Tag Archives: 100 op Lancaster

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 12. On ‘Forever Strong’……

FOREVER STRONG – Some comments on the book by J C Wall.
It’s clear from these notes that Jack had a few strong opinions about a number of things in this book. I think most interestingly, there is a tangible anger regarding the description by Alex Simpson of his discussion with Jack Bailey regarding who would fly the 100th Op in JN-Mike.

All extracts and photograph of NE181 ‘The Captains Fancy’  from ‘Forever Strong – The Story of 75 Squadron RNZAF 1916-1990’, by Norman Franks. Published by Random Century New Zealand Ltd. 1991.

Page 72. Chapter 9 – Newmarket. November 1942 – February 1943.
Five aircraft went to Turin the next night, bombing markers laid down by Pathfinder aircraft, but only three got through. One returned with turret and intercom problems, while the other failed to gain enough height to clear the Alps and returned.

The Operation to Turin on 20.11.42 was the first use of Stirlings by 75 Squadron and only 4 Aircraft were detailed. This was my first Operation and only 2 of us reached the target and the other 2 returned early’.

Page 74. Chapter 9 – Newmarket. November 1942 – February 1943.
As January began, it was back to ’Gardening’ — a good stand-by when full Ops were not possible. Indeed, except for a couple of raids upon Lorient, the trips that month were all mine-laying. The Lorient trip on 23 January took Sergeant R.M. Kidd and his crew from the squadron — the first loss of 1943. Kidd in fact managed to evade, but the rest of his crew died.
Even on ’Gardening’ trips, enemy reception could be rough. Over the Gironde Estuary on 18 January, Sergeant Bennett, on his first trip, met with a hot reception. But successful evasive action after combats with three enemy aircraft enabled Bennett to bring his crew home safely.     

‘Mine laying (Gardening) was usually an easy trip but we had some shockers. Our 4th. Operation was one when we nearly ended our lives and is mentioned in the Citation for my D.F.C.’

Page 78. Chapter 10 – The Battle of the Ruhr. March – May 1943.
Then it was Berlin again, and yet again, on 27 and 29 March. Sergeant Bartlett made both trips:
on the first raid it took us 7 hours 40 minutes — quite a quiet trip; straight in, no trouble with the bomb run, bombs gone, and straight out, left hard circuit and away home. Nothing wrong with their defences, they were all there. I don’t know what made us so immune, which is more than can be said for the 29th! It took us 81/2 hours to get home -— on three engines. After the Lord Mayor’s Show, we floated up to the target. Then the rear gunner screamed: ’Fighter on the port quarter!’ An attack started and I looked down the rear of the aircraft and saw a line of incendiary shells going through the fuselage. Then the mid-upper cried that it was coming in again from the port for a second attack. We heard both gunners cry out they’d got it — both claimed it. Then a searchlight caught us, passing us from cone to cone, trying to get us out of the target area, to blow us to pieces. Then the port outer engine caught fire with a long trail of flame from it. l told the skipper to try a steep dive and he went down from 14,000 to about 9 to 10,000 feet, and we got away with it and got home despite another two fighter attacks — nobody hurt — our mid-upper claiming a second kill.
I recall our WOP, Rupert Moss, seeing a couple of swans over Berlin at about 14,000 feet and reported it to the Intelligence Officer when we got back — which he duly noted!

We went to Berlin on 1st March, on 27th March and then on the 29th.March 1943‘.

Page 83. Chapter 10 – The Battle of the Ruhr. March – May 1943.
At the end of the month, came a return to mining, first to the Frisian Islands, then to Kiel Bay and yet another disaster. Eight crews were assigned to go to Kiel on the night of 28/29 April, part of a mammoth force of 207 aircraft to mine the seas off Heligoland, in the River Elbe, and in the Great and Little Belts. An estimated 593 mines were sent into the water but the aircraft met much flak both from the shore and flak-ships strategically located by the Germans. Although it was a huge operation, the losses were unexpectedly high, no fewer than 22 aircraft — 7 Lancasters, 7 Stirlings, 6 Wellingtons and two Halifaxes —- failing to return. Four of the Stirlings were from 75 Squadron -— 28 men killed!

‘Another disaster when Gardening in Kiel Bay. 8 of us from the Squadron were detailed and one returned early. Out of the other 7 Aircraft only 3 of us completed and the other 4 failed to return – the 28 crew members were all killed’.

Page 84. Chapter 10 – The Battle of the Ruhr. March – May 1943.
Wing Commander Wyatt remembers:
I took over 75 Squadron on 3rd May 1943. I’d been flying with 15 Squadron, originally from Boume, a satellite of Oakington. I’d been missing from a raid on Turin and had crash landed in Spain, but eventually re-joined the squadron just as it was about to move to Mildenhall. I hadn’t been there many weeks when I was sent for by Group HQ and was told about the state of 75 Squadron and was asked if I’d like the job as CO, but was told it was going to be a very tough one.
The morale of 75 at the time was very low. Their operational success rate was absolutely appalling and was one of the worst in Bomber Command. There were various reasons for it though.
The airfield at Newmarket was so close to the town — the Messes were virtually in the town — and there was far too much hospitality. All these New Zealanders rather fascinated the horse racing fraternity and Newmarket was the only place where horse racing continued during the war. They would not, of course, allow the racecourse to be turned into a proper airfield, with proper runways and so on. We used the Jockey Club which is where I had my sleeping quarters and the Officer’s Mess was just on the corner of the road south of the Club, on the main street.
The chaps were being entertained far too much and I think there was a terrible number of sore heads on a lot of mornings. It seemed to me they were enjoying life rather more in Newmarket and had begun to lose sight of the main reason for being there. The AOC outlined all this to me and said it was up to me to sort them out and get them back to being an operational squadron.

‘Wing Commander Wyatt spoke at one of our reunions and more or less repeated the comments in the book. In my view which was shared by many others it was absolute rubbish. We were not “living it up” at Newmarket and the main reason for the move to Mepal was because Newmarket only had grass runways’.

Page 99. Chapter 12 – Mepal. June – September 1943.
Norman Bartlett recalled the time a Lancaster was found right above them over the target:
We were on the bombing run and I was watching for other aircraft when we heard a cry. Looking round, Jack Brewster, our navigator, was pointing upwards, open mouthed, his face all twisted with fright. I looked up and directly above, about 200 feet, was a Lancaster, with bomb doors open, ready to drop a 4000 pound ‘cookie’. It was too late to do anything before the cookie dropped and as it passed us, it turned over and went by in a vertical position rather than horizontal, which probably saved us. Jack heaved a huge sigh of relief — and so did I!

‘Norman Bartlett was our Flight Engineer and Jack Brewster our Navigator at Mepal on Lancasters. As Norman’s comments follows the mention of ‘Stirlings flying under
Lancasters’, readers could be misled into thinking we were in a Stirling when we were nearly hit by a 4,000lb. Cookie. We were in a Lancaster and the other one was either at the wrong height or bombing at the wrong time. I did not see the Cookie as I was in the front of the Aircraft on my stomach looking through my Bomb Sight giving the Pilot instructions ready to bomb’.

Page 151. Chapter 18 – The Last Winter. December 1944 – February 1945.
The Captains Fancy

‘Under the photo of “The Captains Fancy” it states that Alex Simpson flew it on its 101st on the 5th January but it did not complete its 100th until the 29th Jan and also Alex did not take it on its 101st – we did on 2nd Feb’.

Page 152. Chapter 18 – The Last Winter. December 1944 – February 1945.
Alex Simpson recalls an important event at this time:
Squadron Leader Jack Bailey, ‘C’ Flight Commander, usually flew Lanc NE181 ‘M’ for Mike— named ‘The Captain’s Fancy’, which was a dog of an aircraft and I guess understandably so, as it was approaching its 100th operation. When the time came, Jack asked me if I would take ‘Mike’ to Ludwigshaven on the 5th —- the day after my 21st birthday. I protested for I had a very good aircraft of my own, and I had flown ‘Mike’ previously — in December.
It became apparent that Jack was superstitious about flying ‘Mike’ on its 100th, so in the end I agreed. After the operation, we did an in-depth study of the aircraft’s log book and associated paper work and found to ]ack’s geat surprise that he had already done the 100th — I had in fact done the 101st!
Jack and I tried very hard through Bill Jordan, the NZ High Commissioner in the UK, to get permission to fly ]N—M out of New Zealand on a flag-waving War Bonds tour, as it was then the first NZ aircraft to reach 100 operations, but we never got approval. I delivered ‘Mike’ to Waterbeach on 17th February, and it was later struck off charge on 30th September 1947.

‘The comments made by Alex Simpson regarding Jack Bailey are not a true record of events. I am very annoyed that he implies that Jack was frightened to take the aircraft on its 100th. We were all looking forward to being the crew that did the 100th in an aircraft that we had flown most of our Operations in. Jack was one of the most fearless, dedicated Pilots with the Squagron and as he had died some years before the book was compiled he could not put the record right. I had no knowledge of the contents of the book until I received the final copy after printing. We flew in “The Captains Fancy” to Krefeld for its 100th on the 29th Jan and this is confirmed in the book ‘Lancaster at War – 2′ also in Jack Bailey’s Citation for the Bar to his D.F.C. dated 16.4.45, also in my log book. Fred Woolterton – one of our ground staff – in the photo has also recently confirmed this. We flew it to Wiesbaden on 2nd. Feb for its 101st. and to Wessel on the 16th.Feb for its 102nd. I have an actual Bombing Photo of this last Operation showing Target, Date, Pilot and the Aircraft letter. Apart from Alex’s dates; all being wrong,  Jack, as Flight Commander, would not have asked if he would take it but would have simply detailed him………’.

Page 155. Chapter 19 – Victory in Europe. February – May 1945.
A daylight raid on Osterfeld by 21 of the squadron’s aircraft took place on 22 February, flak trying desperately to inflict hurt and injury. Flight Sergeant T. Cox had his starboard inner hit by flak, but the flames were put out by cutting the petrol and using the extinguisher. Flying Officer H. Russell’s bomber was also hit, the prop on the port inner and damage to the leading edge of the wing between his two starboard engines giving some moments of concern. Flight Lieutenant Doug Sadgrove had his port outer hit on the bomb run but he continued on, while Warrant Officer E. Ohlson also had an engine knocked out. Flight Lieutenant K. Jones lost an engine on the way out and had to abort.

I am surprised that no mention of Jack Bailey or his crew was made for this raid to Osterfeld as we led the Squadron and Jack was awarded the Bar to his D.F.C. for his courage and leadership on this Operation. We were hit in ail engines and had to feather one over the target and ended with 37 holes – no injuries. Despite this I had a very good Bombing Photo at 19.000ft.’.

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 11. Target Photographs

When I was posted to 75(NZ) Squadron for second tour they already had a
New Zealand Squadron Bombing Leader. As I had become an “A” Category
Bombing Leader at Manby on 24.6.44. I took over the duties of Bombing
Leader when the Squadron Bombing Leader was absent on leave etc.
I was therefore able to “acquire” some of my Bombing Photos.
When we dropped our bombs we also released a time controlled flash and the
camera was also timed to take a photo at a set time to coincide when the
bombs detonated on the ground. It was therefore essential to keep the
aircraft on course and straight and level on the bombing run and after
“Bombs Away” to take an accurate photo. This was not an easy task for the
Pilot with Searchlights and Flak all around the aircraft.

The photos show
Squadron Base – Mep is Mepal.
Date.
Height.
Compass bearing.
Time.
Target.
Bomb Load.
Camera and Flash setting.
Pilots Rank and Name.
Aircraft letter and Squadron number.

cologne

COLOGNE
Daylight
28.10.44
18,000′
Aircraft “M”
We were one of the first over the target.
Little flak.
Visual Bombing

soligen

SOLINGEN
Daylight
4.11.44.
20,000′
Aircraft “M”
Light Flak
Plenty of Cloud
Bombed on Markers

NEUSS Night 28/29.11.44. 19,000' Aircraft "M" Light flak Bombed on Markers Poor photo.

NEUSS
Night
28/29.11.44.
19,000′
Aircraft “M”
Light flak
Bombed on Markers
Poor photo.

TRier Daylight 23.12.44. 17,000' Aircraft "M" Little Flak

Trier
Daylight
23.12.44.
17,000′
Aircraft “M”
Little Flak

RHEYDT Daylight 27.12.44. 20,000' Aircraft "M" We were one of the first over the target Visual Bombing

RHEYDT
Daylight
27.12.44.
20,000′
Aircraft “M”
We were one of the first over the target
Visual Bombing

NEUSS Night 6/7/.1.45. 20,000' Aircraft "V" Medium amount of flak on way in and over target Bombed on Markers Poor Photo

NEUSS
Night
6/7/.1.45.
20,000′
Aircraft “V”
Medium amount of flak on way in and over target
Bombed on Markers
Poor Photo

WESEL Daylight 16.2.45. 20,000' Aircraft "M" (it was our 102nd operation for "M") Vsual Bombing in formation - we led.

WESEL
Daylight
16.2.45.
20,000′
Aircraft “M”
(it was our 102nd operation for “M”)
Vsual Bombing in formation – we led.

OSTERFELD Daylight 22.2.45. 19,000' Aircraft "Z" We led our Squadron formation and the other aircraft bombed when we did. We were the target for most of the Flak but we got a good photo. Hit in all engines and one hade to be feathered over the target. Had a total of 37 holes .Skipper awarded Bar to D.F.C.

OSTERFELD
Daylight
22.2.45.
19,000′
Aircraft “Z”
We led our Squadron formation and the other aircraft bombed when we did. We were the target for most of the Flak but we got a good photo.
Hit in all engines and one had to be feathered over the target. Had a total of 37 holes .Skipper awarded Bar to D.F.C.

KIEL NIght 9/10.4.45. 19,000' Aircraft "K" Our last Operation. Bombed on Markers Note 2 other aircraft below us shown on photo.

KIEL
NIght
9/10.4.45.
19,000′
Aircraft “K”
Our last Operation.
Bombed on Markers
Note 2 other aircraft below us shown on photo.

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 10. Operational History 2nd Tour

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945. L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member. picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945.
L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG) and Fred Woolerton, ground crew member.
picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

Operations with 75 (N.Z.) Squadron on Lancasters from Mepal
Date Target
Duration in hours
Total Bomb Load incl. (No.) of 4lb. incendiaries Remarks
28.10.44 Cologne
4.3 hours
8992 lbs
(1248)
We were one of the first over the target and I have a good photo of the target.  Visual bombing.
30.10.44
Day Ops
Wesseling
4.35 hours
12000
(incl. a 4000lb)
First time we bombed on G.H.
4.11.44
Days Ops
Solingen
4.35 hours
14000 lbs
(incl. a 4000lb)
Light amount of Flak
8.11.44
Day Ops
Hamberg
4.25 Hours
14000 lbs Heavy amount of Flak and, as the puffs of black linger in the sky, a bit daunting.
29.11.44
Night Ops
Neuss
4.15 houra
13000 lbs
(incl. a 4000lb)
Light Flak
2.12.44
Day Ops
Dortmund
4.3 hours
13000 lbs Plenty of Flak on the way in and over target.
5.12.44
Day Ops
Hamm
4.35 hours
12000 lbs
(incl. a 4000lb)
Fairly quiet raid.
11.12.44
Night Ops
Osterfeld
4.15 hours
11,850 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak.
16.12.44
Night Ops
Siegen
6.10 hours
11,750 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Quiet raid – little flak.
23.12.44.
Days Ops
Trier
4.5 hours
10,350lbs.
Incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak
27.12.44.
Day Ops
Rheydt
4.35 hours
10,000lbs We were one of the first over target and I have another good photo taken at the time.
6.1.45.
Night Ops
Neuss
4.35 hours
11,000 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Medium amount of Flak on way in and over target
11.1.45.
Day Ops
Krefeld
4.55 hours
11,000 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Nice and Easy
16.1.45
Night Ops
Wanne Eickel 10,850 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak
29.1.45.
Day Ops
Krefeld
6.00 hours
10,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
A very special Op as this was to be the 100th. That or aircraft ‘The Captains Fancy’ was to do.
2.2.45.
Night Ops
Wiesbaden
5.45 hours
9,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Little Flak.
16.2.45.
Day Ops
5.25 hours 9,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000lb.
Another very good photo in my possession.
22.2.45
Day Ops
Osterfeld
5.25 hours
11,250 lbs.
incl. our one and only 8,000lb.
A real shocker with a total of 37 holes. All engines were hit and one was feathered. However still a good photo for my collection. Skipper was awarded Bar to his DFC.
26.2.45.
Day Ops
Dortmund
5.40 hours
9,950 lbs
incl. 4,000lb.
Heavy Flak
5.3.45.
Day Ops
Gelsenkirchen
5.40 hours
11,250 lbs
incl. 4,000lb.
Another near one but this time only 14 holes
20.3.45.
Day Ops
Hamm
5.30 hours
10,250 lbs. Medium amount of Flak over target
9.4.45.
Night Ops
Kiel
5.45 hours
9,500 lbs.
incl. 4,000 lb.
So we ended our tour at the place where we nearly ended out lives in April 1943. This was on the town and not mine laying. Bombed on Path Finder Flares and I have a good photo showing the flare and 2 aircraft flying below.

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 9. Operational History 1st Tour

On 75 Sq. L to R, two ground crew, Navigators F/O Ormerod (Gisborne) then Bruce Hosie, Sixth from left is P/O Jack Bailey, Pilot of Waikato. Image supplied by Peter Wheeler.

Bailey crew 1943 1st Tour. L to R, two ground crew, Navigators F/O Ormerod (Gisborne) then Bruce Hosie, Jack Wall, and  Jack Bailey, Pilot of Waikato. Image supplied by Peter Wheeler.

Operations with 75 (N.Z.)  Squadron on Stirlings from Newmarket
Date Target

Duration in hours

Total Bomb Load incl. (No.) of 4lb. incendiaries Remarks
20.11.42 Night Ops Turin
8.00 hours
4320lbs
(1080)
This was the first operation carried out by the Squadron on Stirlings.  4 of us went out but only 2 of us reached the target. The other 2 returned early. Medium amount of Flak over the target.
6.12.48
Night Ops
Mannheim
6.45 hours
7820 lbs
(1080)
Hit by Flak through wing but missed the petrol tank.
9.12.42
Night Ops
Turin
8.30 Hours
4320 lbs
(1080)
More Flak and searchlights over target than on the 20.11.41.
8.1.43 Gardening
4.45 hours
11,400 lbs
Load was 6 mines each 1,900lb
Our 4th operation and nearly our last. We were laying mines in the Baltic and the aircraft was hit by Flak, rendering one engine and all flying instruments unserviceable.  The aircraft went into a very steep diving turn but I managed to jettison the mines quickly which helped the aircraft to become controllable.  How Jack Bailey managed to control the aircraft is almost beyond belief.

This operation is mentioned in the Citation for my DFC.

The aircraft still had a thick coating of ice the next morning.

23.1.43
Night Ops
Lorient
5 hours
7920 lbs
(1980)
Very good op and the aiming point was clearly seen.
3.2.43
Night Ops
Hamburg
3.3 hours
5160 lbs
(540)
Could not maintain height due to weather conditions. Bombed aerodrome in Holland
7.2.43
Night Ops
Lorient
5.3 hours
7920 lbs
(1980)
Heavy Flak and many searchlights on way in and over target.
14.2.43
Night Ops
Cologne
4.1 hours
9320 lbs
(1980)
Saw several fighters but was not attacked.
16.2.43
Night Ops
Lorient
5 hours
7920 lbs
(1980)
Another near one.  Was coned in 15 searchlights for 8 minutes and hit by Flak. Skipper threw the aircraft about as thought it was a fighter.  Pilot skill saved us.
18.2.43
Night Ops
Gardening
6.5 hours
7600 lbs
Load was 4 mines, each 1900 lbs
Nice easy one.
19.2.43
Night Ops
Wilhelmshaven
5.3 hours
 8160 lbs
(540)
Medium amount of Flak over the target.
25.2.43
Night Ops
Nuremberg
5.3 hours
8160 lbs
(540)
Couldn’t maintain height. Aircraft U/S and bombs were jettisoned.
26.2.43
Night Ops
Cologne
4.3 hours
9320 lbs
(1080)
We were to bomb on Path Finder Flares but had to circle target for 20 mins awaiting PFF.
28.2.43
Night Ops
St. Nazaire
5.3 hours
7920 lbs
(1080)
Very many fires in target area.
1.3.43
Night Ops
Berlin
8.3 hours
4500 lbs Attacked by ME110 but not hit.  Many fires in target area.
11.3.43
Night Ops
Stuttgart
6.5 hours
5940 lbs
(360)
Rear turret became U/S on way to target but Skipper decided to carry on.
12.3.43
Night Ops
Essen
3 hours
9320 lbs
(1080)
Rear turret U/S after take off.  Skipper decided not to complete operation. 2 nights with U/S turret pushing our chances.
22.3.43
Night Ops
St. Nazaire
4.15 hours
7920 lbs
(1980)
Heavy concentration of Flak and searchlights around target area
27.3.43
Night Ops
Berlin
7.5 hours
4500 lbs Hit by Flak over Hanover on way to target.
29.3.43
Night Ops
Berlin
8.05 hours
4500 lbs Fair amount of ice on aircraft on return but no problem.
4.4.43
Night Ops
Keil
6.1 hours
5160 lbs
(540)
Plenty of Flak on way in and over target.
8.4.43
Night Ops
Frankfurt
6 hours
5160 lbs
(540)
Fair amount of Flak. BK770 crashed at Bressingham on return – all crew killed.
10.4.43
Night Ops
Stuttgart
6.4 hours
5940 lbs
(360)
Plenty of Flak over target area.
16.4.43
Night Ops
Mannheim
6 hours
5160 lbs
(540)
Heavy Flak but no hits to aircraft as on 6.12.42.
20.4.43
Night Ops
Rostok
8.1 hours
4320 lbs
(1080)
Little Flak
28.4.43 Gardening
7.15 hours
7600 lbs
Load was 4 mines each 1900 lbs
Heavy Flak and many searchlights.
A disaster – the mines were to be dropped in Keil Bay at 800ft. 8 Aircraft from 75 Squadron set out and one returned early.  4 Aircraft failed to return – all 28 Crew were killed – only 3 of us completed the operation. Saw many Aircraft shot down without a chance of survival.   (One line of illegible typescript ends with word searchlights).
4.5.43
Night Ops
Dortmund
5.2 hours
9820 lbs
(1080)
Our last Operation for first tour which was uneventful apart from Flak.  Diverted to another airfield on return.

 

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 8. Battle Orders, 22.12.44 Trier – cancelled

Battle Orders 22 12 44

22.12.45. Operational Flying.
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Trier. Eighteen of these were cancelled and the 3 special equipment aircraft stood by but were also cancelled before take off owing to fog. The Squadron was not stood down, but were to be prepared for a take-off as soon as the weather improved.

Another fascinating Battle Order from Jack’s collection, this time the cancelled Op to Trier. With this document, the aircraft designator letters are visible, providing some useful information for Chris and Ian no doubt!  As with the previous Battle Order published yesterday, a fascinating note regarding the Butler crew under ‘WINDOW CREW’, being required to go to the Radar Section 30 mins before 1st briefing – clearly, the Zinzan crew must have had the same duty on the 16th on the Op to Seigen. I was not aware of this duty – part of me cannot believe that it was crew’s job to distribute the window canisters to the other crews, so I wonder if there was an aspect of briefing that this nominated crew performed to the crews involved on a particular raid??

Interestingly, the following nights raid to Trier, on the 23rd represents the almost exact same crew list – from a purely logistical and safety point of view, one must assume once the aircraft had been fuelled and ‘bombed up’, it was safer to use them, rather than change crews or aircraft – I have read the thoughts of the armourers regarding a protracted stand down and the inherent risks of debombing a number of aircraft……….

It would also appear that the Battle Orders are directly mirrored in the crew list order in Form 541 ‘Detail of Work Carried Out’ within the Squadron ORB’s. This in itself might give some clues as to the Flight identities of some of the aircraft in the database………

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 7. Battle Orders, 16.12.44 Siegen

BAttle Orders 16 12 1944

I am very excited about the presentation of this document, being only the second original Battle Order that I have seen relating to 75(NZ) Squadron. Tantalisingly, the designator letters for the ‘A’ and ‘B’ Flight aircraft are missing, however, looking at the layout of the sheet, I think it’s at least safe to assume that the groupings of the aircrew above the clearly identified ‘C’ Flight crews must identify them as ‘A’ and ‘B’ flight.

From a personal perspective, it’s exciting to see the Zinzan crew mentioned – for some reason, having to go to the Radar Station……..

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 6

40 years on – Growing older and older.
I took no interest in Air Force Associations until just before I retired and although I knew that there had been a 75 N.Z. Squadron Association in New Zealand I did not visualise one in the U.K. The Air Crew of the Squadron had been a mixture of N.Z., Canadians, Australians and U.K. personnel and the majority of the ground crews etc. were from the U.K. However the U.K. people came from all parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and this was the reason that I did not expect a Squadron Association to be formed.

However just before I retired an Office Manager (who knew I was in a N.Z. Squadron) contacted the N.Z. Embassy in London to ask if there was a N.Z. Squadron Association in this country. He did this without telling me and it was probably that some time previously I had mentioned other friends in Associations going on reunions. The Embassy gave him the name and address of the Secretary in Cornwall and the Association was my old Squadron No.75. In due course I received a letter from him and he advised that they had been going for about 10 years. I promptly joined and so made my first contact with people that I had been with over 40 years earlier. Since than I have joined the Air Crew Association and the R.A.F.A. and these associations have proven to be an added interest since I retired from active employment.

The link between 17th.December 1942, 28th April 1943 and 28th Ausust 1987
On the 17th December 1942 four out of five Stirling Bombers failed to return from a raid on the Opel works at Fallersleben — one of these being short Stirling BK620 and the Bomb Aimer was Eric Williams the author of ‘The Wooden Horse’ escape story. The plane had been damaged and after the other crew members had baled out the Pilot Sgt. Ken Durmall ditched the plane in Lake Westeinder, not far from Amsterdam. He was also taken prisoner so that all the crew escaped with their lives and ended up as P.O.W.s The Germans tried to get the aircraft to the shore but did not succeed and years later a Dutch Aircraft Recovery Group managed to get several parts ashore and these were placed in a museum. One part was an almost complete propeller and on the 28th August 1987 members of our Association were invited to Holland to attend an unveiling ceremony of the propeller that had been mounted as a memorial to 75 N.Z. Squadron as the Dutch had formed a special relationship with us due partly to the dropping of food and supplies by the Squadron. This was a wonderful experience and the people of Aalsmeer treated us to days to remember and they expressed their appreciation to the R.A.F. on many occasions. They did of course suffer greatly under the Germans and some said that the sound of our Aircraft gave them hope and they knew that they were not alone. There were still 5 members of the crew still alive and one attended the ceremony and I met the Pilot in Holland the following year when we received a further invite to a new museum of reclaimed parts – Eric Williams had died in 1984

Now we come to the link of these two dates with the 28th April 1943 which was the date that only 3 of us out of 7 returned from laying mines in Kiel Bay. While I was on the coach after the unveiling Stan Brooks came on and asked me what I had been up to as a Counsellor from the N.Z. Embassy in the Hague wanted to see me. He had arranged that we meet at the next stop which was a further reception in Aalsmeer. At this I met this Counselor and he produced a Battle Order that covered the Mine Laying Operation and asked if I was the Sgt.Wall listed as one of the crew that returned. He then told me that his Uncle Sgt. A.C. Howell was one of those that did not return from the operation and that all his family in N.Z. were told was that he failed to return on the night of the 28th. April. He had since traced the operation and obtained a copy of the Battle Order and asked if I could tell him anything about the raid and his Uncle. I advised him that I could not say much about his Uncle after all this time but that there would have been little chance of survival as we flew in at 600 feet or so and the A.A. Fire co-operating with searchlights was very intense and we saw several aircraft going in the sea without a hope.

However it so happened that on the day we took off, an official photographer took some photos and in my logbook that I had with me was one of our crew standing in front of our aircraft and another one showing all the N.Z. personal that were going on that operation that night. It was a large photo and all the faces were clear and although he was too young to have known his uncle  he recognised him from other photos that he had seen. It was a pity that no one thought of sending copies of this photo to the relatives of the ones that went missing that night . I cut the photo from my logbook and gave it to him and he had it copied and later returned my original to me. He said that the copy he had made to send tohis Father and Aunt (Brother and Sister of Sgt.Howell were even better than my copy. In November we attended our usual Squadron Association reunion at Mepal and while there went into Ely Cathedral to look for Sgt. Howell’s name in the R.A. Roll of Honour. The glass fronted case was opened for us and my wife took a very good photo of the entry which is in beautiful writing and we sent copies with other postcards of the Cathedral to the Counsellor – Jim Howell, who had by this time heard that he was being posted back home.

Since then we have been to the Runnymede Memorial and placed flowers in The Niche where Sgt.Howell’s name appears and taken photos and sent them on to Jim.

At the end of March 1990 Jan and I were going to the Squadron Reunion in New Zealand and Jim (who was now back there) heard that we were going and got in touch with our Navigator – Slim Ormerod – who was also back in New Zealand and asked him if he knew what we were doing after the Reunion Slim told him that we were staying with him for 5 nights then making our way up North to join the rest of our party at Auckland for our flight to Perth. He lived in the South part of North Island and Jim was only a few miles away.  Jim arranged to collect us and take us to his parents home in the Hawkes Bay area – his father being a brother of Sgt.Howell. On the way we visited some lovely spots and then spent the night with his parents Next day they took us on a sight seeing tour and we ended up at his Sister’s house in the Bay of Plenty. After all this we were ¾ of the way to Auckland and after 2 nights with them they organised a wonderful bus trip to Auckland were we met up with our other friends. We still hear from them at Christmas exchanging letters and Calendars and they always ask when we will be returning to stay with them.

At the Reunion in March 1990 I managed to recognise Slim who I had last seen in 1945 as he was Squadron Navigation Officer at Mepal when I returned with Jack Bailey to do my second tour. He was in the bar (where else would he be) and he still had the habit of letting his pint pot dangle on one finger after he had taken most of it down. I reminded him that exactly 47 years to the night we were 10,000 feet over Berlin in a Stirling.

A few years ago I was staying in Chateris for a November Re-union when I met Ernie Brook and during a chat with him he mentioned the Mine Laying disaster and when I told him that we were one of the lucky ones who got back he asked which aircraft we were in. When I told him it was “V” he reminded me that he was one of the team who serviced it that day. It is quite possible that he is one of the ground staff on my photo of the Aircraft that was taken just prior to take-off…………