Tag Archives: Bomber Command Clasp

Peter Carrie, Flight Engineer – Lukins crew

Crew cpd and cont for blog

The Lukins crew at Mepal, sometime in 1945. Peter Carrie is stood at the far right of the picture, the individual next to him is an unknown ground crew member. The crew’s Rear Gunner, Tom Benson is stood second in on the left of the group© Peter Carrie/ Kerry Major


In a remarkable recreation of the above photograph, Peter stands alone under S ‘Sugar’ at the RAF Museum Hendon. © image owner unknown at this date – I have tried to find out and will amend details when able to – but the image is too moving to not include in this post…….

Many thanks to Kerry for passing on these images of his Grandfather , Peter Carrie who flew with Bernard Lukins crew as Flight Engineer between February and July 1945. If the stories of the boys who flew in the Squadron are all not remarkable, then Peter’s is even more so.  Born 1915 in Dundee, Scotland, he joined the Army  at 19  in the Tank Corp and served in India and the Khyber Pass. During WW2 he was evacuated from Dunkirk , they found him covered in dead bodies and thought he only had hours to live – in Kerry’s words, he was like a ‘pin cushion’ with shrapnel  wounds all over his body. The King sent a letter to his parents when he made it to a military hospital informing them of his condition. The Army found him unfit for service so Peter joined the RAF and ended up with Bernard Lukin’s crew at Mepal in February 1945. Often when I state superlatives I add, ‘as far as I am aware’ – in this case I don’t have to. Peter is the only Chelsea Pensioner to hold the Bomber Command clasp.

Training group cpd cont fx for blog

A group photograph taken during Peter’s training to become a Flight Engineer. Peter is second row from the back, 4th from left. © Peter Carrie/ Kerry Major


13.2.45 Administration
156733 F/S Lukins B.L. and crew arrived on posting from 1669 C.U.

Five days later the Lukins crew would begin their tour with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

18.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against  Wesel
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L
F/O Bernard Lincoln Lukins RAFVR 1586733/195347 – Pilot
F/S F. Gunningham RAFVR –  Navigator
F/S Duncan Ross RAFVR – Air Bomber
F/S William Reid RAFVR – Wireless Operator
Sgt Peter Carrie RAFVR – Flight Engineer
Sgt A. Crossfield RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt Tom Benson RAFVR 1901416 – Rear Gunner

F/O Charlie Green Joins the crew as Mid Under Gunner.

19.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against  Wesel

Lancaster Mk.I RA510 AA-J
Same crew

RA510, AA-J suffered an engine failure immediately after take-off. The port-inner engine was shut down and feathered then the Lukins crew proceeded to The Wash where the bomb load was jettisoned before returning to base, landing at 15.10hrs.

28.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Lancaster Mk.I PB741  AA-E
Same crew

2.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Cologne
Lancaster Mk.I HK576 AA-G
Same crew
The raid, was not a success as the G-H equipment failed to function correctly and all Squadron aircraft failed to bomb. The main raid was highly destructive, with the Pathfinders marking in clear weather conditions.
This was the last RAF raid on Cologne, subsequently captured by American troops four days later.

4.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wanne-Eickel
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
Same Crew

6.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Salzbergen
Lancaster MK.III PB418 AA-C
F/L S. Cowen takes over position of Flight Engineer from Peter Carrie

7/8.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dessau
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
Sgt. Carrie returns as Flight Engineer
Sgt. Crossfield swaps to Mid Upper Gunner position and Sgt. Benson takes over Rear Gunner position

11.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Essen
Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J
Same crew

A milestone was reached on the Essen Op, when the largest number of aircraft sent to any target so far in the war, took place with the dispatch of 1,079 aircraft to Essen. The force comprised 750 Lancasters (21 ex 75 Sqn), 293 Halifaxes and 36 Mosquito’s from all bomber Groups. Only three Lancasters were lost.
4,661 tons of bombs were dropped through complete cloud cover on Oboe-directed sky- markers. It was an accurate attack and the resulting devastation virtually paralysed Essen until American troops entered the city some time later.

12.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J
Same crew

Following on from the previous day’s record force of 1,079 aircraft to Essen, the area-raid on Dortmund by 1,108 aircraft from all Groups established  a new record that would stand till the end of the war. Three aircraft types were again involved; 748 Lancasters, (21 ex 75 Sqn), 292 Halifaxes and 68 Mosquito’s. Two Lancasters were lost.
A record 4,851 tons of bombs was dropped through cloud by the force. The only report from this unfortunate city indicated that the attack fell mainly in the central and southern districts. An investigation conducted after the war on the effects of the bombing stated that, ‘ . . . The final raid stopped production so effectively that it would have been many more months before any substantial recovery could have taken place . . . ‘

14.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Heinrich Hutte
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
Same crew

27.3.45. War Ops – Attack Against Hamm
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
Same crew

09/10.4.45. Gardening Ops – Mining, Kiel Bay
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
Same crew

14/15.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Potsdam (Berlin)
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
Same crew

This was the first raid by Bomber Command four-engined aircraft in the Berlin defence zone since March 1944. This time the approach across parts of Germany recently captured by Allied troops led to only one Lancaster being lost – shot down by a night- fighter.

It was also the last raid of the war by a major Bomber Command force on a German city. The aiming point was the center of Potsdam and the intention was to destroy the local army barracks, and the railway system. The raid was successful and severe damage was caused not only in Potsdam, but also in northern and eastern districts of Berlin.

20.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Regensburg
Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F
F/L S. Cowen replaces Peter again as F/E
P/O Lukins & crew, found it unnecessary to drop their smoke-puff. Their bombs were observed bursting on the railway junction south of the A/P and north of the river.

A daylight op of 100 Lancasters of 3 Group, including 20 from 75(NZ) Squadron, were detailed to carry out attacks on the fuel- storage depot at Regensburg, on the Danube, 7 miles east of the Czechoslovakia/ German border. It was an accurate raid with only one aircraft lost.

This was the last raid in the current campaign against German oil targets, waged since June 1944. Much of Bomber Command’s effort during this period, sometimes at considerable loss, has been devoted to these oil operations helping not only the Allied ground forces on the Western front, but also those fighting in Italy and on the Eastern front.

22.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Bremen Daylight op
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
W/O V. Peplow replaces Peter as Flight Engineer
PB418, P/O Lukins & crew, observed their bomb bursts on the A/P (Aiming Point) while in good formation. Then their starboard engine failed.

22.4.45. War Ops – Attack Against Bremen
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
W/O V. Peplow in as Flight Engineer

3.5.45. Operation Manna –  Supply drop at The Hague
Lancaster Mk.I NN773 AA-G
No Mid Upper Gunners flew on this Op.
P/O R. Fairbairn replaces Peter as Flight Engineer

The aircraft detailed for this Op were airborne Mepal at or about 11.20hrs.
 A total of 50 supply packs were carried – 25 for Delft and 25 for The Hague. 
Crews had no difficulty identifying the targets at each dropping zone. Of the 10 packs dropped, 4 hung up. The packs contained an undisclosed number of food bags many of which fell free of the packs and burst open on impact. One of these bags contained flour which burst in mid-air. Other bags falling directly on the white cross, broke open scattering the contents.
Fewer people than on previous days were now turning up, but they still were enthusiastic in their praise for the aid. At one drop zone, crews noted the field appeared to be guarded by soldiers.
In general, all crews reported well-concentrated dropping of supplies taking place.
The 10 aircraft returned to base safely on completion of the task, landing between 13.24 – 1359hrs.

7.5.45. Operation Manna –  Supply dropping, Delft
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
Sgt. Peter Carrie returns to the crew as Flight Engineer
LAC Waldock as Passenger

This was the largest number of 75(NZ) Squadron Lancasters detailed for supply dropping to the starving people of Holland, in this series of humanitarian aid operations.

10.4.45. Operation Exodus – Prisoner Repatriation from Juvincourt, France
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-R
F/O David Jones replaces Duncan Ross as Air Bomber
F/L Owen joins the crew as Flight Engineer

5 Squadron aircraft were detailed for the evacuation of 336 ex Prisoners of War from Juvincourt to RAF Ford.

12.5.45. Operation Exodus – Prisoner Repatriation from Juvincourt, France
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
F/L Fuller replaces F/O Jones in Air Bombers position

15 Lancasters were detailed for the operation in which 360 Prisoners of War were returned home. The total to-date was 1,224.

15.5.45. Operation Exodus – Prisoner Repatriation from Juvincourt, France
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
F/S A. Griffiths takes Air Bombers position

24.5.45. Operation Exodus – Repatriation of Belgian refugees to Brussels and Prisoners of War to England
Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A
F/S Duncan Ross returns in Air Bombers position

Just two aircraft were made available, not only for the return of Prisoners of War but also for repatriation of Belgian Refugees to Brussels. The aircraft departed from RAF Waterbeach, England with 20 refugees – 10 on each aircraft. After offloading their Belgian passengers at Brussels, each crew then took on board 12 Prisoners of War for the return journey to England. This brought the number of POW’s returned home by the squadron to 2,219.

26.5.45. Operation Exodus – Repatriation of Belgian Refugees to Belgium and Prisoners of War to England
Lancaster Mk.I NN747 AA-D
F/L Lukins & crew, had a minor taxiing mishap while at Brussels, damaging the wing. Their planned uplift of 24 ex Prisoners therefore had to be cancelled.

That days operation completed 75(NZ) Squadron’s contribution to Operation Exodus. Between 9 May and 26 May 1945, 134 sorties were flown during which 2,354 Ex Prisoners of War were repatriated to England and 152 Belgian refugees to Brussells.

8.6.45. Viewing the Effects of Bombing
Lancaster Mk.I RE510 ‘E’

I know Kerry would love to find out more about his Grandfather and given that the majority of the crew, being RAF, only currently exist as first initials, so would I. If you know anything about the boys that flew with Peter Carrie and Bernard Lukins, as always, please get in touch……

Clasp award

Presentation of Bomber Command Clasp to Peter Carrie by General Sir Redmond Watt, KCB KCVO CBE DL on the 23rd of April 2014. © Peter Carrie/ Kerry Major

The citation at the awarding of Peter’s Bomber Command clasp was as follows:
“We are here today to mark a significant event in the life of In-Pensioner Peter Carrie.  Peter has the distinction of having served with both the Army from 1934 – 1940 and the RAF from 1943 – 1946.  After much public pressure to recognise those who bravely set out from bases all along the east coast across France and Germany on perilous missions, the Bomber Command clasp was finally instituted in 2013.  To that end, Peter is the only Chelsea Pensioner to qualify for such an award.
Peter was as a Flight Engineer on many Lancaster bombing missions,including those on Hamburg and Wesel.  He served with 75 (NZ) Squadron, which was constantly engaged against Germany from 1940 to VE day.  According to statistics, this squadron flew more sorties than any other Allied heavy bomber squadron.  It suffered the second highest casualties of all the Allied squadrons, and dropped the second largest weight of bombs of any Allied squadron.Miraculously Peter and his crew members made it safely home following each mission, although on many occasions his aircraft was hit by enemy flack and even lost the occasional engine.  
Some 55,000 Airmen who served with Bomber Command were killed during wartime raids and Peter can testify to losing many friends and colleagues on these daring missions.  He will be the first to say that he was no hero and saw his brave feats as just part of his job, however his modesty belies a man of integrity and immense courage in the face of such danger”.

Bomber Command Clasp presentation to veterans

Award comp shot

Sir Andrew Pulford KCB CBE ADC, Chief of the Air Staff visited Northern Ireland and presented the Bomber Command Clasp to, on the left, Ronnie Allen, son of Norman Allen and to the right, to John McFarland’s wife Elizabeth.

Many thanks to David for passing on these lovely photographs of family members of Bomber Command veterans receiving the Bomber Command Clasp.

Sir Andrew Pulford KCB CBE ADC, Chief of the Air Staff visited Northern Ireland on St Patrick’s Day and presented Bomber Command Clasps at a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle.   Unfortunately 75 (NZ) Squadron veteran John McFarland was unable to attend as he was in hospital, and the clasp was presented to his wife Elizabeth.   Ronnie Allen, son of the late Norman Allen another 75 (NZ) Squadron veteran received his late father’s clasp.

Also in attendance to receive the clasp in person was Alfie Martin, a great friend of John McFarland. Alfie, who can be seen wearing his D.F.C. along with his other medals was an Air Bomber with 102 (Ceylon) Squadron RAF. Alfie and his crew were one of 372 aircraft that took off on the 16th April 1943 to bomb the Skoda armaments factory at Pilsen in Czechoslovakia.


Alfie Martin receiving his Bomber Command Clasp from Sir Andrew Pulford KCB CBE ADC, Chief of the Air Staff.

After an attack by German night fighters, Alfie’s Halifax bomber suffered an engine fire and the Skipper ordered the boys out. Alfie’s story after this incident was recorded in 2010 by the BBC. He made the interview to pay tribute to the members of the French Resistance who helped him in escaping from France. Three of the Frenchmen who were of direct assistance to him did not survive the war. Alfie escaped as did 3 of his crew, one was captured and sadly 2 were killed.

Listens to Alfie’s astonishing and very moving story here.




Bomber Command clasp

I found it a slightly bitter sweet experience to hear yesterday morning on the radio that the Government has finally announced the release of a clasp award for recognition, to all aircrew of Bomber Command. It’s way too little, too late in my opinion, but at least now we have something and we should accept it with the respect that the memory of the Bomber Command crews deserve.

From Veterans-uk (http://veterans-uk.info/arctic_star_index.htm)
“The criteria for the Bomber Command Clasp requires prior qualification for the 1939 to 1945 Star, to which it will be affixed, with the additional requirement to have flown at least one operational sortie with a Bomber Command operational unit. A clasp was deemed more appropriate, by Sir John, in the case of Bomber Command as aircrew had already received either the Aircrew Europe Star or the France and Germany Star and another medal would have constituted “double-medalling” for the same service”.

The full qualification criteria can be downloaded here

and an application form can be downloaded here

I think that everyone who qualifies to get one, should apply, if for no other reason to let those responsible know, that despite the wait, there is still a massive respect and love for these brave boys and that their memory, contribution and sacrifice, will live with us longer than it has taken for them to be officially recognised.