Tag Archives: Lancelot Osgood Waugh

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.

John ‘Ted’ Smith, Rear Gunner – Milsom crew (and Banks crew it would seem….)

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The photograph that started it all……..Ted Smith (Hop Head), Norman Allen, Jimmy Wood, Russell Banks, John Mossman (standing), Jock Fraser and Maurice Wiggins. © Jimmy Wood

At the end of July last year I posted this photograph from Jimmy Wood’s photo album of the Banks crew. The photograph had caused me a degree of frustration because (at the time) I couldn’t understand the presence of the individual stood up behind Jock Fraser and Maurice Wiggins. A signature  ‘J. B. Mossman’ seemed to make no sense to me – research indicating that this individual was possibly F/Sgt John Edward Barry Mossman, RNZAF NZ42112587, Wireless Operator with Wi Rangiuaia’s crew. I was also vexed by a second signature which seemed to read ‘Ted Smith ‘Hop Head” – this signature seemed all the more strange as it was next to Jack Britnell…..

I am pleased to report that my wonderings have been, at least partly answered. I have been contacted by John and Matt, Son and Nephew respectively of John ‘Ted’ Smith, Rear Gunner with the Milsom crew and latterly also it would appear, with the Banks crew…..Many thanks also to them for supplying some fantastic pictures of Ted, both from the War period and before it.

Read my original post about the Milsom crew here.

Clearly in hindsight, a fundamental mistake I was making was to assume that the individual next to the signature ‘Ted Smith’ was Jack Britnell – obviously, I now understand it was Ted!

I have become acutely aware, that errors do exist in the ORB’s and the problem I suppose I and others have is that we have to take what is recorded in them on face value. If I take my own knowledge of the Zinzan crew, I know that 2 entries concerning the identity of the Air Bomber are incorrect – Dad flew these 2 Ops, but the ORB’s list another individual for one and someone with the same surname for the other – its only because I have his logbook that I know the information to be wrong. I say this, because this post potentially throws up another inaccuracy regarding Ted Smith and John Mossman and the Banks crew. What follows is what individuals have told me and what I have gleaned from the ORB’s – and to put no finer point on the fact that they are utterly contradictory – however as I have already observed from personal experience with Dad, given the toss up between the ORB’s and known fact – its probably better to go with the known fact…….

Now, whilst my questions have been partly answered, they have thrown up another mystery – despite the fact that John and Matt say that Ted is in the the photograph because he flew with the Banks crew – and one must assume the same for John Mossman, there appears to be no evidence of this in the ORB of this. The story is further and tantalisingly complicated by a message from Jimmy Woods, Air Bomber with the Banks crew, via his son Roger, that John Mossman did fly with the Banks crew.

Based on a 3-way scouring of the 1945 Form 541’s:
Banks crew – Norman Allen and Jack Britnell are listed as flying in every Op with the Banks crew as Mid Upper and Rear Gunner respectively apart from in 3 cases. 3rd and 7th of May, Jack, then Norman flies as Rear Gunner for 2 ‘Manna’ Ops (these did not utilise Mid Upper Gunners). on the 14th of May (Exodus), Jack Britnell is replaced by Charlie Carey as Rear Gunner.

Milsom crew – The two ‘Johns’, Williamson and Smith, fly every Op, apart from the 2nd of May, when as standard for a ‘Manna’ Op, only Ted Smith flies, as Rear Gunner.

Rangiuia crew – John Mossman flies all Ops with the crew apart from 2. These are on the 10th and 12th of May and are ‘Exodus’ flights to Juvincourt in France. On both occasions, his position as WIreless Operator is taken by Pat Wilson.

Having looked at the crew histories like this, I now simply have no idea whatsoever what is going on, part from the terrifying thought that significant portions of the ‘541 are simply wrong.

‘But……….’, I hear you ask, ‘The 541 stop at June – Russ Banks, Ted Smith and John Mossman didn’t leave till July 1945, perhaps some of these flights were in July???….’

A slim chance perhaps – but Norman, Jimmy, Alex and Jack had left Mepal by the end of June – which means they simply couldn’t have been there to be in these photographs…..

Tantalisingly, Matt has passed on another  crew photo that was in Jimmy Wood’s photo album, showing the boys of the Banks crew, both including Ted and John Mossman…..

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The Banks crew in front of LM276 AA-S. Back row, left to right – Ted Smith, Jimmy Wood, Russell Banks and Maurice Wiggins. Front row, left to right – Norman Allen, John Mossman and Jock Fraser. © Matt Smith

Based on the ORB’s, The Banks crew flew LM276 AA-S 8 times (one occasion, incorrectly listed in the ORB as ‘D’ on the 7th May). This is the only ‘S’ the crew flew, so we must therefore assume that the aircraft certainly in the picture above is LM276. Between the 27th March (Hamm) and the 14th of May (Juvincourt), the Banks crew flew 10 Ops – 7 of which were in LM276. The only other time the crew flew this aircraft was on the 28th of February to Gelsenkirchen – the Milsom crew did not arrive at Mepal until the 6th of March.

During this ’10 Op period’, the Milsom crew fly 8 times – however, there is a disparity of Ops in April – the Banks crew fly only 3 against the Milsom crew’s 5. In May, the Banks crew fly 6 times, against 3 for the Milsom crew. Whilst through absolutely no proof or argument whatsoever, it might be during May that  Ted might have picked a up a few Ops with the crew – additionally, overall looking at the 2 crew’s Ops history , they appear ‘out of sync’ as it were. I have noticed that certainly towards the latter stages of the war, the larger number of crews on station seem to suggest rotated groups of aircrew, that fly as ‘sets’  on raids – these ‘sets’ seem to, broadly speaking, dovetail between each other in the Ops in the ORB.

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The Banks crew in front of an unidentified aircraft. Back row, left to right – John Mossman, Jimmy Wood, Maurice Wiggins and Russell Banks. Front row, left to right – Jock Fraser, Ted Smith and Norman Allen. © Matt Smith

Additionally to these crew photographs, Matt has also passed on the following group training photograph taken whilst Ted was  in Canada.

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A group training photograph from Canada of Air Gunners, Ted Smith, standing furthest to the right. © Matt Smith

Mepal gunners ?

With Both Ted Smith (second row from front, 5th from right)) and Norman Allen (second row from front, 4th from left) present in this photograph, I believe this to be a group photograph of Air Gunners, taken at Mepal sometime between March and June 1945. © Matt Smith

This second  photograph I think is potentially the most interesting. Ted can be seen in this picture, second row from the front, fifth from right. Initially I wondered if this was possibly another training group photograph, however on closer inspection, I realised that also on the second row from the front, this time fourth from left is, (I am pretty sure) Norman Allen, A/G with the Banks crew. The arrival of the Milsom and Banks crew at Mepal are  a month apart, so I am disinclined to believe that this is a training group photograph and that perhaps this is actually a  Squadron photograph of Air Gunners from Mepal, one would assume close to the end of the war. Based on a comment Chris made on the full Squadron photograph couple of weeks ago, a figure of approximately 70 crews were at Mepal by the end of the war – if one assumes that by this point the aircraft were essentially ‘double crewed’ the number of individuals in this photograph would be about right – I think…….

I would be fascinated if anybody can either prove or disprove this theory (having shown the picture to Kevin, he tends to agree with my theory) – if anybody can recognise any more 75(NZ) Air Gunners in the photograph, then it must be another photograph for the ‘Group Collection’

 

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Ted in competition for the Ashburton Motorcycle Club, pre-war. © Matt Smith

In correspondence with John, he said that Ted was a bit of a motorcycle nut. Ted was Mid Canterbury Motorcycle Club champion several years running in the late 1930’s – what would be today’s moto-cross.  He worked as a motor cycle mechanic pre and post war.  John says he certainly wouldn’t be surprised if someone has some stories about Ted and motorcycles at Mepal!

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Landing, or taking off?? © Matt Smith

Ted Smith motorbike

Ted in his racing top from when he rode for the Ashburton Motorcycle Club (AMCC). © Matt Smith

AMCC Ted far left (side on)

A group photograph of the Ashburton Motorcycle Club – Ted is sat on his bike far left. © Matt Smith

So, as always, if anybody reads this and can shed light on this little conundrum, I and I am sure Matt and John, would love to hear from you.

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.

Letters home – Jim Haworth, Navigator with the Mallon crew

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Thanks to Vic for letting me know of an update to his blog, about his Father’s tour with 75(NZ) Squadron. The latest addition is based on letters written by Bob’s Navigator, Jim Haworth to his wife Sally, back in New Zealand. Much like the addition of the notes written by John Bell that I was able to add to a previous post on the Gordon crew, Jim’s letters provide not only a fascinating insight into the day to day events of operational airmen, but also add interesting detail to the historical record of the Squadron.

On meeting Bob and the being so far from home……..
“Did I mention we have a flight engineer now, so have completed our crew. He is a married chap, the only other one in our lot. Think he’s about 25 and comes from Grimsby up on the Humber and seems quite a good chap. I’m quite convinced this war is a single chap’s one. Perhaps the Pommie ones who are married are not so badly off as they do get home leave. If I had known what I know now I would have plonked for NZ training and the Pacific. They do get back now and then.”

On his Pilot’s notification of the loss of his second brother and a chance to go home………
“Bill Mallon …… was asked today if he wanted a compassionate posting back to NZ. owing to the death of his second brother. After talking it over, he has cabled to his people and is leaving the decision to them. Looks to me we may lose him, worse luck, as he is a good steady type. Still, my own opinion was that he should accept for his people’s sake. Got any doctor’s certificate for me, eh?”

On the Hallendorf Op………..
“On Thursday we were in a show which was the deepest penetration in daylight the RAF heavies have made so far, to a place near Brunswick. There was a whistle when the target went up but during the whole trip we did not have very much trouble with flak and none with fighters. Over the target was pretty dicey, in thin cloud & quite a bit of flak but nothing hit us. Full cloud over the target, thank goodness. These days with the ‘special instruments’ as the papers call them, everyone hopes it won’t be clear over the target on daylights. Coming back we had some more stuff chucked up at us near the Ruhr but they should be out of business nearly by now.”

This is only a very small example of the extracts from Jim’s letters – read the rest on Vic’s blog here

Bob Jay’s War – some updates.

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Just got a mail from Vic, letting me know he has just put up some more information about his fathers crew on his blog.

He has added some information about the Milsom crew regarding the movement of Lance Waugh to Bob’s crew (re my last post) and also added information about the closing stages of the war from the perspective of the Squadron.

Vic also tells me that he and his wife visited Scartho Road cemetery in Grimsby recently, on the 39th anniversary of Bob’s passing and payed their respects to Alex and David, 2 New Zealanders from the Squadron who now rest there, so many miles away from home.

Read Vic’s blog here

Read an earlier post of mine about David Nola and Alec Coutts here.