Tag Archives: Eric Frank Butler

The Mallon crew – get your copy!

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I am pleased to announce that Vic Jay’s, efforts, initially through his blog, about his Father’s time in the Squadron have now borne fruit in the the form of “The Mallon crew” – a 200 page book on the crew and on Vic’s journey through the piecing together of the stories of the boys that flew with his father, Bob Jay.

The book maps out Vic’s early research and as it develops, he begins to re-connect with the relatives of the rest of the boys in the crew.

As Vic says at the beginning of the book:

“The Mallon Crew’ is the extraordinary result of four years research. My decision in 2012 to write a blog about my dad’s war-time experiences as the flight engineer of a Lancaster bomber took me on an incredible voyage of discovery and unearthed some remarkable stories of courage, sacrifice and betrayal.

As a child growing up in the 1950s I never tired of asking my dad what he did in the war. I wanted to know all about his role, what flak was like and even how aircraft were able to fly. By the time I left primary school my interest had started to wane and, when he died in 1974 at the age of just fifty five, I thought I had lost any chance of discovering more about this period of his life. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.

Nearly forty years later, with just a handful of photographs, his log book and the name of his New Zealand pilot, Bill Mallon, my modest research project into ‘Bob Jay’s war’ uncovered more tragedies than I could have imagined possible and connected me with the families of all but one of my dad’s crew. It even gave me the opportunity to talk to a man of ninety four who had flown with my dad and to discover a photograph of his crew’s aircraft flying to its last target.

This book is not about a squadron, nor is it about individual acts of heroism, it is about a small group of unremarkable men thrown together briefly during the last few months of the war and the amazing way in which their stories have unfolded seventy years later. They survived the war but their lives would never be the same again. I defy anyone not to be moved by their experiences or to marvel at the power of the internet to bring people together”.

All credit to Vic for making the time and putting the effort into moving his research from the blog to a book and I wish him every success with it.

You can click here to buy your copy of “The Mallon crew”

Some of Bob’s stories

Many thanks to Vic for passing on information regarding a new post on his Blog regarding his Father, Bob Jay, who was Flight Engineer with Bill Mallon and Eric Butler. The post is entitled ‘Some of Bob’s stories’ and judging by the pictures above, you might get an idea of what these tales relate to!

Read Bob’s tales here.

Bob Jay’s War – an update

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Many thanks to Vic for updating me on recent developments with his blog about his Father Bob. Vic and I have been regular correspondents for some time now and I think that Vic actually just beat me to a blog presence before I started 75nzsquadron.com.

Vic’s blog has undergone some structural changes over the its life and represents a fascinating and very detailed research story of his Father and the crew he flew with as a Flight Engineer.

I have a lot of respect for Vic’s focus and dedication to his project – I started off with exactly the same intention, but perhaps have found it difficult to keep the single focus on my Father and his crew – I started to try to find out about an individual, then a crew and now have a whole Squadron to contend with!

Despite all of this, Vic still needs help – despite his best attempts, he has drawn a blank regarding contact with relatives of 3 of the crew:

F/O Kenneth Philip (RNZAF NZ429093), bomb aimer, aged 32 (born 1912 or 1913 in NZ)
Sgt Don Cook (RAFVR), mid-upper gunner, aged 20 (born 1924 or 1925) from London (?)
Sgt John Eynstone (RAFVR), rear gunner, aged 19 (born 1925 or 1926) from Oxford (?)

So, if any of you know of these individuals or relatives of the boys, or, even if you just happen to know someone with the same surname, please just ask if they had a relative that flew during the war – as ridiculous as a long shot it might be, you never know.

Visit Vic’s blog here – and be prepared for a gasp when you see what he got up to this summer……..

Amohanga crew, March 1945

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The Amohanga crew pose in front of Lancaster HK593, JN-X.
Left to right rear: Alf Woolcock, A/B; Ken Dalzell, Navigator; Kiwi Amohanga, Pilot; Jack Richardson, M/U/Gnr.
Front: Steven Fletcher, F/E; Sandy Strachan, R/Gnr; Max Spooner, W/Op.
New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Ken Dalzell.

Another post from Chris, based on his visit to the New Zealand Bomber Command Archive;.

Another photo from the NZBCA archives, and another good story!

10.3.45
Administration:
NZ425492 P/O K Amohanga and crew reported on posting from No. 73 Base.

The Amohanga crew was placed in C Flight:

P/O Kiwi Ernest Amohanga, RNZAF NZ425492 – Pilot.
F/S (later W/O) Walter Kenneth “Ken” Dalzell, RNZAF NZ433854 – Navigator.
F/O Alfred Hugh “Alf” Woolcock, RNZAF NZ2121 – Bomb Aimer.
Sgt B “Steven” Fletcher RAF – Flight Engineer.
F/S (later W/O) Edward Maxwell “Max” Spooner, RNZAF NZ428162 – Wireless Operator.
F/O Jack Cresswell Richardson, RNZAF NZ427323 – Mid-Upper Gunner.
F/Sgt Alexander Freedman “Sandy” Strachan, RNZAF NZ4210193 – Rear Gunner.

And then, before their feet had hardly touched the ground!:

11.3.45 War Ops – Essen
Kiwi Amohanga flew his “second dickie” as 2nd Pilot with Wi Rangiuaia and his crew
Lancaster Mk 1 NN747 JN-O

12.3.45 War Ops – Dortmund
Lancaster Mk 1 HK593 JN-X
Crew as above

14.3.45 War Ops – Henrich Hutte
Lancaster Mk 1 HK593 JN-X
Same crew

17.3.45 War Ops – Auguste Viktoria
Lancaster Mk 1 PB424 JN-O
Same crew

21.3.45 War Ops – Munster Viaduct
Lancaster Mk 1 HK601 JN-D.
Same crew

This was the last complete Amohanga crew op’.

Peter Wheeler tells the story, brief but evocative:
“Kiwi got hit over the head with a beer bottle by a Yank, and had to go to Ely Hospital. Ken and his crew became spare bod’s.”

The war was almost over. Eric Butler took the rest of the crew on one last op’, and then they were dispersed amongst other crews for various Operation Manna and POW repatriation trips.

22.4.45 War Ops – Bremen
PB820 JN-V
F/L Eric Frank Butler, RNZAF NZ425558 – Pilot.
F/S Walter Kenneth “Ken” Dalzell, RNZAF NZ433854 – Navigator.
F/O Alfred Hugh “Alf” Woolcock, RNZAF NZ2121. Bomb Aimer.
Sgt B “Steven” Fletcher RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Edward Maxwell “Max” Spooner, RNZAF NZ428162 – .Wireless Operator.
F/O Jack Cresswell Richardson, RNZAF NZ427323 – Mid-Upper Gunner.
F/Sgt Alexander Freedman “Sandy” Srachan, RNZAF NZ4210193 – Rear Gunner.

Thanks to Peter Wheeler and the New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archives.

Bob Jay’s war – Baedeker

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Another update from Vic regarding his blog about his Father.

This latest post concerns recollections of one of the crew’s post war flights on what has come to be known as a ‘Baedeker’ Op.

If anybody has a definitive explanation for why these trips out over the bombed cities of Germany were given this name I’d be interested to hear from you, though I suspect there a certain tinge of irony in their naming. After the bombing of Lubeck in March 1942, the German leadership, outraged by the attack decided to mount a series of Vergeltungsangriffe, or “retaliatory attacks” on British cities.

As always, many thanks for wikipedia –
The Baedeker raids were conducted by the German Luftwaffe’s Luftflotte 3 in two periods between April and June 1942. They targeted militarily unimportant but picturesque cities in England. The cities were reputedly selected from the German Baedeker Tourist Guide to Britain, meeting the criterion of having been awarded three stars (for their historical significance), hence the English name for the raids. Baron Gustav Braun von Stumm, a German propagandist is reportedto have said on 24 April 1942 following the first attack, “We shall go out and bomb every building in Britain marked with three stars in the Baedeker Guide.”

The cities attacked were:
First period
Exeter (23rd and 24th April, 3rd May)
Bath (25th and 26th April)
Norwich (27th and 29th April)
York (29th April)

Second period, following the bombing of Cologne:
Canterbury (31st May, 2nd June and 6th June)

So as I mentioned, I am not sure whether the use of ‘Baedeker’ was an official or unofficial description for these Ops – certainly looking at the logbooks from the Squadron during this period, Baedeker is mixed with ‘Viewing the Effects of Bombing’, so it might even have been a personal description of individual airman – thinking back I am pretty sure that Baedeker is not used in the Form 540 or 541 of the Squadron’s Operational Record Books. Perhaps this is all slightly further complicated by the fact that Jim Haworth notes in his letters home that initially these Ops were called ‘Cook’s Tours’ and that after the first one the crew flew on ‘Yesterday, Tuesday, we were lucky enough to get our turn on one of the Cook’s Tours or Baedeker trips as they are now called’………..

Read Vic’s  new post on the Baedeker Op of 4th June 1945 here.

Letters home – Jim Haworth. Mallon/ Butler crew.

About a month ago I posted an update to Vic Jays blog ‘Bob Jay’s War’, regarding Vic’s presentation of letters from his Fathers Navigator Jim Haworth.

Jim wrote numerous letters to his wife, Sally, while he was overseas. They contain lots of fascinating information that fills in some of the gaps in his crews story and gives an insight into life with the air force during and shortly after the war and the importance of humour in difficult times! At 34 Jim was the oldest member of the crew and the only one with children. He had two daughters before the war and had only spent 6 weeks with the younger, Maryann. He was away from home for the next three years and this helps to explain the home sickness that is evident in almost everything he wrote.

As is always the case when these sort of documents come to light, an astonishing secondary level of information can be added to the ‘cold’ details that are present within the official history within Forms 540 and 541 of the Squadron Operational Record Books.

My massive thanks goes to Ruth, Jim’s daughter, via Vic for passing on a significant portion of transcribed copies of Jim’s letters for display on the blog.

The letters can be seen here in the ‘Collections’ section of the blog

Bob Jay’s war – some new updates

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Thanks to Vic for letting me know he has added some more posts to his blog about his Father, Bob Jay.

The first adds some more of Jim Haworth’s letters home after the war in Europe has ended and clearly shows the unease and frustration (certainly in Jim’s mind) regarding the departure of some of the Squadrons aircrew of other nationalities and the possible roles the New Zealand crews might be facing in the Far East.

The second post explores Eric Butler’s arrival as skipper with the crew after the departure of their original Pilot, Bill Mallon, on compassionate grounds.

I continue to be impressed by the dogged determination that Vic is showing with his blog – the level of detail is now amazing regarding the story of his Father’s crew and it really seems, despite Vic’s frustration regarding finding information on the other members of the crew, that the pieces of the jigsaw are really beginning to ‘fall into place’. I’d love to think that eventually I might be able to do the same for Dad’s 2 crews and their stays with the Squadron – though I think it might take considerably longer to achieve.

Read Vic’s 2 new posts here.