Late last night I received some more information from Tony regarding NW181’s 100th op. The information was originally received from Jack Wall, the A/B in the Bailey crew. What follows is transcribed portions of documents that quite rightly, Tony feels cannot be made public without the permission of Jack’s surviving son-in-law. Hopefully Tony will be successful in contacting him and we might be able to learn more about the crews exploits. Until then, the following still represents some wonderful information from the time.
Below is the text of part of an Air Ministry Bulletin that was sent by Lac Fred Woolerton, C. Flight mechanic, to F/O John Wall DFC, bomb aimer on Jack Bailey’s JN-M crew. John later sent a copy to Tony Pickup, (son of P/O Dick Pickup, W/Op of same crew) and it is printed here with acknowledgements to Fred and John.
Congratulations to JN-M on completing her century with the squadron.
During the time this aircraft has been with No.75 (NZ) Squadron, only once has she failed to get airborne, and never has she returned early.
All personnel who have carried out maintenance on this aircraft are to be congratulated on their efforts and in particular the following who have been the maintenance crew throughout its life.
611010 Sgt. Phillips – F/2/E.
1061645 Cpl. Kingjorn – F/8/A
1703088 Lac. Tayler – F/E/E.
1814705 Lac. Woolerton. – F/M/E. (Fred)
1864182 Lac. Pascoe. – F/S/E. “
(Italicised parts of the crew list above may be incorrect and are where original copy is indistinct. TP)
Below is part of the letter that Fred sent to John Wall to accompany the above Air Ministry Bulletin.
“Item 32 was published after the 100th Op. It mentions the fact that it only failed to get airborne once. The reason for this was as follows.
I was standing in front of the aircraft indicating which engine to start, my mate, Pete, was up in the undercart priming the engines. We had just completed this and as Pete dropped down from the undercart, the rear gunner of the kite in front of ours (X-ray) shot off a burst of rounds. These went over my head, nearly taking it off and went straight into the rad of the S/Bd inner, some coming out of the rear into the undercart space that Pete had just vacated. Result, a leaking rad, two, very shaken airmen, and aircrew transferred to a reserve kite. I forgot what we called the A/G. I know we had more work that night putting in a new rad.”
Text retyped from a photocopy of the bulletin provided to the son of P/O Dick Pickup by F/O J.C.Wall, DFC.; both members of Jack Bailey’s crew.
Air Ministry Bulletin No. 18334.
SQUADRON LEADER JACK MATHERS BAILEY, DFC
Squadron Leader John Mathers Bailey, DFC, pilot of “M-Mike‟, the first aircraft of a New Zealand heavy bomber squadron of the RAF to reach a century of operations, has been awarded a Bar to his DFC.
S/L Bailey, who was formerly a farmer at Ohingaiti, New Zealand, is now a Flight Commander of the No.75 (N.Z.) heavy bomber squadron. He enlisted in the R.N.Z.A.F. in 1941, was trained in New Zealand and England, and completed a tour of operations with No. 75 Squadron. He showed outstanding airmanship and devotion to duty, and, in June, 1943 was awarded the DFC.
After a period of instructional duty, S/L Bailey returned to the New Zealand squadron last year and began his second tour of operations.
His aircraft was „M-Mike‟ and he had the distinction of piloting the Lancaster on its 100th war flight. Soon after that flight, which was to Krefeld on January 28th, „M-Mike‟ with the impressive record of 101 operations and 476 hours flying time, was taken off operations for a major overhaul.
In February, while flying another aircraft, he led his squadron in an attack on an oil refinery at Osterfeld. Over the target the aircraft was hit by flak and extensively damaged. The starboard inner engine was put out of action, but S/L Bailey made a successful attack and flew safely back from Germany on three engines.
“He has participated in many sorties against some of the most heavily defended targets in enemy territory, and has consistently displayed a high standard of courage and skill, qualities which were well evident in the attack on Osterfeld” says the citation of his latest award.
Thirty-one years of age, S/L Bailey was born in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, but went to New Zealand seven years ago, to become a farmer at Ohingaiti.