Tag Archives: Alfred John Thomas

Request for Information. Hector Alisdair Stewart, Navigator – Thomas crew 1943

Anne has contacted me regarding her research into a second Cousin, Hector Stewart, who was a Navigator and flew with the Thomas crew. Hector was one of 4 brothers from Ireland who all thought in the Second World War. Of the other 3 brothers, firstly Douglas, who ended up in command of a Mule Transport in the mountains of Italy with the 8th Army, then Ken who was a doctor who was first on the beaches in Sicily and  Italy and then trained personnel for the D day landings.   He was mentioned in  dispatches for his role in  evacuating wounded from D day + 6 all the way to the Peace Conferences in Berlin.  The other brother volunteered as an Army chaplain in the forgotten  war in South East Asia – he will be researched after Anne’s research into Hector is complete.

So, based on the Op history for Hector and the Thomas crew, if any of you come across this post and have any information on the Hector, or any other member of the Thomas crew – I am sure Anne would love to hear from you……..

The Thomas crew arrived at Newmarket, from 1651 Conversion Unit at Waterbeach on the 18th April 1943. From the April 1943 Operational Record Book, Form 540 ‘H’ Movements:

Posted from No. 1651 Con. Unit. w.e.f. 18/4/43 (authy 3GRP. pgrm. 3G/6601/ p4 dtd. 14/4/43).
1394123 Sgt. Pilot Thomas, A.
1029882 Sgt. Nav. B. Stewart, H.
1331932 Sgt. WO/AG. Boxell, R.
1313969 Sgt. A/G. Parker, A.E.
1796043 Sgt. A/G. O’Farrell, J.
1271102 Sgt. F/Eng. Gale, J.

This grouping within the ‘H’ Movements essentially is the crew. It is difficult to tell from the records whether Fred Cumpsty was part of the original crew or not. On the next page of the ‘H’ Movements, Fred is listed with another group of airmen from 1651 C.U. and in fact the posting information is identical. Certainly, Jim Richards who would fly with the Thomas crew for it’s first 2 Ops was not part of the crew, arriving at the Squadron a little over a month before. Me must deduce, that for whatever reason, Fred was simply unable to join the rest of his crew until its 3rd Op on the 9th of May.

As was normal at this point in the war, Alf Thomas undertook an introductory ‘2nd Dickie’ Op before flying with his own crew.

26/4/43 Attack Against Targets at Duisburg
Walter Whitehead and crew Stirling Mk.III BF377
Sgt. Alfred John Thomas 2nd Pilot.

27/04/1943 Mining off the Frisian Islands
Stirling Mk.III BF377 ?-?  (3)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas RAFVR 1394123, 149999 – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart RAFVR 1029882 – Navigator
Sgt. James Leonard Richards RNZAF NZ404946 – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – RAFVR 1331932 – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale RAFVR 1271102 – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell RAFVR 1796043 – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. A.E. Parker RAFVR 1313969 – Rear Gunner

Take Off 01:23 – Landed 05:20
Flight Time 03:57

04/05/1943 Attack Against Targets at Dortmund
Stirling Mk.I BF459 JN-G/E  (1)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
Sgt. James Leonard Richards – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. A.E. Parker – Rear Gunner

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 01:56
Flight Time 02:31

09/05/1943 Mining in the Ile De Re Area
Stirling Mk.I BF459 JN-G/E  (2)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
Sgt. Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. A.E. Parker – Rear Gunner

Take Off 22:20 – Landed 04:33
Flight Time 06:13

13/05/1943 Attack Against Targets at Bochum
Stirling Mk.I BK614 JN-H  (9)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
Sgt. Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R. H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. A.E. Parker – Rear Gunner

Take Off 00:20 – Landed 04:08
Flight Time 03:48

17/05/1943 Mining off the West Coast of France
Stirling Mk.I BK817 AA-B  (1)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
Sgt. Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. Ronald Charlton* – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry** – Rear Gunner

Take Off 22:43 – Landed 05:13
Flight Time 06:30

* Sgt. Boxell is replaced for this Op by Sgt. Ron Charlton as Wireless Operator. This was Ron’s first Op with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF – He continued to fly with John Russell (1 Op), Andrew Rankin (7 Op’s) and finally Norman Wilson’s crew. On Ron’s 9th Op with the Wilson crew on the 4th of November 1943 whilst laying mines in the Baltic Sea, all crew were lost without trace.
**
Ernest Henry replaces Sgt. Parker as Rear Gunner

11/06/1943 Attack Against Targets at Dusseldorf
Stirling Mk.III EF399 AA-O  (1)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
Sgt. Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 23:31 – Landed 01:42
Flight Time 02:11

14/06/1943 Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (1)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
Sgt. Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 22:59 – Landed 00:40
Flight Time 01:41

19/06/1943 Attack Against Targets at Krefeld
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (2)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 22:03 – Landed 05:16
Flight Time 07:13

21/06/1943 Attack Against Targets at Krefeld
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (3)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Thomas Stewart – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 23:49 – Landed 04:10
Flight Time 04:21

22/06/1943 Attack Against Targets at Mülheim
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (4)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Thomas Stewart – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 23:38 – Landed 03:46
Flight Time 04:08

* James Leonard Richards was killed on this Op with all of his crew. This was only his 2nd Op with Tom McCrorie’s crew and in fact only the second Op Thomas McCrorie was flying as Skipper with his own crew.

25/06/1943 Attack Against Targets at Gelsenkirchen
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (5)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
F/S Geoffrey Phillips Sowerby* – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Thomas Stewart* – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 23:31 – Landed 03:36
Flight Time 04:05

*Geoffrey Phillips Sowerby, Navigator and Thomas Stewart, Flight Engineer with Clifford Charles Pownall Logan’s crew would be killed 3 months later on the Mannheim OP, 23rd September 1943. All of the crew would perish apart from their Rear Gunner, F/S Albert John Knox.

03/07/1943 Attack Against Targets at Cologne
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (6)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 23:30 – Landed 04:50
Flight Time 05:20

24/07/1943 Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (8)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 22:10 – Landed 00:45
Flight Time 02:35

25/07/1943 Attack Against Targets at Essen
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (9)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 02:45
Flight Time 04:15

27/07/1943 Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Stirling Mk.III BF577 JN-M  (10)

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 06:45

30/07/1943 Attack Against Targets at Remscheid
Stirling Mk.III BF458 JN-P  (10)

At approximately 10 o’clock at night and for the next 45 minutes, 17 Stirlings of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF took off from Mepal to join a force of 273 aircraft that were to attack the as previously unbombed town of Remscheid on the Southern extremities of the Ruhr – This Operation marked the end of the Battle of the Ruhr.

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas – Pilot
Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart – Navigator
F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty – Air Bomber
Sgt. R.H. Boxell – Wireless Operator
Sgt. John William Gale – Flight Engineer
Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry – Rear Gunner

Aircraft Missing

BF458 was brought down to the north of Krefeld, near Bockum and Uerdingen. Of the 7 crew, all were killed apart from Hector Stewart, the Navigator and the Wireless Operator R.H. Boxell.

John Gale and John O’Farrell were buried in Reichswald Forest Cemetery. The other 3 members of the crew, Pilot, Alfred John Thomas, Air Bomber, Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty and Rear Gunner Ernest Frank Henry are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Alfred John Thomas RAFVR 1394123, 149999 – Pilot. Age 25.
Commemorated on Panel 133 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Hector Alisdair Stewart RAFVR 1029882 – Navigator.
Prisoner of War No. 222432. Prisoner of War camps – Dulag Luft, Stalags IVB and Luft III. Date of return to United Kingdom, not known.

F/S Frederick William Raukawa Cumpsty RNZAF NZ413386 – Air Bomber. Age 25
Commemorated on Panel 198 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. R.H. Boxell RAFVR 1331932 – Wireless Operator.
Prisoner of War No. 222430. Prisoner of War camps – Dulag Luft, Stalag IVB. Date of return to United Kingdom, not known.

Sgt. John William Gale RAFVR 1271102 – Flight Engineer. Age 23.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt. John Hubert O’Farrell RAFVR 1796043 – Mid Upper Gunner. Age 19.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany.

Sgt. Ernest Frank Henry RCAF R.139159 – Rear Gunner. Age 26
Commemorated on Panel 180 Runnymede Memorial.