G.M. Rothwell crew 26.2.43

Rothwells ruffians

A Picture of “Rothwell’s Ruffians”, just after the crew had left 75(NZ) Squadron for 218 Squadron.
Left to right: ‘Ginger’ Negus (Mid Upper Gunner), Mac McGrevy (Flight Engineer), Jock Howat (Rear Gunner), Jacky Drawbridge (Navigator), Geoff Rothwell (Pilot), ‘Whistle’ Entwhistle (Wireless Operator) and Wal Fielding (Air Bomber)
Image from “Forever Strong – The story of 75 Squadron RNZAF 1916-1990, image attributed to G.M. Rothwell

26/02/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out this operation with mines of 1500lb. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area and the parachutes were seen to open. No enemy aircraft, A.A. fire or searchlights were encountered. The weather was clear but hazy, visibility was fairly good. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.I BF451 AA-Z

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Negus, RAFVR 1330067/ 172039 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:25 – Landed 22:35
Flight Time 04:10

27/02/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation, with mines of 1500 lb. All of the aircraft successfully planted their mines in the allotted area, and the majority of the parachutes were seen to open. Some very heavy A.A. fire was encountered near the mining area which was mainly predicted and very accurate. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no attacks were made. The weather was fairly clear although it was hazy and visibility was not very good. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.I BF451 AA-Z

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Negus, RAFVR 1330067/ 172039 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:25 – Landed 23:55
Flight Time 05:30

01/03/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Berlin
Eight aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1,000 lb. 500 lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. Two aircraft, however, were forced to return early owing to inter-comm,, and rear turret trouble, their bombs being jettisoned. The remaining six aircraft successfully attacked the target. This is considered to be a first class effort, colossal fires were seen, which were well concentrated and were seen up to 150 miles away as the aircraft were returning. Three aircraft were hit by A.A. fire in the Ruhr area but they returned safely. The defenses in the target area were very poor, little A.A. fire and few searchlights being encountered. Some enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. There was slight cloud in the target area, although visibility was very good and ground detail could be seen very clearly. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BF456 AA-J

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Negus, RAFVR 1330067/ 172039 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:30 – Landed 03:00
Flight Time 08:30

03/03/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Nine aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 2,000 lb. 500 lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. One of the aircraft, however, failed to start owing to a burst tail tyre wheel and another returned early owing to the rear turret being unserviceable. The remaining seven aircraft all successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, large fires were seen, which were lighting up the whole of the area. Both heavy and light intense A.A. fire was encountered, two aircraft being slightly hit. Searchlights were operation, mainly in cones. Very few enemy aircraft were seen and no combats took place. There was some haze at the target area, visibility was fairly good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BF456 AA-J

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Negus, RAFVR 1330067/ 172039 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:38 – Landed 02:55
Flight Time 08:17

05/03/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Essen
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 2,000 lb. 1,00lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. Unfortunately, one aircraft crashed one minute after take-off as one of the engines seized, the pilot however, made a good crash landing and he and the crew escaped unhurt. Another aircraft was forced to return early owing to engine trouble. The remaining seven aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. A very large concentration of fires were seen with huge buildings in their midst, leaving no doubt as to the success of the operation. The glow from the fires was seen at the Dutch coast as our aircraft were homeward bound. Both light and heavy intense A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights, were encountered. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place, There was slight ground haze at the target, although visibility was very good. Navigation was very good. For the success of the operation a message of congratulations was received from the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief.

Stirling Mk.I BF451 AA-Z

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Alfred Maxwell Hardy, RNZAF NZ401226 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:10 – Landed 00:01
Flight Time 04:51

08/03/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Nurenburg
Nine aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack with bombs of 2,000 lb. 1,000 lb. 500 lb and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. One aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble and another failed to return. The remaining seven aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, large fires being seen, one large explosion from the centre of target, was seen one hundred miles away as the aircraft were returning. Both light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered co-operating with searchlights, they however, proved to be ineffective. Stirling 1 BK646 captained by P/O Lowe, was attacked by an enemy aircraft near Saarbrucken on the return journey. The enemy aircraft opened fire with cannon and a stream of tracer came into the cockpit, one exploding near the second pilot’s leg. Corkscrew tactics were adopted, but after seven minutes the enemy aircraft was lost. The only casualties were the second pilot, who was wounded in the leg and the Captain, who had slight face cuts. The aircraft successfully returned to base. There was a slight haze at the target, although visibility fairly good. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling 1 BF437, captained by Sergeant C.R. Davey.

Stirling Mk.I BF451 AA-Z

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Negus, RAFVR 1330067/ 172039 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:35 – Landed 00:35
Flight Time 05:00

09/03/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Munich
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack, with bombs of 1,000 lb. 500lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. One aircraft however, got too far off track on the way to the target; after futile attempts to get back on correct course, the mission had to be abandoned. The remaining four aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, intense fires being seen, black smoke was rising from these fires up to a height of 10,000 feet. One large explosion was also seen from the centre of the target. Both light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered which was intense at first but was dying down as the attack developed. Visibility was very good and ground detail could be seen clearly. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.I BF443 AA-V “Waikato”

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Alfred Maxwell Hardy, RNZAF NZ401226 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:15 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 08:30

27/03/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Berlin
Eleven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1,000lb. And incendiaries of 30lb. And 4lb. One of the aircraft returned early, as it failed to maintain height . The remaining ten aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. It was difficult to judge the effectiveness of our bombs, as there was thick ground haze. Two aircraft were hit by A.A. fire, which was intense. But not effective. Many searchlights were also seen, which were co-operating with the A.A. defences. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no combats took place. The weather was not very good, although it was fairly clear over the target except for ground haze. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.I BF451 AA-Z

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Negus, RAFVR 1330067/ 172039 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:40 – Landed 03:26
Flight Time 07:46

29/03/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Berlin
Ten aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks, with bombs of 1000 lb. and incendiaries of 30 lb. and 4 lb. Two of the aircraft failed to takeoff, as they were found to be unserviceable and three returned early. The remaining five aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very large fires were seen, which were well concentrated and spreading. The glow from these fires was seen 100 miles away on the homeward journey. Intense heavy and light A.A. fire was encountered, with many searchlights co-operation all round the city. One aircraft was slightly damaged by A.A. fire. Some enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. The weather was clear, although hazy. Visibility however, was fairly good. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.I BF451 AA-Z

F/L Geoffrey Maurice Rothwell, RAF 42726 – Pilot.
Sgt. Herbert John Drawbridge, RNZAF NZ413304 – Navigator.
Sgt. George Walter Fielding, RNZAF NZ405248 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Ian William Entwhistle, RNZAF NZ41400 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Charles Anthony Clarkson, RAF 567334 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. John Negus, RAFVR 1330067/ 172039 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Adam Black Seaton Howatt, RAFVR 979354 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:30 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 04:30