Tag Archives: 1944

1982 75 NZ. Squadron Association Commemorative Cover

letter envelope032 cropped add removed red fro blog

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 :P

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”.

 

 

 

275,000 views – as always thank you so much

DSC00092

Thumper and VeRA over a dark and wet Southport, 2015

As is now customary, I must continue to thank you all for the support you are showing for 75nzsquadron.com.

It has been just a fraction over 3 months since we racked up the milestone of a quarter of a million views – so in this small extra period of time its fantastic that we have seen another 25,000 views of the blog.

I am really pleased to observe that new visitors, both relatives of members of the 75(NZ) Squadron RAF and also interested parties still continue to make contact and the material keeps coming in. Its a broken record (I even think I have said that before) when I now say I am still working through the backlog of material donated  – I know how the painters on the Forth Bridge feel – I will keep doing it as long as there is material to post.

It’s a perverse thing to say that I am doing things in the background, given the time needed on this blog, but I have slowly over the last few months been moving extracted information from the Squadron database to individual Operational histories for crews.

I have uploaded the majority of crews that began their Operational service in 1943. As usual, I make no apologies for my non linear approach – it was where I started the database, because that was the year Dad first arrived at Mepal.

I am aware that the list is not as yet definitive – a number of crews were left headless when their Pilot was killed flying an initial ‘2nd Dickie’ Op. These need to be gathered and added and where possible their subsequent histories recorded. As a case in point – Jack Thomson’s loss on the 3rd of August 1943, while 2nd pilot with Cyril Bailie’s crew, which resulted in his Mid Upper Gunner, Ton Darbyshire and Wireless Operator Bill Lake, joining my own Father’s crew.

The crews are broken down by year. Irrespective of duration of stay, they will be listed in the year their Pilot flew his first Op with the Squadron. To this end, the list is not alphabetical – it is ordered chronologically based on arrival at the respective RAF Station, or if this is not known, the date of the first operational sortie by the Pilot. As it was common for a Pilot to undertake a number of Ops with a more experienced crew – the first of these ‘2nd Dickie’ Ops will be used as the date, as it theoretically represents the closest date to arrival – in this case the date will be listed with the suffix ‘2ndDO’

To this end, if a crew arrival is unclear and an individuals arrival cannot be suggested or corroborated by any other individual in that crew, the date of their first operational sortie will be listed (1stOS).

You will also perhaps note if you search in other years that some crews are already recorded – this is where a full post in the now standardised Op history format has previously been made for a crew. To this end, more of these records will probably be added before that particular year is tackled properly.

If, as was tragically the case in far too many instances, the crew were killed, or a fatality was suffered within the crew, the crew will have a ‘†’ as an additional suffix. Again, as a non standard example of this, the Whitehead crew has this suffix to denote the loss of Peter Dobson, the crew’s Navigator when attempting to provide assistance to the crew and civilians after the take off crash of BK809 JN-T on the evening of the 8th September 1943.

Ideally, I will try when and where possible to link a ‘visitor’ in the crew list to their ‘main’ crew – however of course, this assumes the other crew(s) are already listed in this section and that the individual in question had a ‘main’ crew – I am mindful of those more experienced airmen who were Squadron ‘trade’ leaders (as opposed to Flight or Squadron Leaders) – there is also the case of a number of airmen who came to the Squadron specifically as Mid Under Gunners, who crewed up as necessary in aircraft fitted with a ventral turret.

Each crew will have as much information eventually added that exists. In the first instance an Op history will be generated form the database that will list the date, target, Op summary, aircraft, crew and up/ downtime and duration of flight. I am mindful that the inclusion of the raid report for each Op for each crew makes the document a long one, as does the listing of perhaps a completely uniform crew composition, however I think as a record for each crew it is important to fully list it and it perhaps makes it clearer the incredible bravery and dedication these boys showed every night or day they climbed the ladder into their aircraft.

I would note also at this point, that where a crew suffered a fatality, this might not yet be recorded, the activity is staged and I feel that its better to have a series of rolling states of completion and have the material accessible to all of you, rather than hold it for potentially an infinite period of time, waiting for that minuscule piece of information that may never come.

I would encourage the contribution of details to these histories – each page has a comments section. If you know anything about the boys in a crew – post it up there and I will add it to the main page text

More information will then follow as I discover and or process it. For all the relatives that have so graciously and generously donated information so far I thank you and I know if Bob was still around, he would as well.

The 1943 section can be accessed via ’75(NZ) Squadron RAF’ in the top menu and then down to ’75(NZ) Squadron RAF Crews’ and then across to ‘Crews Starting 1943′. I would advise you look through on this main blog page – the list for 1943 is so long, and so tragically filled with ‘†’’s that you need to scroll quite a way down to reach the end. I would also note the term ’empty’ against a crew means, currently, just that – information is yet to be added.

And Finally……….

Another significant milestone has also been reached.

When you join and create a blog on WordPress, you get 3 Gigabytes of free storage space. Ostensibly this space is taken by uploaded material – photographs documents etc.

Well, readers, that space as of this evening, has been consumed! I must now pay for more space, which having reached this achievement of uploaded, online accessible material related to 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, I am more than happy to do. A very modest outlay has gotten us all another 10 Gig to fill with more wonderful and priceless things.

The blog, without question or challenge, is the most visited and physically the largest online resource for the Squadron in existence – and it’s thanks to all of you.

For all those out there, who dislike or resent what I am doing, to all those who have attempted to sidelined, undermine or just ignore me – well done, you wasted your time………..:)

Ake Ake Kia Kaha!

 

Is that it? – the Mayfield and Zinzan crew?

'B' Flight, 1651 Conversion Unit, Waterbeach, July 1943

‘B’ Flight, 1651 Conversion Unit, Waterbeach, July 1943

Having spent the majority of the weekend replying to contacts to the blog, and reading through Vic’s blog about his Dad Bob Jay, it suddenly has just struck me quite hard, how little I have moved on regarding finding more about Bob and the majority of the boys he flew with while at 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

Now, this is certainly not a ‘rattle out the cot’ moment and neither am I ignoring the amazing contacts that I HAVE made with relatives of some of the boys that flew with Bob – but it just feels that all the others have gone cold – so here is a reminder of who I am looking for and its a chance to repost some tags of their names.

So please if you are a Twitter – please push this out there!

First Tour 21st July 1943 to 14th December 1943.
Sgt. Walter James Gee RNZAF NZ417207, Wireless Operator – 11 O.T.U and 1651 H.C.U.
The discovery that Walter Gee was part of the original Mayfield crew came a little in the day and was actually a stupid oversight on my part at the time. Subsequent research suggests we have identified him in 2 pictures, one in initial training in New Zealand (with John Hulena) and a second taken at 1651 Conversion Unit. Jack Jarmy, the crew’s Navigator remembered him and that he was ‘older than the rest of the boys’. I am aware of the possible reason for Walters departure prior to Operations and his eventual arrival in the New Zealand Army, but I would like to talk to a relative to clarify his story.

Sgt. F. W. Weaver RAFVR 1214092, Wireless Operator – 1 A.G.S.
1214092. SGT.WO/AG. Weavers, F. Attached from No.1 A.G.S. w.e.f. 20/7/43. (Authy. 25G/2502/63/P2/(78).

Sgt. Weavers arrival at the Squadron a day before the rest of the crew has provided a significant amount of frustration to me. Technically as a wireless operator he should have been with the crew since their initial formation at 11 OTU. A relatively recent discovery regarding Walter Gee (see above) begins, I believe, to partially explain this discrepancy with the arrival date.

I think that the sudden departure of Walter Gee (before an operational raid) allowed Sgt. Weaver into the crew to replace him. Unfortunately, Sgt. Weavers stay with the crew was short lived – on the third op to the Gironde Estuary on a Gardening raid, Sgt. Weaver apparently ‘cracked’.

It is impossible to postulate why this happened – it might have been a slow build up or possibly related to the boy’s decision to attack a train on the return flight from the target. In discussion with Jack, he recalls the wireless operator losing the ability to speak – shaking at his station.

The crew decided not to mention it on their return, deciding to see how Weavers was the following morning. It would appear that Weavers went to the Medical Officer and was deemed to be LMF (Lacking Moral Fibre) – such a diagnosis, as crudely simplistic as it was, meant only one thing, Sgt. Weavers was immediately removed from the base and was never seen or heard from again.

F/Sgt. James William Scarll RNZAF NZ417237, Wireless Operator – ?
Flew 2 ops with the Mayfield crew – August 10th , Nurenburg and August 12th to Turin, both as W/OP. Arrived 75(NZ) Squadron 19th June 1943. Completed tour 29th January 1944. Crewed with George Duncan’s crew as W/Op.

Sgt. William John Lake RNZAF NZ416421, Wireless Operator
NZ416421 F/S WO/AG Lake, W Posted from 1665 CU w.e.f. 29 July 43. Authority P/N 3G/965/43 dated 26/7/43

William  arrived to become the Wireless Operator with the crew on their second op to Turin on the 16th August . William and Tom Derbyshire were in fact part of another ‘still born’ crew whose pilot, Sgt. Jack Thomson RNZAF NZ421145 was killed on his second ‘2nd dickie’ operation with the Bailie crew on the 3rd August to Hamburg. In sad truth, this in itself was not a rare occurrence, the remaining crew usually just being dispersed amongst the squadron or sometimes transferred to others. William completed all remaining ops with the crew.

After the Mayfield crew’s departure Bill continued for a further 5 ops;

26th March 1944. Colin Megson crew – Attack against targets at Courtai. Wireless Operator.
18th April 1944. Derek Warren crew – Mining in Kiel Bay. Wireless Operator.
22nd April 1944. Tom Buckley crew – Attack against targets at Dusseldorf. Wireless Operator.
24th April 1944. Tom Buckley crew – Attack against targets at Karlsruhe. Wireless Operator.
11th May 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Attack against targets ay Louvain. Wireless Operator.

There is no subsequent record of William’s departure from the Squadron, or indeed where he subsequently was posted to.

Sgt. A. Warburton RAFVR 1624186, Flight Engineer11 O.T.U and 1651 H.C.U.
I litterally know nothing about Sgt. Warburton – he joined the crew at 11.O.T.U., he flew all Ops with the crew and vanishes…….

Sgt. R. Bullen RAFVR 1356658, Mid Upper Gunner –
1356658 Sgt. A/G Bullen, R  Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/49 dated 19/7/43.

1356658 Sgt. A/G Bullen, R. Posted to Combined Reselection centre w.e.f. 18/10/43 (Authy.P/N.3G/2380/43/ dd 16/10/43)

Sgt. Bullen’s rapid departure from the crew is currently a mystery. Reading around the subject, it would appear that being sent to the Combined Re-selection Board was not, on paper a good thing at all and was usually a sign of an airman failing to perform or fit in within a crew or the squadron. Whilst only guessing, I think the nature of Bullen’s departure must be different to that of Walter Gee and Sgt. Weavers – Bullen’s departure is recorded, whereas the other 2 have no record of their leaving the squadron – one must assume because of the perceived ‘disgrace’ of their departure.

Sgt. John Sebastian Hulena RNZAF NZ416427, Rear Gunner 11 O.T.U and 1651 H.C.U.
NZ416427 Sgt. A/G Hulena, J  Posted from No.1651 C.U. w.e.f. 21 July 43. Authority P/N. 3G/855/43 dated 19/7/43 to 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.
John was born on the 8th  June  1913 in Oxford, North Canterbury, New Zealand. He is listed on the passenger rosta of the ‘Bloemfontein’, which sailed from Wellington and arrived in San Francisco in March 1942, by way of travelling to his final destination in Canada for aircrew training.

The earliest I can specify a training point is No.11 O.T.U at Wescott on the  6th April 1943 – this is based on the assumption that John was the single rear gunner that the initial OTU crew was based on (a second gunner would join at the Conversion Unit, simply because the Wellington bombers used at OTU only had a single gunnery position).

  • 9th June is the last logged flight at 11 O.T.U.
  • On the 14th June, John married Beatrice Jane Madams in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire. Beatrice was an RAF nurse, who originaly came from Manchester.
  • 26th June posted 1651 Conversion Unit, Waterbeach.

John flew all of the 21 ops the crew flew before competing his tour with the squadron

  • Posted to No.17 Operational Training Unit (17 O.T.U) with effect from 15th December 1943.

I currently do not know what John did between his arrival at 17 OTU and his arrival at 12PDRC in June of 1945. Based on Allan, Bob and Jack, I must assume that he flew another tour with another squadron. The only additional information regarding John I have within this period is that he was appointed to commission with rank of Pilot Officer with effect from 21st January 1944 and then to flying Officer by 21st 7th 1944.

  • To No.12 Personnel Depot & Receiving Centre (PD&RC), Padgate Warrington, 7th June 1945.
  • Disembarked in  New Zealand 4th August 1945.
  • Transferred  to Reserve 9th November 1945.

It is believed that John came from a farming family – his father is listed as a member of a World Record sheep shearing team – After returning from the war, John returned to being a farmer in the Manawatu area then came up to Corrmandel, farmed for a while and retired.

John passed away 31st August 1979 in Thames, Coromodel.
Beatrice passed away 4th March 1998.

Based on what I have discovered of the movements of Allan Mayfield, Jack Jarmy , John Hulena and Tom Darbyshire  – it would seem fairly certain that the other airmen in the Mayfield crew (perhaps Walter Gee and Sgt. Weavers aside), possibly, after instructing went back to complete another tour. All I know about them at this point is that none of the were killed on Operations.

 

Vernon John Zinzan stood on the left. Navigator James Coote, Mid Upper Gunner H. Hutchinson, Flight Engineer A. Ackroyd and Wireless Operator Miles Parr (the photo is missing the Air Bomber and Rear Gunner). Date unknown

2nd Tour 25th January 1945 – 4th of May 1945
Bob returned to Mepal and as it would prove out, finally solving the rotating number of Air Bombers that the Zinzan crew had gone through since their original Air Bomber, Ken Mesure broke his leg on landing after the crew’s first Op to Witten on the 12th of December 1944. I have observed elsewhere that even factoring in the turnover of Air Bombers, the crew was large by constituent participation – Herbert Steele, the crew’s original Rear Gunner seems to leave – for no clear reason – only to be replaced by a succession of other airmen.

P/O Vernon John ‘Taffy” Zinzan RNZAF NZ425314, Pilot51 Base, 1668 H.C.U
Vernon was born 18th May 1912. He enlisted in the RNZAF 30th May 1942 and was transferred to reserve 25th September 1942. Vernon was one of the older pilots in the Squadron –  ironic that when Bob joined the crew as a 1st tour veteran, he was 10 years Vernon’s junior……

  • Reported to Rotorua Intial Training Wing (ITW) 26th November 1942 as Leading Air Cadet A/P Gp V.
  • To Harewood No.3 Elementary Flying Training School (3 EFTS) 9th January 1943.
  • Embarked for Canada for pilot training 5th May 1943.
  • Disembarked & attached to Royal Canadian Airforce (RCAF) with effect from 19th May 1943.
  • To No. 4 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) (date unknown), Saskatoon.
  • To No.15 SFTS 14th June 1943, Claresholm.
  • Awarded flying badge & promoted to Sgt. Pilot 15th October 1943 (to F/Sgt 15th April 1944).
  • To 1 “Y” Depot (date unknown), Halifax, Nova Scotia (or possibly Lachine, Quebec).
  • Embarked for UK (date unknown).
  • Disembarked UK and to No.12 Personnel Reception Center (12PRC), Padgate Warrington, 10th November 1944.
  • To 18 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit (18(P)AFU) 25th April 1944.
  • To No.16 Operational training Unit (16OTU) 17th July 1944.
  • To 51 Base 29th September 1944, to 1668 Conversion Unit 13th October 1944.
  • 3rd December 1944 arrived on posting from 1668 Conversion Unit to 75(NZ) Squadron.

Vernon flew 30 ops with 75(NZ) Squadron, including a ‘second dickie’ flight to Osterfeld on the 11th December 1944 with the crew of F/Lt. Wylie Wakelin.

After the crew’s final op to Potsdam on the 14th April 1945:

  • Vernon was once again posted to No.12 Personnel Depot and Receiving Center (12PD&RC).
  • Disembarked  New Zealand No. 2 Pre-Deployment Training (2 PDT) 25th July 1945.
  • Ceased to be attached to RAF with effect from 13th August 1945.
  • To Northern Non-Effective Pool (N/NEP) [Cat 17] 17th July 1945.
  • Transferred to Reserve A1 November 1st 1945.
  • Commission terminated June 1st 1956.

Vernon passed away on the 21st  March 2007 at  Middlemore Hospital,  Auckland, New Zealand. His funeral service was held at Mauku.

F/O James George Sydney Coote RAFVR 517881/ 56715, Navigator 51 Base, 1668 H.C.U
An original member of the Zinzan crew – nothing else known.

Sgt. A. Ackroyd RAFVR xxxxxxx, Flight Engineer 51 Base, 1668 H.C.U
An original member of the Zinzan crew – nothing else known.

Sgt. H. Hutchinson RAFVR xxxxxxxxx. Mid Upper Gunner
51 Base, 1668 H.C.U
An original member of the Zinzan crew – nothing else known.

Sgt. Herbert Steele RAFVR xxxxxxx. Rear Gunner
51 Base, 1668 H.C.U

I am assuming that Herbert Steele was part of the original crew when they joined the crew from 1668 CU. I currently have no explanation for his absence for 3 ops and then his essential disappearance from the crew rosta for the rest of the tour.
His 19 raids with the crew were: Witten 12/12/44, Trier 21/12/44, Vohwinkle 31/12/44, Dortmund 3/1/45, Ludwigshaven 5/1/44, Saarbrucken 13/1/44, Langendreer 15/1/45, Wanne Eickel 16/1/45, Munchen Gladbach 1/2/45, Weisbaden 2/2/45, Hohenbudberg 9/12/45, Wesel 19/2/45, Dortmund 20/2/45, Koln 2/3/45 (aborted), Wanne Eickel 4/3/45, Salzbergen 6/3/45, Dessau 7/3/45, Auguste Vicktoria 17/3/45.

F/O Kenneth Cyril Mesure RAFVR 1802416/ 164824, Air Bomber 51 Base, 1668 H.C.U
Part of the original crew that arrived from 1668 CU, Ken was unfortunate enough to badly break his leg during a very heavy landing after the crew’s first raid to Witten – he never flew with the crew again. Strangely, Ken is listed on the 26th of June as returning to the Squadron from No. 33 Base (N.E.S) – I am guessing and would be grateful of clarification, but I think N.E.S must stand for non/ not effective strength.
His single raid with the Zinzan crew was: Witten 12/12/44.

Sgt J. McManus RAFVR Rear Gunner (R/GNR) – 4 ops
His 4 raids with the crew were: Wesel 23/3/45, Hallon Dorf 26/3/45, Meresberg 4/4/45, Potsdam 14/4/45.

Sgt. Frank Watts RAFVR Air Gunner. (R/GNR) – 2 ops
Sgt. Watts is a bit of a puzzle. A while back I was contacted by the son of Frank Watts and we discussed his time with the Squadron and the reasons for his movement from the Wakelin crew to finish his tour with the Clement crew. Records suggest 2 individuals on Squadron by the name of Watts at the time. Looking at a list of Ops by ‘Sgt’ Watt(s)’ I think this is the case – there are duplicative overlaps between the Clement and Wakelin crews where a Sgt. Watts is Mid Upper Gunner and Rear Gunner simultaneously.
With 75(NZ) from 20th October 1944 to April 1945. Initially crewed with Wylie James Wakelin as MU/Gnr then to crew of David St.Clair Clement as R/Gnr.
His 2 raids with the Zinzan crew were: Dresden 13/2/45, Gelsenkirchen 10/3/45.

W/O Herbert Winn DFC, RAFVR 1626025, Mid Under Gunner
22nd January to  May 1945. Trained as mid-under-guner but c/w John Mathers Bailey as R/Gnr. He is noted as being posted to the Squadron with another A/G from Feltwell on the 22nd of January.
His 2 raids with the crew were: Chemnitz 14/2/45 and Wesel 10/3/45.

W/O Robert John Torbitt RAFVR 1033159, Mid Under Gunner 
His single raid with the Zinzan crew was: Dortmund 12/3/45.
Additionally, he flew with:
Thorpe crew, Hohenbudberg 9/2/45.
Hamilton crew, Dessau 7/3/45.
(Squadron Leader) Wright crew, Munster Viaduct 21/3/45

Sgt. J. Tutty xxxxxx RAFVR, Rear Gunner
December 1944 to June 1945. c/w R B Crawford as R/Gnr.
Subsequent information has come to light, including photographs of the Crawford crew, which allows a reasoned guess at least to who in the pictures is Sgt. Tutty.
Sgt. Tutty was one of only two of the crew that escaped from the return crash on the 3rd of February from Dortmund without the need for hospitalisation. It would appear as a result of this that he was simply available to crew up in the absence of his own. Sgt. Tutty flew 1 Op with the Zinzan crew  on 8/3/45 Datteln

F/O Graham Coull RNZAF NZ131806/ 425883, Air Bomber
25th May 1944 to 7th February 1945.  Posted in from 31 Base, crewed with Squadron Leader Neilson Arnold Williamson (OC “C” Flight), on ops 30/6 – 14-15/10/44, also flew four ops with F/O John Keillor Aitken 11 – 14/9/44, with F/O Vernon Zinzan 3/1/45 (and probably flew with other crews).
He was then posted to 30 OTU (presume as instructor) then to  to 12 PD&RC 6/6, disemb NZ (2 PDT) 25/7/45, to C/NEP 27/7, tfd to Reserve A1 8/11/45, to General Reserve.

Emb for Canada 24/12/42, qualified as AB and appointed to temp comm. in rank of P/O w.e.f. 11/6/43, to F/O 11/12/43, to F/L 11/6/45.  Postwar an Engineer with Air New Zealand.

Graham passed away in Christchurch, New Zealand Monday 12th January 1998, aged 76, buried 14th January, Ruru Lawn Cemetery, Block 11, Plot 178.

F/O Charles Frederick Green DFC RAFVR 178730, Mid Under Gunner
16th January to  May 1945 as Mid-Under Gunner.
Citation for D.F.C. (25th September 1945):
“This air gunner has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty”.

P/O John Kennedy Clements RAAF AUS.418070, Air Bomber
John arrived at Mepal on the 18th of July 1944, originally crewing with the Jeffery Baines crew.
His 5 raids with the Zinzan crew were: Trier 21/12/44, Vohwinkle 31/12/44, Vohwinkle 1/1/45, Ludwigshaven 5/1/45, Langedreer 15/1/45.

Sgt C. Bullock xxxxxx RAFVR,  Air Bomber
21st December 1944 to  3rd February (when he was injured during a crash landing) 1945. c/w Roderick Bruce Crawford. On the 3rd February, Sgt Bullock was one of 5 crew who were injured on landing after a raid to Dortmund. Sgt. Bullocks single Op with the Zinzan crew was actually before this date and one must assume therefore was fill in for the then rotating A/B position in the Zinzan crew prior to Bob’s arrival in February 1945. His single Op with the Zinzan crew was 13/1/45 Saarbrucken.

F/Lt. Grant Alan Russell, DFC, RNZAF NZ411729, Air Bomber
Grant Russell, who was the 75(NZ) Squadron Bombing Leader from 9th March 1944 to 5th May 1945. In this role, which seems more of a training and admin role, he would occasionally fly op’s as fill-in for ill or absent A/B’s. During his stay with the Squadron he flew with amongst others, the Stevenson and Zinzan crew. He also flew a number of times with the Thomson crew – Don Thomson was his old Pilot from O.T.U. and 218 Squadron, who also ended up at 75(NZ) on his second tour.

From his book ‘Dying for Democracy’:
Flight No 35. Wanne-Einkle, Germany. Date 16/1/1945.
Mk III Lancaster NoPB427.
Pilot: F/O Zinzan.
Load carried:  1 x 4,0001b H.C. bomb, plus 12 x 500 M64 bombs, plus 4 x 2501b G.P. bombs1. Total weight = 11,466 lbs or 5.12 tons.
Distance flown: 1,055 miles.
Time airborne:       5hrs l0min.
 
This was a night flight and once again against Germany. Over the target, things became exciting and exasperating as I unhappily watched a Lancaster at our level, and only a few yards in front, explode into many small pieces. Very unnerving. The Germans had assessed our level of flying and great masses of enemy shells were exploding all around us. But it was always like that at every target. Pilots had to have wonderful nerve control to be able to fly their aircraft straight and level under such conditions, yet they all did. It was absolutely necessary, otherwise bomb aimers would never be able to take aim at the target. At each pre-flight briefing, a certain point of a broad target was invariably indicated as the aiming point and that aiming point was usually a very industrious war producing business.
 
We were coned by search lights just as we cleared the target but my very experi­enced pilot quickly whisked us out of that by dropping the nose of our kite, diving downwards while banking steeply to port and cleared the cone of search lights. We then swooped smartly up to 20,000ft again from which height I had just dropped our load. Our considerably reduced all up weight rendered our kite readily manoeuvrable.
 
Jerry must have been as thick as two planks not to have got the British message by now. But we would keep on and on until he really and fully understood.
 
This night was my pilot’s second consecutive almost all-night flight, all of which was of course under high tension. Coming in to land, he made a slight miscalculation. He levelled out while the aircraft was still some 15 or so feet above the runway, causing the kite to drop with a considerable thump. Our heavy landing was at 15 minutes after four in the morning. No one was actually hurt. An inspection in daylight revealed no damage to the aircraft. The strong construction only served to heighten my admiration of Lancasters. Further proof that it was still in good shape was illustrated by the fact that it did another all-night trip the very next night with another crew and returned safely to Base’.

F/Sgt James Henry Murphy, DFM, RAFVR 1393306,  Rear Gunner
7th August 1943 to  June 1944 & 30th December 1944 to  May 1945. c/w F P Lundon as MU/Gnr then with T G Buckley. The Squadron commander’s recommendation was :
“Flight Sergeant Murphy has carried out 31 operational sorties, targets including many of the most heavily defended industrial areas of Germany. He is an excellent Air Gunner and is always willing to engage the enemy. His coolness and efficiency under stress has played no small part in his crew’s brilliant record. His constant cheerfulness and untiring devotion to duty are deserving of the highest praise and I therefore have no hesitation in recommending that he be awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal.”

F/Lt. Kenneth William John Tugwell, DFC, DFM, RAFVR 162524, Rear Gunner
28th August 1944 to  1945 Posted in as Gunnery Leader – no crew affiliation. Citation for D.F.C. (7th December 1945):
“Flying Officer Tugwell has completed many operational sorties against heavily defended targets. In February 1945, he was detailed for an attack against Dortmund. Shortly after leaving the target his aircraft was illuminated by searchlights and then engaged by two enemy fighters. After evading the searchlights the aircraft was again attacked by an enemy fighter. Flying Officer Tugwell opened fire and forced the enemy fighter to break off the engagement. At all times this officer has displayed a fine fighting spirit and great devotion to duty.”

So Please  -any of you that read this and have alternate or wider digital networks than me – PLEASE share and or spread this however you can – I so want to no more about some of these boys…………

Navigators , Mepal – 1944

Navigators  Mepal 1944 (RCWeeden front center)

Based on a separate query from Scott that the link in this image didn’t work, I realised that I had completely forgotten to say within the recent post on Reg Weeden that the above image has been added to the ‘Group Photographs’ section of the blog – under the ‘March/ May 1944’ section.

We know nothing about this picture other than that Reg sits front row center and that it was taken at Mepal ‘in 1944’.

As always in these group photo situations, I would be very interested to hear from anyone that recognises anybody else in the image – particularly as this might help to date it more specifically.

The numbered version of this photograph can be seen here

as is always the case, click on the link and then on the photograph itself and that will allow you to see it at it’s maximum size.