Tag Archives: Lancaster

Aircraft Database update 6th August 2014

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Many thanks as always to Ian for another update to the 75(NZ) Squadron Aircraft Database. The database contains some new updates particularly relating to the Lancaster section and Ian has also added a note at the bottom relating to ‘Flight’ identification. Ian feels and I completely agree with him, that there appears to now be substantive evidence that a lot of existing sources for information on the aircraft that flew in the Squadron are in parts incorrect – there clearly seems to be errors relating to ‘C’ Flight and it would appear in some cases, aircraft have been identified as ‘AA’ (A or B Flight), simply through the ignorance that ‘C’ Flight (JN) even existed.

I suppose to this end, if anybody has the time to check through our database and is able to provided definitive evidence of particularly, Flight coding (photograph/ logbook entries etc) then please, as always contact us!

See the Wellington database here.
See the Stirling database here.
See the Lancaster database here.

Aircraft Database update 9th July 2014

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Many thanks to Ian as always for his diligent work with the Squadron aircraft database, of which, a new update has just been uploaded!

View the Wellington records here.
View the Stirling records here.
View the Lancaster records here.

Lancasters ‘doing the business’……..

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75 (NZ) Sqdn Lancaster dropping bombs, daylight op’. New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Clive Estcourt

More pictures from Chris……….!

Chris notes that while not all the lancasters in these pictures can be specifically identified as being from the squadron, the provenance of original ownerships suggests most might be, nevertheless, they are fantastic images showing lancasters, doing what they were built for.

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Lancaster landing/taking off. New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Arnel Meyer

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Gaggle of Lancasters on a daylight op’ New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive

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75 (NZ) sq C flight Lancaster JN-O flying over Europe, early 1945. The white streak at the bottom of the photo is the River Rhine. Published in “Lancaster At War 3”, by Garbett & Goulding, , Ian Allan Ltd, and also in “Dying For Democracy”, by F/L G A Russell DFC, self-published. Credit: New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Believed to be from Stuart Hector Richmond, NZ425433, A/B Robertson crew.

Once again, if anyone has more information about any of these photos, we would love to hear from you – and thanks again to Peter Wheeler and the NZBCA for permission to share photos from their archives.

Aircraft Database – minor corrections

composite aircraft imageStirling and lanc only

Many thanks to Ian for performing a few tweaks to the aircraft database regarding information on the Stirling and Lancaster pages, since the last major update last week.

See the Stirling page here
See the Lancaster page here

Aircraft Database update 2nd February 2014

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Many thanks to Ian, as always, for his continuing work on the aircraft database section of the website – here is is latest update!

Wellington records here.
Stirling records here.
Lancaster records here.

Arthur Williams Photo album – Hubbard crew

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‘Hells Angel’ – identity of aircraft unknown – though if this is a 75(NZ) Squadron aircraft, its the first time I have heard of this nose art………….
© Arthur Rhys Williams

I had a very pleasant and unexpected contact from David, with some fantastic photographs from the photo album of his Father-in-Law, Arthur Rhys Williams, who flew with Fred Hubbard. David thinks all of these photographs are from Arthur’s time with 75(NZ) Squadron at Mepal and they contain some images that certainly I and I suspect a fair number of visitors to the blog have never seen before, so this contribution is very exciting.

Information is sparse regarding some of these images – so any solid information, or at least amusing hypothesis would be greatly received as always.

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Unknown group, perhaps grouped as trade, believed to be taken at Mepal 1945.
© Arthur Rhys Williams

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Clearly a Stirling being bombed up. Interestingly, despite their point of arrival with the Squadron, the Hubbard crews first Op was in BK777 AA-U – Allan Alexander’s old kite, which carried ‘Alexanders Ragtime Crew’ nose art
© Arthur Rhys Williams

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Double confirmation from ‘Luck and a Lancaster’ and ‘Bombs on Target’. Taken in ND782 AA-U ‘Uncle’ by Ron Mayhill. Formatting on Mepal lanes on the return from Hamel 14th August 1944. HK574 AA-R ‘Rio Rita’, piloted by Harry Yates. In the foreground, HK562 AA-L ‘Lucy’, piloted by Des Brown.
© Arthur Rhys Williams

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A bit of a mystery regarding the exact identity of this Lancaster. Looking at Ian’s database, ND914 ‘swung on landing’ and or either ND782 ‘written off on an air test’ perhaps ??
© Arthur Rhys Williams

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PB421 AA-K getting some attention from a number of aircrew. Based on the changing designator letters of the aircraft, the photograph might have been taken early after its arrival in August 1944, through possibly to 2nd February 1945. There is some suggestion this A/C might have initially be lettered ‘U’, so the earliest date for this photograph might be later than August.
© Arthur Rhys Williams

Aircraft database update

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Many thanks to Ian for his continuing work on the aircraft database section of the website – here is is latest update!

Wellington records here.
Stirling records here.
Lancaster records here.

Another clip from East Kirkby

Rather annoyingly my planned clip of the Merlins being started up on my recent visit to see ‘Just Jane’ at East Kirkby wasn’t so good on listening to it – I thought, or rather I remembered being able to hear each Merlin add to the symphony on start up – sadly the camera I was using to record it, didn’t……..

Not to disappoint I remembered I had shot some video when I went to See Doug Williamson when he visited with other ex RAF bomber aircrew last September to take a taxi ride. The weather was bloody awful for the run, but I took this video of Jane and the boys taxing back to the hanger after the run – and as always, the Merlin’s didn’t disappoint!

A clip from my visit to East Kirkby – Jane getting revved up…….

Perhaps one for the aficionados…..a 2 minute clip of the view from the Air Bombers compartment of ‘Just Jane’ revving up to full power before releasing for a simulated take-off start. My advice is turn the volume right up – if you can then shout and not hear yourself in your own head – that’s how loud it was. Shut your eyes for a bit and imagine the noise, only air borne – and being part of it for 6 hours at a time and finally open them and feel the bumps and jolts as the brakes are released and you accelerate to take off on your mission for today……

It seems to take a while from uploading to being able to find the clips on YouTube to put in WordPress – I’ll see if I can put another up, of the Merlins starting up at the start of the taxi ride.

Looking for Bob – Taxi ride in ‘Just Jane’, East Kirkby.

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Technically, an impossible view of the Air Bomber’s compartment of NX611 ‘Just Jane’. Spacious and claustrophobic at the same time.

I decided to delay this post until today, as its the 2nd anniversary of Dad passing away.

This time last year, I was utterly overwhelmed to receive a taxi ride voucher for ‘Just Jane’ as a wedding anniversary present from my wonderful wife Bev – made slightly embarrassing I must confess, by the small fact that I totally forgot the anniversary. I have to admit that my initial elation was tempered by the realisation that I was going to have to wait a year and a day to do it………..

Across a year, you remember and forget appointments and I have to confess that I occasionally forgot or put to the side this event, however as it got closer, I began to have mixed feelings about it. I never thought I didn’t want to do it, though perhaps, guilty of over-thinking things as is sometimes my want, I began to mix up the visit to East Kirkby with my thoughts about the loss of Dad and my frustration with knowing so little about his time with the Squadron, apart from all that I have discovered myself. It’s not as if I was expecting him to materialise next to me, but in some respects, the opportunity to sit in the Air Bomber’s nacelle, were he sat and see the view from it, as he had, made me feel like I was closer than I had so far been to a part of him that I never knew. I had no idea how I was going to feel or react to this and perhaps the fact it was going to occur in a very public setting, with others in the aircraft and smiling throngs outside waving at me, made me feel increasingly uncomfortable about it – I suppose I was having difficulty reconciling what might be a deeply personal and emotional experience with what, perhaps to others was a bit of a joy ride.

On arrival at East Kirkby on Saturday morning, my mood was not helped. Just as I arrived, Jane was taxiing back after her first run – I was met with her facing me, Merlins at 18,000rpm, sounding utterly magnificent – I had to blink the wetness from my eye and try to swallow the lump in my throat……..

Having registered, it was just a case of kicking my heels till the rest of the family arrived and it was time for the pre-taxi briefing.

Bev and the family arrived and I think it was clear that I was anxious and distracted, we spoke, but it felt to be honest as if I was killing time a little.

At 12.15 it was time for the pre-taxi briefing and although inevitable, it felt a little strange to be having a health and safety lecture prior to getting into a Bomber – but there we are. Suddenly our hosts moved onto the matter of the crew positions we would be occupying – my heart was in my mouth – I WAS going to be in the front of the aircraft, but now sat with other people, not knowing their motivations for being there that afternoon, I had no idea what right or priority I might have. Thankfully and perhaps based on experience and sensitivities understood, the first question was simply

‘Is there anybody here today that had a relative in Bomber Command?’

I and an other chap put our hands up. I am, perhaps in hindsight a little ashamed to admit that at that point I suddenly felt a sense of superiority – I was here for a ‘proper’ reason. I despise people with this sort of attitude, but I have to be honest I did feel it. We were asked what positions our relatives flew and whether we wished to take them – my colleagues father was a Wireless Operator – and yes, we did thank you very much……..

Once the remaining positions had been agreed we walked out of the briefing room and onto the hanger apron –  going closer to Jane than I had ever been allowed to before.

As ‘Air Bomber’ I get in first – the simple explanation being that the inside of the aircraft is so small we have to literally get on in the linear order of positions we will occupy – there is little easy chance to move around each other once in – I consider this and find it difficult to believe – but having walked up 5 steps and stepped into the rear fuselage, it actually feels like a massive understatement – the fuselage is stupidly narrow and as my eyes grow accustomed to the darkness I realise that  not only is it tight where I am stood, it actually funnels up to what seems the very distant bright pool of light inside the cockpit.

Making my way gingerly through the aircraft I realise that almost immediately I am climbing up a series of steps in the floor – progressively reducing the distance between floor and ceiling. I am aware of the issues associated with traversing the main wing spar, but when I get to it, its even more ridiculous than I imagined. I had thought it would be perhaps a thinnish girder running across the floor. In fact, its more like a small coffee table – it’s not about stepping over or through the space, its actually about rather inelegantly sitting, sliding and pulling yourself over it. First in and dignity intact, but only just, I stand in the cockpit and immediately am struck with its bright airiness and also it’s terrifyingly exposed feeling. We take it in turns sitting in the pilots seat and feeling the controls – surprisingly light and I find it amazing since the linkages to the control surfaces are all mechanical. With my heart pounding, I negotiate the small opening at the right hand side of the cockpit control bulkhead and slide down into the Air Bombers compartment.

I lean forward, my knees on the cushions that cover the emergency escape hatch and rather self consciously peer out of the bombing nacelle – I’m not religious at all, but it strikes me the position is similar to kneeling in a church and the irony in this realisation is not lost on me…….

The compartment feels cramped, yet spacious all at once. The front gun turret is directly above me and having never thought about it before I realise (perhaps obviously) that by standing and dropping the gunnery seat, I am in the operating position – again, realising this I consider the contradiction of size and space in the Lancaster – having almost crawled to get to this place, I can now theoretically stand up in this part of the aircraft and the Pilot is still (relatively) above me.

The time comes for the Merlins to be fired up and this is the bit that I have been looking forward to and dreading in equal amounts. Numerous trips already to see Jane have always given me a lump in my throat when I hear the 4 engines running – now I am amongst them – part of the aircraft. The silence is broken by the starboard outer banging, stuttering and finally winding up into life – the airframe begins to vibrate discernibly and the noise is already excessive as starboard inner repeats the start up process and adds to the developing symphony. Port inner and port outer join the chorus and suddenly I am there on an airfield somewhere in Cambridgeshire  – really, it doesn’t matter what I can see outside – the sound, the smell the vibrations and movement of the aircraft still stationary remove it from a point in time now and places it back at a point now distant – for the first time that afternoon  I am aware of a broad grin spreading across my face – this is UTTERLY FUCKING FANTASTIC………………

A massive hiss from, I assume, the hydraulics of the brakes, the rpm drops and we move forward, turning once and then again until we leave tarmac and roll onto the grass airstrip – the first significant bang of my head on the paraphernalia of the front turret above me…….

The Pilot guides Jane through a series of slow arcs till we sit out of view of the assembled crowd. We stop and I sit crouched, looking out ahead of me, the grass stretching out in front. The roar of the Merlins begin to climb and I suddenly realise perhaps what it feels like to be airborne in a Lancaster. The sound is suffocating – I shout and cannot even hear my voice in my head. We sit still for what seems like an eternity – my eyes begin to wander over the interior of the compartment and I realise suddenly how exposed I feel – the inner surfaces of the airframe paneling is barely 2 mm thick and the bubble in front of me is perspex – actually being in the thing, in the air, thousands of feet above the ground is incomprehensible – to have flak exploding nearby and be constantly waiting for the call from one of the gunners that a fighter is approaching strikes me simply as suicidal………….

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Sat in Bob’s office.

I am jolted, literally, back to the present as Jane lunges forward, feeling just as she would as she built up speed for take off all those years ago. While in truth this forward burst of movement lasts only maybe 3-5 seconds, its the same all enveloping feeling of acceleration you get in a modern airliner, however my mode of transport this afternoon makes it feel rawer and more poignant.

All too soon our taxiing is over and we return to the crowd across from the hanger. I find it a little uncomfortable to be sat at the front on our return, fully visible, but I manage the necessary smiles and waves to the onlookers. The Pilot brings Jane to a halt, runs those amazing engines back up and then kills them. Silence and its all over………….

Was Bob with me in the Lancaster? – yes and no I think. He was in the sense that he has been with me every day since he left us, but at the same time, I got no further in understanding the man that flew over occupied Europe during 3 years of the war. I think in hindsight, my mistake was that I didn’t realise that I was looking too closely into a picture – to the point that I only saw Bob as a single pixel – pulling back to see all those brave boys of Bomber Command, each one a pixel, all forming a bigger picture, I realised I now understood a little more of what they as a group had experienced and felt every time they climbed into a Lancaster regarding the claustrophobia, the noise and the exposed place they were in – I can understand no more than that, because beyond this I would have had to have flown with them – and as I didn’t have to to, I am eternally grateful to those that did……….

Robert Douglas ‘Jock’ Sommerville DFC.
1st November 1922 – 29th August 2011.

Harold Dewhurst – Mid Upper Gunner. Warren crew

Kevin has passed onto me an inquiry from Yvonne regarding her uncle, Harold Dewhurst, who was the MId Upper Gunner with the Warren crew between November 1943 and May 1944. The crew were tragically lost on the Louvain raid, the aircraft exploded and crashed at Castle Elderschans some 2km NW of Aardenburg (Zeeland) , Holland.

Yvonne knows very little about her Uncle, but is desperate to find out more – I can’t promise anything, but based on the amazing connections that have happened already via this blog, my fingers are crossed for her………

The Warren Crew arrived on or around the 5th November 1943. There appears to be no record of Derek completing a 2nd dickie Op with another crew before flying operationally with his crew.

11.11.43 Mining in the Gironde Estuary. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.00
Down 01.00
F/L Derek Warren – Pilot
F/O Arnold Irving – Navigator
P/O Donald Gage – Air Bomber
F/S David Clough – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Harold Dewhurst – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Harold Hewitt – Rear Gunner

25.11.43 Mining in the Bay of Biscay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
up 17.20
Down 23.20
Same crew

16.12.43 Mining in the Bay of Biscay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.05
Down 22.45
Same crew

22.12.43. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 21.10
Down 23.55
Same crew

21.1.44. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 18.30
Down 20.55
Same Crew

25.1.44. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 23.55
Down 03.00
Same Crew

27.1.44. Mining in the Heligoland Area. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.10
Down 21.50
Same crew.

28.1.44. Mining in Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 18.50
Down 00.50
Same crew

11.2.44. Mining in the River Adour. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up18.20
Down 01.50
Same Crew

15.2.44. Mining in the River Adour. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 23.30
Down 06.40
Same Crew

20.2.44. Mining off Morlaix. Stirling Mk.III EF512.
Up 18.35
Down 22.50
Same crew

22.2.44. Mining Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
UP 16.40
Down 19.25
Same crew

24.2.44. Mining Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
UP 17.10
Down 00.35
Same crew

FORM 540 Squadron ORB
March 1944
Administration.  Conversion to Lancaster Aircraft. It was decided by higher authority to convert the Squadron from Stirling to Lancaster aircraft, and our first Lancaster was received on 13th March, 1944, since that date we have received a further 19. All crews are being converted to Lancaster aircraft and at present 13 have passed through No.3 Lancaster Finishing School at R.A.F. Station Feltwell.

26.3.44
Administration. The following proceeded for Lancaster conversion to No. 3 L.F.S Feltwell:- NZ415820 F/O H. Murray and crew, NZ42354 f/S Armstrong C. and crew, NZ414591 A/F/L S. Clark and crew, NZ403561 A/S/L D. Climie and crew, 151118 A/F/L D. Warren and crew, NZ422282 F/O R. Herron and crew, NZ401266 A/S/L D. Gibb and crew, AUS413157 P/O A. Humphreys and crew and NZ421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew.

5/6 March 1944. Special Operations March Moon Period.
Operation PETER 24 (Abortive)
Same Crew

7/8 March 1944. Operation AUTHOR 17 (Abortive)
Same Crew

10/11th March 1944. Operation MONGREL 20 (Successful)
Same crew

13.3.44. Mining off Brest. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 22.40
Down 03.25
Same crew.

15/16th March 1944 Operation BOB 155 (Abortive)
Same crew

18.3.44. Mining in the Heligoland Bight. Stirling Mk.IIIvEF217
Up 18.55
Down 23.20

FORM 540 Squadron ORB
1.4.44
Administration. NZ421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew proceeded on detachment to No.33 Base, Waterbeach. The following crews ceased to be detached to No.3 L.F.S. Feltwell:- NZ415820 F/O Murray H. and crew, NZ42354 F/S Armstrong C. and crew, NZ414591 A/F/L S. Clark and crew, NZ403561 A/S/L J. Climie and crew, 151118 F/L Warren D. and crew, NZ422282 F/O R. Herron and crew, NZ401266 A/S/L D. Gibb and crew, AUS413157 P/O A. Humpreys and crew and NZ 421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew.

18.4.44. Mining in Kiel Area. Stirling Mk.III ND768*
Up 20.45
Down 02.55
P/O Bill Lake (Wireless Operator with my Fathers 1st Tour crew) replaces David Clough as Wireless Operator.
*This appears to be an error in the ORB – ND768 was in fact a Lancaster MK.III AA-F (Shot down target Dortmund 22.5.44)

24.4.44. Attack Against Karlsruhe. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
Up 22.25
Down 03.45.
P/O Ralph Barker replaces Bill Lake as Wireless Operator.

26.4.44 Attack Against Essen. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
UP 23.30
Down 03.40
F/S Colin Megson flies with crew as 2nd Dickie.
Sgt. T. Hamilton replaces Ralph Barker as Wireless Operator.

27.4.44. Attack Against Friedrichshafen. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
Up 22.10
Down 05.30
David Clough returns to the crew as Wireless Operator.

10.5.44. Attack Against Courtrai. Lancaster Mk.III ND753 ??-G
Up 22.05
Down 01.15
F/S Bill White flies with the crew as 2nd Dickie

11.5.44 Attack Against Louvain. Lancaster MK.III ND919 AA-D
Up 22.56
FAILED TO RETURN

F/Lt. Derek Warren, RAFVR 151118 – Pilot.
Died age 20. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery Netherlands.

F/O Arnold Earle Irving, RCAF J.19819 – Navigator.
Died age 23.Buried Aardenburg  General Cemetery, Netherlands.

P/O Donald Irwin Gage, RCAF R.166/183, J.19996 – Air Bomber.
Died age 24. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

F/S David Clough, RAFVR 1193544 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands. (American Citizen)

Sgt. Francis Christopher Riley, RAFVR 1584169 – Flight Engineer.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery Netherlands.

Sgt. Harold Dewhurst, RAFVR 1094980 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Died age 23. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

F/S Harold Max Hewett, RAAF AUS.419311 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery.

Aircraft database update

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I’m afraid, in truth this ‘update’ is probably the last of 4 that Ian has sent me over the last few couple of months, but as I have much discussed (and should probably shut up now), work demands got the better of me. But, here it is, the latest version of the database, covering all of the Wellingtons, Stirlings and Lancasters that flew with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

Arhur Rhys Williams – Flight Engineer’s notes

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As well as Arthur’s logbook, David has kindly sent some pages from ‘Pilots and Flight Engineers Notes – Lancaster’. I have seen reproductions of these manuals, but its nice to see an original – especially as it has Arthur’s name and Squadron written on the top!

The Manual is placed as a pop out menu from Arthur’s logbook in the logbook section of the site – alternatively, view it here

Arthur Rhys Williams RAFVR 1608118 logbook

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Many thanks to David for contributing his Father-in-Law’s logbook. I am pleased to say Arthur is still with us and according to David still has a sharp memory for his RAF days and is full of stories of the time.

Arthur was Flight Engineer with Frederick Hubbard’s crew, who arrived at Mepal in April 1944 and completed a tour of 27 ops by the end of July of the same year.

Look through Arthur’s logbook here

Arthur Rhys Williams – paintings

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Continuing thanks to David for these 2 paintings.

The paintings are ones that local painter Maurice Gardener painted for Arthur.  The painting of F for Freddy was meant to represent his plane sitting on dispersal at Mepal and was given to him on retirement from British Leyland, the big fella is Arthur with his bike on the ground.  He can always remember being parked by the gate in the background (right) and of the villagers who used to come up to the gate and fence to wave them off when they went on an Op (he says they always knew when they were going off).

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The one of the flight engineer was done after Arthur ‘sat’ for him showing how he spent his time while on an op.  He was able to give an accurate placement , size etc of all the switches and dials.

New aircraft profiles for the database pages

Wellington Ic, Stirling Mk.III and Lancaster Mk.III from 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.
artwork produced by Clavework Graphics © Bill Dady.

I have just received 3 fantastic examples of aircraft profile artwork to add to the relevant sections of the aircraft database section of the blog. A very big thanks to Bill Dady of Clavework Graphics for creating the custom artwork so quickly and to such a high quality.

If you are interested in perhaps getting a profile illustration of a relative’s aircraft, you can look through the Clavework website here and find out more about the costs of getting your own profile artwork produced here

75(NZ) Squadron Aircraft Database

I am incredibly pleased to announce a significant expansion to the site – a database of the aircraft that the Squadron flew during the war. I feel this is a fantastic addition to the site and represents a unique opportunity to gather together all of the individual efforts that have been made to identify and record the histories of each aircraft.

I am immensely grateful to Ian for the incredibly generous donation of his ongoing research data base regarding the aircraft that 75(NZ) Squadron operated between 1940 and 1945. Over this period of time the Squadron flew first Wellingtons, then Stirlings and then in March 1944, finally converted to Lancasters.

Direct links to the 3 respective database pages are here;
Wellington
Stirling
Lancaster

This database is obviously very much an ongoing project, but, as with the rest of this blog, if people can find it, they may well be able to add to it. Ian, Chris and I have already spent this first day passing information between ourselves and the database will refine, correct and grow as we merge the information we already have and hopefully as people find it and offer more.

The publishing of this database is only the first step – there will now be ongoing ‘ordering’ of the information contained within it, which will attempt to correctly credit/ recognise all individuals that have contributed to it and all sources that have been used to add to it. At the same time we welcome the identification of sources, which we might have overlooked. I think Ian, Chris and I see this database as a resource for everybody, so it’s only fitting therefore, that everybody who can possibly be credited will be, within the aircraft lists.

If anybody can add a reference or wishes a source to be attributed, just mail me and we will add or correct as necessary.

The database has been created based on the careful research of Ian and others. In places, existing sources have been used, which include;
Forever Strong – The Story of 75 Squadron RNZAF 1916-1990, by Norman Franks – Random Century New Zealand Ltd.
Luck and a Lancaster – Chance Survival in World War II, by Harry Yates – Airlife Publications.
Avro Lancaster – A Definitive Record, by Harry Holmes –  Airlife Publications.
3 Group Bomber Command – An Operational Record, by Chris Ward and Steve Smith – Pen & Sword Aviation.
The Stirling Story, by Michael JF Bowyer – Crecy Publishing Ltd.
Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the second World War 1943, by W.R. Chorley – Midland Publishing

In addition to these published texts, the work of others are duly recognised from the following websites;
ADF-Serials.com and specifically the page related to 75(NZ) Squadron.
Lancaster Archive Forum (LAF) and its contributing members.
Wings Over New Zealand Forum (WONZ) and its contributing members. In particular, Dave Homewood, who started a Wellington list, almost 2 years ago on the forum http://rnzaf.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=Wartime&thread=13372&page=1

A little extra on the crew of LL888 AA-X

Roland Betley and Peter Cook

Left: Roland Desmond Ernest Betley, Pilot. Right: Peter Jackson Cook , Rear Gunner.
Both lost with the rest of the crew 16th June 1944. © Auckland War Memorial Museum

Many thanks for all the people that have gotten back to me with suggestions as to where I might find a picture of LL888 – unfortunately so far no luck. However many thanks to Mike from Bombercrew.com for passing on 2 links to the Auckland War Memorial Museum for Roland Betely, the Pilot and Peter Cook, the Rear Gunner;

http://muse.aucklandmuseum.com/databases/general/Cenotaph/20793.detail?Ordinal=1&c_surname_search=betley&c_firstname_search=roland&c_warconflict_search=%22world+war+ii,+1939-1945%22

http://muse.aucklandmuseum.com/databases/general/Cenotaph/22421.detail?Ordinal=1&c_surname_search=cook&c_firstname_search=peter&c_warconflict_search=%22world+war+ii,+1939-1945%22

Does anyone have an image of LL888 AA-X?

I was contacted by Michel yesterday regarding a request for an image of Lancaster LL888 AA-X that was shot down after the 15/16th June 1944 raid on Valciennes railway yard. This was only the second op for the Betley crew;

F/Sgt Roland Desmond Ernest Betley  RNZAF NZ421495. Pilot. Died Friday 16 June 1944, age 22.
Sgt Edward George Gilliatt RAFVR 648452. Navigator. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 22,.
F/Sgt Lawrence Eastmure Hale RNZAF NZ42395. Air Bomber. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 26.
W/O Edward Wallace Toohey RNZAF NZ416672. Wireless Operator. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 22.
Sgt Basil Griffiths RAFVR 1578754. Flight Engineer. Died Friday 16th June1944, age 22.
Sgt Ronald Howe RAFVR 993314. Mid Upper Gunner. Died Friday 16 June 1944, age 28.
F/Sgt Peter Jackson Cook RNZAF NZ42708 Rear Gunner. Died Friday 16th June 1944, age 21.

The crew were buried  in the little cemetery of Rieux en Cambrésis, site of the crash.Michel is currently preparing an exhibition on another Lancaster that crashed near his village after the same raid. I know its a long shot, but if anybody has any additional information on the crew and or a picture of LL888 I will pass it onto Michel

Has ME450 popped up again….?!?

75 NZ018

From the photo album of Albert ‘Titch’ Haliday, a photograph of the mid upper gun of what I believe to be ME450 – an aircraft my father flew in a number of times in 1945.

Looking through the photographs that Ann sent me from her father’s photo album I was surprised to see the picture above. Although the first letter of the aircraft code seems to be obscured, I am inclined to believe this is a picture of the mid upper gun turret of ME450 AA-W ‘William’

As I have described in previous posts, Bob and his crew flew in the aircraft several times at the beginning of 1945. Subsequently I discovered a teaching article from the National Archive that told the story of a near brush of another crew in the same aircraft (here).

It would be amazing and strange if this is ‘William’ – looking through Titch’s logbook, it doesn’t seem that the Kilpatrick crew flew in this aircraft themselves.

Encouragingly, have looked through the aircraft list in ‘3 Group Bomber Command – An Operational Record’ by Chris Ward and Steve Smith, there seems to be only one aircraft in the Squadron which was a 450 – ME450………

Reuben Birch RAFVR 1629667 logbook

Uncle Reub RAF logbook 11

As the first offering from the documentation that Martyn has so generously recently donated to me, the logbook of Sgt. Reuben William Birch, Rear Gunner with the Meharry crew.

View Reuben’s logbook in its entirety here

As with my fathers logbook, I will place the other documents Martyn has passed on to me in a jump off menu off of his logbook page, through next week.

Just Jane: Third Lancaster bomber ‘could fly soon’ – BBC Lincolnshire News

Jane could very well be the third flying LamcasterJane could very well be the third flying Lancaster

The bomber, Just Jane, is currently used for taxi rides at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre. Fred and Harold Panton, the centre’s owners, are restoring it as a tribute to their brother – who was killed in a Lancaster in 1944. They have taken delivery of a fourth Rolls Royce Merlin engine, which they said was key to getting it airborne.

Night and day
Fred Panton said: “We are hoping she will fly one day soon, and as sure as night follows day she will. But before we start, we want to get everything in airworthy condition, so when we do we can do the whole job in 14 months. If we were to take the engines out of Just Jane and send them away [to be repaired] it could take up to three years. The new engines will save time.”
Mr Panton added:
“I didn’t realise until the last engine was handed over that there are 11,000 parts in a Merlin engine – it gives you some idea how complicated it is. And to think these were built just before the war.”

Mr Panton and his brother bought the Lancaster (Avro NX611) in 1983 and brought it from RAF Scampton to their museum in East Kirkby. It last flew in 1971.

At the moment there are only two airworthy Lancasters – one in the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight at Coningsby and one at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario.

Read the full article here

 

RF127 AA-W ‘William’

Could this be RF127, the aircraft that Bob flew 9 ops in during his second tour? In all, 13 of his 21 2nd tour ops were in an aircraft marked AA-W.

I came across a thread started a few months ago on the Wings Over New Zealand forum by Chris regarding the marking of 75(NZ) aircraft as G-H leader for raids. Though not particularly clear, the aircraft is marked AA-W for ‘William’ and the photo was taken in April 1945. Bob and his crew didn’t fly on the raid this aircraft is on in the picture, but given the date, I am pretty sure that this is RF127.

Maybe the letter ‘W’ was lucky for the boys. Prior to RF127 they flew another a/c marked as AA-W, this time its serial number was ME450. Their final operation in ME450 was on the 20th of February 1945 to Dortmund – 6 days later ME450 flew again to Dortmund, on its return it crashed near Chatteris, Cambridgeshire, killing 4 of the 7 crew.

I look forward to see if anybody in this thread can shed light on the identity of this AA-W aircraft……

The poster of the image comes back to me on the forum and suggests the bloody obvious – check the ORB………
I do – interestingly, AA-W on the night of 23 April is listed in the ORB as RF137. Three ops before and one after, it’s identified as RF127. A dig around in ‘Avro Lancaster – the definitive record‘ by Harry Holmes, identifies RF137 as actually being part of 61 Squadron (QR-E), which blew up at Skellingthorpe on the 25th February 1945.
Jesus Christ – this is a picture of one of the Lancasters Bob and the boys flew in…………

East Kirkby – home of ‘Just Jane’

NX611 ‘Just Jane’

I have been to Easy Kirkby once before, many years ago now. I approach this visit with slight trepidation. On my first visit, it was with curiosity – a chance to see a Lancaster – a plane that Bob flew. On that visit I was surprised the effect of hearing the aircraft’s engines run had on me – I actually found it it remarkably moving and had a lump in my throat.

This time we are not so lucky, Jane is sat in the hanger – one of her ‘in’ days, but is still wonderful to see the old girl again and stand so close to her – now it feels far more poignant.

From the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre website;
The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is a privately owned and run Museum and was set up by two farming brothers, Fred and Harold Panton. It has been built up as a memorial to Bomber Command and primarily as a tribute to their eldest brother Christopher Whitton Panton; who was shot down and killed on a bombing raid over Nuremberg on 30/31 March 1944.
For a short time after the war there was interest from the brothers to visit Christopher’s grave in Germany, but their father denied them the chance as he wanted ‘nothing more to do with the war’. Until, in the 1970’s Mr Panton called Fred over and told him to ‘get off to Germany and bring me a photograph of Chrisy’s grave’ which of course Fred did as soon as he could. This reignited Fred’s interest in the War and when NX611 came up for sale it was eventually purchased by the brothers and brought to their land at East Kirkby. Even though they had planned to keep it only for their private collection it was suggested that they should make it into an exhibit for the public and this Museum was set up with the Lancaster and Control tower as its centre pieces.
The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre was then opened in 1988 and has hosted visits from many famous people both from the aviation and show-biz worlds.  We are all extremely proud of the accomplishments of the Centre, one of the biggest independent museums receiving no funding or Lottery grants.  We can only hope that we will be able to continue to educate the following generations to the sacrifices and roles of Bomber Command.

“Just Jane” was built by Austin Motors at Longbridge near Birmingham, in April 1945. Given the serial number NX611, she was one of the first 150 B Mk VII Avro Lancasters destined as part of the RAF’s Tiger Force in the Far East. However, Japan’s early surrender meant these aircraft were suddenly surplus to requirements and, instead of seeing service, NX611 ended up in storage at Llandow. There she stayed until 1952. From then on, a chequered career followed.
In April 1952 she was bought by the French Government. Painted midnight blue, she flew maritime patrol for the French Naval Air Arm. Ten years later, she went to Noumeau, New Caledonia, was painted white and used for air sea rescue and cartography. Then in 1964, the French presented her to the Historical Aircraft Preservation Society and flew her to her new home in Sydney where she was overhauled before being flown back to Britain. It took nine days to complete the 12,000 mile journey back to her homeland- seventy flying hours- landing at Biggin Hill on 13 May, 1965.

Temporarily grounded, due to expiry of permitted flying hours, it was 1967 before NX611 flew again, but even then public appearances were brief because of prohibitive costs.
She was flown to Lavenham in Suffolk and, a few years later, in 1972, was put up for auction at ‘Squires Gate’, Blackpool.

Meanwhile, in Lincolnshire, determined to commemorate the death of their brother Chistopher who was killed on the Nuremburg Raid in March 1944, and all of the men who served in Bomber Command, Fred and Harold Panton had decided to purchase a Second World War Bomber. At one time, they had had their eyes on a Halifax which was coming up for sale, but their father told them, in no uncertain terms, they would not be permitted to keep one at his farm.

The years passed, but the brothers still held on to their dream. Eventually, Fred and Harold became co-owners of their own farm. When some land came up for sale which included part of the defunct East Kirkby airfield they bought it. Some areas of concrete and a few buildings still stood on the old airfield, in a state of disrepair.  They used part of the area to set up a chicken farm. However, with the idea of owning an exhibition aircraft still foremost in their in their minds, they also began to renovate the “working area” of the airfield. That included building a new hangar, where an original T2 hangar had stood there during the war years.

Learning about the forthcoming auction, via an advertisement, Fred and Harold decided to try and purchase the old Lancaster. This aircraft could be the perfect monument to their brother’s memory. When Fred saw NX611 for the very first time at Blackpool, she stood lonely and forlorn, waiting to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Around her, a great crowd stood- some hopefully putting in bids, but most just watched- curious to see one of the country’s finest types of Bomber at close range.  Sadly, due to the reserve not being reached, she was withdrawn from the auction and later privately sold to the Rt Hon Lord Lilford.  Fred and Harold kept in contact with her new owner and eventually, whilst she stood Gate Guardian at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln, and after one or two hiccups in the furtherance of their ambition to own her, a deal was struck with Lord Lilford’s agent.

In September 1983, NX611 was finally purchased by Fred and Harold and, four years later, after completing an agreed total of ten years gate guardian at RAF Scampton, she was brought to East Kirkby, courtesy of the RAF.  It was sixteen years since Fred had seen her at Blackpool auction.

The first moves towards restoring one of her four engines were made in 1993. Two ex RAF engineers were brought in to do the job. They began work on No3 engine. Although it had been idle for 22 years, they were confident they could bring it back to life. Accessing the spare parts was organised, the engine rotated to ensure it would still turn and the cam shaft covers removed. Both had to be replaced, although the engine cylinders were in good working order. Then the propeller was removed, stripped down and examined and – apart from having to adjust the blade settings – everything proved to be in fine order and was rebuilt.
Local contractors were brought in to check the wiring and make good where necessary. That alone was a ten-day job.
The engine’s starter motor, magnetos, fuel booster pump and ignition harness were removed and checked, the fuel tank was pressurised and the fuel jettison system reset. When the throttle controls between the cockpit lever and the engine were uncovered, it was discovered that almost a third of the small control rods had to be replaced.
However after about seven hundred man hours and at a cost of £7000 the engine was finally ready.
This work was then completed for all four engines and they are now at a fully operational taxiing standard.

Visit the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre website here.