Tag Archives: 115 Squadron

80 years ago today – the story begins……

New Wellingtons near completion at the Vickers Weybridge factory, NZ 302 second-closest to the camera.
”Flight”, July 6 1939 issue.

Many thanks to Chris for the following post that commemorates the 80th anniversary, of what is essentially the start of the 75(NZ) Squadron story……..

80 years ago (today), on the 4th of May 1939, New Zealand government representatives in England took ceremonial delivery of the first of thirty Wellington bombers ordered from Vickers-Armstrongs Limited and being built at their Weybridge factory. The government had made the purchase to establish a long range bomber capability – maritime reconnaissance & defence, potential air co-operation with Australia, and the ability to assist in the defence of Singapore.

Mark 1 Vickers Wellington Type 403 serial number NZ 300 was the first of these to come off the production line, and a photo of her dual-control cockpit has survived, probably taken at the time of the official hand-over.

Cockpit of Mark 1 Vickers Wellington, serial number NZ 300, the first Wellington built for the RNZAF.
From “The Aeroplane” archives, via the Aeroplane Illustrated publication, “Vickers Wellington – The Backbone of Bomber Command”, Key Publishing, 2013.

Detail: data plate of NZ 300, behind the right-hand (dual) control column: “Type 403, No. NZ 300. Built at Weybridge Works. Date April 1939 England”.
From “The Aeroplane” archives, via the Aeroplane Illustrated publication, “Vickers Wellington – The Backbone of Bomber Command”, Key Publishing, 2013.

RNZAF personnel were assembling at RAF Marham under the command of S/L Maurice William Buckley, MBE, RNZAF to train for the unprecedented long-distance ferry flights back to New Zealand, supplemented by a small group of RAF technicians with experience in servicing Wellingtons. Marham was home to two Wellington squadrons, 38 and 115 Sqdns, allowing sharing of facilities.

Squadron Leader Maurice William Buckley, MBE, RNZAF
From “Return At Dawn”, by Hilary Saunders.

The first NZ Wellington arrived at Marham on the 24th of May, flown in from Weybridge by S/L Buckley, P/O Arthur Rose-Price (a pilot on loan from 38 Squadron) and S/L Sid Wallingford (NZ Liaison Officer, and nominated to lead one of the ferry flights).

Curiously, the first Wellington received was NZ 301, and for some unknown reason, NZ 300 was never delivered to the squadron. A second Wellington, NZ 302, was flown in the following day.

“New Zealand’s Modern Bombers Undergo Trials”. New Zealand Squadron Wellington taking off at Weybridge.
Otago Daily Times, 12 June 1939.

The New Zealand Squadron, the entity which would train the groups of pilots, airmen and technicians selected to fly the bombers back to New Zealand, was officially formed on the 1st of June. Three more Wellingtons arrived that month. S/L Buckley was nominated to lead the “1st New Zealand Mobile Flight”, the first of five planned ferry flights of six aircraft each and due to leave on 1 October.

Only one Flight was ever formed. With the outbreak of war, the New Zealand Government decided that the men and five aircraft of the New Zealand Squadron would be “placed at the disposal” of the RAF, and eventually agreed that they would form the basis of a new squadron in the RAF.

Eleven months later, on the 4th of April 1940, 75 (Bomber) Squadron ceased to exist and it’s number plate was taken over by the New Zealand Squadron, to form 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF.

Barry Aldridge

Barry and Sue Aldridge, pictured with their book, ‘Memories of RAF Witchford’, in 2013.

It is with great sadness that I must pass on to all of you news from Kevin of the passing of Barry Aldridge.

Barry was 68 and died after long battle with dementia.

In 1995 Barry along with his wife Sue started the museum at Witchford, dedicated to 115 and 75 NZ Squadrons.

The artefacts and photographs on display  give a vivid history of the Squadrons. Barry’s dedication earned him awards and praise in equal measure. It had always been Barry’s ambition to write a history of RAF Witchford.

He started the project and was making good progress when his illness struck. His wife Sue, knew how much the project meant to him, and decided to complete it. This she archived in 2013 with the publication of ‘ Memories of RAF Witchford’. It sold so well that it had a second print run.

Barry leaves his wife Sue, daughters Amanda ,Tracey and grandchildren Zack and Chloe.

I am sure you will all join me in passing on the most heartfelt condolences to the family.

A final mystery solved – Roy Wells wedding photograph……

Joyce and Roy's reception outside No. 9 on 1st July, 1944

Group photograph taken on 1st July, 1944 at Joy and Roy’s reception outside No. 9. From left to right: W/O N.A.L. Wells (Medical Technician Branch (Uncle of all the Wells’ in the picture)), Stuart Edwin Mosely (Navigator – Galletly crew), Joyce Wells, Roy Wells (Air Bomber – Galletly crew), Allan Galletly (Pilot), Cyril Leslie Wells ATC (Roy’s younger brother). In foreground: Mureen Snook (neighbour’s daughter) & a young Michael Wells.

I heard from Mike last night regarding a little bit more information on the  photograph above, of his Uncle, Roy Wells, Air Bomber with the Galletly crew, who were lost on the night of 5th October 1944 on a raid to Saarbrucken. All the crew were lost when they collided with another Lancaster from 115 Squadron – the more ironic, given that despite the collision taking place over Wolsfeld, Kries Bitburg, north west of Trier, 115 Squadron were based at Witchford, some 3 miles from Mepal were 75(NZ) flew from.

Having recently moved, Mike was going through some things and found a letter sent from Joyce to Roy. Fascinatingly, within the letter, Joyce asked Roy how Alan, Stuart and the crew were. Mike’s postulation and I am inclined to agree, is that given Joyce mentions both Allan and Stuart by name, she must have known or met them. After posting details of Roy, I was contacted by Alan, whose uncle was Alan Galletly, Roy’s Skipper. Alan was able to answer one question as to the identity of the 2 unknown individuals in the picture above – identifying Alan as being the airman second from right in the picture. It would seem Mike has now managed to name the final mystery airman in the photograph – F/S Stuart Edwin Mosely, the Navigator in the Galletly crew.

Peter Eric Tuthill, Flight Engineer – Galletly crew

Peter Eric Tuthill cropped BW

Sgt. Peter Eric Tuthill, Flight Engineer with the Galletly crew
© Geoff Hurst

Many thanks to Geoff for passing on a picture of his Uncle, Peter Eric Tuthill, Flight Engineer with Alan Galletly’s crew.

Geoff was only one month old when he was killed. Peter was the ‘baby’ of the family and had three older brothers and three older sisters one of which was Geoff’s mother. Geoff says his mother said it was a terrible shock for the family as Peter never told anybody he was operational, presumably because he new they would worry. His loss was never spoken about and whenever a program about the war or a film such a Dam Busters was shown the television would be turned off or the channel changed.

All the crew were lost on the 5th October 1944 Op to Saarbrücken, when they collided with another Lancaster from 115 Squadron – all the more poignant , given that despite the collision taking place over Wolsfeld, Kries Bitburg, north west of Trier, 115 Squadron were based at Witchford, some 3 miles from Mepal were 75(NZ) flew from. Fascinatingly, this information is noted in pencil handwriting at the bottom of page 268 of the 1944 Operational Record Book.

The annotation also notes that the crew were initially buried in Wulsfield churchyard, before being moved to the British military cemetery at Rheinberg on the 25th November 1946.

This crew has featured in a number posts;
Read about Roy Wells, Air Bomber with the crew here
Read about Alan Galletly, Skipper of the crew here
Read about Alan at Roy’s wedding here

The first post, about Roy was when I first started the blog and since then I have tried to standardise a crew post with a crew list and Op history, so to keep thinks honest, here is the Op history for the Galletly crew.

29.8.44 Administration
Galletly crew arrive at Mepal from No.31 Base

5.9.44. War Ops –  Attack Against Le Havre
Lancaster Mk.III ND904 Mk.III AA-B
F/S Alan Russell Galletly. Pilot
F/S S. Stuart Edwin. Navigator
Sgt. Roy Albert Wells. Air Bomber
Sgt. Reginald Samuel Hond. Wireless Operator
Sgt. Peter Eric Tuthill. Flight Engineer
Sgt. Arthur Kitchener Sutton. Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. John Peter Cooke. Rear Gunner

6.9.44. War Ops – Attack Against Harquebec  near le Havre
Lancaster Mk.I HK595
Same crew

8.9.44. War Ops – Attack against Doudeneville
Lancaster Mk.I HK576 AA-G
Same crew

14.9.44. War Ops – Attack Against Wassenar
Lancaster Mk.I LM266 Mk I  AA-A ‘The Seven Sinners’
Same crew

17.9.44. War Ops – Attack Against Boulogne
Lancaster Mk.I LM266 Mk I  AA-A ‘The Seven Sinners’
Same crew

20.9.44. War Ops – Attack Against Calais
Lancaster Mk.I PB421 AA-K
Same crew

23.9.44. War Ops – Attack Against Neuss
Lancaster Mk.III ND904 Mk.III AA-B
Same crew

26.9.44. War Ops – Attack Against Cap Gris Nez
Lancaster Mk.I PB418 AA-C
Same crew

5.10.44. War Ops – Attack Against Saarbrücken (31 a/c took part in raid – a record for the time).
Lancaster Mk.III ND904 Mk.III AA-B
Same crew

Lancaster Mk III ND904 failed to return.
P/O Alan Russell Galletly RNZAF (NZ427481) Pilot.
Died age 33.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery,
F/Sgt Stuart Edwin Mosely RNZAF (NZ426106) Navigator.
Died age 29.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.
Sgt Roy Albert Wells RAFVR (1802473) Air Bomber.
Died age 21.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.
Sgt Reginald Samuel Hond RAFVR Wireless Operator.
Died age 23.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.
Sgt Peter Eric Tuthill, RAFVR (2211929) Flight Engineer.
Died age 21.
Buried Rheinberg Cemetery Germany.
Sgt Arthur Kitchener Sutton, RAFVR (1816276) Mid Upper Gunner.
Died age 29.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.
Sgt John Peter Cooke RAFVR (1816385) Rear Gunner.
Died age 22.
Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.

Alan Galletly – Pilot

Pilot A. Galletly cropped & contrast

P/O Alan Russell Galletly RNZAF (NZ427481) Pilot.
© Alan Galletly

Many thanks to Alan, nephew of Alan Galletly for contacting me and supplying this wonderful picture of his uncle.

Alan’s son Ben was the first of the Galletly family to visit Alan’s grave . He was teaching in England at the time and made the trip over for Alan. Since then a cousin has also visited. Alan’s father died 30 years ago  not knowing where his brother was buried which was sad but he didn’t have the advantage of the computer. Alan had a brother in the N.Z Army who was captured on Crete and spent the rest of the war as a POW .

Alan would love to see a crew photo of the boys – if one exists. So as always, if you have or know of one, please contact me………

All the crew were lost when they collided with another Lancaster from 115 Squadron – the more ironic, given that despite the collision taking place over Wolsfeld, Kries Bitburg, north west of Trier, 115 Squadron were based at Witchford, some 3 miles from Mepal were 75(NZ) flew from. Fascinatingly, this information is noted in pencil handwriting at the bottom of page 268 of the 1944 Operational Record Book.

The annotation also notes that the crew were initially buried in Wulsfield churchyard, before being moved to the British military cemetery at Rheinberg on the 25th November 1946.

P/O Alan Russell Galletly RNZAF (NZ427481) Pilot. Died Thursday 5th October 1944, age 33. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery,

F/Sgt Stuart Edwin Mosely RNZAF (NZ426106) Navigator. Died Thursday 5th October 1944, age 29. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt Roy Albert Wells RAFVR (1802473) Air Bomber. Died Thursday 5th October 1944, age 21. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt Reginald Samuel Hond RAFVR Wireless Operator. Died Thursday 5th October 1944, age 23. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt Peter Eric Tuthill, RAFVR (2211929) Flight Engineer. Died Thursday 5th October 1944, age 21. Buried Rheinberg Cemetery Germany.

Sgt Arthur Kitchener Sutton, RAFVR (1816276) Mid Upper Gunner. Died Thursday 5 October 1944. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery Germany.

Sgt John Peter Cooke RAFVR (1816385) Rear Gunner. Died Thursday 5th October 1944, age 22. Buried Rheinberg

In a strange twist of fate, I have  discovered in ‘Lancaster – The Definitive History‘ by Harry Holmes and also ‘3 Group Bomber Command – an operational record‘ by Chris Ward and Steve Smith, that the 75(NZ) Lancaster ND904 actually came to the squadron FROM 115 Squadron – it’s designator code whilst with 115 was KO-M – the same designator letter that PD344 was flying under that day…….

The collision of ND904 AA-B and PD344 KO-M – an update and another really strange coincidence……

A couple of weeks ago, I received information from Mike on his brother-in-law Sgt. Roy Wells and his loss, with the rest of his crew when their a/c, ND904 (AA-B) collided with a Lancaster from 115 Squadron, PD344 (KO-M), also with the loss of its whole crew. Many thanks to Lynn from the Bombercrew forum for passing on additional information about PD344 and its crew, particularly  Flight Sergeant Ross Cuthbert (A/B).

PD344 took off at 17.15 for operations to Saarbrucken, crew on board were;
F/Sgt K.M. Henderson, Pilot.
F/Sgt M.W. Blockley, Nav.
F/Sgt R.W. Cuthbert, RNZAF, A/B.
F/Sgt F.S.B. Scougall, RAAF, W/Op.
Sgt A. Horridge, F/E.
Sgt A.W. Blake, M/U.
Sgt A. Coe, R/G.

This was only the crew’s 5th operation.

The boy’s from 75(NZ) and 115 were finally laid to rest in the British military cemetery at Rheinberg in 1946 in plots 3G J-P and Plot 8G J-P respectively.

In a strange twist of fate, I have just discovered in ‘Lancaster – The Definitive History‘ by Harry Holmes and also ‘3 Group Bomber Command – an operational record‘ by Chris Ward and Steve Smith, that the 75(NZ) Lancaster ND904 actually came to the squadron FROM 115 Squadron – it’s designator code whilst with 115 was KO-M………..

Roy Wells RAFVR

I received an email last night from a Mike Wells who I have met both times I have attended the reunions for 75(NZ) Squadron. We also spent the day together at the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial this summer. Here, Mike started telling me about his sister’s husband Roy, who was lost on the night of 5th October 1944 on a raid to Saarbrucken. The crew that night were; F/S Alan Russell Galletly,Pilot, age 33. F/S Stuart Edwin Mosley, Navigator, age 29. Sgt. Roy Albert Wells, Air Bomber, age 21. Sgt. Reginald Samuel Hond, Wireless Operator, age 23. Sgt. Peter Eric Tuthill, Flight Engineer, age 21. Sgt. Arthur Kitchener Sutton, Mid Upper Gunner. Sgt. John Peter Cooke, Rear Gunner, age 22.

Roy and Joyce Wells on their wedding day at Egham church, 1st July 1944

All the crew were lost when they collided with another Lancaster from 115 Squadron – the more ironic, given that despite the collision taking place over Wolsfeld, Kries Bitburg, north west of Trier, 115 Squadron were based at Witchford, some 3 miles from Mepal were 75(NZ) flew from. Fascinatingly, this information is noted in pencil handwriting at the bottom of page 268 of the 1944 Operational Record Book.

The annotation also notes that the crew were initially buried in Wulsfield churchyard, before being moved to the British military cemetery at Rheinberg on the 25th November 1946.

I’ll put out a few feelers on the forums and see if I can find anything about the crew from 115 Squadron…….