Tag Archives: Jack Jarmy

Thomas Darbyshire, Mid Upper Gunner/ Rear Gunner – Mayfield crew 1943

Uncle Tom flying gear

© Paul Shacklady

Many thanks to Paul for passing on this fantastic picture of Tom Darbyshire, Dad’s Mid Upper/ Rear Gunner during his first tour with the Squadron in 1943. Paul received the picture from his Aunt, one of 2 surviving sisters of Toms. Date and location of the photograph are unknown.

In the email with this picture was an interesting question from Paul. He wondered if there was any reason why Tom swapped with John, the crew’s original Rear Gunner half war through their tour. I personally have no idea why they decided to  – maybe superstition, perhaps a gentleman’s agreement. Certainly I think the rear gun turret was considered the coldest, loneliest and most dangerous place in a Stirling – and you probably wouldn’t want to spend any longer in the position than you had to……..

Funnily enough Pauls question also jogged my memory that I had realised on receiving Tom’s logbook that the ORB’s were incorrect – consistently recording John Hulena as the Rear Gunner.

Having spent some recent weeks beginning to convert the 1943 ORB to a database, it has struck me what an appalling inaccurate document it is – Toms logbook shows another mistake – I wonder how many there are that we will never know……..

Oh my gosh – has it happened again ?!?

Search terms for this morning........

Search terms for this morning……..

Some of you might recall a similar screen grab from the blog statistics I put up a few months ago when someone put in a search for Thomas Darbyshire. That time, it ended up being fantastic news –  it was the nephew of Tom and I finally had a christian name for Sgt. Darbyshire.

Am I hoping too much this might have just happened again, this time for Sgt. Warburton, Flight Engineer with the Mayfield crew in 1943?

Please, as before, if he is, let me know……….

Another wonderful connection – Len Gillies, Air Bomber 218 Squadron

218 Sqdn 1945 Crew Q-Queenie_Edith

The Guinane crew, 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron, Chedborough, 1945
Back Row L-R: Geoff Ginn (Rear Gunner), “Guy” Guinane (Pilot), Jack Jarmy (Navigator), Jock Lees (Mid-Upper Gunner)
Front Row L-R: Len Gillies (Bomb Aimer), Clarrie Ormisher (Engineer), Kevin Roberts (Wireless Op.)
© Doug Gillies

Perhaps not an obvious connection, based on the title of this post, however there is a strong one. After I had visited Jack Jarmy last summer, I came across a website for 218 Squadron. Within it, there was a visitors book, so I registered and left a message just letting everybody know that Jack, who completed his second tour with the Squadron, was still alive and well.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten that I had even left the message. That is, until today when Doug contacted me from Australia to say that his father, Len Gillies, Jack’s Air Bomber is also still alive and well. Doug was blown away by first finding my message and then finding Jack’s information on the blog. Hopefully Jack and Len might get together after all these years again.

As well as the wonderful crew picture above, Doug also has passed on the image below showing the crew, once again in front of ‘Edith’, but this time also including the ground crew.

218 SQDN Air Crew and Engineers Chedburgh 1945

HA-Q ‘Edith’.
From left to right: Geoff Ginn, Jock Lees, Clarence Ormisher, Maurice Guinane, Jack Jarmy, Leonard Gillies and Kevin Roberts.
© Doug Gillies

And finally another picture of ‘Edith’, being worked on by Ground crew, form the Imperial War Museum.


Mechanics at work on an engine of Avro Lancaster B Mark III, LM577 ‘HA-Q’ “Edith”, of No. 218 Squadron RAF on a pan hardstanding at Chedburgh, Suffolk. “Edith’s” sortie tally shows a total of 84 bombing operations achieved with Nos. 622 and 218 Squadrons, in addition to which the aircraft also flew 14 food-dropping and prisoner-of-war repatriation sorties to and from Holland in May 1945. By this time relegated to a training role, LM577 completed more flying hours than any other Lancaster on the station.

2 more pictures of Tom Darbyshire

Thomas Darbyshire 1

© Paul Shacklady

Thomas Darbyshire

© Paul Shacklady

Many many thanks to Paul for continuing to pass on information about his Uncle, who was the Mid Upper Gunner with my fathers first tour crew in 1943.

After visiting his mother, Toms sister this weekend, Paul provided the extra following information;

Tom was born on the 15th of May 1922 in Rivington Lancashire. After leaving school he worked as a farm labourer. Sometime in 1940 Tom and his best friend Peter Riley volunteered at the Omskirk Labout Exchange – Peter joined the army, but sadly subsequently killed in action.

After demobilisation in 1946 he opened a fish and chip shop in Stalham,
Norfolk with his wife, whom he had met while in the RAF.

Tom Darbyshire sadly he died of cancer in Northwood, Middlesex in 1994 at the age of 72.

Thomas Darbyshire RAFVR 1032870 logbook

T Darbyshire Air Gunners Log Book 011

If it wasn’t amazing enough to hear from Paul, the nephew of Tom Darbyshire, Dad’s Mid Upper Gunner out of the blue a few days ago, it only got better when he instantly and very generously supplied a copy of his Tom’s logbook.

The arrival of his book means I now have 3 of the Mayfield crew logbooks, with I hope, another on its way at some point in the future. As such, this is the most complete set of a single crew that I have so far.

As described in the previous post, Tom and also his Wireless Operator Bill Lake joined the Mayfield crew in August of 1943, having lost their pilot, Jack Thomson, on his second 2nd Dickie flight with the Bailie crew on the 2nd August. Interestingly, Tom’s logbook and in fact the page above, shows the day before Jack was lost, Tom had in fact flown with Cyril Bailie on a ‘familiarisation’ flight……

See Tom’s full logbook here

Many thanks again to Paul for this wonderful donation

Incredible – Sgt. Thomas Darbyshire, Mid Upper Gunner – Mayfield crew

Tom at wedding b&W

Warrant Officer Thomas Darbyshire, 2nd from left, best man to his older brother Henry (on Tom’s left). On the far right of the photograph is a friend of the family, Tom Draper and on the left of the photograph, Tom Draper jnr.
© Paul Shacklady

Regular readers will have seen my post regarding my chance discovery on Monday, that someone had been brought to the site on a search term ‘Thomas Derbyshire mu gunner‘. I was so excited that this might be the same Sgt. T. Derbyshire that flew with Dad, that I posted a ‘plea post’ on the blog to ask them to contact me.

I was blown away to hear from Paul yesterday, with conformation that yes, indeed Thomas was the same and that as he had his uncle’s logbook, there was no question about it.

I find this contact all the more poignant as I set myself the objective of at the very least, knowing the christian names of all the boys that Bob flew with – now I can finally talk about ‘Tom’.

Tom Darbyshire and Bill Lake joined the rest of the boys over the period of 2 consecutive raids (ironically both) to Turin in August of 1943. The boys had lost their original pilot, Jack Thomson on his second ‘2nd Dickie’ op with the Bailie crew on the Hamburg raid of 2nd August.

After the departure of the majority of the Mayfield crew, Tom continued to complete another 7* flights.

4th January 1944 Alan Spiers crew  –  Mining North of Biarritz. Rear Gunner.
19th January 1944 Geoffrey Rowberry crew – Air-to-Sea firing.
21st January 1944 Desmond Horgan crew – Special Target. – in the Squadron ORB the MUG is apparently incorrectly listed as F/Sgt. D Baverstock….
27th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Mining in the Heligoland area. Rear Gunner.
28th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Mining in Kiel Bay. Rear Gunner.
28th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew –  Mining in Kiel Bay. Rear Gunner. – in the squadron ORB this is listed as a second op of the same day to the same target – there is no record of it in Tom’s logbook.
30th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Bombing High Level.
28th January 1944. Harold Bruhns crew – Air Sea Rescue.
*expanded from initial count of 4 ops after receiving a copy of Tom’s logbook

Tom appears to have ben posted to No. 1 A.A.S. at Manby, where he qualified as a Category ‘A’ Gunnery Instructor. He returned to Operational flights on the 21st March 1945 with 195 Squadron at Wratting Common;

21.3.45 F/O Blackman crew – Munster
22.3.45 F/O Hamilton crew – Bocholt.
27.3.45 F/O Blackman crew – Allenbogge.
4.4.45 W/O Brown crew – Merseberge.
9.4.45 F/Lt Walker crew – Kiel.
24.4.45 F/O Blackman crew – Bad Oldsloe.
29.4.45 F/Lt Alt crew – Rotterdam.
1.5.45 F/O Scott crew – The Hague (Operation ‘Mana’).
3.5.45 F/O Blackman crew – The Hague (Operation ‘Mana’).
11.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
12.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
13.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
23.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
23.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
24.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
26.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
7.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Aerodrome Bari Italy (Operation Dodge).
10.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Aerodrome Bari Italy (Operation Dodge) – Glatton.
11.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Glatton – Base.

Once again, many thanks to Paul for getting in contact with me and adding another little piece to the puzzle.

A tantalising hope……….

search results - thomas derbyshire

Perhaps an inevitable outcome of a blog like this is that from time to time I do get a bit obsessed about visitor counts etc. A quick peruse this afternoon led me to scroll down to the search terms that have led visitors to the site and I was amazed to see a search for ‘Thomas Derbyshire mu gunner’. I am hoping against hope that this is the same T. Derbyshire that was a MUG with Dad on his first tour in 1943…….

My discovery and now the wait is all the more excruciating – Sgt. Derbyshire was the only airman in the Squadron with that surname and the same search in Google throws up no other instant possibilities – is it too much to hope ?

Please, please, if the person/ people that typed in this search see this post contact me – I really want to be able to put a christian name to all of the boys that flew with Dad at the very least.

Target Photographs

Kassel - night of the 3rd October 1943. Image supplied by Jack Jarmy

Kassel – night of the 3rd October 1943. Image supplied by Jack Jarmy

Funny how you suddenly remember you have something, even though they are so remarkable, you have no excuse to have forgotten them. The above  image and the one below are from the photo album of Jack Jarmy, that he very kindly let me borrow to scan. Ironically it was Jack going to get this album to show me these photographs that led us both to discover the picture of JN-J ‘Johnny’ – I had no idea it existed and Jack had forgotten that it had!

The picture above was taken on the night of the 3rd of October 1943 over Kassel from EH939 JN -‘Johnny’. Despite slight shake, the city can be see below as can fire burning and what I take to be the impacts of the bombs that Bob released. Its quite strange, having always known Dad was an Air Bomber was one thing, but to actually see a photograph taken specifically to record the detonation of bombs in a city feels quite strange.

Frankfurt, night of the 4th October 1943

Frankfurt, night of the 4th October 1943. Image supplied by Jack Jarmy

The second photograph was taken on time delay after Bob had pressed the ‘tit’ and released the bomb load over Frankfurt on the night of the 4th October. Reading around the subject, it appears that some information might have been gleaned from the chaos of what is apparently the flashes of flak, target indicators and bomb flashes – add to this the camera shake of the aircraft being buffeted by the turbulence of aircraft around it, the shock waves of exploding flak nearby and aircraft vibration and its almost a miracle they got anything from the camera at all.

The following 2 images were taken from aircraft Jack flew in during his second tour with 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron. The first image is a GH training flight – in this case the target being Ely Catherdral.

GH training flight 218 Squadron 1945

GH training flight 218 Squadron 1945. Image supplied by Jack Jarmy

The second image is very late in the war. Ironically Bad Oldesloe was the final op that 75(NZ) flew before the war in Europe ended. On both occasions the aircraft was piloted by F/Lt. Guinane, Jack’s regular pilot.

Bad odsloe 45 300

Bad Oldsloe 24th April 1945. Image supplied by Jack Jarmy

Jack Francis David Jarmy RAFVR 1337320/134695 – Navigator. Logbook

As recorded on the blog, it was my absolute pleasure to visit Jack and is wife at the end of the summer and it was with great generosity that he let me photograph his logbook. Jack stayed in the RAF after the war till he retired, so the logbook as a complete record of his flying career is huge. Owing to the storage constraints of this site I have, just for now, uploaded the pages that reach the completion of Jack’s second tour with 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron in 1945. Once the proper website is sorted, I’ll upload the entire logbook.

Browse Jack’s logbook here

Kristin Mayfield

Monday morning and I am still on a high from the weekend with Jack and Joyce. An email turns up from Chris;

Hi Simon,
Allan Mayfield’s daughter has made contact with you via the WONZ forum:
Just in case you hadn’t popped in to see us for a while, thought you might miss it!


I literally choke on my coffee, again a strange coincidence……..

A visit to see Jack

The trip up to see Jack (Bob’s Navigator for his first tour in 1943)  was wonderful. He and his wife made Bev and I feel so welcome for the 2 days we were with them. I spent in total about 2 and half hours sat with Jack and a digital recorder – which will transcribe to a few pages I think. Physically, he is in remarkable health, though its clear that somethings have been lost in the mists of time, though this is probably compounded by the fact that the 43 tour represented a small part of what ended up being a full RAF career to the point of retirement. Interestingly, he did seem to remember more as we talked.

Too much to go through –  though I think what struck me was the precarious nature of the operational flights – I knew they weren’t pleasure flights, but I suppose I had tended to view the ORB reports of the raids and occurrences therein as a definitive description of ‘what happened’. Jack made it clear to me that this was certainly not the case – Jack actually said that he personally didn’t expect to last 30 ops. Whilst he didn’t say he thought he would die, he was resigned to ending up a PoW. Also interestingly, it would appear that the order to screen the crew (and another in the squadron) actually came from 3 Group HQ (not from the station commander as I had thought) as a way to try to show the other crews it was actually possibly to survive a tour.

Jack and the boys never returned with all 4 engines working and they were hit by flak on every raid. On one raid, just prior to making the final run into target, Jack went up into the astro dome, first looking to the back of the aircraft, only to turn his head to see a lancaster only 50 foot above them with its bomb bay doors open – a screamed ‘STARBOARD BANK NOW!’ to Allan resulted in the Stirling banking to vertical as the Lanc’s bombs silently fell through the space that their wing had occupied only seconds before.

On their second raid the Flight Engineer accidentally turned the wrong fuel valve whilst balancing wing fuel loads as they approached the Dutch coast on the way out. All for engines stopped mid air and everybody was reaching for their chutes – luckily the FE realised what had happened and opened the valve pretty quick smartish and they flew on to the target.

It also appears that Dad’s remark in the logbook referring to ‘shot up train’ did in fact relate to him shooting the train up himself! Returning from their 3rd op, gardening in the Gironde Estuary, Dad saw a train and got Allan to drop the plane down to about 150 foot and they shot the hell out of it – when they got back they were as pleased as punch – when they told the Intelligence officer during their debrief, he apparently bollocked them and said if they pulled a stunt like that again, they would be on a court martial – apparently the germans often sent out flak trains with the express intention of luring allied aircraft down to low level, before dropping a side panel on a carriage and cutting the aircraft to ribbons with a set of 20mm cannons.

On a fighter affiliation and flight check, a Typhoon came in a bit to tight and a bit too fast, despite the pilots best efforts, the Typhoon took the end 4 foot off of their wing – Jack rather calmly observed ‘if it had been a foot more, we would have been buggered……..’

Jack also lent me a photo album to scan. Most not relating to 75(NZ) to be honest, but 2 target photos and a beautiful, faded knackered old picture of JN-Johnny, which the boys did 13 of their 21 ops in – this was really a surprise find and it feels that much more special because of that.

EH939 JN-J ‘Johnny’. the aircraft the boys flew 13 of their 21 ops in.

Jack gets the 1651 photo and calls me back…..

from L to R; Sgt. Allan Johnson Mayfield, Sgt. Robert Douglas ‘Jock’ Sommerville and P/O Jack Francis Jarmy. 1651 Conversion Unit, Waterbeach, July 1943.

I’m sat in the studio for an early start on Saturday morning. The phone rings  – its Jack, saying he received the big ‘B’ flight photograph and he has ‘had a look at it’…… — my heart is in my mouth and I have 6 featureless faces with question marks on them slowly flashing in my head……

There is, perhaps with this sort of search, good and bad news. The good news is that Jack has found Allan and himself in the photo – exquisitely, Jack is sat in front of Bob.

I know I put too much hope into these things, but I am gutted when Jack says he can’t recognise any more of the crew. I desperately try to hide the disappointment in my voice – I don’t know whether I manage it. We chat a bit more – Jack confirms my contention from our first phone call in December that yes, they only flew 21 ops, having been through his own log book. Again, he observes their immediate screening one morning when they went into see the Battle Orders for the following night – there must be a story about this……

Trawling and pondering

As terrible as it sounds, I felt a certain reluctance in leaving to go down to see mum for Christmas. Initially it felt that I was leaving the computer and therefore the forums and therefore the chance to find more things out – I am prepared to admit, this aircrew research is bloody addictive – and this feeling makes me admit to myself that I am probably holding on a bit too tight…… A compromise seems to be to take the iPad with the ORB’s on it and a pad of paper. This decision proves to be an astonishingly good one…..

With only the ORB’s to protect me from the annual rubbish on TV I realise I now have the time and space to truly read them and I quickly begin find more about the boys in Bob’s 2 crews. A  cursory skim through  an ORB gives you a relatively easy crew list and raid history. With time and concentration this expands to find promotions and secondary histories of those that either passed briefly through the crew, or in the case of Sgt. Derbyshire, arrived late and then had to stay on to complete his 30 with another crew.

An evening flipping through my notes and staring at Dad’s logbook on the ‘Pad provides me with an epiphany moment. Staring at a page covering his time at 1651 Conversion Unit, prior to deployment at Mepal, I suddenly realise I am seeing ‘B’ flight in front of me on the page – until now I have drawn a complete blank with one of the pictures that I got from Helen, the only ‘B’ flight Dad was in was in 1945 when he was back with 75(NZ)………apart from here, at 1651 – , if this is 1651, then the picture will contain his first tour crew.

I get home 2 days later, print a copy of the ‘B’ photo as large as I can, put it into a tube and send it to Jack………….and wait.

A phonecall to Jack……

It’s strange how nervous I feel about the chance to talk to Jack, having busied myself with work for a morning, I crack at lunchtime and pick the phone up. The phone rings, and someone picks it up;

‘Hello, Jack Jarmy…..’
‘Hello Jack, this is Simon Sommerville…Bob Sommerville’s son….’
‘Ahhhh Simon, how wonderful, I’ve been expecting to hear from you…..’

And so the conversation begins. It’s strange, I know that Jack has been expecting to hear from me, he spoke to Kevin a few days ago and said I was trying to find out about him, but at the same time it feels as if he has been waiting for me since he last saw Bob, I know that’s sentimental rubbish – but that’s what it feels like. The first wonderful revelation – he didn’t even recall Dad was called Robert – it was ‘Jock’. I think this is fantastic, every cliché of RAF nicknames meant it would be obvious that Bob was ‘Jock’ he was Scottish for god’s sake, but to hear Jack say it, validates it and makes it fact rather than a whimsical notion. Listening to Jack talk, its clear he, Allan and ‘Jock’ were very good friends. What makes this the more poignant is that he says he spent years after the war trying to track them down, days spent scouring Edinburgh and Glasgow telephone directories and all the time Dad was in Walton-on-Thames, married to Mum.

Jack can’t remember anything about any of the other crew – I find this mildly frustrating as we talk, I can’t believe that he was so close to Allan and Bob and yet can’t even recognise a surname I give him – it feels if a bigger story is sat there, just our of reach.

Jack is keen to talk more and suggest we meet up, I can’t believe it, this is like a dream. We agree to let the worst of the winter weather pass and we promise each other we will meet. We say our farewells and I put the phone down with a smile wider than my face.

I’m not superstitious……but……….

I’m sat in the studio printing out the (very) high resolution scans of the pictures that I received from Helen. Sat at my desk listening to the photo printer grind back and forth I am suddenly compelled to look in a magazine box on the book case behind me. I do not have a religious bone in my body, I am also not superstitious – but I cannot honestly say that I feel that it was my decision to look in this magazine box. As I search through the box the search seems utterly pointless – it comprises old pay slips, car insurance certificates, cheque book stubs. I then come across a clear A4 document sleeve. The exposed front page is clearly a print out of a page from a website and its about 75(NZ) Squadron. I have no recollection of printing this document, but I guess I must have to take to show dad – based n the date at the bottom of each of the pages, some years ago. scanning through the pages, the printouts contain no information I have not re-accquired over the last few months. Partly out of frustration, partly through the normal illogical act of always looking on the reverse side of a single sided print, I turn the pages over and go back through them. The second page has 2 names written on it – again in my handwriting, but I do not remember writing them. I partially recognise both of them – Mayfield and Jarmy – bob’s Pilot and Navigator – but this lists their first names as Alan and Jack.

I sit looking at the names, not at all sure what to make of this discovery – more so to be honest the method of the discovery, rather than what I have discovered.

I mail Kevin the names and see if he has anything extra to add……..