Tag Archives: 5th August 1944 Bassens

The MacKenzie crew and a correction to the history of ‘The Captains Fancy’…………

DSCF0018 rotated and cropped and reduced

Extract from the August page of P/O Andrew David Mackenzie, clearly showing NE181 as the aircraft that he and his crew completed their final 2 Ops in on the 4th and 5th of August 1944. © Andrew David MacKenzie

The eagle eyed, amongst you dear readers might, have noted with interest that the last 2 Ops flown by the MacKenzie crew in my previous post, was in none other than NE181 JN-M ‘The Captains Fancy’

Perhaps even more eagle eyed readers might have seen this and thought – ‘Hang on there, surely John Lethbridge and Eldrid O’Callaghan flew those Ops in Mike on the the 4th and 5th of August to Bec D’Ambes and Bassens (respectively)? It would appear, that if you were using the 1944 ORB as reference you would be correct, but it would now appear that perhaps we have found some more errors in the 75(NZ) Squadron RAF Operational Record Books……

I must confess in initial discussions with Andrew MacKenzie regarding his tour (based on my side with my database and Andrew with his logbook) I was more perplexed with the identity of the aircraft on their penultimate Op, appearing in the ORB as ND810. Initially, I thought this was corrected to ND801 (Get Sum Inn crops up again!)

You could probably understand my surprise and I must admit initial incredulity when Andrew corrected me, identifying that it was not ND801 that they flew their last 2 Ops in, but in fact NE181 JN-M, ‘The Captains Fancy’!

Now the first thing to stress is that this revelation does not throw into question the very well documented history of NE181 regarding the total number of Ops the aircraft flew. I know from entering information into the database, that to get to ‘Mikes’ total, a high degree of interpretation has to be used regarding incorrect or erroneous titling of the aircraft regarding its serial number. Doing the same for ND801 ‘Get Sum Inn’ has made me realise that in both cases, without a guide of a photograph with an op tally, the actual task of recording an accurate Op history is in truth, practically impossible and of course, this assumes that the Op tally in a photograph is, itself, accurate – NE181 only ever showing a total of 101 Ops is a perfect case in point – irrespective of argument, once we have gone beyond 101, everything else is moving onto rather thin ice………

Returning to the information that Andrew has supplied in the form of his logbook page, it would appear that everybody’s records need to be amended – ‘The Captains Fancy’ did fly on the 4th and 5th of August to Bec D’Ambes and Bassens, but, it would appear not under  Pilots, John Lethbridge and Eldrid O’Callaghan. Now of course, this in turn throws up the question of which aircraft they flew on those 2 ops…….?

With all of these issues I have come round to the simple approach of supporting evidence and indeed, as Andrew remarked to me – he did not know why the logbook and ORB differs, but why would he record the wrong aircraft in his logbook? – and I fully agree. Without the slightest disrespect to the ground staff at Mepal who were tasked with recording the crew lists and aircraft details, we know that a significant number of errors of accuracy exist, ranging from misspellings of names, to the completely incorrect listing of individuals within crews.

I suppose my final observation would be that, even after all this time, there are still surprises and even now, we have to consider the ORB’s as a document to be corrected, rather than a document to be completely taken as an accurate reference.

A massive thanks to Andrew Mackenzie, firstly for supplying information about himself, his crew and ‘Jock’s Box’, but secondly and perhaps a little by accident for letting us see a little bit more about NE181 JN-M, ‘The Captains Fancy’

and don’t forget, you heard it first on 75nzsquadron.com