Tag Archives: 1944

Australian War Memorial – information update

Aus WM2

I am pleased to relay to all of you that I received an email from Chris,
Assistant Curator, Military Heraldry & Technology at the Australian War Memorial this morning informing me that, to the best of his and his teams knowledge all items held in the collection which encompasses uniforms, badges, medals  etc and items of military technology has had it’s information updated to correctly/ accurately  reflect the name of the Squadron.

I am really pleased to have received this information as it represents an ongoing effort by the AWM to update their records after an initial request made by myself slightly over a year ago. My first contact was replied to very quickly, but obviously a task of this kind takes time and coordination and obviously has to fit within other projects and activities that the curatorial staff are involved with.

As I said in my original post about this work, whilst a small detail of correction, it’s a significant one , I am sure , for the families and relatives of the 32 Australian airmen that died with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

Many thanks to all of the Australian War Memorial staff who have helped make this happen.

Visit the Australian War Memorial here.

75(NZ) Squadron RAF map of Cemeteries – UK

Based off my previous post regarding my decision to visit as many cemeteries as I can this summer, I thought it might be of interest/ useful to people if I shared the Google map I have produced for my research.

If you expand the map you can fill your screen and navigate as you would in a normal Google Map. The colour convention is simple – GREEN means the graveyard has been visited and the relevant gravestones have been recorded. RED, perhaps obviously, shows a graveyard where the resting airmen’s stones are still to be photographed.

Having spent some time at the Air Force Memorial at Runnymede already this summer, I have managed to photograph approximately half of the names there. If anybody wishes to record more, then please do – but PLEASE contact me first to avoid unnecessary duplication of effort and time.

I thought that the basic adding of the locations to an accessible map would be straightforward, but quickly realised that in some cases, in the absence of a postcode, being exact was actually quite difficult. Where necessary I have confirmed map position with the Commonwealth War Grave Commission’s cemetery locator maps.

If you wish to navigate to any of the cemeteries, I would suggest either do it through Google Maps or you use the coordinates at the bottom of each location info panel – put them into Google Maps, it will take you too the location again, but will also give you the pure Long. and Lat.  coordinates that most vehicle GPS systems can take and use.

I am hoping that as I progress, I can turn the locators from red to green and this will update on the map……….hopefully……..

Happy hunting!!

75(NZ) Squadron and ND801 in print…….!

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Something perhaps a little different, but nevertheless very much worth telling and an opportunity to get the Squadron name known by more people.

Off the back of the fantastic pictures that Pauline sent to me, now over 12 months ago, regarding her father, Mike Smith, Rear Gunner with Bruce Crawford’s crew, I was contacted by Christian from the German scale modelling magazine ‘Jet and Prop’.

Recently, two internationally renown manufacturers of model kits announced a work over / new release of Avro Lancaster (B) Mk. III kits. While HK-Models features a giant 1/32 scale version, Tamiya launched a 1/48 kit. These aircraft are amazingly big and of incredible detail. Having come across the post, Christian was sure that his readers would firstly love to know about ND801 and would find the photograph of its final demise in the Bakery an irresistible opportunity for a super detailed diorama.

What follows is the article, presented in the July/ August edition of Jets and Props.

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So, we will have to wait to see if any of the readers of Jet and Prop rise to the challenge to model the crash of ND801 ‘Get Sum Inn’!

Earlier posts on the Crawford and Waugh crew and ND801 ‘Get Sum Inn’ can be seen here:
Arthur George Smith, Mid Upper Gunner – Crawford crew, 1944 – 1945 here
The Crawford crew – some new information here
Colin Woonton, Navigator – Waugh crew and ND801’Astra’ here

Cpl. Ronald Wood – Radar Technician


Cpl. Ronald Wood, Radar Technician at Mepal, 1943 – 1945. © Malcolm Wood.

Many thanks to Malcolm for making contact and sending these wonderful pictures of his Father, Ron Wood, who was a Radar Technician with the Squadron at Mepal between September 1943 and his demob in August 1945. ©

Ronald enlisted in the RAF in March 1939 and Malcolm recalls the family being on a holiday in Anglesey, when on the 1st of September his Father received a telegram that cut the holiday short and required Ron to don his uniform. His first posting was to 924 Squadron, manning barrage ballons in the Manchester area, particularly Trafford Park – not far from where the Wood family lived. Whilst Malcolm was too young to realise the potential seriousness of the situation – he is sure it was a massive worry to his Mother, when in February 1940, Ronald was transferred to France.

Approximately 2 weeks after the Allied evacuation of Dunkirk Ron and his comrades left St. Malo, in a fishing boat in a rather rough journey back across the Channel. Arriving back in the UK on the 18th of June, he came straight back home on leave and Malcolm remembers being extremely disappointed that his Father did not have a rifle!

On his return to the UK, he continued with 924 Squadron at Eastleigh. After it was decided that the WAAF would take over Barrage Balloon duties, Ron went to Signals School which Malcolm recalls was near the Tower of London (Malcolm also says that Ron mentioned playing football in the Tower of London moat!) , perhaps at the University of London, and was retrained as a Radar Technician – something Ron would have been very pleased with, given his fascination with radio from a very early age.


Ron stood, we presume at Mepal with a Lancaster of the Squadron in the background. © Malcolm Wood.

After 9 months of training, Ron arrived at Mepal to maintain radar equipment in September 1943, only a few months after 75(NZ) Squadron also had arrived at the new airfield.

Ron remembered Mepal as a sleepy, one pub, one shop village where you could get a puncture repair kit and not much else! – Perhaps a useful item given that bicycles were used extensively on and off the airbase. After the War, Malcolm remembers his Father saying that he had a ride in a Squadron aircraft to view the effects of the Allied bombing campaign.


Ron, stood to the left, with 2 unknown technical or ground crew at Mepal. © Malcolm Wood.


Another view of life in a nissan hut at Mepal with other technical. ground crew. © Malcolm Wood.

The only souvenirs of his time at Mepal, which Malcolm still has was some jewellery, fashioned from Perspex and two cannon shells – placed in a vice, the bullet and cordite would be removed before the detonator was struck with a punch and a hammer to fully deactivate it.

It exists without debate that the Ground and Technical crews performed a critical and perhaps nowadays a forgotten contribution to the Squadrons of Bomber Command and as such, perhaps the stresses and anxieties of that time were just as acute for them. Ron, according to Malcolm never did anything with his campaign medals or his Air Efficiency Award, all still being in their original delivery boxes when Malcolm had them mounted, to wear with pride as a son of one of the brave men of the RAF.

Retro Afternoon Tea Party – Mepal

Also thanks to Brian for a heads up regarding the forthcoming event in Mepal:

Event: Retro Afternoon Tea Party – Mepal


Date: 23 August 2015

Location: East Cambridgeshire

Time: 16:00 – 18:00

Cost: £5

Tea party to bring residents of Mepal together to commemorate anniversary of end of World War 2 and remember the contribution of the 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

The event has been organised by the Mepal Archive Group and will include:

Tea party inspired by the way wartime rations were used to produce wholesome meals and snacks and display of photos and memorabilia.

The aims of the event are to commemorate the end of the war; inform the younger generations about this time and the contribution that  75(NZ) Squadron RAF, who were based at RAF Mepal, made; help integrate the established and newer residents of the village, and promote the community archive (CCAN) website.

Contact phone no: 01353 777621

Contact email address: jane.edmenson@gmail.com

Full address: Mepal Village Hall, School Lane, Mepal, Ely, CB6 2AJ


Joe Tomlin – “C” Flight Instrument Section 1943 -1944


Ground crew with Stirling, Mepal, late 1943 / early 1944. Caption on the back: “C Flight Inst Sect Mepal. Mac, Doherty, Burley, Frost, Ansell and Dave Smith.” – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of Joe Tomlin.

Many thanks to Chris as always for supplying the following post:

In memory of Robert Arno “Joe” Tomlin, RNZAF (NZ401045):  1920 – 3rd June, 2015

Just recently we heard the sad news that another 75 (NZ) Squadron veteran had passed away, Joe Tomlin of Tairua, aged 95 years.

Joe Tomlin was an horogolist by trade, an expert in timepieces. At the  outbreak of war, he joined the RNZAF as an Instrument Repairer and left for  the UK in November 1941.

After serving on Air Search & Rescue squadrons and at 1651 Heavy Conversion  Unit (heavy bomber training) he applied to NZ High Commissioner Bill Jordan  to get “operational” and was posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron at Mepal, arriving  on 21 November 1943 .

There he served as a member of the “C” Flight Instrument Section,  specialising in the repair and maintenance of “George” the auto pilot, first on Stirlings, then later on Lancasters.

Joe remembered one particular autopilot repair job in “Kiwis Do Fly”, as told to Peter Wheeler:

“The crew of this aircraft was skippered by a mad Aussie pilot named Popsy. They were most concerned as they only had two Ops to go to finish their tour and felt that a change to a new aircraft might change their luck. Popsy asked if there was any way their regular mount could be made serviceable. I suggested we do a flight test.”

The flight test resulted in the Lancaster going into a steep dive as soon as “George” was engaged, and Joe floating around the cockpit while the Pilot desperately tried to to reach the autopilot disengage lever, and regain manual control.

Instead of following the proper procedure of returning the unit to base maintenance for repair and testing, the Pilot insisted that Joe do an on-the-spot repair, so they could fly in their own kite that night. Joe managed a fix, and after another air test, signed off the aircraft as serviceable on the Form 700. Needless to say, the improvised repair worked and Popsy and crew made it back safely that night.

“My diary of 13 June 1944 reads; “went up to the White Horse for a loaf of bread and a few drinks and met Popsy, the mad Aussie. He and his crew had just finished their tour of Ops and when they saw me, they stood me several beers saying I was responsible for getting them home several times and did so much by getting ‘George’ spot on. It was nice to be appreciated.”

“Popsy” appears to have been P/O Robert Albert Potts, DFC, RAAF (AUS.415353), and the Lancaster in question would have been LL866, the original S-Sugar from “Luck and a Lancaster”.

Luckily for us, Joe took several photos during his time at Mepal, and many years later allowed the NZ Bomber Command Assn to take copies for their archives. These photos, and their captions, give an insight into the ground crew’s view of life on Base.



Stirlings, Mepal, late 1943 / early 1944. – Photos courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of Joe Tomlin.


Unknown groundie and what looks to be an 8000lb H.C “cookie” on its bomb trolley. – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of Joe Tomlin.


Crashed Stirling AA-R? Caption on the back: “R 75 Sqdn Pranged at Mepal” – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of Joe Tomlin.

This is possibly Stirling LJ473, AA-R, piloted by Des Horgan, which overshot Mepal runway on return from a mining op’ north of Biarritz on the morning of 16.12.43, swung into a steep turn and had to belly-land.  Although looking at this photo, it’s hard to believe that none of the Horgan crew was injured!

One other Stirling crashed at Mepal while Joe was there, returning from a mining op’ off the Frisian Islands on 16.12.43, Stirling EF163, JN-L, captained by P/O Colin John Kinross, RNZAF (NZ417069). In this case, all crew were killed except for the Mid Upper Gunner, Sgt S. T. Newman, RAF (928207) who was only slightly injured.


Caption on the back: “EH955 JN-K. Lost 19 April 1944 shot down by nightfighter over Denmark. Due to “C” Flight re-equipping with Lanc’s in March 44 this a/c re-lettered “AA-K” just before being lost.” – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of Joe Tomlin.

This is the Stirling that the Murray crew was shot down in on 19 April, and  from which Sgt. John Edward Lithgow “Paddy” McFarland, F/S Gordon James  Irwin, and F/S Douglas John Hill parachuted.

There are several posts on this site about the Murray crew and much more about Paddy McFarland’s story here:

Caption on the back: “Lancaster Mepal. ND914 AA-H. Swung on landing 28-5-44. Written off.” - Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of Joe Tomlin.

Caption on the back: “Lancaster Mepal. ND914 AA-H. Swung on landing 28-5-44. Written off.”
– Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of Joe Tomlin.

More about ND914 here:

Joe (“Cpl Tomlin”) appears on this Battle Order for the Duisburg op’, 14 October 1944, bottom right, where he is listed as duty Instrument Repair technician.

Battle Order-14 October 1944-page-001

Joe left 75 (NZ) Squadron on 19 Dec 1944 and was posted back to New Zealand shortly afterwards.

Peter Wheeler:
Of course post war Joe didn’t slow down, being one of the very first commercial divers, using old CO2 cylinders as air tanks, as well as building and flying Jodel ZK ECF.

In later years he rebuilt our (MoTaT’s) Lancaster’s auto bomb sight, and we have a great video of him using it to control a bombing run over a large scale map on his garage door.

I last visited him after Christmas and he was still full of energy and ideas. A very special person.

Our thoughts and condolences go to the Tomlin family, and our thanks to Joe for his valued service, and for passing on his memories of those Mepal days long ago.

– And as always, thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn. for permission to reproduce these photos, and the excerpt from “Kiwis Do Fly”.

2015 Friends of 75(NZ) Squadron Association Winter Reunion

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It seems a good time having gotten an email from Margaret last week to try to utilse the wider reach of the blog to try to attract more new people to the Association’s Winter Reunion this November.

If you are an Association regular it’s a wonderful annual opportunity to catch up with friends and if you are new to the Squadron and Association, it’s a chance to meet like minded people, share information and perhaps learn some things about a relative.

As in previous years, accommodation for the reunion event will be in Dolphin Hotel in St. Ives.

The Reunion weekend runs over 2 nights, with an informal dinner on Friday night, before the Reunion Dinner ‘proper’ on Saturday night. After the Dinner on Saturday night there is a raffle (so don’t forget to bring something, somebody else would like to win!) and usually any announcements related to the Association.

The Dolphin has been generous enough to charge the same as they did last year.

The charges for the weekend are as follows:
£118 per person for the weekend for dinner, bed & breakfast

For those staying 1 night the charge is £87.15 per person for a double room, or £71.75 for a single – breakfast is included in this, but the evening meal is extra.

There will be a trip out on the Saturday morning – which is yet to be confirmed, but information on this visit will be available closer to the date.

On Sunday we all move to Mepal village for a service in the Memorial Garden and the laying of wreathes at the village cenotaph before joining the people of Mepal in the chapel for a service of remembrance. There are then refreshments in the village hall.

In order to try to help Margaret and hopefully make the Reunion accessible to more people I have set up an Eventbrite page, which is accessible to the right of this post. Booking a free ticket for the event only indicates an interest in the event  and lets us gauge interest – though if you change your mind, please let us know so we can give someone else a chance.

You can book up to 3 Double or Single  rooms for the reunion and, as is always the case, these will go, so, to avoid disappointment, book early!!

Hope to see you all at the Winter Reunion……..