Tag Archives: LL865 ??-?

St. Helens Cemetery, Lancashire – F/S Derek Arthur Holt RAFVR 1217084. Whitkirk Cemetery, Leeds – Sgt. Ronald Smith RAFVR 1239376

D A Holt

It’s perhaps with the benefit of a delay, I have had time to do a bit of listing and planning and I realise after the gathering of these 2 headstones that Derek and Ronald were both killed in the same crew. The mechanics of the summer planning regarding my various trips to cemeteries was, perhaps inevitably, based entirely on opportunistic proximity or random opportunity to visit as many cemeteries as I could.

As I say, on realising these boys flew in the same crew, and having already started the post for Derek – it seemed more sensible and perhaps also, respectful to post them together.

The last post you have already digested, dear reader sees us leaving Selby Cemetery and heading off to Whitkirk Cemetery, just outside of Leeds to find Ronald Smiths headstone – I ask you to first suspend disbelief as we jump back a number weeks to pick me up leaving Liverpool Ford Cemetery……………

After the relatively time consuming search for Edward Appleton’s gravestone in Liverpool Ford Cemetery, it was a relatively quick sprint over to St. Helens Cemetery to find Derek Holt’s grave.

Mercifully, a very clear map at the entrance allowed me to locate the approximate position of the grave, though the decision no to take a picture of it meant i got half way there before walking all the way back down again to the map to do what I should have done first time around…….

Again, a check of all Commonwealth headstones in the vicinity proved it was a search for another family grave. Quite quickly a ‘Holt’ stone presented itself, but no instantly obvious reference to F/S Holt……….

family stone

Moving closer to try to understand the apparent absence of F/S Holt, my heart sank a little when, peering down between the headstone and the rather larger block of stone in front of it that in fact F/S Holt’s details were almost completely obscured by the stone……

gap

SO, whilst the image at the top of this post is not perfect, given the circumstances – I’m glad I live in a digital camera/ Photoshop world – wet film would have not allowed the final result.

DSC02814

The second ‘major’ expedition to gather headstone images presented itself when I had to drive over to Grimsby to pick up Bev from a stay at her Mothers. Plotting a course back from Grimsby to Cheshire suggested that on paper at least a number of cemeteries could be visited. As I have mentioned in previous posts on this projects there is a band of cemeteries that run from the North East to the North West coast – Edward Appleton’s and Derek Holts’ graves framing the left hand side of the map.

Other details of this ultimately over ambitious trip will be recorded in later (or perhaps now, previous posts….)|posts – suffice to say, the vast majority of the journey on A roads and torrential/ storm rain for half the journey made going tougher than expected – though the endeavour of recording the gravestones of boys, half my age, who made the ultimate sacrifice , makes any dampness or arguments a moot point….

Sgt. Ronald Smith lays in Whitkirk Church Cemetery, outside of Leeds. As I have already noted, the act of locating a headstone is remarkably accelerated if you know its a CWGC stone. If its not, you have a search on your hands – and if its raining what feels like a much longer one. In total 3 passes of the graveyard was necessary before, as usual, Bev found it.

Derek and Ronald were two of 6 of George Kerr’s crew who were killed on return from a Gardening OP to the East Coast of Denmark on the 1st of December 1943.

Sgt. George Kerr and his crew arrived at Mepal on the 16th 0f September 1943.
The Kerr crew’s Op history is as follows:

22/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hanover
Twenty aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1,000lb. and incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb.. Three aircraft returned early, but the remainder dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a very successful and concentrated attack. Numerous fires which appeared to be merging into one large fire were seen, and were still visible as the aircraft were returning over the DUTCH Coast. Heavy A.A. fire and a great number of searchlights were encountered, but proved ineffective. Several enemy aircraft were seen and one of our Stirlings was hit, but the attacker was not seen, damage was received to the tail and main plane, and the port petrol tanks were punctured. The aircraft, however, was safely flown back to base and a crash landing was made with three engines. It was clear over the target and visibility was excellent. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G

F/O Norman Clarence Bruce Wilson, RNZAF NZ417139 – Pilot.
Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Thomas Lodge, RNZAF NZ417284 – Navigator.
P/O Alfred Thomas Dance, RNZAF NZ42495 – Air Bomber.
F/S Ronald Charlton, RAFVR 644136 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Walter John Stratton, RAFVR 1166593 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leonard Charles Gaskin, RAFVR 1392668 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/O Donald Arthur Laycock, RAFVR 1457004/ 130451 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 06:40

24/09/1943 – Mining in the Frisian Islands
Two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb., which were successfully dropped in the allotted area and the parachutes were seen to open. No A.A. fire, searchlights, or enemy aircraft were encountered. 8/10ht cloud and intermittent rain were prevalent in the mining area, although visibility was fairly good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF512 AA-A

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 22:45
Flight Time 03:25

27/09/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hanover
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4 lb. Two aircraft failed to return and one returned early owing to its rear turret being unserviceable. The remainder dropped their bombs in the target area. This was an exceedingly successful and well concentrated attack, considered to be even better than the previous one. Numerous large fires and columns of smoke rising to 12,000ft., were seen and the fires were again visible at the DUTCH coast. Very moderate, ineffective heavy A.A. Fire numerous searchlights and flares were encountered. Many enemy aircraft were seen and several combats took place. The aircraft captained by F.Sgt. HORGAN, D. had a combat with a JU88 which was claimed to be destroyed. The aircraft captained by F/Sgt. BURTON, H., sighted a JU88 and the Rear Gunner fired, it was then seen to fall in flames and was claimed as destroyed. Two other short combats took place and one of our aircraft received slight damage. The weather was poor on the outward and return journeys, but good with clear visibility over the target. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk.III, EF515 captained by Sgt. Martin, R., and EH877 captained by F/Sgt. WHITMORE, R.

Stirling Mk.III EF514 AA-?

P/O John Milward Mee, RNZAF NZ416518 – Pilot.
Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S David Percy Bain, RNZAF NZ415814 – Navigator.
F/S David Newbury Luxton, RNZAF NZ414310 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Haydon, RAFVR 1384978 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. S. Allan, RAFVR 1558635 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J.D. Sofrin, RAFVR 1493880 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Richard Arthur Webb, RAFVR 1473046 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:40 – Landed 00:40
Flight Time 05:00

 03/10/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Kassel
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs. and 4lbs. One aircraft returned early as the Navigator was ill, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. This was a good concentrated attack, large fires and heavy explosions being seen. Moderate A.A. Fire was encountered, which was ineffective except for one aircraft which received damage. This aircraft was captained by F/Sgt. N. PARKER, damage was received to the starboard elevator , starboard tail plane and the rear turret war partly shot away. The rear gunner Sgt. S.W. RIDDLER was lost over the target when the rear turret was damaged. It is considered that he may have baled out as the escape hatch was found to be open. The aircraft successfully landed at WING. Very few enemy aircraft were seen. It was clear at the target, but slight haze was encountered on the return journey. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III EF465 AA-H

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 00:45
Flight Time 06:00

04/10/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Frankfurt
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lb. and 4lbs. Three aircraft returned early and one failed to return. This was a good attack, ten aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very good concentrated fires and enormous explosions being seen, the fires were still visible on the homeward journey. A.A. Fire was negligible, there were many search lights which were cooperating with enemy night-fighters. The aircraft captained by S/Ldr. J.JOLL had a combat with a M.E. 109, which was claimed as possibly damaged. The weather was poor on the outward and return journeys, but clear over the target, visibility was good except for smoke haze. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was captained by SGT. H.J. MIDDLETON.

Stirling Mk.III EF465 AA-H

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:50 – Landed 21:35
Flight Time 02:45

08/10/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Bremen
Twelve aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with bombs of 1,000 lbs., 500lbs., and indendiaries of 30lbs. and 4lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Results were rather disappointing as owing to thick cloud, it was not possible to assess damage. Very few fires were seen and only one large explosion was observed. Slight ineffective A.A, Fire was encountered. Searchlights were active but hampered by cloud. Several combats with enemy aircraft took place. The aircraft captained by F/SGT. SPIERS, R. claimed a M.E. 109 as probably destroyed and a M.E. 110 as damaged. Another M.E. 109 was claimed as damaged by the aircraft captained by P/O o. WHITE. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BF461 JN-B

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:10 – Landed 04:10
Flight Time 05:00

19/11/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Leverkusen
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 2,000lbs, 1,000 lbs and incendiaries of 30 lbs and 4lbs. One aircraft failed to return, but the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Except for one vivid  red flash seen through the clouds, little results were observed. Heavy and medium A.A. Fire co-operating with Searchlights was encountered, but caused negligible damage. Some enemy aircraft were seen and a few combats took place but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The aircraft  captained be F/S R.Hunt met a J.U.88 which attacked his aircraft, the fire was returned and strikes were seen on the enemy aircraft. Our aircraft was then attacked by a FW190, the first was returned but the enemy aircraft disappeared. The weather was poor, being ten-tenths cloud over the target, there was also a fog at base which necessitated the aircraft landing at BRADWELL BAY on return. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was captained by F/Sgt. N. PARKER.

Stirling Mk.III EH880 AA-J

Sgt. George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:12 – Landed 21:49
Flight Time 04:37

01/12/1943 – Mining off the East Coast of Denmark
Three aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1,500lb. Two of the aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, but the parachutes were not seen to open owing to ten tenths cloud. Some heavy A.A. Fire was encountered, but caused negligible opposition. Visibility was poor in the mining area. Navigation was very good. On returning the aircraft captained by SGT. F/SGT.G.J.KERR crashed whilst attempting to land at R.A.F. Station ACKLINGTON. The aircraft crashed into a house and all of the crew were killed, except for the Mid Upper Gunner SGT. K.G.HOOK who was seriously injured. In addition to the crew, five children who were in the house were killed and their parents were admitted to Hospital.

Stirling Mk.III EH880 AA-J

F/S George John Stewart Kerr, RAFVR 1558163 – Pilot.
Sgt. Donald Frank Wort, RAFVR 1585034 – Navigator.
Sgt. Ronald Smith, RAFVR 1239376 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Derek Arthur Holt, RAFVR 1217087 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Leonard George Copsey, RAFVR 1691471 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. George William Thomas Lucas, RAFVR 1250557 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:16 – Landed 22:40
Flight Time 07:24

It would appear that owing to low visibility because of fog, the aircraft undershot the runway and crashed into the second story of Cliff House Farm. All the crew were killed except for the the Mid Upper Gunner, Sgt. Kenneth Hook, who escaped, but suffered serious burns. Tragically, also killed in the impact were all 5 children of the Robson family.

“Aircraft Crash on Farmhouse. Family of five young children killed.

Five children – all their family – of Mr and Mrs W. Robson were killed when an Aircraft crashed into Cliff House, a small dairy farm near Amble, Northumberland, on Wednesday night. The children’s ages ranged from one to nine years. They were sleeping in an upstairs room.

The mother and father, who with two friends Mr. and Mrs Rowell of Dilston [Terrace] Amble, were sitting in a downstairs room, were injured but not seriously. One of the crew of the aircraft, a gunner, was saved by Mr. Rowell.

Mr Rowell said last night: “We did not realize what had happened until the house collapsed above our heads. We managed to stand up, bruised and badly dazed, and, looking upward we saw the sky. Mrs Robson tried to make her way towards the stairs, which had been blown away. My wife called my attention to a burning object outside which was moving about.  We rushed over and found it was a gunner with his clothes alight. Mr Rowell rolled the airman on the ground to extinguish the burning clothes. Although badly burned, the gunner was alive.

The children’s partly charred bodies were recovered later.”

Extract from ‘The Times’ Newspaper, published 3rd December 1943

Despite Kenneth Hooks injuries, he returned to the Squadron and continued to fly:

15/02/1944 – Mining in the Mouth of River Ardour
Six aircraft dropped mines of 1500 lbs in the mouth of the river Adour. The visibility was excellent and all crews reported a successful operation. Photographs taken show the aiming point in three cases, and the factory is covered in two more. Unfortunately the sixth aircraft did not carry a photo-flash bomb. The Bomb Development Unit have, however, got the evidence from which to calculate where the mines dropped.

Stirling Mk.III LK378 ??-?

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/S Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Conner, RAFVR 1603909 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 06:30
Flight Time 06:55

20/02/1944 – Mining off Morlaix
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines of 1,500 lbs in the channels leading to Morlaix. They both completed their tasks without incident.

Stirling Mk.III EF454 ??-A

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/S Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
F/L Lyndon Oliver Sims, RAFVR 148590 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 22:35
Flight Time 03:50

25/02/1944 – Mining in Baltic Sea
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to lay mines of 1500 lbs, south of Zealand, an island in the Baltic Sea. Thirteen aircraft completed their mission successfully. The weather was good with excellent visibility. One aircraft (Captain NZ421803 F/Sgt. Willis W.) encountered six JU.88s, four of which fired short bursts, our rear gunner and mid-upper gunner returning fire. Our aircraft was not damaged and no claims were made on the enemy aircraft. Two aircraft returned early with engine trouble.

Stirling Mk.III EE958 ??-V

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/S Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Thompson   not listed?, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:40 – Landed 03:05
Flight Time 07:25

10/03/1944 – Special Operations – March Moon Period MONGREL 6 (SUCCESSFUL)
Operation MONGREL 6 (Successful).
   The m/n crew in Stirling III ‘J’ took off at 20.53 hours. The target was reached at 00.17 hours and pin pointed. The reception letter was flashed very quickly and twelve containers were dropped from 300′ at 00.29 hrs. The weather was very good. Course was set for Base at 00.30 hours, two packages being dropped in the Chambery area. The aircraft, without further incident, landed at Base at 04.20 hours.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:53 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 07:27

13/03/1944 – Mining off Brest
Sixteen aircraft were detailed for mine laying off St. Nazaire, Lorient, La Rochelle, and Brest. One aircraft (Captain NZ414567 F/Sgt. Rowberry T.) failed to return. Another aircraft (Captain NZ42999 P/O. C. Baker) returned early with aileron trouble and crashed at Castle Comb, without injury to the crew although the aircraft was burnt out. The remaining fourteen successfully laid their mines, one aircraft landing at Woodbridge on return.

Stirling Mk.III EF236 AA-J

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time no record

16/03/1944 – Attack Against Targets at Amiens
12 aircraft were detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Amiens. One aircraft was withdrawn and one, being unable to maintain height owing to engine trouble, was forced to jettison near the target. The remaining ten aircraft successfully bombed the target although haze prevented identification of ground detail. No fighter opposition was encountered, and only very slight A.A. Fire.

Stirling Mk.III EF137 AA-E

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:15 – Landed 00:10
Flight Time 03:55

20/04/1944 – Attack Against Cologne
Nine Lancaster aircraft were detailed to attack Cologne, of which one failed to take off and one returned early owing to the illness of the wireless operator. The remainder successfully completed their mission.

Lancaster Mk.I LL865 ??-?

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
P/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:20 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 03:40

19/05/1944 – Attack Against Le Mans
Twenty for aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Le Mans. Good results being reported.

Lancaster Mk.I LL921 AA-E

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. P. Watson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 03:00
Flight Time 04:45

21/05/1944 – Attack Against Duisberg
Twenty five aircraft took off to attack Duisburg, of which twenty one attacked the primary target. Three returned early with various technical failures and one failed to return (Captain NZ421803 P/O. W. Willis). Another aircraft (Captain AUS413157 P/O. A. Humphreys) was attacked by an enemy fighter and the navigator 1438903 F/Sgt. Hill, A. was injured, the aircraft also being damaged.

Lancaster Mk.I ME752 AA-E

P/O Colin Roy Baker, RNZAF NZ42999 – Pilot.
F/S Charles Le Gallals Gardner, RNZAF NZ425204 – Navigator.
F/O Raymond Alexander Ramsay, RNZAF NZ416866 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Marden, RAFVR 1585273 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. P. Watson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Cornish, RAFVR 1280506 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:10 – Landed 03:40
Flight Time 04:30

22/05/1944 – Attack Against Dortmund
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund of which eighteen completed their mission successfully. Three aircraft returned early and two failed to return (Captains NZ417016 P/O. E. Burke and NZ42354 P/O. C. Armstrong). The raid was well concentrated and carried out in good weather with excellent visibility. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with a JU 88. Otherwise the operation was uneventful.

Lancaster Mk.I LL866 AA-S Sugar

P/O Robert Albert ‘Popsy’ Potts, RAAF AUS.415353 – Pilot.
F/S Dudley Joe Hall, RNZAF NZ426996 – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Edwin Fletcher, RNZAF NZ427195 – Air Bomber.
F/S George Wilks, RAFVR 1601175 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Elmer Roy Kanenen, RCAF R.178271 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 02:50
Flight Time 04:00

05/06/1944 – Attack Against Ouistreham
The target for No.3 Group was the coastal battery at Ouistreham in N. France. This target, and others in the same area were attacked by strong forces of Bomber Command aircraft immediately prior to the Anglo-American Invasion of the Continent. Twenty six aircraft from this Squadron participated and all were successful in bombing their target with the aid of markers. Opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.I LL866 AA-S Sugar

P/O Robert Albert ‘Popsy’ Potts, RAAF AUS.415353 – Pilot.
F/S Dudley Joe Hall, RNZAF NZ426996 – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Edwin Fletcher, RNZAF NZ427195 – Air Bomber.
F/S George Wilks, RAFVR 1601175 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Elmer Roy Kanenen, RCAF R.178271 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:35 – Landed 07:05
Flight Time 03:30

06/06/1944 – Attack Against Lisieux
Twenty four aircraft took off, as detailed, to attack a target at Lisieux, in support of the invading forces which were establishing a bridge head in Normandy. All aircraft successfully bombed the target and an accurate attack was reported. Only slight opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I LL866 AA-S Sugar (20)

P/O Robert Albert ‘Popsy’ Potts, RAAF AUS.415353 – Pilot.
F/S Dudley Joe Hall, RNZAF NZ426996 – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Edwin Fletcher, RNZAF NZ427195 – Air Bomber.
F/S George Wilks, RAFVR 1601175 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Elmer Roy Kanenen, RCAF R.178271 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Kenneth Gordon Hook, RAFVR 1335989 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:45 – Landed 03:55
Flight Time 04:10

Ken Hook was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal on the 19th of December 1944. HIs citation reads as follows:

“As an air gunner, Sergeant Hook has completed many operational sorties and has at all times shown great determination to engage the enemy. This airman was involved in a serious air crash during December 1943 of which he was the sole survivor, he himself receiving very serious injuries. Despite this, since his recovery he has displayed great eagerness to participate again in operations. His courage and efficiency have been an example and inspiration to the remainder of the squadron”.

 

 

 

Bertram William Billing, Wireless Operator – Brown crew (39 Ops)

Bert Billing 2 images comped

Two portraits of Bertram William Billing, Wireless Operator with Desmond Browns crew, between March and November 1944. Bert completed his tour with 75(NZ) Squadron having logged an astonishing 39 Ops. © Michael Billing

Michael has contacted me regarding his Father, Bertram William Billing, who flew with Desmond Brown’s crew, between March and November of 1944. Over this period, Bert amassed an incredible total of 39 Ops – the database indicates 40, however Michael says he recalls his Father telling him he flew 39 Ops, so of the 40, I must assume one was abortive, so that will be something to check back through the database. In addition to the 37 Ops flown with Des Brown and his ‘normal’ crew, Bert also flew 2 additional Ops with Lawrence  O’Connor’s crew.

Michael is very keen and has his fingers crossed that there might be another relative of the Brown crew out there.

 Administration 23.3.44
NZ42710 Sgt. Brown and crew arrive from No.31 Base

01 04 Bert RAF Group Back Middle

A photograph of the Brown crew, date and location unconfirmed. In the back row of 5, Bert is stood in the middle. To the far right, identifiable by his Pilots wings is Des Brown, on the other end of the back row is Ray Rattle, the Flight Engineer. We can now also identify the 2 Airgunners in the crew – stood as a pair in front, to the left, Mid Upper Gunner Les De’Lungo and to the right Tom Fitzpatrick, the Rear Gunner. (many thanks to Kevin king for adding identities to this picture after the post was made) © Michael Billing

Michael has also supplied a number of other photographs, which he assumes are members of the Brown crew. Subsequent to this post being made, Kevin, has identified the individual in the picture below and the following one as Les De’Lungo the Brown crew’s Mid Upper Gunner – the identities of the other individuals are still unknown.

Possibly Brown crew compd

A set of images of whom me must deduce are also members of the Brown crew. Certainly the top image and the second image clearly shows Les De’Lungo, who appears in the previous group photograph of Airmen. The identities of the remainder of theses individuals are so far unconfirmed. © Michael Billing

09/04/1944 – Attack Against Lille
Four Stirling aircraft were detailed to attack Lille. One jettisoned its load on the outward journey, but the remainder successfully attacked the target.

Stirling Mk.III EF465 ??-? (22)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:45 – Landed 00:10
Flight Time 01:25

11/04/1944 – Mining off La Rochelle
Five Stirlings were detailed for mine laying off La Rochelle, one was withdrawn but the remainder successfully completed their mission.

Stirling Mk.III EF233 ??-? (13)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:25 – Landed 00:50
Flight Time 04:25

18/04/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Seven Stirlings were detailed to lay mines in Kiel Bay, one was withdrawn and one failed to return (Captain NZ415820 F/O. H. Murray).  The remaining five successfully completed their mission.  On return they landed away.

Stirling Mk.III LK396 ??-? (17)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Cunningham, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:45 – Landed 03:05
Flight Time 06:20

Squadron conversion to Lancasters – detachment to No.3 L.F.S. RAF Feltwell
Des Brown, Bert and the rest of the crew arrived just as 75(NZ) Squadron RAF was beginning the approximately 7 week long conversion from Stirlings to Lancasters. The first Lancaster arriving with the Squadron just 10 days before. By the end of March, another 19 aircraft at arrived at the Squadron. The Brown crew had so far flown 3 Ops in Stirlings and on the 24th April 1944 were detached to No.3 Lancaster Finishing School at RAF Feltwell, to undergo conversion training. They returned to the Squadron on the 30th of that month. 10 days later, they would be operational again.

10/05/1944 – Attack Against Courtrai
Twenty three aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Courtrai. A concentrated attack was made with very slight opposition. One aircraft (Captain NZ413043 A/S/L. L. Drummond) was hit by A.A. Fire on the return journey and the Captain received slight injuries.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752 AA-O (10)

F/S Lawrence Michael O’Connor, RNZAF NZ424505 – Pilot.
F/S Robert Ronga Scott, RNZAF NZ429372 – Navigator.
F/S Walter Bernard Robinson, RNZAF NZ426059 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Raven, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. H. Lewis, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Howell, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 00:40
Flight Time 02:40

11/05/1944 – Attack Against Louvain
Twenty-four aircraft, representing the largest number of Lancaster aircraft so far detailed by this Squadron, were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Louvain. Twenty-three aircraft successfully attacked in good weather. One aircraft (Captain NZ414591 A/F/L. S. Clark) claimed a JU 88 destroyed in combat over the North Sea. Another aircraft (Captain 151118 A/F/L. D. Warren) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I LL865 ??-? (10)

F/S Lawrence Michael O’Connor, RNZAF NZ424505 – Pilot.
F/S Robert Ronga Scott, RNZAF NZ429372 – Navigator.
F/S Walter Bernard Robinson, RNZAF NZ426059 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Raven, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. H. Lewis, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Howell, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:45 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 03:00

19/05/1944 – Attack Against Le Mans
Twenty four aircraft successfully bombed the marshalling yards at Le Mans. Good results being reported.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752DUP AA-O (2)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 03:30
Flight Time 05:00

21/05/1944 – Attack Against Duisberg
Twenty five aircraft took off to attack Duisburg, of which twenty one attacked the primary target. Three returned early with various technical failures and one failed to return (Captain NZ421803 P/O. W. Willis). Another aircraft (Captain AUS413157 P/O. A. Humphreys) was attacked by an enemy fighter and the navigator 1438903 F/Sgt. Hill, A. was injured, the aircraft also being damaged.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752 AA-O (12)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:55 – Landed 02:40
Flight Time 03:45

22/05/1944 – Attack Against Dortmund
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund of which eighteen completed their mission successfully. Three aircraft returned early and two failed to return (Captains NZ417016 P/O. E. Burke and NZ42354 P/O. C. Armstrong). The raid was well concentrated and carried out in good weather with excellent visibility. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with a JU 88. Otherwise the operation was uneventful.

Lancaster Mk.III ND752 AA-O (13)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 02:45
Flight Time 03:55

24/05/1944 – Attack Against Boulogne
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen and eleven to attack a target at Boulogne. They all were successful in attacking their respective targets and good concentrated bombing was reported. Two aircraft attacking Aachen had combats with enemy aircraft, NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney claiming the destruction of an enemy night fighter and 170664 P/O. T. Buckley claimed strikes on a F.W. 190. There was no opposition from the Boulogne target.

Lancaster Mk.III ND756 AA-R? (9)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:25 – Landed 02:10
Flight Time 01:45

27/05/1944 – Attack Against Aachen
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen and eleven to attack a target at Boulogne. They all were successful in attacking their respective targets and good concentrated bombing was reported. Two aircraft attacking Aachen had combats with enemy aircraft, NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney claiming the destruction of an enemy night fighter and 170664 P/O. T. Buckley claimed strikes on a F.W. 190. There was no opposition from the Boulogne target.

Lancaster Mk.I ME691 AA-R (17)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S A. Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:49 – Landed 02:49
Flight Time 02:00

28/05/1944 – Attack Against Angers
Twenty two aircraft were detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Angers. Six of these were withdrawn, two returned early with engine trouble, but the remaining fourteen aircraft successfully bombed the target in good weather. A good concentrated attack was reported, and opposition was only slight.

Lancaster Mk.III HK553 AA-S (2)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:50 – Landed 01:55
Flight Time 07:05

31/05/1944 – Attack Against Trappes
Twenty four aircraft were despatched to attack the marshalling yards at Trappes. One was withdrawn and another returned early through technical trouble. The remainder, however, bombed in good visibility, reporting an accurate attack. One aircraft (Captain NZ422098 P/O. L. Bonisch) had a combat with an enemy aircraft which was seen to be shot down by another of our aircraft.

Lancaster Mk.III ND782 AA-U (15)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Hughes, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:50 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 04:30

11/06/1944 – Attack Against Nantes
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack a military target at Nantes. All aircraft successfully bombing the target. Large fires and explosions were reported. Intense light A.A. Fire was encountered in the target area. the aircraft captained by NZ421072 P/O. C. McCardle, shortly after leaving the target area, was damaged by what is now thought to have been a light A.A. Shell exploding in the cockpit. The Captain received severe injuries and the Flight Engineer Sgt. Benfold, R., superficial injuries. The Air Bomber, AUS410489 W/O. Hurse, A. took over the controls, and with the assistance of the Navigator NZ4310159 F/O. A. Zillwood, brought the aircraft safely back to this country, where a perfect landing was executed.

Lancaster Mk.III ND782 AA-U (21)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Martin Roy Westgarth, RNZAF NZ429384 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Peter Neech, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:45 – Landed 05:25
Flight Time 05:40

12/06/1944 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack Gelsenkirchen and all took part in a very concentrated raid, A.A. Fire not being so intense as expected. Although enemy fighters were active, no combats took place with our aircraft.

Lancaster Mk.III ND920 AA-P (18)

F/S Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
Sgt. R. Ede, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Peter Neech, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Howell, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:30 – Landed 03:30
Flight Time 04:00

01/08/1944 – Attack Against Le Nieppe
Sixteen aircraft took off to attack the Constructional Works Site at Le Nieppe. All aircraft reached the target area and the ten which were at the head of the bomber stream, bombed with the aim of markers, but later aircraft were instructed not to bomb, and these brought their bombs back. There was slight A.A. opposition but no fighter activity. There was 10/10ths cloud at the target.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (16)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 21:40
Flight Time 02:35

03/08/1944 – Attack Against L’Isle Adam
Twenty out of the twenty one aircraft detailed took off to attack the Supply Dumps at L’Isle Adam, near Paris. They all attacked in clear weather and a very successful and concentrated raid was reported. There was no fighter opposition and only slight A.A. fire was met in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (17)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:00 – Landed 15:30
Flight Time 03:30

04/08/1944 – Attack Against Bec D’Ambes
Twenty aircraft were required to attack the Supply Depot at Foret De Nieppe, but this operation was cancelled, and the same aircraft were detailed to attack the Oil Storage and Refinery at Bec D’Ambes near Bordeaux. All took off and nineteen attacked the primary target in clear weather. A good concentrated raid developed and many fires and explosions were seen with smoke rising to 10,000 ft. There was no opposition. One aircraft attacked Pauillic owing to flying in the wrong bomber stream.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (18)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:25 – Landed 21:15
Flight Time 07:50

07/08/1944 – Attack Against Mare De Magne
The target was enemy troops and armour concentrations at Mare De Magne, being made in direct support of the Allied Armies advance in the Caen area. Seventeen aircraft were detailed, all of which took off and dropped their bombs with the aid of markers, and a concentrated raid developed. Opposition from A.A. fire was very slight, but a few enemy fighters were active. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat and another (Captain 150278 .F/O. G. Brunton) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (19)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:05 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 03:40

08/08/1944 – Attack Against Lucheux
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Petrol Dumps at Lucheux, behind the enemy lines. All aircraft were successful in their mission, in good visibility. A good concentration of fires with smoke rising to 9,000 ft., was left burning. There was only slight A.A. opposition, but enemy fighters were active, and three of our aircraft had inconclusive combats, two suffering damage but no casualties.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (20)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 01:15
Flight Time 03:00

09/08/1944 – Attack Against Fort D’Anglos
Seventeen aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Army Fuel Depot at Fort D’Anglos. All were successful in bombing with the aid of markers. The raid appeared to be scattered but there was indication of a large conflagration. Opposition from A.A. fire was very slight and no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (22)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:05 – Landed 00:10
Flight Time 02:05

14/08/1944 – Attack Against Hamel
Twenty two aircraft took off as detailed to attack enemy troop concentrations near Hamel, in support of the advancing British and Canadian Armies. Nineteen were successful in bombing the target with the aid of markers and in accordance with the Master Bomber’s instructions. Three aircraft were unable to bomb owing to being too late over the target. A.A. opposition was very slight and no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (25)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 14:05 – Landed 17:45
Flight Time 03:40

15/08/1944 – Attack Against The Aerodrome at St. Trond
Nineteen aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Aerodrome at St. Trond. All aircraft made a successful attack and bombing results were confirmed visually, the bomb bursts being well concentrated on the runways. Opposition was almost negligible both over the target and en route.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (26)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:10 – Landed 13:40
Flight Time 03:30

16/08/1944 – Attack Against Stettin
Twenty three aircraft took off as detailed to attack Stettin. Twenty two were successful in attacking the target with the aid of markers, but the raid appeared scattered and no great concentration of fires was achieved. Slight A.A. fire was encountered in the target area and a few fighters were met en route, two aircraft having inconclusive combats. One aircraft returned early with icing trouble.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (27)

F/O Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:05 – Landed 05:25
Flight Time 08:20

25/08/1944 – Attack Against Russelsheim
Twenty eight aircraft took off as detailed to attack Russelsheim. Of these twenty five attacked the primary target and reported a good concentrated raid. A.A. opposition was slight, but enemy aircraft were active and one of our aircraft had two inconclusive combats. Another was unable to identify the target and jettisoned its load. A further one was caught in searchlights over the target and during evasive action lost both ailerons. This aircraft was captained by NZ424504 .F/S. O’Callaghan, E. The navigator 958564 .F/S. Hartley, R., kept the aircraft on track on the return journey even though his instruments were unserviceable and his chart lost. Two aircraft failed to return, they were captained by NZ422382 .F/O. J. Fleming and NZ421345 .F/S. Barker, R.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (29)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:23 – Landed 04:34
Flight Time 08:11

05/09/1944 – Attack Against Le Havre
Eighteen aircraft were standing by to attack Dortmund, but this operation was postponed and twenty five aircraft took off to attack Le Havre in favourable weather. Opposition was negligible and a very successful raid was carried out, without loss. Most of the bombing was done visually. Reports indicate that the target was well saturated.

Lancaster Mk.I HK574 AA-R “Rio Rita” (20)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:10 – Landed 21:10
Flight Time 04:00

08/09/1944 – Attack Against Doudenville
Twenty three aircraft took off at dawn to attack enemy defence positions at Doudeneville on the outskirts of Le Havre. Weather conditions were very unfavourable over the target and crews had great difficulty in seeing the markers. Only ten dropped their bombs before the Master Bomber gave instructions to abandon the mission. The remaining thirteen aircraft brought their bombs back to base. Considerable light A.A. fire and machine gun fire was encountered in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (33)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 06:10 – Landed 09:30
Flight Time 03:20

11/09/1944 – Attack Against Kamen
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack Kamen Oil Refinery. Weather conditions were favourable and some crews were able to bomb visually, under the Master Bomber’s instructions. Clouds of black smoke rising to 15,000 ft. was reported and a very successful raid ensued. Opposition from slight but accurate heavy A.A. fire was met from the defences. No enemy fighters were encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (34)
HK562 hit by flak 4 times (AC)
F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William David Topping, RAFVR 138322 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:40 – Landed 20:40
Flight Time 04:00

17/09/1944 – Attack Against Boulogne
In the morning fourteen aircraft took off to attack Boulogne. Crews were able to identify landmarks and bombing was accurate, although much smoke hid results. The aircraft captained by NZ411397 A/S/L. G. Gunn was severely damaged by light flak, but he managed to fly back across the Channel even though both starboard engines were feathered. On landing at Hawkinge, however, the aircraft overshot the small runway and crashed. The Captain received injuries and was placed on the Dangerously Ill List, the Navigator 153453 F/O F. Smith was slightly injured, the Air Bomber NZ428249 F/O A Millar was placed on the Seriously Ill List, the Flight Engineer 1566967 Sgt Bruce, J was killed, but the remainder of the crew were uninjured, they were WO/AIR 47714 F/L W Naismith, MU/Gnr NZ411708 F/O C. Robertson and R/Gnr NZ402519 F/O S. Haynes. All of those injured were admitted to Kent and Canterbury Hospital, Canterbury and the body of Sgt Bruce was sent to his next of kin for burial.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (33)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:14 – Landed 12:53
Flight Time 02:39

23/09/1944 – Attack Against Neuss
Twenty six aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Marshalling Yards at Neuss. The target was obscured by ten tenths cloud with tops of 11,000 ft. Most crews bombed below cloud, some explosions and flashes were seen, but results were difficult to assess. One aircraft returned early through the complete failure of the electrical system and a further aircraft bombed the target, but owing to a technical failure, landed at Woodbridge on return. Moderate but inaccurate A.A. Fire was met over the target.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (35)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William George Birnie, RNZAF NZ429291 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:20 – Landed 21:25
Flight Time 02:05

25/09/1944 – Attack Against Calais
Twenty seven aircraft took off as detailed to carry out an early morning attack on Calais. They all reached the target and found that ten tenths cloud with 2,000 feet tops and less than 1,000 feet base obscured it. The operation, therefore, had to be abandoned.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (36)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O William George Birnie, RNZAF NZ429291 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 08:30 – Landed 11:30
Flight Time 03:00

05/10/1944 – Attack Against Saarbrucken
Thirty one aircraft took off as detailed to attack the railway centre at Saarbrucken. They all reached the target area but only fourteen bombed before the Master Bomber issued instructions to abandon the mission. Bombing appeared scattered, and the raid was unsatisfactory. The aircraft captained by NZ 427481 F/Sgt Galletly, A. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (39)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/L A. Stewart, RAFVR – Squadron Navigation Leader.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:20 – Landed 22:25
Flight Time 05:05

06/10/1944 – Attack Against Dortmund
Twenty nine aircraft were detailed to attack Dortmund, but one of these was withdrawn owing to a technical failure. Twenty six aircraft attacked the target in good weather and a very accurate and concentrated raid was reported, large fires being left burning. A.A. Fire was moderate but fighters were active and the aircraft captained by NZ427798 F/S Farr, W. had a series of combats during which the enemy aircraft was claimed as being destroyed. One aircraft returned early and landed at Woodbridge owing to a technical failure and another (Captain NZ411048 F/O K. Southward) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (40)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:45 – Landed 22:10
Flight Time 05:25

14/10/1944 – Attack Against Duisburg
Thirty one aircraft took off at dawn to attack Duisburg. Except for one aircraft which returned early, they all dropped their bombs in the built up areas of the town, which was identified visually and with the aid of markers. A moderate heavy A A barrage was encountered from the target area and a few of our aircraft suffered minor damage. One aircraft was damaged in the bomb bay which necessitated it landing at Woodbridge on return

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (41)
Hit by flak3 times
F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Kenneth Raffill Wood, RNZAF NZ4212783 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 07:05 – Landed 11:05
Flight Time 04:00

14/10/1944 – Attack Against Duisburg
Twenty nine aircraft were detailed to make a further attack on Duisburg, unfortunately, however, three aircraft had to be withdrawn. One aircraft returned early owing to the rear turret being unserviceable. The remaining twenty five aircraft took part in a very successful attack in excellent visibility and large fires were seen to break out and add to those already burning from the morning attack. AA opposition was negligible and searchlight did not operate until late in the raid. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with an enemy fighter.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (42)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Kenneth Raffill Wood, RNZAF NZ4212783 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 05:10

18/10/1944 – Attack Against Bonn
Sixteen aircraft were again detailed to attack Bonn and this time they were able to carry out the operation. For the first time the aircraft attacked flying in formation. Some moderate heavy A A fire was met over the target, but no fighter opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (43)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 08:25 – Landed 13:15
Flight Time 04:50

21/10/1944 – Attack Against Flushing
Twenty five aircraft took off to attack Flushing. All crews were able to identify the target visually and bombing was reported as being very accurate. A.A. opposition was moderate. One aircraft (Captain 176437 F/O J. Johnson) failed to return, but was seen to be shot down over the target by heavy A A fire.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (45)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:10 – Landed 14:05
Flight Time 02:55

23/10/1944 – Attack Against Essen
Twenty seven aircraft took off as detailed to attack Essen. Ten tenths cloud prevailed over the target but all aircraft were successful in attacking with the aid of marker flares. A A opposition was moderate but no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (46)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 16:45 – Landed 21:15
Flight Time 04:30

30/10/1944 – Attack Against Cologne
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Cologne during daylight, but the operation was postponed until the evening. All aircraft attacked the target and although a good concentration of markers was achieved results were unobserved owing to ten tenths cloud. Moderate A.A. opposition was encountered and one aircraft received slight damage. There was no fighter opposition.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (49)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:55 – Landed 22:55
Flight Time 05:00

31/10/1944 – Attack Against Cologne
Eighteen aircraft took off in the evening to make a further attack on Cologne. Ten tenths cloud prevailed over the target area, but markers were well placed and a good glow from fires beneath the clouds was observed on leaving. A.A. opposition was slight and no enemy fighters were seen.

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M “Mother” (50)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:05 – Landed 22:30
Flight Time 04:25

02/11/1944 – Attack Against Homberg
Twenty aircraft took off to attack the Oil Refinery at Homberg, carrying 7 x 8,000 lb, 13 x 4,000, 99 x 1,000 and 132 x 500 lb Bombs. All aircraft were successful in bombing the target in clear weather, and a concentrated raid developed. A large pall of black smoke was soon burning in the target area, and many crews saw their bombs burst in the smoke, through which parts of the factory were observed. Flak opposition was moderate to intense and eight aircraft suffered minor damage, but one aircraft captained by NZ421343 F/L V.J. Andrew, was hit by heavy flak when over the target and the starboard engine caught fire which the crew only managed to extinguish with great difficulty.

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy” (45)

F/L Desmond Charles Brown, RNZAF NZ42710 – Pilot.
F/S Reginald Rycroft Hartley, RAFVR 185289 – Navigator.
F/S Albert Harkness, RNZAF NZ425631 – Air Bomber.
F/S Bertram William Billing, RAFVR 1318831 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Rattle, RAFVR 1629141 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Thomas Fitzpatrick, RAFVR 1797837 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:30 – Landed 15:35
Flight Time 04:05

Bert was released from RAF service on the 26th June 1946. We know nothing of what he was doing after his last Op with the Squadron and his discharge, however the following 2 items perhaps give a clue. The first is a hand written note that appears to record to flights – interestingly, Bert appears to be listed on it as an instructor – so me must assume that after his forst tour with the Squadron he went to perhaps a Conversion Unit, or maybe an Operational Training Unit. A reference to ‘NR729 “J”‘ identifies the aircraft, but having checked ‘Avro Lancaster – the definitive record’ by Harry Holmes, all I am sadly able to observe is that it isn’t a Lancaster………..

Many thanks to Chris for doing his usual excellent digging after a post and shedding the following light on the notes below:

“Re the handwritten note with flight details – the “Dominie” will refer to the aircraft type, and de Havilland Dominie serial no. NR279 (reg. 6817) was used for radio training, taken on charge at 4 RS Madley (RAF Madley Radio School, Herefordshire) on 9.1.45. The Dominie was apparently used as an airborne wireless training ‘classroom’. The note shows the Instructor (Bert) and two trainee W/Op’s flying 2 x 2 hr training flights.”

Handwritten Note

A hand written crew list, showing Bert an an ‘instructor’ – we must assume Bert performed a training role after he completed his tour with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. © Michael Billing

The second item, a portion of Bert’s release book notes the comment ‘Has proved a good instructor and shown powers of leadership’, seeming to confirm Bert’s instructional or training role for his latter service in the RAF.

Bert Billing RAF Release

Bert’s RAF certificate of service and release, showing his release from the RAF on the 26th of June 1946. © Michael Billing