Tag Archives: 1944

ANZAC Day 2016

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Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives.
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons from far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land they have
Become our sons as well.

In the spirit of ANZAC day and the opportunity it provides for us to remember the fallen, I wish to announce a significant addition to the blogsite.

What now must be about three and a half years ago I began to slowly transcribe the contents of the Form 541 ‘Details of work carried out‘. Broadly speaking, for those of you that are not familiar with the physical contents of the Squadron Operational Record Books, that I often mention, FORM 541 lists all aircraft and crews that took part in all Ops throughout the period of the War.

The transcription from these forms to a database has been good and bad. It has been very useful and efficient regarding individual queries about crew, but it has also been, at times, a right royal pain in the arse……….

Now that I try to remember the various ‘stages’ of completion I outlined over the last 3 years, I can now, to be honest, not recall a single one.

Suffice to say, in broad strokes, it is now done.

We now have, online, for all to look through and perhaps add to, an Operational history for every crew that flew Ops between 1940 and 1945. By extrapolation, we also therefore have a record of every Op that every individual undertook throughout the same period.

Each year can be viewed through each of the following respective links:

Crews starting 1940.
Crews starting 1941.
Crews starting 1942.
Crews starting 1943.
Crews starting 1944.
Crews starting 1945.

By Navigation each year can alternatively be accessed from the top menu under ’75(NZ) Squadron RAF’ and then from that drop menu under ’75(NZ) Squadron RAF Crews’

No such collection exists anywhere else on the web for 75(NZ) Squadron RAF and to the best of my knowledge, I think, it may be unique as a ‘fixed’ collection, as opposed to a dynamic search and return data based approach for any Squadron from the War.

The ordering and layout may undergo some subtle changes as we move forward, but I have applied the following approach.

Each crew is placed, relative to their first Operational sortie. This is important to note because there may be situations when a Pilot begun flying as a ‘2nd Dickie’ in one year, but began flying with ‘his’ crew in another.

Because each history exists on its own page, a rule and structure had to be decided on and in keeping with  protocols within the documents these histories were built from, this is the Pilot.

I appreciate if an individual possibly flew with a number of crews, this might make the tracing of their history a little circuitous, but if it proves that problematic, I am happy on contact to generate a ‘custom’ individual history directly from the database.

The creation of these pages means broadly 2 things:
1. Visitors can search and access crew histories.
2. Information can be added to these pages as it is donated.

The blog will obviously continue as the main method of communication information, but I have become aware as information has increased, that a blog post becomes quite unwieldy regarding a long and detailed Op history.

In the future, a new post about a crew, or individual,  will contain perhaps one or two images and a broad outline of the crew, but a link will be placed to take an interested reader to that crew’s Op history page.

In this way, relatives will have a single static location to visit regarding information on their loved ones.

Perhaps in the spirit of today’s remembrance, I would also note that even though we may never receive new information on a particular crew, their bravery and participation now exists as a permanent record for all to find and read – none of those brave boys will be forgotten……..

This project continues and is certainly not (if it ever will be) complete. There is more information to gather from official documents, more (I am sure) contacts to be made with relatives and the process of adding to each page what currently exists in the 600+ posts the blog already contains. As a matter of relative priority the next project is to ensure loss and burial details are added to all pages where a crew, or crew member was lost.

I am sure there are buried within the many pages, mistakes and errors – I would simply ask, that in the same spirit that I have taken regarding making my last three and a half years efforts accessible to all, others who might have information and corrections, share them to refine and improve the database – if knowledge is not shared – it has no value.

I must also, belatedly, thank you all for your continuing support and the passing of the amazing milestone of 300,000 views – daily traffic, despite my relative silence over the last few months means a great deal to me and I know i have to get back to my email and respond to what is a sizable list of contacts – I will get to you all !

Looking back, I have to be honest and say it’s been a day to day struggle to deal with things over the last few months, but despite this, the blog keeps on being visited and people keep reaching out – and its this that keeps me going – thanks to you all.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

 

Ake AKe Kia Kaha

New logbooks……..

In some cases, a very belated thank you to everyone who over the last 12 months or so have passed on logbooks. I have finally loaded up ten to the logbook section, though I am aware there are some more still to process and add, which will happen as soon as I can manage to do it.

Ten extra books to the collection is a significant addition and now brings this online collection to a total of 45 logbooks, with examples representing Operational careers in all years of the War. In itself, this must represent one of the largest online collections of this kind, for a  Bomber Command Squadron.

This new collection in itself represents a spread of trades and periods and in itself, again spreads across all years of the War.

The log books and their owners are as follows, listed chronologically:

Frank Albert Andrews, Pilot – 1940-1941 & 1943
A highly detailed logbook describing Franks entire flying career, through training and 2 tours with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. Frank Andrews returned to the Squadron for his second tour as Squadron Leader.
Read Frank’s logbook here.

Eric Reginald Jones, Pilot – September 1941 to February 1942
Flying 9 Ops with the Squadron, Eric’s logbook is interesting as it shows  omissions regarding a number of Ops in the Official Form 540 for the Squadron.
Read Eric’s logbook here.

Verdun Cecil ‘Mick’ Strickland, Front Gunner – June 1941 to March 1942 (Francis Fox, Hone Roberts, John Sandys & Reginald Sawrey-Cookson)
Mick joined 75(NZ) Squadron in June 1941 flying with Sgt Francis Fox and Hone Roberts. After a refresher course at No. 3 G.T.F. he returned to Hone Robert’s crew. On the 12th of August 1941, after being attacked by an ME110, the crew baled out leaving P/O Roberts at the controls – eventually successfully landing the damaged aircraft. Mick then crewed with John Sandys , flying occasional Ops with Reginald Sawrey-Cookson’s crew. At the end of March 1942, Mick transferred ro No.11 O.T.U at Bassingbourne.
Read Mick’s logbook here.

Hector Alistair Stewart, Navigator – April to July 1943 (Alfred Thomas crew)
Flying out of Newmarket and then Mepal, the Thomas crew were lost on the 31st of July 1943 while attacking Remscheid. Only Hector and the crew’s Wireless Operator survived.
Read Alistair’s logbook here.

Douglas Hugh Trigg, Rear Gunner – May to September 1944  (John Perfrement crew)
30 Ops with John Perfrement, including the infamous July 21st Op to Homberg, when the Squadron lost 5 aircraft. The crew also flew on the 6th of June in support of the D-Day landings.
Read Douglas’s logbook here.

Reginald Charles Weeden, Navigator – August to December 1944 (Terry Ford crew)
Arriving with the Squadron on the 27th of August 1944, Reg completed 34 Ops with the Ford crew, including 2 to the infamous target of Homberg. Despite completing his Operational Tour, he stayed with the Squadron, instructing in Navigation, completing training flights, right up to the Squadrons disbandment after its move to Spilsby after the end of hostilities in Europe.
Read Reginalds’s logbook here.

Laurence Percy Bergman, Wireless Operator – September 1944 to December 1944 (Charlie Spain crew)
Completing a total of 29 Ops, through the second half of 1944, Laurence Bergman’s logbook contains detailed Op notes which are of great interest.
Read Laurence’s logbook here.

John Lawrence Beard, Mid Upper Gunner – December 1944 to March 1945  (Eric Parsons crew)
Flying on their final Op of 30, the Parsons crew were hit by heavy flak whilst over target at Heinrich-Hutte. Their Lancaster, PB741 AA-E suffered catastrophic damage to the port side engines, the wing being seen to break off as the aircraft disappeared under the clouds. John Lawrence Beard was aged 19.
Read John’s logbook here.

Sidney George Frederick Sizeland, Rear Gunner – January to July 1945 (Wallace Bassett, Laurence Mckenna crew).
Having flown 2 Ops with 149 and 4 Ops with 218 Squadron, Sid flew 4 Ops with Wallace Bassett, before flying the rest of his tour with Laurence McKenna, being involved in main War Ops, Gardening, Operation Manna, Prisoner Repatriation and Baedecker.
Read Sidney’s logbook here.

Fred Charles Entwistle Potter, Wireless Operator – 1945 (Don Culling crew)
Whilst short in duration, the latest logbook currently held, detailing sorties flown after the Squadron had moved to Spilsby as part of Tiger Force.
Read Fred’s’s logbook here.

Thomas Fredrick Duck display dedication service, MoTaT, Auckland, 2 February 2016

Thanks again to Chris for this post………

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The Thomas Fredrick Duck crew families and friends at the dedication service, MoTaT Aviation Hall, 2 February 2016 (NZ Bomber Command Association).

A wonderful gathering took place at Auckland’s Museum of Transport & Technology (MoTaT) on the 2nd of February, a meeting born out of friendships first made over 70 years ago.

A special dedication service was held for the “Thomas Fredrick Duck” display, put together by MoTaT and the NZ Bomber Command Association, and recently opened in MoTaT’s Aviation Hall. The display commemorates the crew of the famous 156 Path Finder Squadron Lancaster, JA909, GT-T, Thomas Fredrick Duck, as featured in Alan Mitchell’s book, “New Zealanders in the Air War”.

You can read the Thomas Fredrick Duck story here. https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/new-zealanders-in-the-air-war-john-leonard-wright-the-crew-of-thomas-frederick-duck/

There is a very strong 75 (NZ) Squadron connection. All six New Zealanders in Jack Wright’s crew at 156 PFF Squadron had crewed together or got to know each other on their previous tour of op’s with 75, along with a seventh individual, Jack’s original Rear Gunner, Bruce Neal.

Members of the families of five of the TFD crew were represented at the service, plus the family of Bruce Neal, who would also have been part of the legend if tragedy had not intervened.

At 75 (NZ) Squadron, Feltwell, Pilot Jack Wright, Navigator Charles Kelly, W/Op Nick Carter and gunners Podge Reynolds and Bruce Neal, had flown Wellington BJ772, AA-D “Donald”, which proudly carried  nose art depicting an aviator-attired Donald Duck sitting in a half-shell. Navigator Alf Drew had flown with Neville Hockaday’s crew in BJ837, AA-F “Freddie”.

“Donald” and “Freddie” were in adjacent dispersals, so the two crews had got to know each other well. At the same time, Rear Gunner Ken Crankshaw had been flying as a “spare part” gunner with a variety of crews, including Squadron Leaders Frank Denton, Ray Newton, and Artie Ashworth. He ended up his tour flying with Frankie Curr and his crew.

After completing their tour, most of the “Donald” crew were posted to 30 OTU as instructors for six months, before being posted to 156 Path Finders Squadron at Warboys.

Tragically, Bruce was killed while instructing at a Bombing & Gunnery School, and never got the chance to re-join his mates at 156 PFF Sqdn.

Path Finder Lancaster crews needed two Navigators, so their mate Alf Drew was recruited to join them. Crankshaw was already at 156 when they arrived, so he joined the crew as Rear Gunner, along with an English Flight Engineer, Harry Hammond.

Legend has it that the boys had brought the original Donald Duck nose art with them, on a piece of Wellington canvas, but in fact their old “Donald” had been burnt out when a Boston bomber crash landed at Mildenhall, just before they were posted out. Apparently copies of the nose art were made at 156, and after the “Donald” and “Freddy” veterans had been allocated Lancaster GT-T for “Tommy”, “Duck” was applied to their new aircraft, along with the compromise name, “Thomas Fredrick Duck”.

After the TFD crew had safely completed their tour at 156, the nose art was removed from their Lancaster and kept by Nick Carter, and a second copy was kept by Jack Wright.

Many years after the war, the original art was donated by Nick to the Air Force Museum at Wigram, and the second copy was donated by the Wright family to MoTaT. The latter has become the centre piece of the new display.

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Thomas Fredrick Duck copy artwork produced on canvas at 156 PFF Sqdn, 1943, signed on the back by a member of TFD’s ground crew, LAC Maund (NZ Bomber Command Assn).

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A representative of each Thomas Fredrick Duck crew member family, in front of the display – L-R: Alf Drew’s son, RNZAF Chaplain S/L Stuart Hight, Charles Kelly’s son Steve, Jack Wright’s daughter Lesley, Ron Mayhill (NZBCA President), Nick Carter’s widow, Ken Crankshaw’s grandson Clayton (NZ Bomber Command Assn).

There was an impressive turn-out of around 50 people. Sadly, none of the crew survives, the last, Nick Carter, passing away last year. However it was very special that his widow was able to attend.

RNZAF Chaplain S/L Stuart Hight led the service, and NZBCA President Ron Mayhill DFC, Legion of Honour, Peter Wheeler and Chris Newey each spoke about aspects of the crew and the significance of the display in helping us to remember the contributions of the airmen of Bomber Command.

It was an uplifting and at times very emotional occasion to have all six families together, 70 years later, to pay our respects to these brave men, for individuals to be able to speak to the gathering, read items from diaries, logbooks and memoirs, recount favourite anecdotes, and then meet and chat afterwards. The respect and affection felt towards their skipper and crewmates was a strong common theme in the stories that have been handed down, and it must have been deeply satisfying for descendants to hear these shared again after so many years.

One very exciting thing that emerged from the gathering was the realisation that the families collectively hold a large amount of previously unknown material, so the full story of the Thomas Fredrick Duck boys is yet to be told.

It was just a shame that no-one from the family of Raymond “Podge” Reynolds could be located in time for the occasion. Raymond passed away in 1991 and is buried at Otaki – the NZBCA would very much like to hear from anyone who can help put them in contact with relatives.

– Thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for these photos.

 

1982 75 NZ. Squadron Association Commemorative Cover

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Browsing through the tempting pages of eBay – as you do – I came across this nice little commemorative cover that was created to record the 1982 75 NZ. Squadron Association, UK Branch reunion.

I have never come across one of these before – perhaps simply as I have not been looking in the right place. But having found it, I see that there are several more available through various sellers. I have taken the liberty of digitally removing the name and address of the recipient of this particular cover, suffice to say it was addressed to a ‘Miss L. Hendry’ in Brighton.

I am not sure if Miss Hendry is related to Digger Hendry, Wynn Russell’s Air Bomber – but if anybody knows her identity, or relationship to the Squadron, I would obviously be fascinated to find out.

The nice touch, obviously is the signature by Cyrus Kay, C/O of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. You can read about W/C Cyril Kay here.

The story of the Jimmy Ward’s heroic actions that resulted in W/C Kay commendation for the Victoria Cross can be read here, a short interview with Sgt. Ward can be seen here and pictures of the aircraft involved can be seen here.

Apart from this, I must confess I don’t know much more about the 1982 reunion, so would welcome any comments on this post regarding details, attendees etc.

William Caster, Mid Upper Gunner – Gray crew 1944

I have received the sad news that Bill Caster, Mid Upper Gunner with Alex Gray’s crew has passed away.

Bill and the boys arrived at Mepal on the 9th of March 1944 and over the following 6 months completed a total of 33 Ops, in both Stirling and Lancasters. The Grey crew undertook Mining operations during the swansong of the Stirling with the Squadron before converting to Lancasters and then participation in Ops in support of the allied invasion of Europe, before moving back to main War Ops, including the infamous 20th of July, Homberg Op where the Squadron lost 7 aircraft.

As a tribute to Bill and his crew, their Op history is listed below:

21/03/1944 – Mining off Cherbourg
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines off Cherbourg, but one was unsuccessful owing to the failure of navigational aids.

Stirling Mk.III EF233

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S J. Coucher, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:35 – Landed 22:00
Flight Time 02:25

22/03/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Six aircraft were detailed to lay mines in Kiel Bay. Only four took off, but they completed their sorties successfully.

Stirling Mk.III EF233

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S J. Coucher, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:20 – Landed 00:20
Flight Time 06:00

30/03/1944 – Mining of the coast of Holland
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines off the coast of Denmark and two off Le Havre. All were successful in clear weather and the trips were uneventful.

Stirling Mk.III EF207

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt G. Tedman, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:20 – Landed 04:50
Flight Time 02:30

18/04/1944 – Attack Against Rouen
Ten Lancasters were also detailed to bomb the marshalling yards at Rouen, one was withdrawn, but the remaining nine attacked in clear weather with ground haze.

Lancaster Mk.III ND802 JN-D “The Flying Scotsman’

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:55 – Landed 03:25
Flight Time 04:30

24/04/1944 – Attack Against Karlsruhe
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack Karlsruhe. One was withdrawn but the remainder carried out a successful attack with little opposition.

Lancaster Mk.III ND908 JN-M

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 05:50

26/04/1944 – Attack Against Essen
Fifteen aircraft (Lancasters) were detailed to attack Essen. Two were withdrawn, but the remaining thirteen took part in a successful and very concentrated attack. The defences were considered to be moderate and all the aircraft returned safely.

Lancaster Mk.I R5692 JN-P

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 04:25

01/05/1944 – Attack Against Chambly
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Chambly. Fifteen of these successfully attacked in clear weather, bombing being accurate. Two brief encounters with enemy aircraft took place and resulted in one being possibly damaged. One of our aircraft (Captain NZ41362 F/L. A/S/L. E.W. Sachtler) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III ND768 AA-F “Freddie”

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 03:30

07/05/1944 – Attack Against Chateau Bolgon Aerodrome
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack Chateau Bougon aerodrome near Nantes. All aircraft successfully attacked in clear weather and bombing was concentrated.

Lancaster Mk.III ND908 JN-M

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:25 – Landed 05:50
Flight Time 05:25

10/05/1944 – Attack Against Courtrai
Twenty three aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Courtrai. A concentrated attack was made with very slight opposition. One aircraft (Captain NZ413043 A/S/L. L. Drummond) was hit by A.A. Fire on the return journey and the Captain received slight injuries.

Lancaster Mk.I R5692 JN-P

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:13 – Landed 00:50
Flight Time 02:37

11/05/1944 – Attack Against Louvain
Twenty-four aircraft, representing the largest number of Lancaster aircraft so far detailed by this Squadron, were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Louvain. Twenty-three aircraft successfully attacked in good weather. One aircraft (Captain NZ414591 A/F/L. S. Clark) claimed a JU 88 destroyed in combat over the North Sea. Another aircraft (Captain 151118 A/F/L. D. Warren) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
P/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 01:30
Flight Time 02:40

24/05/1944 – Attack Against Boulogne
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen and eleven to attack a target at Boulogne. They all were successful in attacking their respective targets and good concentrated bombing was reported. Two aircraft attacking Aachen had combats with enemy aircraft, NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney claiming the destruction of an enemy night fighter and 170664 P/O. T. Buckley claimed strikes on a F.W. 190. There was no opposition from the Boulogne target.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:20 – Landed 02:10
Flight Time 01:50

27/05/1944 – Attack Against Aachen
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen, one of which returned early and two failed to return (Captains NZ414971 F/L. S. Fauvel and NZ421105 Sgt. Scott, F.). The remaining fifteen successfully bombed the target in clear weather, one aircraft (Captain NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney) had five successive inconclusive combats with an ME 410 in the Courtrai area.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:45 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 03:30

31/05/1944 – Attack Against Trappes
Twenty four aircraft were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Trappes. One was withdrawn and another returned early through technical trouble. The remainder, however, bombed in good visibility, reporting an accurate attack. One aircraft (Captain NZ422098 P/O. L. Bonisch) had a combat with an enemy aircraft which was seen to be shot down by another of our aircraft.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:59 – Landed 01:04
Flight Time 01:05

02/06/1944 – Attack Against Wissant
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack a target at Wissant, N. France. Owing to thick cloud over the target, twelve aircraft were unable to identify the markers and brought their bombs back. No opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:15 – Landed 03:20
Flight Time 02:05

04/06/1944 – Mining off the Hook of Holland
Three aircraft were detailed for mine laying, one off Calais, one off the Belgian coast, and the third off the Hook of Holland. All aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted areas without incident.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:25 – Landed 04:25
Flight Time 02:00

05/06/1944 – Attack Against Ouistreham
The target for No.3 Group was the coastal battery at Ouistreham in N. France. This target, and others in the same area were attacked by strong forces of Bomber Command aircraft immediately prior to the Anglo-American Invasion of the Continent. Twenty six aircraft from this Squadron participated and all were successful in bombing their target with the aid of markers. Opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:40 – Landed 07:10
Flight Time 03:30

06/06/1944 – Attack Against Lisieux
Twenty four aircraft took off, as detailed, to attack a target at Lisieux, in support of the invading forces which were establishing a bridge head in Normandy. All aircraft successfully bombed the target and an accurate attack was reported. Only slight opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:01 – Landed 03:16
Flight Time 03:15

08/06/1944 – Attack Against Fougeres
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Fougeres in N. France. Nineteen aircraft bombed successfully, one bringing its bombs back owing to the Bomb sight being unserviceable when over the target area. Two aircraft had inconclusive combats with enemy aircraft, but the remainder carried out their mission without incident, there being no opposition in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 02:30
Flight Time 04:30

10/06/1944 – Attack Against Dreux
Of the twenty four aircraft detailed to bomb Dreux, twenty two successfully attacked in good weather, the marshalling yards being visually identified until they were obscured by smoke. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with a JU.88. The aircrafts captained by NZ422098 P/O. L. Bonisch and NZ422267 F/S. Donaghy, T. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:05 – Landed 03:45
Flight Time 04:40

11/06/1944 – Attack Against Nantes
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack a military target at Nantes. All aircraft successfully bombing the target. Large fires and explosions were reported. Intense light A.A. Fire was encountered in the target area. the aircraft captained by NZ421072 P/O. C. McCardle, shortly after leaving the target area, was damaged by what is now thought to have been a light A.A. Shell exploding in the cockpit. The Captain received severe injuries and the Flight Engineer Sgt. Benfold, R., superficial injuries. The Air Bomber, AUS410489 W/O. Hurse, A. took over the controls, and with the assistance of the Navigator NZ4310159 F/O. A. Zillwood, brought the aircraft safely back to this country, where a perfect landing was executed.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:50 – Landed 05:20
Flight Time 05:30

14/06/1944 – Attack Against Le Havre
Twenty six aircraft were detailed to attack shipping in the port area of Le Havre. Twenty five aircraft attacked and a very concentrated and accurate raid resulted. Fires from an earlier attack were still burning when our aircraft were over the target. One aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble. Opposition was slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 01:35
Flight Time 02:00

15/06/1944 – Attack Against Valenciennes
Twenty four aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Marshalling Yards at Valenciennes. Twenty three aircraft attacked the primary target with the aid of markers. A.A. Fire was very slight, but fighters were active, two of our aircraft having combats with enemy aircraft. The aircraft captained by 175311 P/O. C. Crawford claimed hits on an enemy fighter, but sustained serious damage itself, the pilot, however, was able to land safely at Manstone. The aircraft captained by NZ421495 F/S. Betley, R. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 03:20

21/06/1944 – Attack Against Domleger
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack the constructional works at Domleger during daylight. Two aircraft failed to take off and the remainder were unable [to] locate the target, the markers not being visible owing to 10/10th cloud. they were instructed by the master bomber to abandon their mission, and apart from some aircraft which jettisoned their load, bombs were brought back. Opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.III ND747 AA-T

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:00 – Landed 20:50
Flight Time 02:50

23/06/1944 – Attack Against L’Hey
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the constructional works at L’Hey. All crews bombed on instructions from the Master bomber, and the glow of fires seen through clouds indicated a concentrated raid. Opposition was very slight, although one aircraft had an inconclusive combat with two enemy fighters.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 02:45

24/06/1944 – Attack Against Rimeux
Twenty five aircraft took off as detailed to attack the constructional works at Rimeux. Twenty four crews bombed successfully with the aid of markers, and an accurate raid was reported.   There were numerous searchlights in action, but the A.A. opposition was not serious. The aircraft captained by NZ424788 F/S. Bateson, B. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 02:35

30/06/1944 – Attack Against Villers Bocage
Twenty four aircraft in daylight were detailed to attack enemy concentrations at Villers Bocage, in support of the British and Canadian Armies advance in Northern France. Two aircraft were withdrawn, owing to technical faults, but the remaining twenty two aircraft all bombed their target successfully, and reported a very concentrated raid. Moderate, but heavy A.A. Fire was encountered over the target, but there was no fighter opposition. On return one aircraft landed at Woodbridge and another put down on one of our landing strips in Normandy (the Flight Engineer 1586862 Sgt. McDevitt, P.W. being slightly injured). A unique incident for the Squadron. Another aircraft was damaged by A.A. Fire, but reached Base and made a successful landing.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed 21:25
Flight Time 03:15

02/07/1944 – Daylight Attack Against Beauvoir
Twenty three out of twenty four aircraft detailed took off in daylight to attack the construction works supply site at Beauvoir. All aircraft successfully bombed the target and a concentrated raid developed. Opposition from A.A. fire was slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/O B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:59 – Landed 15:55
Flight Time 02:56

15/07/1944 – Attack Against Bois Des Jardine
Ten aircraft took off to attack the constructional works site at Bois Des Jardins. All aircraft bombed the target, but a scattered raid was reported owing to eight to ten tenths cloud. No opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/S Murray Smith, RNZAF NZ425948 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 02:45

17/07/1944 – Attack Against Vaires
The twenty seven aircraft previously detailed took off to attack the Vaires marshalling yard in daylight, but the aircraft were recalled shortly after setting course. On landing they were re-fuelled and kept standing by to attack a tactical target.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 dnc AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:21 – Landed 14:21
Flight Time 02:00

18/07/1944 – Attack Against Cagny
Twenty eight aircraft took off, as detailed, to make a dawn attack on the village of Cagny, in Northern France where the enemy had large concentrations of armour and troops situated. This attack was in direct support of the Allied 2nd Army, and all crews were successful in bombing the target with the aid of markers and a very concentrated raid was reported. Moderate A.A. fire was encountered, but only one of our aircraft suffered damage, this was captained by NZ421549 F/S. Moriarty, D. who was injured on the scalp and left eye, by fragments of perspex or shell splinters caused by an A.A. shell which exploded in the cockpit. In spite of his serious injuries, F/Sgt. Moriarty safely flew his aircraft back to base.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

P/O Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 04:42 – Landed 07:44
Flight Time 03:02

20/07/1944 – Attack Against Homberg
Twenty six aircraft took off, as detailed, to attack the oil refinery at Homberg. Nineteen aircraft were successful in bombing the target, with the aid of markers, which seemed well concentrated. Two good explosions were seen and smoke came up from the target area. Heavy A.A. fire was moderate, but fighters were very active, eight combats taking place. Seven aircraft failed to return, the captains were AUS22776 W/O. Gilmour, H., NZ428819 F/S. Howell, E., NZ421829 F/S. Mackay, K., NZ422057 F/S. Davidson, N., NZ42488 W/O. Whittington, H., NZ413219 F/S. Roche, G. & NZ414560 P/O. Burtt, H.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:40 – Landed 02:58
Flight Time 03:18

22/07/1944 – Mining in the Kattegat Area
Six aircraft were detailed to lay mines in the Kattegat area. All aircraft dropped their mines successfully, and crews reported an uneventful trip.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:07 – Landed 05:06
Flight Time 07:59

23/07/1944 – Attack Against Kiel
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Kiel, and all successfully bombed the target. A concentrated raid was reported and the glow of fires could be seen from the Danish west coast on return. A moderate A.A. barrage was met and two aircraft had combats with enemy fighters.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:42 – Landed 03:51
Flight Time 05:09

25/07/1944 – Attack Against Stuttgart
Fourteen aircraft took off to attack Stuttgart, only ten however, were successful, and they reported a concentrated raid to be developing, with many fires and explosions. Heavy A.A. fire was only slight in the target area, but enemy fighters were again active. Two aircraft had combats and one, captained by NZ425948 F/S. Smith, M. claimed a FW190 destroyed. On return two aircraft landed at Ford, one due to engine trouble and the other owing to damage to the petrol tank and rear turret by heavy A.A. fire. Of the four abortive sorties, one aircraft jettisoned after its starboard inner engine had caught fire when in combat, another failed to see any markers when over the target, and brought its bombs back, and the other two returned early owing to severe icing.

Lancaster Mk.I LM554 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
P/O Lyndon Clifford Perry, RNZAF NZ428925 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:39 – Landed 05:51
Flight Time 08:12

 

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

‘Airmen of Steel’ – a new t-shirt in the store

t-shirt graphic

A more graphic style based on a classic logo design dating back even to pre World War II.
A less formal, more graphic design  – it’s the youngsters that will keep all this going – so buy them one and let them clear their diaries for 4 hours a day, most weeks, of most months for  a few years – at least they can say they got a T-Shirt for it😛

You might just get it for Christmas if you order today – maybe!

Buy it here.

St. Helens Cemetery, Lancashire – F/S Derek Arthur Holt RAFVR 1217084. Whitkirk Cemetery, Leeds – Sgt. Ronald Smith RAFVR 1239376

D A Holt

It’s perhaps with the benefit of a delay, I have had time to do a bit of listing and planning and I realise after the gathering of these 2 headstones that Derek and Ronald were both killed in the same crew. The mechanics of the summer planning regarding my various trips to cemeteries was, perhaps inevitably, based entirely on opportunistic proximity or random opportunity to visit as many cemeteries as I could.

As I say, on realising these boys flew in the same crew, and having already started the post for Derek – it seemed more sensible and perhaps also, respectful to post them together.

The last post you have already digested, dear reader sees us leaving Selby Cemetery and heading off to Whitkirk Cemetery, just outside of Leeds to find Ronald Smiths headstone – I ask you to first suspend disbelief as we jump back a number weeks to pick me up leaving Liverpool Ford Cemetery……………

After the relatively time consuming search for Edward Appleton’s gravestone in Liverpool Ford Cemetery, it was a relatively quick sprint over to St. Helens Cemetery to find Derek Holt’s grave.

Mercifully, a very clear map at the entrance allowed me to locate the approximate position of the grave, though the decision no to take a picture of it meant i got half way there before walking all the way back down again to the map to do what I should have done first time around…….

Again, a check of all Commonwealth headstones in the vicinity proved it was a search for another family grave. Quite quickly a ‘Holt’ stone presented itself, but no instantly obvious reference to F/S Holt……….

family stone

Moving closer to try to understand the apparent absence of F/S Holt, my heart sank a little when, peering down between the headstone and the rather larger block of stone in front of it that in fact F/S Holt’s details were almost completely obscured by the stone……

gap

SO, whilst the image at the top of this post is not perfect, given the circumstances – I’m glad I live in a digital camera/ Photoshop world – wet film would have not allowed the final result.

DSC02814

The second ‘major’ expedition to gather headstone images presented itself when I had to drive over to Grimsby to pick up Bev from a stay at her Mothers. Plotting a course back from Grimsby to Cheshire suggested that on paper at least a number of cemeteries could be visited. As I have mentioned in previous posts on this projects there is a band of cemeteries that run from the North East to the North West coast – Edward Appleton’s and Derek Holts’ graves framing the left hand side of the map.

Other details of this ultimately over ambitious trip will be recorded in later (or perhaps now, previous posts….)|posts – suffice to say, the vast majority of the journey on A roads and torrential/ storm rain for half the journey made going tougher than expected – though the endeavour of recording the gravestones of boys, half my age, who made the ultimate sacrifice , makes any dampness or arguments a moot point….

Sgt. Ronald Smith lays in Whitkirk Church Cemetery, outside of Leeds. As I have already noted, the act of locating a headstone is remarkably accelerated if you know its a CWGC stone. If its not, you have a search on your hands – and if its raining what feels like a much longer one. In total 3 passes of the graveyard was necessary before, as usual, Bev found it.

Derek and Ronald were two of 6 of George Kerr’s crew who were killed on return from a Gardening OP to the East Coast of Denmark on the 1st of December 1943.

Sgt. George Kerr and his crew arrived at Mepal on the 16th 0f September 1943.
The Kerr crew’s Op history is as follows:

22/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hanover
Twenty aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1,000lb. and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb.. Three aircraft returned early, but the remainder dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a very successful and concentrated attack. Numerous fires which appeared to be merging into one large fire were seen, and were still visible as the aircraft were returning over the DUTCH Coast. Heavy A.A. fire and a great number of searchlights were encountered, but proved ineffective. Several enemy aircraft were seen and one of our Stirlings was hit, but the attacker was not seen, damage was received to the tail and main plane, and the port petrol tanks were punctured. The aircraft, however, was safely flown back to base and a crash landing was made with three engines. It was clear over the target and visibility was excellent. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G

F/O Norman Clarence Bruce Wilson, RNZAF NZ417139 – Pilot.
Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Thomas Lodge, RNZAF NZ417284 – Navigator.
P/O Alfred Thomas Dance, RNZAF NZ42495 – Air Bomber.
F/S Ronald Charlton, RAFVR 644136 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Walter John Stratton, RAFVR 1166593 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Charles Gaskin, RAFVR 1392668 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/O Donald Arthur Laycock, RAFVR 1457004/ 130451 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 06:40

24/09/1943 – Mining in the Frisian Islands
Two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb., which were successfully dropped in the allotted area and the parachutes were seen to open. No A.A. fire, searchlights, or enemy aircraft were encountered. 8/10ht cloud and intermittent rain were prevalent in the mining area, although visibility was fairly good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF512 AA-A

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 22:45
Flight Time 03:25

27/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hanover
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4 lb. Two aircraft failed to return and one returned early owing to its rear turret being unserviceable. The remainder dropped their bombs in the target area. This was an exceedingly successful and well concentrated attack, considered to be even better than the previous one. Numerous large fires and columns of smoke rising to 12,000ft., were seen and the fires were again visible at the DUTCH coast. Very moderate, ineffective heavy A.A. Fire numerous searchlights and flares were encountered. Many enemy aircraft were seen and several combats took place. The aircraft captained by F.Sgt. HORGAN, D. had a combat with a JU88 which was claimed to be destroyed. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. BURTON, H., sighted a JU88 and the Rear Gunner fired, it was then seen to fall in flames and was claimed as destroyed. Two other short combats took place and one of our aircraft received slight damage. The weather was poor on the outward and return journeys, but good with clear visibility over the target. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk.III, EF515 captained by Sgt. Martin, R., and EH877 captained by F/Sgt. WHITMORE, R.

Stirling Mk.III EF514 AA-?

P/O John Milward Mee, RNZAF NZ416518 – Pilot.
Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S David Percy Bain, RNZAF NZ415814 – Navigator.
F/S David Newbury Luxton, RNZAF NZ414310 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Haydon, RAFVR 1384978 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. S. Allan, RAFVR 1558635 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J.D. Sofrin, RAFVR 1493880 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Richard Arthur Webb, RAFVR 1473046 – Rear Gunner.

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

 03/10/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Kassel
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. One aircraft returned early as the Navigator was ill, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a good concentrated attack, large fires and heavy explosions being seen. Moderate A.A. Fire was encountered, which was ineffective except for one aircraft which received damage. This aircraft was captained by F/Sgt. N. PARKER, damage was received to the starboard elevator , starboard tail plane and the rear turret war partly shot away. The rear gunner Sgt. S.W. RIDDLER was lost over the target when the rear turret was damaged. It is considered that he may have baled out as the escape hatch was found to be open. The aircraft successfully landed at WING. Very few enemy aircraft were seen. It was clear at the target, but slight haze was encountered on the return journey. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF465 AA-H

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 00:45
Flight Time 06:00

04/10/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Frankfurt
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4lbs. Three aircraft returned early and one failed to return. This was a good attack, ten aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very good concentrated fires and enormous explosions being seen, the fires were still visible on the homeward journey. A.A. Fire was negligible, there were many search lights which were cooperating with enemy night-fighters. The aircraft captained by S/Ldr. J.JOLL had a combat with a M.E. 109, which was claimed as possibly damaged. The weather was poor on the outward and return journeys, but clear over the target, visibility was good except for smoke haze. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was captained by SGT. H.J. MIDDLETON.

Stirling Mk.III EF465 AA-H

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:50 – Landed 21:35
Flight Time 02:45

08/10/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Bremen
Twelve aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000 lbs., 500lbs., and indendiaries of 30lbs. and 4lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Results were rather disappointing as owing to thick cloud, it was not possible to assess damage. Very few fires were seen and only one large explosion was observed. Slight ineffective A.A, Fire was encountered. Searchlights were active but hampered by cloud. Several combats with enemy aircraft took place. The aircraft captained by F/SGT. SPIERS, R. claimed a M.E. 109 as probably destroyed and a M.E. 110 as damaged. Another M.E. 109 was claimed as damaged by the aircraft captained by P/O o. WHITE. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:10 – Landed 04:10
Flight Time 05:00

19/11/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Leverkusen
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 2,000lbs, 1,000 lbs and incendiaries of 30 lbs and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to return, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Except for one vivid  red flash seen through the clouds, little results were observed. Heavy and medium A.A. Fire co-operating with Searchlights was encountered, but caused negligible damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen and a few combats took place but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The aircraft  captained be F/S R.Hunt met a J.U.88 which attacked his aircraft, the fire was returned and strikes were seen on the enemy aircraft. Our aircraft was then attacked by a FW190, the first was returned but the enemy aircraft disappeared. The weather was poor, being ten-tenths cloud over the target, there was also a fog at base which necessitated the aircraft landing at BRADWELL BAY on return. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was captained by F/Sgt. N. PARKER.

Stirling Mk.III EH880 AA-J

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:12 – Landed 21:49
Flight Time 04:37

01/12/1943 – Mining off the East Coast of Denmark
Three aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb. Two of the aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, but the parachutes were not seen to open owing to ten tenths cloud. Some heavy A.A. Fire was encountered, but caused negligible opposition. Visibility was poor in the mining area. Navigation was very good. On returning the aircraft captained by SGT. F/SGT.G.J.KERR crashed whilst attempting to land at R.A.F. Station ACKLINGTON. The aircraft crashed into a house and all of the crew were killed, except for the Mid Upper Gunner SGT. K.G.HOOK who was seriously injured. In addition to the crew, five children who were in the house were killed and their parents were admitted to Hospital.

Stirling Mk.III EH880 AA-J

F/S George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:16 – Landed 22:40
Flight Time 07:24

It would appear that owing to low visibility because of fog, the aircraft undershot the runway and crashed into the second story of Cliff House Farm. All the crew were killed except for the the Mid Upper Gunner, Sgt. Kenneth Hook, who escaped, but suffered serious burns. Tragically, also killed in the impact were all 5 children of the Robson family.

“Aircraft Crash on Farmhouse. Family of five young children killed.

Five children – all their family – of Mr and Mrs W. Robson were killed when an Aircraft crashed into Cliff House, a small dairy farm near Amble, Northumberland, on Wednesday night. The children’s ages ranged from one to nine years. They were sleeping in an upstairs room.

The mother and father, who with two friends Mr. and Mrs Rowell of Dilston [Terrace] Amble, were sitting in a downstairs room, were injured but not seriously. One of the crew of the aircraft, a gunner, was saved by Mr. Rowell.

Mr Rowell said last night: “We did not realize what had happened until the house collapsed above our heads. We managed to stand up, bruised and badly dazed, and, looking upward we saw the sky. Mrs Robson tried to make her way towards the stairs, which had been blown away. My wife called my attention to a burning object outside which was moving about.  We rushed over and found it was a gunner with his clothes alight. Mr Rowell rolled the airman on the ground to extinguish the burning clothes. Although badly burned, the gunner was alive.

The children’s partly charred bodies were recovered later.”

Extract from ‘The Times’ Newspaper, published 3rd December 1943

Despite Kenneth Hooks injuries, he returned to the Squadron and continued to fly:

15/02/1944 – Mining in the Mouth of River Ardour
Six aircraft dropped mines of 1500 lbs in the mouth of the river Adour. The visibility was excellent and all crews reported a successful operation. Photographs taken show the aiming point in three cases, and the factory is covered in two more. Unfortunately the sixth aircraft did not carry a photo-flash bomb. The Bomb Development Unit have, however, got the evidence from which to calculate where the mines dropped.

Stirling Mk.III LK378 ??-?

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/S Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Conner, RAFVR 1603909 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 06:30
Flight Time 06:55

20/02/1944 – Mining off Morlaix
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines of 1,500 lbs in the channels leading to Morlaix. They both completed their tasks without incident.

Stirling Mk.III EF454 ??-A

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/S Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
F/L Lyndon Oliver Sims, RAFVR 148590 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 22:35
Flight Time 03:50

25/02/1944 – Mining in Baltic Sea
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to lay mines of 1500 lbs, south of Zealand, an island in the Baltic Sea. Thirteen aircraft completed their mission successfully. The weather was good with excellent visibility. One aircraft (Captain NZ421803 F/Sgt. Willis W.) encountered six JU.88s, four of which fired short bursts, our rear gunner and mid-upper gunner returning fire. Our aircraft was not damaged and no claims were made on the enemy aircraft. Two aircraft returned early with engine trouble.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 ??-V

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/S Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Thompson   not listed?, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:40 – Landed 03:05
Flight Time 07:25

10/03/1944 – Special Operations – March Moon Period MONGREL 6 (SUCCESSFUL)
Operation MONGREL 6 (Successful).
   The m/n crew in Stirling III ‘J’ took off at 20.53 hours. The target was reached at 00.17 hours and pin pointed. The reception letter was flashed very quickly and twelve containers were dropped from 300′ at 00.29 hrs. The weather was very good. Course was set for Base at 00.30 hours, two packages being dropped in the Chambery area. The aircraft, without further incident, landed at Base at 04.20 hours.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:53 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 07:27

13/03/1944 – Mining off Brest
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 EF236 AA-J

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time no record

16/03/1944 – Attack Against Targets at Amiens
12 aircraft were detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Amiens. One aircraft was withdrawn and one, being unable to maintain height owing to engine trouble, was forced to jettison near the target. The remaining ten aircraft successfully bombed the target although haze prevented identification of ground detail. No fighter opposition was encountered, and only very slight A.A. Fire.

Stirling Mk.III EF137 AA-E

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:15 – Landed 00:10
Flight Time 03:55

20/04/1944 – Attack Against Cologne
Nine Lancaster aircraft were detailed to attack Cologne, of which one failed to take off and one returned early owing to the illness of the wireless operator. The remainder successfully completed their mission.

Lancaster Mk.I LL865 ??-?

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:20 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 03:40

19/05/1944 – Attack Against Le Mans
Twenty for aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Le Mans. Good results being reported.

Lancaster Mk.I LL921 AA-E

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. P. Watson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 03:00
Flight Time 04:45

21/05/1944 – Attack Against Duisberg
Twenty five aircraft took off to attack Duisburg, of which twenty one attacked the primary target. Three returned early with various technical failures and one failed to return (Captain NZ421803 P/O. W. Willis). Another aircraft (Captain AUS413157 P/O. A. Humphreys) was attacked by an enemy fighter and the navigator 1438903 F/Sgt. Hill, A. was injured, the aircraft also being damaged.

Lancaster Mk.I ME752 AA-E

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. P. Watson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:10 – Landed 03:40
Flight Time 04:30

22/05/1944 – Attack Against Dortmund
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund of which eighteen completed their mission successfully. Three aircraft returned early and two failed to return (Captains NZ417016 P/O. E. Burke and NZ42354 P/O. C. Armstrong). The raid was well concentrated and carried out in good weather with excellent visibility. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with a JU 88. Otherwise the operation was uneventful.

Lancaster Mk.I LL866 AA-S Sugar

P/O Robert Albert ‘Popsy’ Potts, RAAF AUS.415353 – Pilot.
F/S Dudley Joe Hall, RNZAF NZ426996 – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Edwin Fletcher, RNZAF NZ427195 – Air Bomber.
F/S George Wilks, RAFVR 1601175 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Elmer Roy Kanenen, RCAF R.178271 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 02:50
Flight Time 04:00

05/06/1944 – Attack Against Ouistreham
The target for No.3 Group was the coastal battery at Ouistreham in N. France. This target, and others in the same area were attacked by strong forces of Bomber Command aircraft immediately prior to the Anglo-American Invasion of the Continent. Twenty six aircraft from this Squadron participated and all were successful in bombing their target with the aid of markers. Opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.I LL866 AA-S Sugar

P/O Robert Albert ‘Popsy’ Potts, RAAF AUS.415353 – Pilot.
F/S Dudley Joe Hall, RNZAF NZ426996 – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Edwin Fletcher, RNZAF NZ427195 – Air Bomber.
F/S George Wilks, RAFVR 1601175 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Elmer Roy Kanenen, RCAF R.178271 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:35 – Landed 07:05
Flight Time 03:30

06/06/1944 – Attack Against Lisieux
Twenty four aircraft took off, as detailed, to attack a target at Lisieux, in support of the invading forces which were establishing a bridge head in Normandy. All aircraft successfully bombed the target and an accurate attack was reported. Only slight opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I LL866 AA-S Sugar (20)

P/O Robert Albert ‘Popsy’ Potts, RAAF AUS.415353 – Pilot.
F/S Dudley Joe Hall, RNZAF NZ426996 – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Edwin Fletcher, RNZAF NZ427195 – Air Bomber.
F/S George Wilks, RAFVR 1601175 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Elmer Roy Kanenen, RCAF R.178271 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:45 – Landed 03:55
Flight Time 04:10

Ken Hook was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal on the 19th of December 1944. HIs citation reads as follows:

“As an air gunner, Sergeant Hook has completed many operational sorties and has at all times shown great determination to engage the enemy. This airman was involved in a serious air crash during December 1943 of which he was the sole survivor, he himself receiving very serious injuries. Despite this, since his recovery he has displayed great eagerness to participate again in operations. His courage and efficiency have been an example and inspiration to the remainder of the squadron”.