid of markers. The raid appeared to be scattered but there was indication of a large conflagration. Opposition from A.A. fire was very slight and no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (22)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:05 – Landed 00:10
Flight Time 02:05

14/08/1944 – Attack Against Hamel
Twenty two aircraft took off as detailed to attack enemy troop concentrations near Hamel, in support of the advancing British and Canadian Armies. Nineteen were successful in bombing the target with the aid of markers and in accordance with the Master Bomber’s instructions. Three aircraft were unable to bomb owing to being too late over the target. A.A. opposition was very slight and no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (25)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 14:05 – Landed 17:45
Flight Time 03:40

15/08/1944 – Attack Against The Aerodrome at St. Trond
Nineteen aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Aerodrome at St. Trond. All aircraft made a successful attack and bombing results were confirmed visually, the bomb bursts being well concentrated on the runways. Opposition was almost negligible both over the target and en route.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (26)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:10 – Landed 13:40
Flight Time 03:30

16/08/1944 – Attack Against Stettin
Twenty three aircraft took off as detailed to attack Stettin. Twenty two were successful in attacking the target with the aid of markers, but the raid appeared scattered and no great concentration of fires was achieved. Slight A.A. fire was encountered in the target area and a few fighters were met en route, two aircraft having inconclusive combats. One aircraft returned early with icing trouble.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (27)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:05 – Landed 05:25
Flight Time 08:20

25/08/1944 – Attack Against Russelsheim
Twenty eight aircraft took off as detailed to attack Russelsheim. Of these twenty five attacked the primary target and reported a good concentrated raid. A.A. opposition was slight, but enemy aircraft were active and one of our aircraft had two inconclusive combats. Another was unable to identify the target and jettisoned its load. A further one was caught in searchlights over the target and during evasive action lost both ailerons. This aircraft was captained by NZ424504 .F/S. O’Callaghan, E. The navigator 958564 .F/S. Hartley, R., kept the aircraft on track on the return journey even though his instruments were unserviceable and his chart lost. Two aircraft failed to return, they were captained by NZ422382 .F/O. J. Fleming and NZ421345 .F/S. Barker, R.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (29)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:23 – Landed 04:34
Flight Time 08:11

05/09/1944 – Attack Against Le Havre
Eighteen aircraft were standing by to attack Dortmund, but this operation was postponed and twenty five aircraft took off to attack Le Havre in favourable weather. Opposition was negligible and a very successful raid was carried out, without loss. Most of the bombing was done visually. Reports indicate that the target was well saturated.

Lancaster Mk.I HK574 AA-R “Rio Rita” (20)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:10 – Landed 21:10
Flight Time 04:00

08/09/1944 – Attack Against Doudenville
Twenty three aircraft took off at dawn to attack enemy defence positions at Doudeneville on the outskirts of Le Havre. Weather conditions were very unfavourable over the target and crews had great difficulty in seeing the markers. Only ten dropped their bombs before the Master Bomber gave instructions to abandon the mission. The remaining thirteen aircraft brought their bombs back to base. Considerable light A.A. fire and machine gun fire was encountered in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (33)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 06:10 – Landed 09:30
Flight Time 03:20

11/09/1944 – Attack Against Kamen
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack Kamen Oil Refinery. Weather conditions were favourable and some crews were able to bomb visually, under the Master Bomber’s instructions. Clouds of black smoke rising to 15,000 ft. was reported and a very successful raid ensued. Opposition from slight but accurate heavy A.A. fire was met from the defences. No enemy fighters were encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (34)
HK562 hit by flak 4 times (AC)
F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:40 – Landed 20:40
Flight Time 04:00

17/09/1944 – Attack Against Boulogne
In the morning fourteen aircraft took off to attack Boulogne. Crews were able to identify landmarks and bombing was accurate, although much smoke hid results. The aircraft captained by NZ411397 A/S/L. G. Gunn was severely damaged by light flak, but he managed to fly back across the Channel even though both starboard engines were feathered. On landing at Hawkinge, however, the aircraft overshot the small runway and crashed. The Captain received injuries and was placed on the Dangerously Ill List, the Navigator 153453 F/O F. Smith was slightly injured, the Air Bomber NZ428249 F/O A Millar was placed on the Seriously Ill List, the Flight Engineer 1566967 Sgt Bruce, J was killed, but the remainder of the crew were uninjured, they were WO/AIR 47714 F/L W Naismith, MU/Gnr NZ411708 F/O C. Robertson and R/Gnr NZ402519 F/O S. Haynes. All of those injured were admitted to Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury and the body of Sgt Bruce was sent to his next of kin for burial.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (33)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:14 – Landed 12:53
Flight Time 02:39

23/09/1944 – Attack Against Neuss
Twenty six aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Marshalling Yards at Neuss. The target was obscured by ten tenths cloud with tops of 11,000 ft. Most crews bombed below cloud, some explosions and flashes were seen, but results were difficult to assess. One aircraft returned early through the complete failure of the electrical system and a further aircraft bombed the target, but owing to a technical failure, landed at Woodbridge on return. Moderate but inaccurate A.A. Fire was met over the target.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (35)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William George Birnie, RNZAF NZ429291 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 21:25
Flight Time 02:05

25/09/1944 – Attack Against Calais
Twenty seven aircraft took off as detailed to carry out an early morning attack on Calais. They all reached the target and found that ten tenths cloud with 2,000 feet tops and less than 1,000 feet base obscured it. The operation, therefore, had to be abandoned.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (36)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William George Birnie, RNZAF NZ429291 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 08:30 – Landed 11:30
Flight Time 03:00

05/10/1944 – Attack Against Saarbrucken
Thirty one aircraft took off as detailed to attack the railway centre at Saarbrucken. They all reached the target area but only fourteen bombed before the Master Bomber issued instructions to abandon the mission. Bombing appeared scattered, and the raid was unsatisfactory. The aircraft captained by NZ 427481 F/Sgt Galletly, A. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (39)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/L A. Stewart, RAFVR – Squadron Navigation Leader.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:20 – Landed 22:25
Flight Time 05:05

06/10/1944 – Attack Against Dortmund
Twenty nine aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund, but one of these was withdrawn owing to a technical failure. Twenty six aircraft attacked the target in good weather and a very accurate and concentrated raid was reported, large fires being left burning. A.A. Fire was moderate but fighters were active and the aircraft captained by NZ427798 F/S Farr, W. had a series of combats during which the enemy aircraft was claimed as being destroyed. One aircraft returned early and landed at Woodbridge owing to a technical failure and another (Captain NZ411048 F/O K. Southward) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (40)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:45 – Landed 22:10
Flight Time 05:25

14/10/1944 – Attack Against Duisburg
Thirty one aircraft took off at dawn to attack Duisburg. Except for one aircraft which returned early, they all dropped their bombs in the built up areas of the town, which was identified visually and with the aid of markers. A moderate heavy A A barrage was encountered from the target area and a few of our aircraft suffered minor damage. One aircraft was damaged in the bomb bay which necessitated it landing at Woodbridge on return

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (41)
Hit by flak3 times
F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Kenneth Raffill Wood, RNZAF NZ4212783 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 07:05 – Landed 11:05
Flight Time 04:00

14/10/1944 – Attack Against Duisburg
Twenty nine aircraft were detailed to make a further attack on Duisburg, unfortunately, however, three aircraft had to be withdrawn. One aircraft returned early owing to the rear turret being unserviceable. The remaining twenty five aircraft took part in a very successful attack in excellent visibility and large fires were seen to break out and add to those already burning from the morning attack. AA opposition was negligible and searchlight did not operate until late in the raid. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with an enemy fighter.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (42)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Kenneth Raffill Wood, RNZAF NZ4212783 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 05:10

18/10/1944 – Attack Against Bonn
Sixteen aircraft were again detailed to attack Bonn and this time they were able to carry out the operation. For the first time the aircraft attacked flying in formation. Some moderate heavy A A fire was met over the target, but no fighter opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (43)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 08:25 – Landed 13:15
Flight Time 04:50

21/10/1944 – Attack Against Flushing
Twenty five aircraft took off to attack Flushing. All crews were able to identify the target visually and bombing was reported as being very accurate. A.A. opposition was moderate. One aircraft (Captain 176437 F/O J. Johnson) failed to return, but was seen to be shot down over the target by heavy A A fire.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (45)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:10 – Landed 14:05
Flight Time 02:55

23/10/1944 – Attack Against Essen
Twenty seven aircraft took off as detailed to attack Essen. Ten tenths cloud prevailed over the target but all aircraft were successful in attacking with the aid of marker flares. A A opposition was moderate but no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (46)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:45 – Landed 21:15
Flight Time 04:30

30/10/1944 – Attack Against Cologne
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Cologne during daylight, but the operation was postponed until the evening. All aircraft attacked the target and although a good concentration of markers was achieved results were unobserved owing to ten tenths cloud. Moderate A.A. opposition was encountered and one aircraft received slight damage. There was no fighter opposition.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (49)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:55 – Landed 22:55
Flight Time 05:00

31/10/1944 – Attack Against Cologne
Eighteen aircraft took off in the evening to make a further attack on Cologne. Ten tenths cloud prevailed over the target area, but markers were well placed and a good glow from fires beneath the clouds was observed on leaving. A.A. opposition was slight and no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (50)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:05 – Landed 22:30
Flight Time 04:25

02/11/1944 – Attack Against Homberg
Twenty aircraft took off to attack the Oil Refinery at Homberg, carrying 7 x 8,000 lb, 13 x 4,000, 99 x 1,000 and 132 x 500 lb Bombs. All aircraft were successful in bombing the target in clear weather, and a concentrated raid developed. A large pall of black smoke was soon burning in the target area, and many crews saw their bombs burst in the smoke, through which parts of the factory were observed. Flak opposition was moderate to intense and eight aircraft suffered minor damage, but one aircraft captained by NZ421343 F/L V.J. Andrew, was hit by heavy flak when over the target and the starboard engine caught fire which the crew only managed to extinguish with great difficulty.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (45)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:30 – Landed 15:35
Flight Time 04:05

Bert was released from RAF service on the 26th June 1946. We know nothing of what he was doing after his last Op with the Squadron and his discharge, however the following 2 items perhaps give a clue. The first is a hand written note that appears to record to flights – interestingly, Bert appears to be listed on it as an instructor – so me must assume that after his forst tour with the Squadron he went to perhaps a Conversion Unit, or maybe an Operational Training Unit. A reference to ‘NR729 “J”‘ identifies the aircraft, but having checked ‘Avro Lancaster – the definitive record’ by Harry Holmes, all I am sadly able to observe is that it isn’t a Lancaster………..

Many thanks to Chris for doing his usual excellent digging after a post and shedding the following light on the notes below:

“Re the handwritten note with flight details – the “Dominie” will refer to the aircraft type, and de Havilland Dominie serial no. NR279 (reg. 6817) was used for radio training, taken on charge at 4 RS Madley (RAF Madley Radio School, Herefordshire) on 9.1.45. The Dominie was apparently used as an airborne wireless training ‘classroom’. The note shows the Instructor (Bert) and two trainee W/Op’s flying 2 x 2 hr training flights.”

Handwritten Note

A hand written crew list, showing Bert an an ‘instructor’ – we must assume Bert performed a training role after he completed his tour with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. © Michael Billing

The second item, a portion of Bert’s release book notes the comment ‘Has proved a good instructor and shown powers of leadership’, seeming to confirm Bert’s instructional or training role for his latter service in the RAF.

Bert Billing RAF Release

Bert’s RAF certificate of service and release, showing his release from the RAF on the 26th of June 1946. © Michael Billing