Many thanks to David, son of John McFarland for passing on the following record of his trip to New Zealand at the end of last year. David and his family went out to meet up with relatives of the airmen that his Father flew with in 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. The crew were posted to the Squadron in February 1944, flying their first op on the 11th February, and after conversion to Lancasters took part in the first 75 operation with Lancasters, bombing mashalling yards in Paris on 9th April. Four of the crew are buried at Gram, Denmark – James Murray RNZAF (Pilot), Haymen Kahler RAFVR (Flight Engineer) Jack Mulligan RCAF and Peter Woolham RAFVR (Air Gunners). Gordon Irwin RNZAF (Wireless Operator) John ‘Paddy’ McFarland RAFVR (Navigator) and Douglas Hill RNZAF (Air Bomber) became Prisoners or War.
The pilot James, “Jim”, Murray was from Pleasant Point near Timaru on South Island. His sister, and three brothers all joined the New Zealand forces, with four serving overseas. Sadly two brothers died, one in Crete in 1941 and the other at El Alamein in 1942. After Jim’s death, the fourth and youngest son, then stationed in New Zealand, was not permitted to serve overseas and was discharged from military service to pervent a further loss to the Murray family. We had the pleasure of meeting his daughter Alice, and her husband Mike Constantine, who live in Timaru.
Gordon Irwin returned to New Zealand after the war and married Amy, who had served as a WAAF, stationed in New Zealand. He initially resumed the family farming business but later was a green-keeper at several golf courses on the North Island. He died on 28th December 1994 aged 77 years. He is buried, with his wife, at Russell Services Cemetery – a beautiful tranquil spot overlooking the Bay of Islands. We had the pleasure of meeting his daughter Kathy Wright who lives in Russell, and were the guests of Marg Collins his other daughter at her home at Helensville, north of Auckland. There we enjoyed a splendid meal in the company of her husband and her son and daughter in law, and with Ron Irwin, her brother and his wife. Gordon and Paddy were particularly close as Gordon’s father had lived in Ulster before emigrating to New Zealand. Gordon had enjoyed several leave trips to Ireland in the early months of 1944.
In the village of Glenorchy near Queenstown on South Island we saw the local War Memorial. Beside it was a noticeboard which helped to put details of the service of the men remembered on the Memorial. Listed was Alistair Henry Scott 75 (NZ) Squadron. As I was reading the detail, a lady approached and introduced herself to me as his niece, Adrienne Reid. She lives on the east coast of South Island and was visiting Glenorchy that day. It was a remarkable chance meeting with a member of the wider 75 family! She told me that Alistair had a cousin piloting the Lancaster. Sadly all the crew were lost on the 4th November 1944 on the daylight Solingem raid and are buried in Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany.
Other posts about the Murray crew and more specifically John McFarland can be read here:
John McFarland, Navigator – Murray crew. 1944. here.
Letters from behind the wire – John McFarland, here.
John Edward Lithgow McFarland RAFVR 1503993 – Navigator. 1944. Logbook. here
Gram Churchyard, Denmark. here.
Gram Churchyard, Denmark – John Macfarland visits and remembers. Danish TV article. here