PB761 “Yorker”


Air Historical Branch: Air Movement Cards

Air Historical Branch: Air Movement Cards  – PB761


Date Target Notes Code Pilot Duration
1 20/11/44 Homberg AA-Y F/O Ford 04:23
2 21/11/44 Homberg AA-Y F/O Ford 04:07
3 23/11/44 Gelsenkirchen AA-Y P/O Ford 04:42
4 27/11/44 Cologne Marshalling Yard AA-Y F/O Cooper 04:35
5 28/11/44 Neuss AA-Y F/O Spain 04:19
6 30/11/44 Osterfeld AA-Y F/O Ford 05:01
7 05/12/44 Hamm Marshalling Yards AA-Y F/O Ford 04:49
8 06/12/44 Mersburg Leuna Oil Refinery AA-Y F/O Ford 07:13
9 08/12/44 Duisburg AA-Y F/O Osbourne 04:00
10 11/12/44 Osterfeld AA-Y F/L Yates 04:18
11 12/12/44 Witten AA-Y F/O Blewett 05:17
12 16/12/44 Siegen AA-Y F/O Blewett 05:49
13 21/12/44 Trier AA-Y F/O Blewett 04:40
14 23/12/44 Trier AA-Y F/O Blewett 04:27
15 28/12/44 Gremberg M/Y at Cologne AA-Y F/O Blewett 05:00
16 30/12/44 Mining in the Heligoland Bight AA-Y F/O Osbourne 04:05
17 01/01/45 Vohwinkel AA-Y P/O Blewett 06:04
18 03/01/45 Dortmund Oil Refinery Hit by flak 3 times AA-Y F/O Blewett 05:03
19 05/01/45 Ludwigshafen AA-Y P/O Blewett 06:01
dnc 06/01/45 Neuss Returned early owing to technical problems AA-Y F/O Crawford 03:54
20 07/01/45 Munich AA-Y F/O Blewett 08:05
21 11/01/45 Krefeld AA-Y F/O Blewett 04:59
22 13/01/45 Saarbrucken AA-Y F/L Spillman 06:36
23 15/01/45 Langendreer AA-Y F/O Blewett 05:08
24 16/01/45 Wanne Eickel Damaged not due to Enemy Action (E) (L) – Landing unknown AA-Y F/L Blewett missing
Total Op hours 122:35

16/01/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Seventeen aircraft attacked Wanne Eickel 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 PB761 AA-Y
Damaged not due to Enemy Action (E) (L) – Landing unknown

F/L Terence Douglas ‘Tim’ Blewett, RNZAF NZ414376 – Pilot.
F/S Bryant Thomas Cornell, RAFVR 1398282 – Navigator.
F/O John Stanley Wilson, RNZAF NZ426234 – Air Bomber.
W/O John Smyrk, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Ronald Hunwicks, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Hollins, RAFVR 2221435 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. William Henry Pridmore, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:30 – Landed –
Flight Time – Crashed on return

F/L Terence Douglas Blewett, RNZAF NZ414376 – Pilot.
Killed age 26.
Son of Leonard Francis Blewett, and of Leonora Blewett (Nee Sorrell), of Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Buried Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire, England..
Grave location – Grave 15558.

F/S Bryant Thomas Cornell, RAFVR 1398282 – Navigator.
Died of injuries the following day age 22.
Son of Thomas Bryant Cornell and Florence Cornell, of Palmers Green; Husband of Pamela June Cornell, of Fulham, London.
Buried Southgate Cemetery, Middlesex, England..
Grave location – Sec. HB. Grave 561.

F/O John Stanley Wilson, RNZAF NZ426234 – Air bomber.
Killed age 34.
Son of Mervyn and Sarah Wilson, of Auckland City, New Zealand.
Buried Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire, England..
Grave location – Grave 15557.

W/O John Smyrk, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.

Sgt. Ronald Hunwicks, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Seriously injured

Sgt. William Pridmore, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.

The following details regarding the crash were originally found on a page of kirtlingandupend.org.uk – however on creating this page and checking the link (as of 16.11.15) it appears rather sadly to have disappeared. If the site or page ever becomes active again, it might be able to be found here;

Taken from notes written by Felix Bailey, deceased.

“On the night of January 17th 1945, a Lancaster bomber from 75 Squadron 3 group was returning from a bombing raid over Germany. It was in serious trouble, and hit the old Suffolk thatched barn behind Hill Farmhouse. The telephone and electric wires were severed in its wake.

It left one engine in the thatch of the barn, and then veered right, ploughing through the field which was meadow land. Shedding parts of the plane as it went, ammunition, fuel and all sorts of debris was sent tumbling about, knocking down the out-houses behind Hill Cottage and a corner of the cottage. The main fuselage finished up nose across the road, its tail broken off so you could stand on the bank and look into it. One engine was catapulted onto the farm land beyond the road.

A fire started and the people living in Hill Cottage, which was two houses, could not get out. Very flare lights started to go up. Mr Gent leapt out of bed, fumbled for his trousers, as he ran to help. It was dark and he kept falling over little heaps of hedge trimmings that had been piled up after hedge cutting ready for burning.

He was first on the scene. He climbed up the bank beside the cottage and fell over something. It was an airman. As the airman sat up he spoke “My mate’s gone for help”.

His mate was the gunner, who in his turret had got thrown clear. He ran down the road – the first house he came to he could get no help. He then arrived at Hall Farm. Knocking so hard on the door that he smashed a pane of glass. He eventually raised the occupants and was given help. Mrs Savage and her two sons lived in Hall Farmhouse at the time. Her husband was in the army in Italy.

 Back at the crash site, Mr Gent managed to find a torch and he bent down to help the airman on the ground and noticed both his feet were missing. He managed to find a parachute to wrap the airman up in.

Bill Cook and Eric Simpson arrived. They started to try and get the occupants out of the cottage. The fire engine arrived and they got Shim Howe out. His tunic was on fire. Hasby Howe was clutching his cash box (he worked for Cooper Bland). The Ambulance arrived from Ely. Mr Reeve, the Hill Farm foreman arrived. All these people wanted tea. The police promised to return the next day with extra coupons to replace the tea but they never did.

When daylight came and the people who worked at Hill Farm came to work they found the carthorse still feeding in the yard beside the battered barn and an engine hanging in the thatch”.

Kevin King, Chairman of the Friends of 75(NZ) Squadron Association UK adds a few more details regarding the crash and Ken Hollins:

The airmen that went for help was Ken Hollins, but not before he had dragged clear members of the crew. Ken went on to a distinguished career in the police. Rising to the rank of superintendent in the Staffordshire CID. Every remembrance weekend Ken would visit Cambridge cemetery and pay his respects to his fallen comrades. Ken died in 1992. His ashes being scattered over the Wash from the BBMF Lancaster. Ron Hunwicks had a leg amputated. He amazed me when I first met him at a reunion in the 80s. Waltzing around the dance floor you had no idea he had an artificial leg. Bryant Cornell’s daughter was born after he died. She and her mother layer went to live in South Africa. She and her husband returned to England about 12 years ago and have attended several reunions. At one reunion we visited Kirtling where she was presented with a painting of her fathers aircraft. Speaking with Ken and Ron, neither of them held their captain responsible for the crash. They had nothing but praise for him.

There is more information in ‘Luck and a Lancaster’ by Harry Yates – Tim Blewett flew his 2nd Dickie flight with Harry and his crew;

“As luck would have it, we also had a 2nd Dickie with us. Flying Officer T.D. Blewitt was a tall but slight, quiet mannered New Zealander. He had waited 5 days for this. Now, at last, he was getting started. But here was little sign of the pounding heart and sweating palms that I was sure Messers Aitken & Co. would have divined in me back on 8th August. My strongest impression of Tim, for that was his name, was how self assured he was. I could only wish him 30 trips that did nothing to alter that, the least remarkable of them Osterfeld today.”

Then in the Epilogue at the end of the book……

“Tim Blewitt, the middle of our initiatives, died in the early hours of 17th January 1945. The previous evening Tim and his crew had boarded PB761 Y-Yoke, the kite in which the boys and I had taken him to Osterfeld. The target this time was a Benzol plant at Wanne-Eickel.They bombed successfully but came down on the journey home at Wood-Ditton in Suffolk. Tim and his Bomb Aimer were killed on impact. Y-Yoke quickly became an inferno. the surviving crew members dragged the navigator clear but he was beyond help and succumbed in hospital 2 days later.

The cause of the crash was pilot error.I n the official accident report Tim’s relative unfamiliarity with night flying was cited as a contributory factor. This seemed a harsh and convenient judgement to me. Immediately prior to the Wanne-Eickel raid Tim and his crew had twice experienced the tensions of briefing, gearing up and the long wait at dispersal only for control to call them back. One can only guess at their feelings as they climbed aboard for a third time in 21 hours.

A few days after this event I returned from leave to collect my remaining possessions and be signed off by Mac Baigent. I found that my treasured American flying jacket was missing. Tim had ‘borrowed’ it that night. I couldn’t resent the fact, of course. I’d just wished it had bought him some luck.”

Personally, I think the official decision of ‘pilot error’ is harsh – Tim and the boys were almost half way through their tour.

John Smyrk passed away in 2011