Tag Archives: 1939

Another milestone – 600,000 views!

Just to let everybody that we have just passed the latest big viewing milestone – 600,000 views!

Almost 13 months to the day since we passed the half a million mark, you, the blog audience have added another 100,000 views to our tally and with it we get another small step closer to the magic figure of 1 million views. I think the passing of this new milestone, in the time it has happened is all the more remarkable given my silence regarding posts for essentially 1/4 of the year owing to the self inflicted loss of my laptop!

I have received questions over the years regarding what has been claimed to be my unnecessary emphasis on statistics and particularly the total viewing figures. In the past, I have tried to explain, but now I simply refute these queries. Put simply, this website has become, the largest single resource for 75(NZ) Squadron RAF in the world. It has achieved this by having the most comprehensive collection of records, information and images on the Squadron, which is freely accessible to all. This complete open door policy regarding information is vindicated by the volume of visitors and views that are recorded.

Frustratingly I am picking my way through the busiest part of my professional year – assessment, the awarding of Degrees, the preparation for our annual London show and planning for next academic year means that I am waiting for a clear gap in the next few months to present new material that has come to me over the last 6 months or so – all of you have have contacted me, please be patient – it will all be presented as soon as I can!.

Without sounding like a broken record – please can everybody share the site – so many relatives of the boys who flew with the Squadron have made contact over the years, that it makes me think that there are still many more that have yet to find the site. Please, share the site address, on social media, through the facebook groups you are members of – we need to find these people and we need to encourage them to share what they have or might know.

Also, please, please, please apply for your relatives service records! I cannot overstate the value and importance of the contents of these records to me and the site. Many dates and locations, because of the points of formation of a crew and their subsequent training means that details supplied for one person means that the same details of movement and training can be added to up 6 other individuals. As soon as I can, I will make a downloadable template available to hopefully streamline the transfer of personal details etc that I need for the database.

Here’s to the next 100,000 views!

Ake Ake Kia Kaha!

Chapter 1 – The New Zealand Squadron, June-August 1939

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Members of the New Zealand Squadron’s 1st Mobile Flight, August 1939. Note serial number marked under aircraft wing – NZ30*?
Copyright Air Force Museum of New Zealand.

Thanks as always to Chris, for an excellent analysis of documents, gathered on his recent trip to Archives New Zealand. The outcome is a fascinating presentation of documents that tell the story of the planning, formation and administration of the proposed acquisition of 30 Wellington Bombers by the New Zealand Government. With the outbreak of War, these plans suddenly changed and the ‘New Zealand Flight’ would be offered to the British Government in support of the War effort.

Some confusion has surrounded the name of the unit, often referred to down the years as the New Zealand Flight.

The official parent unit was the New Zealand Squadron, and it was set up to oversee the formation and training of a series of ferry flights, originally referred to as Mobile Flights. With the intervention of war, only one of these was ever formed up, variously referred to as the “1st New Zealand Mobile Flight”, “No. 1 (N.Z.) Flight”, “1st Flight”, “1st Wellington Flight”, and more commonly as time went by, “the New Zealand Flight”.

The outbreak of war, and subsequent discussions on what to do with the unit may have changed the way officialdom viewed such a small, sub-operational entity. As New Zealand Liaison Officer to the Air Ministry S/L Sid Wallingford said in January 1940, “the New Zealand Squadron which existed at Marham prior to the outbreak of hostilities cannot be considered a squadron as defined in the R.A.F.” He goes on to say “the unit which is now termed the New Zealand Flight has continued to train with these aircraft at Harwell”. Perhaps it made more sense to refer to a Flight when distinguishing between the original unit and the anticipated expansion into an operational squadron, but whatever the reason, the term “Flight” is used frequently in high-level communications through this period, right up to the levels of the Air Ministry, the Chief of Air Staff, and NZ’s Prime Minister Peter Fraser.

Buckley himself used the term “Flight” in a letter written on 29 May 1940, to mark the establishment of “B” Flight, No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron. It was titled “Formation of No 75 (NZ) Squadron from the New Zealand Flight”:

“Today, 29 May 1940, the New Zealand Flight is officially changed from a Flight to a fully established Squadron and I wish to place on record the merits of the original NCO’s and airmen who formed the New Zealand Flight at Marham almost a year ago on 1st June 1939.”

However Buckley consistently signed himself off as “OC The New Zealand Squadron” right through to March 1940, so it seems clear that the name of the parent unit did not change.

 

Many different histories  already exist on this site and it is unfortunate that perhaps, they cannot for the sake of scale and readability, ever actually be bought together into a single record.

With the benefit of the material gathered so far, it is possible that we are beginning to now write the definitive history of the Squadron.

To this end, the history of the Squadron will be built around official RAF And RNZAF documents and focus on the operational aspects of an RAF front line bomber Squadron during the period of the Second World War.

Whilst the focus of the Squadron will be in its guise of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, the situations and necessities for this entity to exist need to be explained and thus, the history will start before its creation.

Given the focus of this site, the history will end with the disbandment of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF at RAF Spilsby on the 15th of October 1945.

Whilst continuing after the Second World War as an RNZAF Squadron, it’s history from this point on, is for others to write………

Read Chris’ excellent first chapter here.

75 Squadron RAF – Operational Record Books, 1916 – 1939

Squadron hand over document inverted

A massive thanks to Brian for a completely single handed (and self initiated) transcription of the entire Operational Records of 75 Squadron RAF, prior to it’s absorption into No. 15 OTU at Feltwell and the simultaneous awarding of the number plate to 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF

No.75 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Goldington (Bedford) on 1st October 1916, as a Home Defence unit. Its first equipment consisted of the usual collection of single- and two-seat BE types, but it later received Avros and then Sopwith Camels.

Disbanded in Essex in 1919, the squadron was re-formed in 1937 as a heavy bomber squadron but in March 1939, became a Group pool squadron or, in other words, assumed the role of what was later known as an operational training unit. Soon after the outbreak of war the squadron was posted to No.6 (Training) Group and on 4th April 1940, its number plate, with the letters “NZ” added, was transferred to a Royal New Zealand Air Force heavy bomber flight which was based at Feltwell, Norfolk, a station in No. 3 Group.

View No. 75 (H.D.) Squadron 1916 – 1919 here.
View No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF – 1937 here.
View No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF – 1938 here.
View No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF – 1939 here.

This new set of ORB’s has been placed as a jump off at the top of the 75(NZ) Squadron RAF Records menu under ‘No. 75 (H.D.) Squadron, No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF ORB’s

Richard Melville Curtis RAF 42200 – Pilot. 1939. Uniforms

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Many thanks indeed to Kerry for passing on these images of his collection of dress and flying uniforms of Richard Melville Curtis. Kerry was kind enough to pass on a copy of Richard’s logbook a month ago and you can see it here. This  represents an astonishingly diverse and well preserved collection of period clothing. the full set of images can be seen here, in the ‘collections’ section.

Richard Melville Curtis RAF 42200 – Pilot. 1939

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Many thanks to Kerry for donating the logbook of Richard Melville Curtis to the blog, from his collection. By Kerry’s own observation, this represents the earliest logbook in the collection for the Squadron. There is also a connection from a previous post about Leonard Gould and his Pilot Frederick John ‘Popeye’ Lucas – Richard flew as 2nd Pilot with their crew before taking his  own crew into combat.

Richard was a Pilot with 75(NZ) between 9th December 1939 and 10th October 1940. The citation for his D.F.C., which was awarded on the 11th February 1941 reads as follows;

“Flying Officer Curtis has been continuously employed on operational work since May 1940, during which time he has completed 34 major operations over enemy and enemy occupied territory. On one occasion he was captain of an aircraft detailed to bomb shipping in Ostende harbour and to cooperate with certain naval forces operating off the port. Although weather conditions were extremely difficult, Flying Officer Curtis performed the allotted task with complete success and received congratulations and thanks from the Admiralty the next day.”

Fascinatingly, the event described in the citation is also recorded in the logbook, with a copy of the note of thanks sent to the Squadron from the Admiralty.

Read through Richard’s logbook here.