R.W. Herron crew 21.1.44 †

EP Chilman corrected

Peter Ernest Chilman, Rear gunner with the Herron crew, lost 28th April 1944 on the Friedrichshafen Op. The photo was taken in 1940.

 4.1.45.
Administration
P/O R.W . Herron and crew posted from No.31 Base

Before flying operationally as a crew, Bob flew 2 ops as ‘2nd DIckie’ with more experienced crews.

14/01/1944 – Attack against a Special Target
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500 lbs., one aircraft brought its bombs back, owing to a failure of Navigational Aid equipment, and one returned early as it could not maintain height. This attack was successful and concentrated, bombs being seen to drop within the target area. Some A.A. fire was encountered, but caused no trouble. A few enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. The weather was good with no cloud and clear visibility. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III EF454 AA-A

F/S Thomas Gregson Buckley, RAFVR 170664 – Pilot.
F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ422282 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Charles Mita Hilairo Pinker, RNZAF NZ416159 – Navigator.
F/S Hoani Paraone, RNZAF NZ422204 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. A. Houston, RAFVR 1368989 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Thompson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. James Henry Murphy, RAFVR 1393306 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Harold George Howells, RAFVR 1292972/ 185219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:20 – Landed 21:35
Flight Time 03:15

20/01/1944 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Seven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1500 lbs. One aircraft was withdrawn but the remainder successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area. No opposition was met and the trip was uneventful. The weather was good and visibility clear except for slight sea haze. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

S/L Raymond Johnson Watson, RNZAF NZ404978 – Pilot.
F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ422282 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RNZAF NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:00 – Landed 20:00
Flight Time 03:00

The Herron crew started their Operational tour with 75(NZ) Squadron on the 21st of January with an attack on a ‘Special target’ this was the euphemism given to the German V development and launching sites. On this day 111 aircraft, including 20 from Mepal bombed V1 launch sites in France.

21/01/1944 – Attack against a Special Target
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500 lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, large bomb bursts and some fires being observed. Very little opposition was encountered and this proved to be negligible. The weather was good with no cloud and clear visibility. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III EF514 AA-?

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:30 – Landed 21:35
Flight Time 03:05

25/01/1944 – Attack against a Special Target
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500 lbs. One aircraft failed to take-off, & four brought their bombs back. The remainder however, successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This operation did not appear to be very successful, the bombing being rather scattered, some large explosions were seen, however. The weather was good with no cloud and clear visibility. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J
Four aircraft failed to drop their bombs on targets for unreported reasons.

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:45 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 04:15

28/01/1944 – Mining in the Kiel Bay
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500 lbs. Three aircraft returned early, two dropped their mines in alternative areas, but the remainder successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area. Some light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered, and one aircraft received slight damage. A few enemy aircraft were seen and the aircraft captained by P/O C. BAKER, whilst on the homeward journey was attacked by a M.E.110, which raked our aircraft with machine gun and cannon fire, from the tailplane to the Navigator’s compartment, causing considerable damage. The mid-upper gunner, Sgt. RENWICK, H. was slightly injured and the Flight Engineer Sgt. WATSON, W. was seriously injured. On return the aircraft crash-landed at COLTISHALL. The weather was variable with 5-10/10ths cloud, but fairly clear in the mining area. Severe icing was encountered on the return journey. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF230 ??-?

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 00:45
Flight Time 05:40

10/02/1944 – Mining off La Rochelle
Four aircraft were detailed to lay mines of 1500 lbs off LA ROCHELLE. All completed their task apart from two mines brought back owing to mechanical failures. There was some opposition from heavy and light A.A. Fire and one aircraft had an inconclusive combat. Photographs were taken and one taken by F/Lt. J.D. GRUBB showed a sunken merchant vessel.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 AA-V

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off no time – Landed no time
Flight Time no time

03/03/1944 – Mining off Morlaix
Eight aircraft were detailed for mine laying as follows:- two off Morlaix, two off St. Malo, two Cherbourg and two off Le Havre. Seven dropped their mines in the allotted areas, but one was off track and dropped somewhat to the west. All sorties were completely uneventful.

Stirling Mk.III BF473 ??-?

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J. Edwards, RAFVR 1306600 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:10 – Landed 22:00
Flight Time 02:50

Special Operations
75(NZ) Squadron was yet to be re-equipped with Lancasters and as such their operational effectiveness flying the now aged Stirling was being severely compromised. Taken off main force Ops the Squadron had to content itself with Gardening and ‘Special Operations’ Ops. Within the ORB for 1944, there is a distinct air of mystery surround what these Special Operations in fact were – to the point where there are hand written notes from the W/C at the end of March Form 540 saying the ‘particulars’ of these Special Operations had been forwarded seperately to the Air Ministry Intelligence section – These special Operations were flown to support Special Operations Executive (SOE) and Resistance Fighters – the details of these Ops , their destinations and payloads were obviously at the time desperately secret.

05/03/1944 – Special Operations – March Moon Period TRAINER 153 (SUCCESSFUL)
Operation TRAINER 153 (Successful).
The m/n crew in Stirling III JN ‘U’ took off at 20.53 hours. The target area was reached at 23.49 hours and pin pointed by an adjoining wood. Three reception lights were somewhat dull and the morse was rather fast, fifteen containers were dropped from 400′ at 23.54 hrs. The weather was good with excellent visibility. Course was set for Base at 23.55 hours, one package was dropped at Brive. The aircraft, without further incident, landed at Base at 03.14 hours.

Mk. ??-?

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. G. Tedman, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:53 – Landed 03:14
Flight Time 06:21

10/03/1944 – Special Operations – March Moon Period MONGREL 18 (SUCCESSFUL)
Operation MONGREL 18 (Successful).
The m/n crew in Stirling III ‘K’ took off at 20.01 hours. The primary target could not be found, but reception was received at a position 45.44 N. 05.58 E., as this was exceptionally clear twelve containers were dropped from 1200′ at 23.47 hours. The weather was good except for slight mist. Course was set for Base at 23.50 hours, two packages of leaflets being dropped at St. Genix. The aircraft, without further incident, landed at Base at 03.32 hours.

Stirling Mk.III ??-K

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:01 – Landed 03:32
Flight Time 07:31

13/03/1944 – Mining off La Rochelle
Sixteen aircraft were detailed for mine laying off St. Nazaire, Lorient, La Rochelle, and Brest. One aircraft (Captain NZ414567 F/Sgt. Rowberry T.) failed to return. Another aircraft (Captain NZ42999 P/O. C. Baker) returned early with aileron trouble and crashed at Castle Comb, without injury to the crew although the aircraft was burnt out. The remaining fourteen successfully laid their mines, one aircraft landing at Woodbridge on return.

Stirling Mk.III EF181 JN-S
listed as BF181 – no other occurance, so clearly a typo

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:30 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 05:15

15/03/1944 – Special Operations – March Moon Period BOB 118 (SUCCESSFUL)
Operation BOB 118 (Successful).
The m/n crew in Stirling III ‘K’ took off at 23.45 hours. The target area was reached at 02.43 hours and identified by a wood. The reception was good and fifteen containers were dropped from 800′ at 02.50 hours. There was a little haze in the target area but no cloud. Course was set for Base at 03.00 hours, two packages of leaflets were dropped, one in the Perreuil area and the other in coast Cabourg area. The aircraft, without further incident, landed at Base at 05.50.

Stirling Mk.III ??-K

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
P/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:45 – Landed 05:50
Flight Time 06:05

18/03/1944 – Mining in the Heliogoland Bight
Seven aircraft were detailed to lay mines in the Heligoland Bight. Six were successful, the seventh bringing his mines back as he arrived too late for the flares and was uncertain of his exact position. There was no fighter opposition, but A.A. Fire was encountered. Visibility was poor with much haze.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 AA-V

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 23:20
Flight Time 04:15

19/03/1944 – Mining of River Adour
Four aircraft were detailed for mine laying off the mouth of the river Adour and two in the St. Jean-de-Luz area. All were successful with the exception of one which had to jettison owing to an engine catching fire.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 AA-V

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
W/O C. SkrIpsey, RCAF R.124868 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:04 – Landed 03:32
Flight Time 08:28

21/03/1944 – Mining off St. Malo
Four aircraft were detailed to lay mines off St. Malo and completed their tasks without incident.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 AA-V

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
W/O C. SkrIpsey, RCAF R.124868 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:00 – Landed 23:00
Flight Time 04:00

Outstanding Events
Administration.
Conversation to Lancaster Aircraft. It was decided by a higher authority to convert the Squadron from Stirling to Lancaster aircraft, and our first Lancaster was received on 13th March, 1944, since that date we a have received a further 19. All crews are being converted to Lancaster aircraft and at present 13 have passed through No.3 Lancaster Finishing School at R.A.F. Station Feltwell.

26.3.44.
Administration
Herron crew were posted to No.3 L.F.S. Feltwell for conversion to Lancaster.

1.4.44.
Administration
The Herron crew returned from Feltwell having completed their Lancaster conversion training.

27/04/1944 – Attack Against Friedrichshafen
Sixteen Lancasters were detailed to attack Friedrichshafen. Fourteen successfully carried out their mission, one aircraft bombed a decoy in error and another failed to return (Captain NZ42282 F/O. R. Herron).

Lancaster Mk.III ND796 AA-J

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ425238 – Pilot.
F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAFVR 553063 – Air Bomber.
F/O Euan Wilfred McLachlan, RAFVR NZ415266 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155992 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:05 – Landed –
Flight Time – Missing

The Air Ministry specially requested this raid because this small town was known to contain several important factories making engines and gearboxes for German tanks. The raid was planned to take place on a moonlit night, even though a similar raid on Nuremberg four weeks ago in these conditions had disastrous results. But this town was further south, at the extremity of German fighter defences and so, the risks were thought to be less. As well, several diversionary attacks were made causing confusion among German air controllers. All aircraft in this raid therefore reached the target without being intercepted. This notwithstanding, the German fighters arrived at the target as the raid was taking place, resulting in 18 of the participating 322 Lancasters being shot down – 5.6% of the force.

There was no report of Anti Aircraft fire or searchlights. It was apparent, however, that German night-fighters had arrived in numbers, as witnessed by other aircraft coming under attack. One such aircraft was ND796, the Lancaster of F/O Bob Herron and his crew.
 The remaining fifteen unit aircraft returned to base safely, landing between 03.50 – 06.20hrs.

Lancaster Mk.III ND796 AA-J was shot down by a night-fighter just North West of the target, crashing 500 metres South East of Langenhart, about a mile North of Messkirch. There were no survivors. All seven crew were buried in a collective grave at Lagenhart. They were later reinterred at Durnbach War Cemetery.

This aircraft was the first 75(NZ) Squadron Lancaster reported missing..

F/O Robert Weir Herron, RNZAF NZ422282 – Pilot.
Killed age 23.
Son of David Craig Herron, and of Edith Stewart Herron (Nee Smart), of Auckland City, New Zealand. M.A. (Otago University).
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 4. C. 1-7.

F/S Matthew Roland Henderson, RNZAF NZ427204 – Navigator.
Killed age 25.
Son of Matthew C. Henderson, and of Agnes Henderson (Nee Findlay), of Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand.
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 4. C. 1-7.

Sgt. Walter Reginald Percival, RAF 553063 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 22.
Son of Wallis George and Ellen Elizabeth Percival, of Blackheath, London.
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 4. C. 1-7.

F/O Euan Wilfred Mclachlan, RNZAF NZ415266 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 22.
Son of Wallace Lamorg Mclachlan and Erica Mclachlan, of Tinwald, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 4. C. 1-7.

Sgt. John William Germing, RAFVR 1803074 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 22.
Son of Wilhelmus Joseph and Leah Elizabeth Germing; Husband of Lilian May Germing, of Potters Bar, Middlesex.
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 4. C. 1-7.

W/O Keith Alfred Smith, RNZAF NZ416022 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 23.
Son of William James Smith and Elsie Mary Smith, of Pahiatua, Wellington, New Zealand.
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 4. C. 1-7.

F/O Peter Ernest Chilman, RAFVR 155993 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 25.
Buried Durnbach War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 4. C. 1-7.