Tag Archives: Jack Thomson

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……..

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.