J.H.T. Wood crew 8.12.44

06/12/1944 – Attack Against Mersburg Leuna Oil Refinery
Twelve aircraft took off as detailed to participate in a night attack o the Merseburg Leuna Oil Refinery, carrying 8,000 lb, 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P., 500 G.P.(LD) bombs. The target was covered with 10/10 cloud, tops about 14,000 ft and all aircraft were successful in bombing the target with navigational aids. The attack was considered to be concentrated, though bombing results could not be seen, apart from the glow of fires seen beneath the cloud. Flak was intense in the target area and a few enemy fighters were seen en route but no attacks were reported. One aircraft, AA “R” captained by 1585981 F/O D. Atkin, had engine trouble after leaving the target, the starboard inner catching fire, and it was with great difficulty that the crew managed to keep the fire under control. When approaching this country the starboard inner engine went u/s and after jettisoning all equipment and with the aircraft losing height at 100 feet per minute, the Captain made a very good ditching in the River Orwell. None of the crew were hurt.

Lancaster Mk.III ND801 JN-X “Get Sum Inn”/ “Astra”

F/L Thomas Christie Waugh, RAFVR 159174 – Pilot.
F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood , RNZAF NZ426235 – 2nd Pilot.
P/O Colin William Hannam Woonton, RNZAF NZ429055 – Navigator.
F/S Robert Irwin Swetland, RAFVR 1098818, 186577 – Air Bomber.
F/S Peter Kidd, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. N. Southgate, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S James Baird Nickels, RNZAF NZ425852 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S David Frank Sage, NZ424824 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:04 – Landed 00:36
Flight Time 07:32

08/12/1944 – Attack Against Duisburg
Twenty one aircraft took off to make a daylight attack on Duisburg Marshalling Yards carrying 1,000 M.C., 1,000 A.N.M. and Munro Bombs. All aircraft successfully attacked the target and a very concentrated attack was reported, but apart from one report of smoke coming through the tops of the cloud at 15,000 ft., no results were observed. One aircraft “D” captain F/S Wood, J., landed at Woodbridge on return.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’
Landed at Woodbridge on return

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 08:37 – Landed 12:41
Flight Time 04:04

11/12/1944 – Attack Against Osterfeld
Seventeen aircraft attacked Osterfeld carrying 4,000 H.C., 1,000 ANM., 500 G.P., 500 G.P. (L.D.), 500 M.C. and Munro Bombs. No results were seen owing to 10/10 cloud over the target. Slight flak was the only opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I HK563 JN-W

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 08:43 – Landed 13:07
Flight Time 04:24

12/12/1944 – Attack Against Witten
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack Witten in daylight and again found their target obscured by ten tenths cloud. Moderate flak was encountered and enemy fighters were seen attacking the first wave of aircraft ahead. No results were observed owing to cloud. The aircraft captained by F/Lt Hannan collided with another aircraft just before reaching the target, however the target was bombed and base reached safely. The a/c captained by F/S Zinzan was damaged in landing and the Air Bomber F/O Mesure sustained a broken leg.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:16 – Landed 16:04
Flight Time 04:48

16/12/1944 – Attack Against Siegen
Eighteen aircraft took off to attack Siegen in rather poor weather conditions, carrying 1 x 12,000 H.C., 8,000 H.C., 4,000 H.C., 1,000 H.C., 500 cluster 4 lb and 4 lb I.B. Bombs. Three returned early with icing trouble. The main body experienced dense cloud and were unable to formate until they reached 30K. All crews bombed the target, several being able to see a built up area through occasional gaps in the dense cloud cover. It is concluded that the attack was successful. Some fighter and flak opposition was noticed en route, but our aircraft experienced no difficulty.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 dnc JN-D ‘Dog’
One of only 3 a/c recorded in the Station Form 541 as failing to reach target owing to icing and having to jettison bomb load. Coroborated by entry in Gerald Newey, Wood crew Wop, inner SB U/S owing to icing, but no reference to jettisoning bomb load.

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:16 – Landed 16:01
Flight Time 04:45

21/12/1944 – Attack Against Trier
Fourteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target in daylight. Crews bombed by instruments in ten tenths cloud. Results were unobserved. NZ42397 F/L I. Hannan landed at Mendlesham on return, but reached Base later the same evening.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. William Henry Grout, RCAF R.109213 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:23 – Landed 17:37
Flight Time 05:14

23/12/1944 – Attack Against Trier
The twenty one aircraft detailed on the 22nd December took off to attack Trier in improved weather conditions, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P., 500 M.C., 500 ANM., 250 G.P. bombs. The target could be identified visually and T.Is were aimed at by most crews. The attack was reported as being good with very few scattered bombs. Several explosions were seen as our aircraft left the target.

Lancaster Mk.I HK600 JN-K

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:57 – Landed 16:31
Flight Time 04:34

27/12/1944 – Attack Against Rheydt
As many crews as possible were required for an attack on Cologne. The target was cancelled and an attack on Rheydt was substituted. Inexperienced and special equipment leaders not being required the offer of 26 was reduced to 20. Aircraft took off carrying 1,000 ANM., 500 ANM., 500 M.C. and 250 G.P. Bombs. Visibility over the target was excellent and crews were able to identify the target, the flares being accurately placed. Clouds of smoke were seen to rise from the target. One aircraft AA”Q” captained by NZ421746 F/O H. Miles failed to return. This aircraft was seen to be hit by bombs and to spiral down.

Lancaster Mk.I HK600 JN-K

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:16 – Landed 16:53
Flight Time 04:37

28/12/1944 – Attack Against Gremberg M/Y at Cologne
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack the Gremberg Marshalling yard at Cologne carrying 4,000 H.C., 1,000 ANM., 500 ANM., 500 M.C., and 250 G.P. Bombs. Nineteen aircraft bombed the target and one bombed short due to technical failure. One aircraft AA”S” captained by NZ425292 F/O D. Sadgrove returned early owing to engine trouble. Crews were satisfied that the attack was successful, many reporting smoke rising well above the cloud tops. Slight H/F was experienced, but no fighter opposition.

Lancaster Mk.I HK600 JN-K

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:06 – Landed 17:18
Flight Time 05:12

31/12/1944 – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack Vohwinkel in daylight. Moderate accurate heavy flak was met over the target, but all aircraft returned safely. A scattered raid was reported.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:39 – Landed 16:26
Flight Time 04:47

01/01/1945 – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Vohwinkel, in datlight. Nineteen aircraft took off, seventeen of which attacked the primary target. F/O McMillan attacked a last resort target. NZ40984 W/Cdr. R.J. Newton and NZ429286 P/O R. Aitchison as second pilot, failed to return. There was very little opposition in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.I HK563 JN-Y

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RAFVR NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S A. Cobbs, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:00 – Landed 21:42
Flight Time 05:42

03/01/1945 – Attack Against Dortmund Oil Refinery
Fourteen aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund Oil Refineries in daylight. Crews bombed by instruments in ten tenths cloud. Results were unobserved. The aircraft carried 4,000 H.C., 500 M.C. 500 G.P. 500 ANM and Munro bombs. NZ42397 F/L L. Hannan landed at Mendalsham on return, but reached base later the same evening.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RAFVR NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:32 – Landed 17:41
Flight Time 05:09

13/01/1945 – Attack Against Saarbrucken
Eighteen of nineteen aircraft detailed carried out a successful daylight attack on Saarbrucken Marshalling Yard, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500G.P., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. W/Cdr Baigent in ‘A’ had to return with his full load after reaching the target owing to technical trouble which prevented release of bombs. Crews bombed on special equipment. The Marshalling Yard was visible and many bursts were seen on the target. No opposition reported. All aircraft were diverted owing to bad visibility at Base.

Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RAFVR NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:53 – Landed 18:14
Flight Time 06:21

16/01/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Seventeen aircraft attacked Wanne Hickel in ten tenths cloud, tops 6/7000 feet, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P. 500 ANM, 500 M.C. 250 G.P. and Munro bombs. Crews bombed with the aid of instruments and sky markers. Flak was moderate. The general impression was that bombing was concentrated on markers and red glow seen through cloud. The aircraft captained by NZ426235 F/S Wood, J, was attacked by a F.W. 190. The rear gunner opened fire, but no hits were observed and our aircraft suffered no damage. The aircraft captained by NZ414376 F/L T. Blewett unfortunately crashed in this country. The captain and Air Bomber NZ426234 F/O J. Wilson were killed. The Navigator 1398282 F/S Cornell, B.T. died later as a result of severe injuries.

Lancaster Mk.I HK597 JN-P
Attacked by a F.W. 190. The rear gunner opened fire, but no hits were observed and our aircraft suffered no damage

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RAFVR NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:39 – Landed 04:31
Flight Time 04:52

22/01/1945 – Attack Against Duisburg
Fifteen aircraft attacked Duisburg carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 G.P. (I.D) 250 G.P. and Munro bombs.Visibility was good. Crews saw the Rhine. Fires and explosions were seen coming from a concentrated area. A successful attack was reported. No opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I HK597 JN-N

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RAFVR NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:17 – Landed 21:53
Flight Time 04:36

29/01/1945 – Attack Against Krefeld M/Y
Nineteen aircraft attacked Krefeld marshalling yard in ten tenths cloud, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C., and 250 G.P. Bombs. Aircraft bombed in formation with the aid of instruments. A good concentration was reported. Slight H/F over the target was the only opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/S John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S Eric Thomas Coulson , RNZAF NZ429310 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:19 – Landed 15:33
Time 05:14

02/02/1945 – Attack Against Wiesbaden
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target but two failed to take off. Crews bombed on navigational aids in ten tenths cloud with tops up to 21,000 ft. A scattered raid was the report of most crews generally. Slight H/F was the only opposition. JN/Y F/Lt. L.W. Hannan landed at Woodbridge owing to damage received over the target.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:49 – Landed 20:38
Flight Time 23:49

03/02/1945 – Attack Against Dortmund
Sixteen aircraft attacked Dortmund in clear weather, carrying 4,000HC 500MC, 500ANM, 250 G.P and Munro bombs. Bombing was very accurate and fires were going well when aircraft left the target. One large explosion was seen. Searchlights were numerous in the target area, but flak was negligible. Fighters were active. AA”M” captained by S/L J.L. Wright, had three combats and claims one M.E. 110 destroyed. JN”X” captained by F/O R.B.Crawford crashed on landing, fortunately there were no fatal casualties among the crew. Four were taken to hospital.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
F/L S.E. Cowen, RAFVR 50955 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:25 – Landed 21:30
Flight Time 05:05

09/02/1945 – Attack Against Hohenbudburg
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Lutskendorf, but the target was changed during the afternoon to Hohenbudberg. This operation was carried out in 8/10th cloud with tops about 10,000. Flak was slight to moderate and S/L effective. A scattered raid was reported.

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:48 – Landed 08:31
Flight Time 04:43

13/02/1945 – Attack Against Dresden
Twenty aircraft attacked Dresden as detailed. Very slight H/F was only opposition. The first aircraft over the target reported thin cloud which had cleared for later aircraft. Some aircraft were able to bomb visually. Crews reported the whole town was well alight and could see the glow of fires 100 miles away on return A highly successful raid.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:52 – Landed 06:44
Flight Time 08:52

14/02/1945 – Attack Against Chemnitz
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Chemnitz. Nineteen attacked primary. AA”J” F/O R.J. Pearson, returned early through engine failiure. Cloud was ten tenths with tops 16-17000 over the target. Aircraft bombed with the aid of special equipment. No resilts were observed, very slight H/F was met over the target. AA”D”, captained by F/L G.S. Davies failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 07:45

16/02/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aircraft attacked Wesel as detailed. Slight accurate H/F was encountered over the target but no fighters were seen. A concentrated raid was reported.

Lancaster Mk.I HK600 JN-K

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:36 – Landed 17:56
Flight Time 05:20

19/02/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aitcraft were again detailed to attack Wesel. AA”J”, captained by F/S Lukins, B.L., returned early through engine trouble. Cloud was 1-10/10ths with some haze. A few crews were able to identify the river bend. Bombing appeared to be accurate. Very slight H/F was the only opposition.

Lancaster Mk.I RF129 JN-M

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:26 – Landed 18:45
Flight Time 05:19

20/02/1945 – Attack Against Dortmund
Ten aircraft attacked Dortmund as detailed. AA”E” captained by F/L. E. Abrahams returned early through engine failiure. Cloud was 9-10/10ths, tops 5-6,000’. Some moderate H/F was met over the target. No fighters were seen. Crews reported seeing many small fires . A successful raid was reported.

Lancaster Mk.I NG448 JN-P

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:57 – Landed 03:27
Flight Time 05:30

02/03/1945 – Attack Against Cologne
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack Cologne. No aircraft bombed owing to special equipment failiure. Three aircraft jettisoned due to flak damage to engines, the remainder bringing their bombs back. F/O Woodcock was wounded in the neck and his engineer F/Sgt. Gibb in the legs but landed safely at base.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:17 – Landed 18:40
Flight Time 05:23

04/03/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Wanne Eickel. JN”O” F/O D. Barr returned early through engine failiure. Crews bombed with the aid of special equipment in 10/10ths cloud. No results were seen but crews were satisfied that it was a good attack. Slight to moderate H/F was experienced.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:00 – Landed 14:33
Flight Time 04:33

05/03/1945 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Gelsenkirchen. AA”E” F/S Lukins was withdrawn. AA”W” F/L Parker and JN”X” P/O Cleminson returned early through engine trouble. The remainder found the target obscured by 10/10ths cloud tops 15,000 ft. Aircraft bombed on special special equipment. Leaders had a good run in and there was a good concentration at this time. Aircraft were met by slight H/F on outward route. No fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:51 – Landed 16:01
Flight Time 05:10

07/03/1945 – Attack Against Dessau
Thirteen aircraft attacked Dessau as ordered. Aircraft bombed in 10/10ths haze and thin cloud. Crews were given instructions by M/B to bomb on Skymarkers but some were able to make out T.I’s and in two cases identify the street. Fires were burning over a wide area when aircraft left the target. Flak practically nil in target area. Some E/A were seen and AA”S” F/L Spilman had a short inconclusive encounter. A satisfactory operation.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S William Evenden, RAFVR 1337365/ 196039 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:23 – Landed 02:14
Flight Time 08:51

10/03/1945 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen Buer
Twenty one aircraft attacked Gelsenkirchen as detailed. Aircraft bombed in light formation and all bombs were dropped together. Cloud was ten tenths. Slight H/F was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:40 – Landed 17:22
Flight Time 04:42

11/03/1945 – Attack Against Essen
Twenty one aircraft were again detailed for operations, tis time against Essen. Very slight H/F was the only opposition. Cloud was 10/10ths. A gradual blackening of the cloud tops was all that could be seen

Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:56 – Landed 17:14
Flight Time 05:18

17/03/1945 – Attack Against Auguste Viktoria
Nineteen aircraft took off to attack the Auguste Viktoria Benzol Oil plant. Cloud and vapour trails limited visibility to 50yds over the target, but the aircraft remained in light formation and bombs were released together. No results were seen. Opposition was slight H./F.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:03 – Landed 17:03
Flight Time 05:00

29/03/1945 – Attack Against Salzgitter
Twenty one aircraft attacked Saltzgitter as detailed. Cloud was ten tenths, tops up to 19,000 ft and thin cloud and contrails persisting above, reducing visibility to 500yds. No results were observed and a scattered raid is reported. Flak moderate.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles’Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:43 – Landed 19:10
Flight Time 06:27

04/04/1945 – Attack on Meresburg
21 aircraft were detailed to make a night attack on MERSEBURG.. (AA’R’ F/O C Stevens) returned early through technical trouble. (JN’D’ F/O J. Wood) was hit by flak before reaching the target, the B/ Aimer (F/S Hooper) was burned about the face and the Pilot’s hands were slightly burned, the F/Engineer (Sgt. Williamson) apparently fell through the M.U.G Turret. Crews bomber glows of fires on Master Bomber’s instructions. Fires were fairly concentrated though reports indicate a rather scattered raid. Flak moderate to light.

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D ‘Dog’
HK601 (F/O Wood & crew) was hit by moderate to light flak in the target area. Shrapnel pierced the de-icing tank causing fire to break out which destroyed several electrical circuits, including the ASI heating. The pilot received slight burns to his hands and F/S Hooper, air bomber, received slight burns to the face. The F/E, Sgt Williamson, was reported as having fallen through the lower turret hatch – fortunately with his harness and parachute on . . .
Their bomb load was jettisoned from 19,000ft at 51° 51’ N 11° 03’ E at 22.30hrs. On return to England, an emergency landing was carried out at RAF Manston at 02.02hrs.

F/O John Henry Thomas ‘Timber’ Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley ‘Snatch’ Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Bannerman ‘Dougie’ Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles ‘Tweet’ Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:32 – Landed 02:02
Flight Time 07:30

Over the target Sgt. Williamsons’s aircraft, JN-D, was hit by flak and the antifreeze tank at the step of the bomb aimers nacelle burst open. He had just previously removed his oxygen mask to eat some chocolate – after the impact of the flak shrapnel, Doug mistook the spilt antifreeze on his face for blood – the shock of this was compounded by a first low fire on the floor of the plane turning into a roaring blowtorch as the bomb aimer opened the emergency escape hatch in the nose of the Lancaster. Now beginning to slowly asphyxiate, Doug turned and fell over the central wing spar that passes through the inside of the plane and fearing the plane was about to explode, dragged himself to the open gap were an underside ventral gun was occasionally fitted. As he drifted slowly to earth, he watched JN-D fly away from him…….expecting it to explode, his feelings changed when it did not and slowly disappeared over the horizon……..

Unknown to Doug, the Air Bomber and Pilot had managed to control and then extinguish the fire and in fact return to base.

Upon landing, he avoided immediate attention from a German civilian who had watched him come down. Free of this threat he made off down a country lane, away from the allotments he had landed in.

“The allotments must have been at the edge of town, as I was soon on a narrow country lane. I followed this until it came to a railway on one side and a pond on the other. I wondered if I should try to sabotage the railway somehow in order to do something useful towards the war effort, but figured it too difficult, as there was nothing that I could put on the line. Presently the lane ended in the distance at a bridge surrounded by trees and here, (I must have seen too many wartime movies,) I imagined Germans guarding the bridge. Should I proceed and risk capture? No, I decided to wade across the pond. I must confess it was a really stupid thing to do. I had no idea how deep the pond was, and would have been an easy target, and quite visible in the star light if there had been any guards. Fortunately, the pond was only knee deep, but my flying boots were now sodden.       

I was now in open country, and continued walking for several hours until it started to get light. I spotted a large haystack and determined to spend the day hidden there. It was composed of bales of straw and no doubt children had been playing in it, as there was a cavity in the middle that I could crawl into. I settled down to await nightfall and assessed my situation.

I occasionally heard voices in the distance from whence I had come but no one came near the stack. I opened one of my escape packages and ate a barley sugar. The escape package was a small plastic box with an assortment of oatmeal bars, sweets and cloth maps, which were much- prized by women at home for silk headscarves. I looked at the cloth map. It was not much use to me, as I hadn’t a clue where I was.

I spent a long chilly day longing for nightfall, and when at last I figured it was safe to proceed, I decided to walk in a Southwest direction guided by the North Star. There was no moon. The stars gave sufficient light to see by. I plodded on for the rest of that night over fields without any incident.

As daybreak came I looked for another place to conceal myself. It was getting quite bright when I decided to camp down in a small copse in the middle of a large ploughed field. I was lucky there were few people about: in fact, I had not seen or heard anyone since leaving the stack. I was also lucky with the weather. Although it was chilly, it was dry and if I had not foolishly waded that pond might have been quite comfortable.

I spent another long day dozing in the long grass of the copse. Becoming impatient. Because I had not seen or heard anyone, I started again just before dusk. I continued marching and saw flashes of gunfire in the distance in the direction I was going. I was wondering how I was going to pass through the front line. What would it be like? It certainly would not be like the barren muddy barbwire expanse of the movie All Quiet on the Western Front. But how to get past the Germans and be accepted by the trigger-happy Americans? I was pondering this when I came across a deep ditch and a roadway. I was clambering up the side of the ditch to the road and looked up to see a figure clad in a long overcoat down to his ankles carrying a suitcase. He was standing in the middle of the road looking down at me. He grunted something at me. I just stood there, grunted myself, and let him make the next move. He stepped towards me, grabbed m) sleeve and peered at my stripes. He grunted again, nodded his head, pointed in the direction he had come from and scuttled off down the road. I assumed he was a German making good his escape in the middle of the night.

After this encounter I thought it best not to use the road he had indicated, but to keep to the open country. Again it was getting bright, and I had not found any place of concealment. In front of me was a forest and 1 hoped to find something there. I climbed up amongst the trees until I came to a small kiosk into which I climbed. It was narrow and had a counter a little above waist height. Lots of paper targets hung on the wall ; it was a rifle range. I took some of the targets and broke up some little sticks and soon had a cheery blaze going to warm my feet and to try and dry my inner soles of my boots. Presently I heard a noise, and looking up I saw a German, about a hundred yards away, in a green uniform looking up in the air about him. I ducked down, and after he had turned around a few times he shrugged and went away. Presumably he had seen the initial smoke from my fire and had come to investigate. Fortunately, my little blaze was not giving off any smoke at that time and did not alert him. However I decided that a firing range was not be the best place to be discovered, and climbed out and was on my way again.

I had two choices ; one way was to keep to the forest, which I did not fancy, remembering fairy tales about wolves and bears and of course coming across fleeing Germans soldiers escaping from the Allies. The other way looked more like the deserted country side I had been travelling. The only snag was that I had to cross a short stretch of hillside sparsely dotted with trees but in view of a small village in the distance. l decided to risk it and crept on hands and knees from tree to tree when suddenly two burley farmers with long hoes raised above their heads came over the top of the hill towards me. Feeling rather foolish, I got to my feet. The two astonished far farmers lowered their hoes and indicated for me to follow them. Feeling fed up and disappointed but resigned, I trudged along behind them. Looking back from the road we were on to where I had been discovered. I saw that I must have stood out like a fly on a Pavlova; no wonder they saw me!

Our little band was marching along. The two yokels leading and jabbering
excitedly to one another. I followed some distance behind, downcast and fed up, when suddenly they both stopped. Turned and silently waited for me to catch up. Then one of them pointing two lingers at me and wiggling his thumb enquired with an alarmed look “Pistol?” I could not conceal a grin as I shook my head. And we continued our journey, the yokels much less voluble.

Presently we arrived at a farmhouse, and I was led in to await the arrival of the green-uniformed German. While we were waiting, an elderly farmer whose house it was took a look at me then brought out a loaf and cut a thick slice of dark German bread. 1 took one bile. But it was dam difficult to swallow. Nice of him, though.

The officer arrived, along with a small crowd of onlookers. He searched me, showing my escape kits to the crowd with a superior smile as they all oohed and aahed. I was led off and shut in the local police cell, but that was not much more than a broom cupboard. I was there about an hour when I was led out in the company of two armed guards, and marched away with them shouting “Rouse : Schnell !”

We soon arrived at a building, and I was ushered into an office where several Germans in black uniforms were studying maps and papers on a desk. The officer behind the desk snapped some questions at me in English. He took my identity card, but was obviously too preoccupied to be bothered with me. I was dismissed and was marched off, this time to the town jail. I was led into a small cell containing an iron bed with two biscuit mattresses. a wash stand and basin, and a window above head height. I spent a cold, miserable night, curled o11 one mattress with the other over me to try to keep warm. In the morning, [ was given some cold water to wash with in the basin, and, as I had heard of prisoners getting lousy. I washed myself thoroughly, sponging myself all over in spite of the cold. It also occupied my time, which dragged as I only had four cigarettes left and they were menthol. There was nothing to read except the toilet paper, which was in illegible German script. I climbed up on the bed to look out of the window and removed one of the louvers, wondering how anyone could possibly escape from three stories up,

Later in the day I was given a small loaf of hard bread and a bowl of ersatz coffee. It was welcome ; it was hot and not bad tasting and helped the bread to go down. In the afternoon, I was led out to a courtyard and told to march round it. There were other civilian prisoners of various ages seated at little desks around the courtyard, making what looked like some kind of spring by twisting wire round pegs on a board. There was one old fellow in the corner engaged in this simple task, and every time I passed him he would wink and say ”Bloody bastards” and I would nod and grin back at him. After an hour, I was returned to my cell and given a threadbare blanket, under which I spent another cold night. The next day, I again marched round the courtyard and had my conversation with the old bloke in the corner, “Bloody bastards,” and again returned to my cell with the threadbare blanket exchanged for a better one. The meal that day was a thin slice of meat in watery gravy. I suspected it was horse meat but tasty. The next day was the same. I was finding it difficult to pass the time, and took as long as I could on routine activities, washing myself, eeking out my meagre meals. That day I was given a raw onion with my meal and decided to eat it in case I began to suffer malnutrition. A big mistake, as I suffered horribly with indigestion. To this day, my stomach will not accept any kind of raw onion.

I appeared to be a celebrity in the jail as a prisoner of war, and the spy hole was repeatedly lifted and I felt myself inspected. That night I heard gunfire not too far away, and I was presented with an extra blanket.

On the fifth day. I heard one loud explosion, and instead of the usual march round the courtyard I was taken to another cell in the basement. Here, I was separated from all the other prisoners in an adjoining cell by iron bars. I don’t know what they were inside for : they may have been petty criminals. They ranged from quite elderly to a couple who must have been less than fifteen. Every one looked pretty harmless. I would not have been surprised if they had fallen foul of the authorities saying things against the war, because they were all in a jolly mood and gathered round the bars of my cell, repeating “Allis kaput.” I enjoyed the company but the conversation was limited.  In less than an hour the old jailer appeared in his best uniform and led me outside. “I take you to the commandant,” he informed me, and led me through the streets of Eislaben, as it turned out to be, a small village south west of Leipzig. There were people milling about in some sort of disorder.

We came across a British soldier POW. We approached him and my jailer asked. “Where is the commandant?” The Tommy gave him an old-fashioned look and asked me who I was and what I was doing. We decided to return to his camp, which had just been liberated by the Americans. I said goodbye to the old jailer. He seemed somewhat disappointed that his moment of glory in handing over a prisoner of war to the enemy commandant had evaporated in a most unmilitary manner, and wandered off rather dejectedly.

We strolled around the village. The soldier, what was his name? Harry? Housewives were queuing up outside a baker shop ; they did not take kindly to our curiosity. Harry told me that shortly after the Americans had liberated him he wandered into the village. While he was there, a German shot himself and had all the Yanks pulling out their guns and diving for cover. Surprisingly though, on the whole, things looked normal enough. There were many people wandering about. I suppose they had all been under cover while the Yanks took over. There was little damage to the village, and, as I said, housewives were going about their business. The only sign of the war was a small convoy of jeeps and trucks that roared through the winding streets. Harry took me to his billet. where I met other British POW’s who were celebrating with the last of their Red Cross parcels and some K rations acquired from the Americans. They had cans of rice pudding, but my stomach was in turmoil with the effects of the raw onion, so I just sat and relaxed with a mug of tea in welcome company.

The other ex-POW’s had two German girls in the sleeping quarters and were making up for lost time. I was intrigued by the various reactions of the soldiers as they came out of there. Some had silly grins on their faces. One was full of remorse and in full repentance thinking of his wife at home. Yet another made disparaging remarks about the girls. After a while one of the girls came out in a distressed state looking and acting as if she had been in a double marathon, which I suppose she more or less had been. She was comforted by the soldiers who were actually basically decent types, and given a cup of tea. When she saw me she, noticed my uniform and said “Luft Gangster : Gerfligerbandit!” Which amused the rest of the POW’s. The other girl was securely ensconced in bed with one of the men and it seemed that she hoped he would be taking her back to Britain with him.

That evening it was suggested we make a friendship call to the nearby Russian POW camp. When we got there the scene was bacchanalian. The Russians were all seated round a long trestle table. singing and drinking something they called schnapps ; bottles of bright red and bright green liquids, both of which looked lethal. I felt rather sorry for two elderly grey-haired Germans in black uniforms, who were obviously the ex- jailers, seated amongst the Russians. They were periodically slapped on the back and offered schnapps to drink. They both sat stock-still, staring at the center of the table with haggard expressions, their hands clasped between their knees. I wondered what kind of treatment they had dealt with the Russians. I can only suppose they escaped to the Americans when the Russians became completely paralytic. As it was, when we left the party, one Russian was on his hands and knees, on top of the table, rushing at and butting the wall with his head.

I spent the night at the British camp and in the morning was offered a breakfast of bergoo, as they called a kind of porridge. I was enjoying this with a cup of tea when one of the men said, “Oh look at this poor bloke!”. Walking very gingerly up the road from his camp was a young Russian, nineteen or twenty at the most, and obviously with a very heavy hangover.”Give’im a cup of tea.” The very subdued lad who had come to return our visit thanked us and sipped his tea. He thanked us again and wished us well, then slowly returned towards his camp. Half way down the road, watched in sympathy by all of us, he suddenly stopped. Then his legs became rigid his left leg rose in the air out from his side, and he performed a perfect three-hundred-and-sixty-degree pirouette before collapsing in the ditch. He clambered out, only to repeat the previous performance. Apparently, the hot tea had stimulated his alcohol sodden body and he was again drunk as a lord.

Later that day, some American army trucks came and we were all taken to an airport near Liege and given packets of American K rations. We spent the night in the open air, which was quite mild. And in the morning were flown back to Britain. There I was liberally dusted with DDT along with the other P.o.W’s, who had spent several years in grim prisons. I was given a new uniform, a fortnight’s leave on double rations, and what turned out to be a most prized possession ; a deficiency chit. This deficiency chit listed all the equipment like kit bag, webbing, ground sheet and other equipment that was not immediately essential. I was able to carry this little piece of paper about with me in my wallet instead of a large heavy kit bag, for the rest of my stay in the RAF. It was there that I learnt to my relief that the rest of the crew had returned safely.

I had had a great adventure, but still regret to this day the stupidity of removing my oxygen mask to eat that chocolate. Probably it was as well that I had not remained in the Lancaster, as soaked in de-icing fluid I might have been incinerated.”

Extract from ‘The Nazi & The Luftgangster’ – by D.B. Williamson and Lutz Dille.Elgin Press 2012