Tag Archives: 75nzsquadron.com

75nzsquadron.com – back on Ops!

I am pleased to say that having finally taken ownership of a replacement to my once faithful MacBook Air, I am back and up and running!

Thankfully, the archived image of, lets call it MBA 001, whilst inaccessible as files has populated MBA 002 exactly and nothing of any significance has been lost whatsoever relating to the site or my archives – testament to the benefits of regular backing up methinks……..

It’s been a frustrating few months, but having said this, a constant stream of emails has ensured that there is plenty of content to add and this will happen through posts and updates over the next few months.

I owe a sincere thanks to 2 truly kind hearted souls who actually not only clicked on the ‘just Giving’ link of my ‘dead MacBook’ post from before Christmas, but also were prepared to put their hands in their pockets! In honest truth, as they were the only donations, I didn’t feel it fair to take the money, so I returned it. Many thanks to my lovely wife as always for having the financial clout to be able to step in during my darkest hour(s) and contribute to the effort!

During my imposed absence I have at least been able to continue with the Nominal Roll research, albeit on a PC (yuk). I have now reconciled the original Form 540 database to generate a list of all individuals who flew with the Squadron during the War. I am currently merging this information with individual information gathered form the Form 78 records for RAF personnel, as well as promotions and awards from the London Gazette. Additionally, book references have also added a significant amount of detail.

My searching has highlighted the significant discrepancies and variability of accessible information depending on country. A massive applause to the Australian National Archive, who have digitised the service records of those RAAF personnel who flew with the Squadron – to a level that is only, it seems, possible to obtain form other nations archives if you are a direct relative.

As I have already asked, please, find the time to contact your nations archives and request your loved ones service records – I have often remarked on the fact that this site is only what it is because of the generous contributions by all of you – this is so much more true in the creation of this new record.

As an aside and as a result of my database noodling, I would also like to know the dates of birth of your relatives. Whilst a small detail perhaps, it allows me vey easily to generate the actually, very poignant in some cases, age of the boys when they arrived at a front line bomber squadron. To this end, dates of passing, post-war would also be most welcomingly received.

In other, but potentially far more exciting news, Chris has begun to dig through the Air Force Museum of New Zealand’s archive and it seems at the moment almost every day is discovering some astonishing documents and records. Some material, is so unique as to have not even thought that it might exist! Having wetted your appetite, I am sure more details and posts will follow!

a thousand thanks for sticking with it!

Simon

21/12/19 Apple MacBook Air – Failed to Return……….

Dear readers of this Blog

It is with much sadness that I must report that the above named MacBook Air failed to return from blogging operations conducted the night before last.

It was seen to receive a starboard impact from an exploding cup of tea. Whilst the crew shut down all engines immediately and initiated dinghy/ kitchen towel drill, the display was almost instantly lost and there followed a crackling sound throughout its main body.

At the time of writing nothing further has been heard from the m/a and as such it is not clear whether any of the data on board survived.

This MacBook Air has been with 75nzsquadron since its formation and had completed a total of 731 posts, being responsible for over 550,000 views. Whilst significant amounts of data had been carried and then re-posted to other data storage devices, this loss is felt keenly, given that all of its data was new and would have undertaken a number of new posts during the coming months

To this end I must regretfully inform you that 75nzsquadron.com must wait until replacement machines can be procured before blogging can be recommenced…….

Donations of railings, metal gates, pots and pans can be donated here.

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!

 

For Information

On the 5th of October, I resigned as President of the Friends of 75 ( New Zealand ) Squadron Association.

Whilst not an easy decision to make, it was one, that I felt I had to take.  As such, the blog and my activities will continue, but now separate from that of the UK Association.

Anyone wishing to contact the UK Association should do so via the Chairman, Kevin KIng.

Kevin can be contacted via email – kevinfking@talktalk.net

100,000 Views – utterly amazing…..

It seems as if I am celebrating every 10,000 view milestone with accelerating regularity. Despite this, it always feels like an achievement. Tonight I think we should really  stop and realise what we have all managed to achieve –   the blog has just recorded it’s 100,000 view.

I had absolutely no idea when I began this blog in the summer of 2012 that it would grow the way it has. Initially I began to write backwards as it were, recording past events of my research journey – I figured I would ‘catch up’ with the present day and it would then be a diary of my research journey about Bob and the boys he flew with.

In honest truth, I think I underestimated the reach of a blog and the interest it would generate – I was amazed when I saw it had been viewed 100, 200, 500, a 1,000 times. And then the amazing, heartbreaking and uplifting stories started to come…….

I know I always say this, but I honestly have to thank all of you. In real terms, I have become just a curator of the stories of the boy’s of 75(NZ) Squadron, without all of you who have given so generously stories, photographs, memories and your time, the blog would not be what it is today and I certainly would not be writing this 100,000 view post.

I am more determined than ever to try to ensure that everything that is passed to me will be presented on the blog – at times this is incredibly difficult to do, but I will keep going whenever I can – to those of you that have perhaps sent an email asking for information, or for those of you that have sent information, but have yet to see it posted, please bare with me, I will get back to you and it will be posted.

The strength of what we have managed to achieve is a tribute to the generosity of people – this information is yours, not mine. It is certainly not mine to take and store away, it is given to be shown and by showing it we will learn more, either about individuals, or small parts of a life or bigger tales of the Squadron.

If I didn’t envisage the way the site would grow, I certainly did not realise that the blog would also allow relatives to reconnect and meet each other, years after their Fathers, Uncles, Grandfathers or Great Grandfathers had flown together and sometimes died together as a crew – this has been an unexpected but truly rewarding aspect of my work on the blog.

And it also has been incredibly rewarding to try to help visitors, just as I was helped when I began my research journey – am I now an expert myself? – no, I don’t think so at all. I know more than when I started and I will know more tomorrow than I do today – but again, the blog has allowed me to connect with those who are experts and the sum of my knowledge is contained in the blog and the people who have contributed to it – we are all experts of small parts of the story – put together the sum is greater than the parts.

It has been an honour and a privilege to meet and work with all of you – I hope this will continue to the next 100,000 views.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

Simon

 

 

 

Ask a ?

I’m not sure whether this will work, or even help…….

It’s occurred to me over the last few months that a lot of interesting comments and ‘arrivals’ of new visitors to the blog occur and these comments usually relate to a particular post. In some cases, in the absence of perhaps knowing where else to introduce themselves, new visitors tend to post on the ‘About’ page. I am also aware that nobody as a poster of a comment has the level of notification that I do regarding the ‘global’ comments on the blog.

First of all, this is fine. However, it does occur to me that probably on a lot of occasions a post is missed by the wider visiting community, just because of where it has been posted.

As an experiment to see if we can perhaps get a clearer opportunity, certainly regarding new contacts, to all see the posts, I have created a new section in the menu bar called ‘Ask a ?’

I wonder if this might allow a more interactive opportunity for people to see new or non post specific comments and in turn allow response or comment – we shall see I suppose.

The way that WordPress builds pages and nested menu items means that if you click on the ‘Ask a ?’ link on the menu, you’ll go to a discreet page. If you hold on this menu item, you will see, as with other pages in the menu a series of nested pages. I propose the following starting structure and lets see if it works – or indeed if anybody reads this!

Ask a ?
General questions or pieces of information related to 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

Ask a ? – Individuals
Information, questions etc. related to either Aircrew or Ground Crew.

Ask a ? – Aircraft
Information, questions etc. related to the aircraft that were flown in the Squadron.