Tag Archives: LM266 AA-F “The Seven Sinners”

“Buzz” Spilman, Gerry Abrahams and the Spilman crew, 1945.

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The Spilman crew, back from left to right: Gerry Abrahams, Wireless Operator; Tom Corlett, Bomb Aimer; Norm Holbrook, Navigator; Harry Thorne, Flight Engineer. Front, from left to right: Vern Clouston, Mid Upper Gunner; Sidney “Buzz” Spilman, Pilot; Pat Burke, Rear Gunner. – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of ”Buzz” Spilman.

Many thanks to Chris for this post on Gerry Abrahams and the Spilman crew. I think its fitting given the contribution that Chris has made regarding posts to the blog since the start that he should tip us over the 250,000 views count – thanks Chris for all your efforts!

A letter to the Editor in The New Zealand Herald (Auckland’s daily newspaper) caught my eye a few weeks ago, commending the New Zealand cricket team on their sporting manner during the recent test and one-day series in  England. The writer began by saying “As someone who had the pleasure of serving with  your forces in the last war …”, and that’s probably what caught my eye, even though I’m also a Black Caps fan.

The letter was signed by a “Gerry Abrahams, Birchington, Kent” – could this be 75 (NZ) Squadron veteran Gerry Abrahams? A quick check with Dee Boneham and Glen Turner via the 75 Squadron Assn Facebook page confirmed Gerry’s location as Birchington, not far from Manston, where he volunteers as a guide at the Spitfire & Hurricane Memorial Museum.

Shortly afterwards Gerry himself popped up on the Facebook page, contributing to a thread of great historical importance, listing the pubs frequented by the boys based at Feltwell and Mepal, 1940-45!

I mentioned in the thread that he probably drank with my uncle, both being W/Op’s, both being in crews that were partial to Percy’s Pub in Sutton, and both being named Gerry!

I also mentioned an entry in my uncle’s diary for 13 March 1945: “The W/Ops had a fair beat up in Sutton at the Royal Arms. Old Flip (?) swallowed his false teeth & finished up in Ely hospital.”

And sure enough, Gerry says he was there! Not an evening to easily be forgotten, by the sound of it.

So since I have been sitting on these photos of Gerry and his crew, I thought I should post them here, as a tribute, and as a “thank you” to Gerry, his skipper “Buzz”, who still lives in Nelson, NZ, the other members of their crew, and the hard-working ground crews of “B” Flight.

”Buzz” Spilman did his basic training at ITW Levin, then went through fighter pilot training; Tiger Moths at Harewood and Harvards at Woodbourne. He shipped out for England in November 1941 on the troopship Monterey, via the Pacific Islands and Hawaii (passing through only 10 days before the Japanese attacked!) to Canada. He crossed the Atlantic on the SS Letitia, arriving in Liverpool on Christmas Eve 1941. After a stint as a flying instructor, he transferred to Bomber Command, and after further training, was posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron. He was still only 22.

2.1.45: Administration. NZ4210535 F/S Stevens, C.M. and NZ413138 F/L S.L. Spilman. and crews arrived from No. 31 and No. 73 Bases respectively.

B Flight Commanding Officer S/L Bob Rodgers took the crew on their first op’, a daylight G-H attack on rail marshalling yards.

05/01/1945 – Attack Against Ludwigshafen
Twenty one aircraft attacked Ludwigshafen, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 G.P. 500 M.C., and Munro bombs. Visibility was clear. H/F was met, but all aircraft returned safely. A scattered raid was reported.

“A good concentration of bombs in target area and stream well together; should have been a good attack. Good concentration about 200 yds from river bank.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B
Hit by flak 5 times (AIR14-3463)

S/L John Robert “Bob” Rodgers, RNZAF NZ413956, Pilot.
F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:32 – Landed 17:32
Flight Time 06:00

06/01/1945 – Attack Against Neuss
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack Neuss but the operation was cancelled just prior to ‘take-off’. However, one hour after this cancellation, the operation was put on again. The fifteen crews were briefed a second time and eleven aircraft made an accurate attack on Neuss. Four aircraft captained by F/O Cumberpatch, F/S Russell, F/O Crawford and F/lt. Hannan had technical trouble and returned early. On this attack the aircraft carried 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., and Munro bombs. Cloud was nine to ten tenths. Crews bombed with the aid of instruments and sky markers.

“A lot of small fires and some smoke rising; quite good flares seen after leaving.”

Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:47 – Landed 20:49
Flight Time 05:02

8.1.45. The crew ferried Lancaster PB761, AA-Y back to Mepal from RAF Waterbeach, a 25 minute flight, presumably after heavy maintenance. This was the aircraft that crashed 9 days later at Woodditton, Suffolk, England on the way back from a raid on a benzol oil plant at Wanne- Eickel, Germany, killing Pilot Tim Blewett, Navigator Bryant Cornell, and Johnny Wilson, Air Bomber.

11/01/1945 – Attack Against Krefeld
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack Krefeld, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500G.P., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. Seventeen aircraft bombed the target in tenths cloud with special equipment and two aircraft bombed last resort. Slight H/F was met over the target, but no fighters were seen.

“Nothing to report.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston*, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke*, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

*NOTE Clouston and Burke swapped positions at this point and the change seems to have been permanent.

Take Off 11:41 – Landed 16:57
Flight Time 05:16

13/01/1945 – Attack Against Saarbrucken
Eighteen of nineteen aircraft detailed carried out a successful daylight attack on Saarbrucken Marshalling Yard, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500G.P., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. W/Cdr Baigent in ‘A’ had to return with his full load after reaching the target owing to technical trouble which prevented release of bombs. Crews bombed on special equipment. The Marshalling Yard was visible and many bursts were seen on the target. No opposition reported. All aircraft were diverted owing to bad visibility at Base.

“Blue puffs very good. A2/D* bombed 50ft above, was in no formation causing me to take avoiding action.”

* Lancaster LL674, A2-D, 514 Squadron, based at RAF Waterbeach, was lost two weeks later.

Lancaster Mk.I PB761 AA-Y

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:41 – Landed 18:17
Flight Time 06:36 (Landed Port Reath)

14.1.45. Ferrying PB761, AA-Y from Port Reath back to Mepal, 1 hr 55 mins.

15/01/1945 – Attack Against Langendreer
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Langendreer, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500AMN., 500 M.C., 250 G.P., and Munro bombs. One aircraft ‘D’ captained by F/O Leadley failed to reach the target owing to starboard inner engine failing. No results were observed owing to ten tenths cloud. Flak was slight over the target. No fighter opposition was encountered.

“Hit by flak when stream turned short and passed over Gladbach. Had to feather port outer. Stream weaved when flak came up and had no window cover.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R
Hit by flak once (AIR14-3463)

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:33 – Landed 16:59
Flight Time 05:26

16/01/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Seventeen aircraft attacked Wanne Hickel in ten tenths cloud, tops 6/7000 feet, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 G.P. 500 ANM, 500 M.C. 250 G.P. and Munro bombs. Crews bombed with the aid of instruments and sky markers. Flak was moderate. The general impression was that bombing was concentrated on markers and red glow seen through cloud. The aircraft captained by NZ426235 F/S Wood, J, was attacked by a F.W. 190. The rear gunner opened fire, but no hits were observed and our aircraft suffered no damage. The aircraft captained by NZ414376 F/L T. Blewett unfortunately crashed in this country. The captain and Air Bomber NZ426234 F/O J. Wilson were killed. The Navigator 1398282 F/S Cornell, B.T. died later as a result of severe injuries.

“A promising attack.”

Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L “Lucy”/ “Love”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:31 – Landed 04:27
Flight Time 04:56

22/01/1945 – Attack Against Duisburg
Fifteen aircraft attacked Duisburg carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 G.P. (I.D) 250 G.P. and Munro bombs.Visibility was good. Crews saw the Rhine. Fires and explosions were seen coming from a concentrated area. A successful attack was reported. No opposition encountered.

“Good attack plumes of black smoke seen after bomb bursts and red glow on route home.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:20 – Landed 21:54
Flight Time 04:34

28/01/1945 – Attack Against Cologne (Gremberg)
Twenty aircraft attacked Cologne (Gremberg) as ordered, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C. “50 G.P. and Munro bombs. Cloud broke to nil just before the target and crews were able to identify the marshalling yard. Accurate slight to moderate H/F was met over the target. No fighters were seen. Bursts were seen on the marshalling yard. All returned to base.

“Bombing seemed accurate on Marshalling Yard.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:25 – Landed 16:12
Flight Time 05:47

29/01/1945 – Attack Against Krefeld M/Y
Nineteen aircraft attacked Krefeld marshalling yard in ten tenths cloud, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C., and 250 G.P. Bombs. Aircraft bombed in formation with the aid of instruments. A good concentration was reported. Slight H/F over the target was the only opposition encountered.

“Seemed a very good attack.”

Lancaster Mk.III LM733 AA-R

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:10 – Landed 15:40
Flight Time 05:30

09/02/1945 – Attack Against Hohenbudburg
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Lutskendorf, but the target was changed during the afternoon to Hohenbudberg. This operation was carried out in 8/10th cloud with tops about 10,000. Flak was slight to moderate and S/L effective. A scattered raid was reported.

“Fair concentration of bombing.”

Lancaster Mk.I HK561 AA-Y “Liefy”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 04:14 – Landed 08:41
Flight Time 04:27

13/02/1945 – Attack Against Dresden
Twenty aircraft attacked Dresden as detailed. Very slight H/F was only opposition. The first aircraft over the target reported thin cloud which had cleared for later aircraft. Some aircraft were able to bomb visually. Crews reported the whole town was well alight and could see the glow of fires 100 miles away on return A highly successful raid.

“Good attack with very little flak. No S/L no fighters.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:14 – Landed 07:11
Flight Time 08:57

14/02/1945 – Attack Against Chemnitz
Twenty one aircraft were detailed to attack Chemnitz. Nineteen attacked primary. AA”J” F/O R.J. Pearson, returned early through engine failiure. Cloud was ten tenths with tops 16-17000 over the target. Aircraft bombed with the aid of special equipment. No resilts were observed, very slight H/F was met over the target. AA”D”, captained by F/L G.S. Davies failed to return.

“Master Bomber ordered bombing on navigational aid on good D.R. but later he changed to Wanganui flares. These were disappearing into cloud.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:41 – Landed 05:12
Flight Time 08:31

16.2.45. Two brief Air Tests with S/L Rodgers, in AA-T and AA-X.

18/02/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Twenty aircraft attacked Wesel. Twenty one were detailed but AA”R” F/S Scott, returned early through technical trouble. Aircraft bombed on special equipment in ten tenths cloud with tops about 10,000 ft. Leaders were satisfied it was a good raid. Very slight H/F was only opposition

“Lead-in erratic – rather scattered bombing released over green puffs.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:59 – Landed 17:07
Flight Time 05:08

19/02/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aitcraft were again detailed to attack Wesel. AA”J”, captained by F/S Lukins, B.L., returned early through engine trouble. Cloud was 1-10/10ths with some haze. A few crews were able to identify the river bend. Bombing appeared to be accurate. Very slight H/F was the only opposition.

“Bombing concentrated and seemed to be going into centre of town. Some fires had started.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F “The Seven Sinners”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:33 – Landed 18:30
Flight Time 04:57

20, 21, 23.2.45. G-H Photography and G-H Bombing practice, 2:25 – 2:35 hrs each.

23/02/1945 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Sixteen aircraft attacked Gelsenkirchen as detailed. There was ten tenths thin cloud over the target with horizontal visibility between 500/ 1000 yds. Formation keeping was very difficult in these conditions, but crews reported quite a good bombing concentration on special equipment and leaders. Opposition from flak was very slight and no fighters were seen. F/S Barr, D. landed at Warboys.

“Several G.H. Leaders released at the same spot, a very poor visibility.”

Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 17:27
Flight Time 05:47

25.2.45 Air Test – Lancaster I, HK562, AA-L “Lucy” (aka. “Love”), 10 mins.

26/02/1945 – Attack Against Dortmund
Eighteen aircraft attacked Dortmund as detailed. Cloud was ten tenths over the target with tops 5-6,000 ft. No results were seen but bombing is thought to be concentrated. NZ428168 F/O N.H. Thorpe crashed in this country after passing over base in formation. Four members of the crew were killed.

“Formation flying above bombed through the formation and broke it up rather badly.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:39 – Landed 16:14
Flight Time 05:35

27/02/1945 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Gelsenkirchen, carrying 4000 HC 500 ANM 500 MC bombs. NZ426904 F/O M. Adamson and NZ425292 F/L D. Sadgrove returned early through engine trouble. Cloud was ten tenths. Leaders met slight to moderate H/F. No results were seen.

“Attack seemed scattered. Also a squadron was seen 1,000 ft above overtaking with bomb doors open. Squadron believed W.P.” (90 Squadron)

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:28 – Landed 16:24
Flight Time 04:56

01/03/1945 – Attack Against Kamen
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack Kamen, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500ANM., 500 M.C. and Munro bombs. F/O D. Barr in AA”C” jettisoned and returned early through engine trouble. Crews bombed on special equipment as the target was obscured by ten tenth cloud. Flak was negligible.

“Consider very good run into target – checked with own G.H. fix. Good concentration of smoke puffs.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/S Donald Babington Shearer, RNZAF NZ4210512 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:46 – Landed 17:18
Flight Time 05:32

02/03/1945 – Attack Against Cologne
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack Cologne. No aircraft bombed owing to special equipment failiure. Three aircraft jettisoned due to flak damage to engines, the remainder bringing their bombs back. F/O Woodcock was wounded in the neck and his engineer F/Sgt. Gibb in the legs but landed safely at base.

“G.H. Leaders did not bomb. Formation went on to Coblenz area before turning off. Bombs brought back.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 DNC AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:11 – Landed 18:22
Flight Time 05:11

04/03/1945 – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Wanne Eickel. JN”O” F/O D. Barr returned early through engine failiure. Crews bombed with the aid of special equipment in 10/10ths cloud. No results were seen but crews were satisfied that it was a good attack. Slight to moderate H/F was experienced.

“11.50 hrs 51.30 N 04.00 E G.H. Fixes were not correct as checked by D.R. from 10.45 hrs. W/T Received intermittent. Broadcast only partly received.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 09:45 – Landed 14:47
Flight Time 05:02

06/03/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Five aircraft attacked Wesel carrying 4,000 H.C. and 500 ANM Bombs. These aircraft comprised the first attack and later three more aircraft carrying the same type bombs attacked. On both attacks aircraft had an excellent run in and report bomb flashes well concentrated round target area. Flak opposition was slight. No fighters were seen.

(One of the three 75 (NZ) Sqdn a/c in the second wave.)
“If photo comes out it should be to port of bombing run as aircraft went to port to avoid other aircraft.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:22 – Landed 23:32
Flight Time 05:10

07/03/1945 – Attack Against Dessau
Thirteen aircraft attacked Dessau as ordered. Aircraft bombed in 10/10ths haze and thin cloud. Crews were given instructions by M/B to bomb on Skymarkers but some were able to make out T.I’s and in two cases identify the street. Fires were burning over a wide area when aircraft left the target. Flak practically nil in target area. Some E/A were seen and AA”S” F/L Spilman had a short inconclusive encounter. A satisfactory operation.

“Good concentration of bombing and fires.”

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S “Sugar”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/S William Mallon, RNZAF NZ427521 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:23 – Landed 02:10
Flight Time 08:47

The Combat Report says that at 9.12pm and flying at 18,000 ft, a FW.190 dived on the a/c from the port quarter, the Mid Upper Gunner, F/S Clouston firing immediately and ordering the Captain to Corkscrew Port. Clouston fired continuously until the E/A, which didn’t fire back, broke away 300 yds to Starboard. Clouston observed hits on the wings and fuselage.

CombatReportSpilmanDessau7Mar45

Combat report, 7 March 1945.

10/03/1945 – Attack Against Gelsenkirchen Buer
Twenty one aircraft attacked Gelsenkirchen as detailed. Aircraft bombed in light formation and all bombs were dropped together. Cloud was ten tenths. Slight H/F was encountered.

“Good formation over target G.H. run steady HS4/5 W/T set became heated was switched off and sprayed, fire averted.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:20 – Landed 17:25
Flight Time 05:05

11/03/1945 – Attack Against Essen
Twenty one aircraft were again detailed for operations, tis time against Essen. Very slight H/F was the only opposition. Cloud was 10/10ths. A gradual blackening of the cloud tops was all that could be seen.

“Good bombing of target – could see brown smoke coming through the cloud.”

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 11:42 – Landed 17:11
Flight Time 05:29

14/03/1945 – Attack Against Heinrich Hutte
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Crews found the target covered with 10/10ths cloud. Formation was good though the target and bombs fell away together. Very accurate moderate H/F was met on the run in and over the target. F/Lt. E. Parsons in AA”E” failed to return. His aircraft was seen to be hit causing it to spiral into cloud. F/S McLernon landed at Woodbridge but returned to base the following day.

“Very concentrated attack with good formation.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 13:32 – Landed 18:28
Flight Time 04:56

23/03/1945 – Attack Against Wesel
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack Wesel carrying 1,000 M65 (RT), 1,000 M65 (B.T.) and Munro bombs. The target was attacked with the aid of special equipment. There was no cloud over the target but the visibility was poor owing to smoke. All crews reported a good concentration of bombs on the A/P. Very slight H/F was experienced.

“A well concentrated effort. Should be very successful.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:12 – Landed 19:04
Flight Time 03:52

29/03/1945 – Attack Against Salzgitter
Twenty one aircraft attacked Saltzgitter as detailed. Cloud was ten tenths, tops up to 19,000 ft and thin cloud and contrails persisting above, reducing visibility to 500yds. No results were observed and a scattered raid is reported. Flak moderate.

“Formation very poor due to poor weather conditions. No release pulse – number aircraft bombed together.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M
Hit by flak once (AIR14-3463)

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:40 – Landed 19:05
Flight Time 06:25

13/04/1945 – Attack on Kiel
21 aircraft were detailed to attack Kiel. The target was covered by 10/10 cloud with tops 4/5000. Bombing was concentrated and fires were seen on leaving the target. Flak was slight. M/B was clearly heard. (AA’K’ F/O. Morgan W.) returned early, bombs were jettisoned. This was also a leaflet raid.

“Lots illuminating flares and red and green TI’s with some explosions on target. Good bombing on target. Large glow seen.”

Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/O Allan Ralph Baynes, RNZAF NZ427453 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:33 – Landed 01:54
Flight Time 05:21

18/04/1945 – Attack on Heligoland
25 aircraft were detailed to attack the target HELIGOLAND. Weather was good with good visibility. Crews were able to identify northern top of Island and also western edge. The rest of the Island was obliterated by smoke. Bomb bursts on fires. The crews bombed as ordered by the Master Bomber and bombing was thought to be well concentrated, but there was some overshooting as well as undershooting.

“Clear visibility. Good concentration of bombing.”

Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C “Charlie”

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/O William Roy Brinsden, RNZAF NZ427573 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 10:26 – Landed 15:08
Flight Time 04:42

22/04/1945 – Attack on Bremen
21 aircraft were detailed to attack BREMEN. 2-5/10ths cloud over target and many crows (???) made out river bend and factory area. Bombing results were satisfactory though slight overshooting and undershooting but not outside built up area. Flak from Wilhemshaven and Bremen was at intervals moderate and very accurate. Flight Engineer (Sgt. R. Clark) of AA/P was killed. No fighters seen.

“Bomb bursts around A/P seen on run in. Air Bomber appeared to overshoot by 15 seconds according to GH check. AA/S was next leader, this aircraft was level with it for bombing.”

Lancaster Mk.III RF157 AA-X
Hit by flak 6 times and category ‘AC’ damage.

F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
F/S Norman ‘Norm’ Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest ‘Tom’ Corlett, RAFVR NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald ‘Gerry’ Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Harold ‘Harry’ Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
P/O Vernon Alfred ‘Vern’ Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
P/O William Patrick ‘Pat’ Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 15:18 – Landed 20:36
Flight Time 05:18

DSC_0240 (2)

The Spilman crew, with ground crew. Gerry Abrahams, standing, second to left; “Buzz” Spilman centre front. – Photo courtesy and copyright of NZ Bomber Command Association photo archives, from the collection of ”Buzz” Spilman.

The crew appear to have been tour-expired after the Bremen op’, and most of the crew were posted out. Buzz stayed on, moving with the squadron to Spilsby.

13.8.45 – NZ413138 F/L SL Spilman Pilot was posted to No. 109 OTU for Instructor duties.

At the end of the war Buzz moved on to transport command in India, before returning to New Zealand. He worked at Air New Zealand predecessor Teal Airways in administration for seven years before heading back to flying as an aerial topdressing pilot.
He and Mrs Spilman retired to Nelson in 1980.

After the war Gerry had a successful career as a civil aviation pilot. These days he volunteers as a guide at Manston’s Spitfire and Hurricane Museum.

The two crewmates met up in 2012 when Buzz came over to the UK with the RNZAF Bomber Command vet’s for the unveiling of the Bomber Command Memorial.

As always, many thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn. for permission to reproduce the above photos.

At this time, 70 years ago, a long dark shadow is cast…….

At the exact time of the publishing of this post, 70 years ago, Pilot John Wood and his Flight Engineer Dougie Williamson were easing the  throttles forward on their Mk.I Lancaster HK601 JN-Dog.

19 more Lancasters of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF would follow John Wood’s Lancaster into the cold Cambridgeshire night, to join up with a second-wave force of another 509 aircraft from Bomber Command.

The destruction caused and the debate that has continued over their target that night has been encapsulated into a single word, which in itself, has cast a long dark shadow over the activities of RAF Bomber Command and the boys that flew in it.

 Dresden

An article in today’s Guardian, titled ‘’We thought Dresden was invincible’: 70 years after the destruction of a city” provides a fascinating eye witness account of the raid on Dresden.

Eberhard Renner, a dentist’s son who was 12 years old on the night RAF bombers arrived tells of the Second World War bombing – and the moment his father thought the unthinkable.

The boy had gone to bed, his head buzzing with his chemistry experiments, when at around 9.45pm the first air raid warning sounded. “Air raid warnings had been an almost daily occurrence since December so I thought little of it and at first I really couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed. I went downstairs anyway but there was nothing special to indicate what was about to occur.

He and his parents noted the drone of the bombers in the distance, but they thought they were flying on to bomb Chemnitz or Leipzig. Then they saw the “Christmas trees” – magnesium flares that floated down on parachutes to light up the city.

Even then we were so secure in the belief that Dresden was invincible, we didn’t believe it was anything more than a reconnaissance mission,” he recalled. His parents told him the enemy pilots were only taking photographs and would soon be gone.

Only when the bombs started falling did we realise it was Dresden’s turn,” Renner, now 82, said. “First they dropped the explosive bombs to expose the roofs. Then came the incendiary bombs to do the real damage – a well-worked-out English strategy. By that time we were sitting in our cellar and I felt increasingly scared by the minute. One bomb exploded in our garden and blew the door in towards me and my mum, but luckily we weren’t hurt.

Dresdeners have always had an inflated feeling of their own importance and that extended to thinking that the English were too cultivated to destroy a city like Dresden, the so-called Florence on the Elbe. How incredibly naive we were.

And then I heard my father, who was not a courageous man at the best of times, say something that would have been unthinkable days before,” Renner, a retired engineer and architect who still lives in the city, recalled. “‘Well, it’s those criminals we’ve got to thank for this’,” he said, meaning Adolf Hitler. Like many people, it had opened his eyes. “Up until then it had been ‘be careful what you say in front of the kids’, now he was openly expressing his opinion in front of the neighbours!

No one contradicted him.

Read the full Guardian article ‘We thought Dresden was invincible’: 70 years after the destruction of a city here

Bomber Command War Diary (Martin-Middlebrook & Chris Everitt)
13 February 1945
Operation Thunderclap
The Air Ministry had, for several months, been considering a series of particularly heavy area raids on German cities with a view to causing such confusion and consternation that the hard-stretched German war machine and civil administration would break down and the war would end. The general name given to this plan was Operation Thunderclap, but it had been decided not to implement it until the military situation in Germany was critical. That moment appeared to be at hand. Russian forces had made a rapid advance across Poland in the second half of January and crossed the eastern frontier of Germany. The Germans were thus fighting hard inside their own territory on two fronts, with the situation in the East being particularly critical. It was considered that Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig and Chemnitz – all just behind the German lines on the Eastern Front now – would be suitable targets. They were all vital communications and supply centres for the Eastern Front and were already packed with German refugees and wounded from the areas recently captured by the Russians. As well as the morale aspect of the attacks, there was the intention of preventing the Germans from moving reinforcements from the West to face the successful Russian advance. The Air Ministry issued a directive to Bomber Command , at the end of January. The Official History. describes how Winston Churchill took a direct hand in the final planning of Operation Thunderclap – although Churchill tried to distance himself from the Dresden raid afterwards. On 4 February, at the Yalta Conference, the Russians asked for attacks of this kind to take place, but their involvement in the process only came after the plans had been issued. So, Bomber Command was specifically requested by the Air Ministry, with Churchill’s encouragement to carry out heavy raids on Dresden, Chemnitz and Leipzig. The Americans were also asked to help and agreed to do so. The campaign should have begun with an American raid on Dresden on 13 February but bad weather over Europe prevented any American operations. It thus fell to Bomber Command to carry out the first raid.

Dresden: 796 Lancasters and 9 Mosquitos were dispatched in two separate raids and dropped 1,478 tons of high explosive and 1,182 tons of incendiary bombs. The first attack was carried out entirely by No 5 Group, using their own low-level marking methods. A band of cloud still remained in the area and this raid, in which 244 Lancasters dropped more than 800 tons of bombs, was only moderately successful.

The second raid, 3 hours later, was an all-Lancaster attack by aircraft of Nos 1, 3, 6 and 8 Groups, with No 8 Group providing standard Pathfinder marking. The weather was now clear and 529 Lancasters dropped more than 1,800 tons of bombs with great accuracy. Much has been written about the fearful effects of this raid. Suffice it to say here that a firestorm, similar to the one experienced in Hamburg in July 1943, was created and large areas of the city were burnt out. No one has ever been able to discover how many people died but it is accepted that the number was greater than the 40,000 who died in the Hamburg firestorm and the Dresden figure may have exceeded 50,000.

Bomber Command casualties were 6 Lancasters lost, with 2 more crashed in France and 1 in England.

311 American B-17s dropped 771 tons of bombs on Dresden the next day, with the railway yards as their aiming point. Part of the American Mustang-fighter escort was ordered to strafe traffic on the roads around Dresden to increase the chaos. The Americans bombed Dresden again on the 15th and on 2nd March but it is generally accepted that it was the RAF night raid which caused the most serious damage.

13/02/1945 – Attack Against Dresden (Form 541 75(NZ) Squadron RAF)
Twenty aircraft attacked Dresden as detailed. Very slight H/F was only opposition. The first aircraft over the target reported thin cloud which had cleared for later aircraft. Some aircraft were able to bomb visually. Crews reported the whole town was well alight and could see the glow of fires 100 miles away on return A highly successful raid.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B

Reginald Arthur Smith

Extract from the logbook of Reg Smith, Rear Gunner with the Adamson crew

F/O Maurice James Adamson, RNZAF NZ426904 – Pilot.
F/S Arthur Edwin Noel Unwin, RNZAF NZ427347 – Navigator.
F/O Kenneth William Rathbride Mitchell, RNZAF NZ425700 – Air Bomber.
F/S John William Fisher, RNZAF NZ4211617 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt John Palmer, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frank Rhodes, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Reginald Arthur Smith, RAFVR 1606544 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:17 – Landed 07:04
Flight Time 08:47

Lancaster Mk.I NG113 AA-D
F/O Ronald Wynn Russell, RNZAF NZ37220 – Pilot.
F/O Francis Neville Selwood , RNZAF NZ4215756 – Navigator.
F/O Victor Digger Hendry , RNZAF NZ425570 – Air Bomber.
F/S F. Jillians, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Hunt , RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Henry Grout, RCAF R.109213 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E. Bates , RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:17 – Landed 07:25
Flight Time 09:08

Lancaster Mk.I NF935 AA-P
F/O Valentine Richard Egglestone, RNZAF NZC429998 – Pilot.
F/S Gordon McDonald Mitchell, RNZAF NZ4211764 – Navigator.
F/S James Frederick Freestone, RNZAF NZ4213370 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Akehurst, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. P. Hill, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Jack Truman, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. P. Goldie, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:09 – Landed 06:57
Flight Time 08:48

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F “The Seven Sinners”
F/O John O’Malley, RNZAF NZ428276 – Pilot.
F/S F. Cousar, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Septimus Robinson, RAFVR 1432941/ 190538 – Air Bomber.
F/S Frank Henry Gimblett, RNZAF NZ427520 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt W. Ireland, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. W. Ramsay, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. B. Stacey, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:11 – Landed 06:49
Flight Time 08:38

Lancaster Mk.I HK576 AA-G
F/O John Rees Layton, RNZAF NZ425914 – Pilot.
Sgt. Lloyd Edward Anger, RCAF R.200903 – Navigator.
W/O Clive Woodward Estcourt, RNZAF NZ391045 – Air Bomber.
F/S Ta Tio Tuaine Nicholas, RNZAF NZ425658 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt F. Samuel , RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S David Onslow Light, RNZAF NZ4212848 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Leslie Dixon Moore , RNZAF NZ421327 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:19 – Landed 06:21
Flight Time 08:02

Lancaster Mk.I HK573 AA-H
F/L George Stanley Davies, RNZAF NZ427262 – Pilot.
F/S Claude Cuthbert Greenough , RNZAF NZ429069 – Navigator.
F/S Henry Edward Chalmers, RAFVR 1565986 – Air Bomber.
F/S T.M. White , RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt I.R.H. Evans, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. J.J. Maher, RAFVR 1434090 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S R. Muir, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:13 – Landed 07:22
Flight Time 09:09

Lancaster Mk.I RA510 AA-J
F/O Robert Jaspar Pearson, RNZAF NZ39575 – Pilot.
W/O Alick Segnit, RAAF AUS.28834 – Navigator.
F/S B. Farmer, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S William Arthur Johnston, RAAF AUS.432239 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt S. Miller, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. A. Smithson, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E. Hadigate, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:20 – Landed 06:37
Flight Time 08:17

Lancaster Mk.III PB421 AA-K

Stan Heald

Extract from the logbook of Stan Heald, Air Bomber with the Ware crew

W/O Esmond Edgar Delwyn Ware, RNZAF NZ42486 – Pilot.
F/O Colin Campbell Emslie, RNZAF NZ431170 – Navigator.
F/S Stanley John Heald, RNZAF NZ415319 – Air Bomber.
F/S Wilfred Darling Cairns, RNZAF NZ427794 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Carter, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S G.B. White, RCAF R.209852 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Richard H. Wright, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:16 – Landed 07:23
Flight Time 09:07

Lancaster Mk.I HK597 JN-N

jimmy-wood-001-40

Extract from the logbook of Jimmy Wood, Air Bomber with the Banks crew

W/C Cyril Henry ‘Mac’ Baigent, RNZAF NZ411973/ 70038 – Pilot.
F/L Russell Ashley Banks RNZAF NZ416437 2nd Pilot.
F/O Maurice Wiggins , RAFVR – Navigator.
F/O James ‘Jimmy’ Earnest Wood , RAFVR 1801019/154906 – Air Bomber.
F/L Alexander Reid Hirst, RNZAF NZ41588 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. H. “jock’ Fraser, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
W/O John Edward Britnell, RAFVR 1579917 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Norman ‘Paddy’ Allen, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:11 – Landed 07:15
Flight Time 09:04

Lancaster Mk.III NG448 JN-P
F/L Ernest Joseph Abraham, RNZAF NZ428061 – Pilot.
F/S Louis Eldon Bernhardt Klitscher RNZAF NZ415262 2nd Pilot.
F/O Donald John Glengarry, RNZAF NZ422059 – Navigator.
F/O David George William Hubert Jones, RAFVR 186301 – Air Bomber.
F/S Stanley Graham Watson, RAFVR 1124508/ 195948 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Samuel Joseph Hughes, RAFVR 2218612 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Ronald William Makin, RNZAF NZ4212812 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. R. Evans, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:53 – Landed 06:40
Flight Time 08:47

Lancaster Mk.I LM276 AA-S
F/L Sidney Lewis ‘Buzz’ Spillman, RNZAF NZ413138 – Pilot.
Sgt. N. Holbrook, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Thomas Ernest Corlett, RNZAF NZ425692 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. G. Abrahams, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt H. Thorne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Vernon Alfred Clouston, RNZAF NZ428285 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S William Patrick Burke, RNZAF NZ4210017 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:14 – Landed 07:11
Flight Time 08:57

Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
F/L Jack Plummer, RNZAF NZ42451 – Pilot.
F/S Arthur Leonard Humphries, RNZAF NZ428244 – Navigator.
W/O Edgar John Holloway, RNZAF NZ429923 – Air Bomber.
W/O Robert William ‘Bobby’ West, RAFVR 1077746 /195545 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Maurice Fell, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/O Russell James Scott, RNZAF NZ428984 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Alexander Malcolm McDonald, RNZAF NZ426070 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:10 – Landed 07:06
Flight Time 08:56

Lancaster Mk.III PB132 AA-X
F/L Douglas Ross Sadgrove, RNZAF NZ425292 – Pilot.
F/S Robert Trevor Dixon, RNZAF NZ4212652 – Navigator.
Sgt. D. Stimpson, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S Frederick Fleming, RNZAF NZ425241 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Bernard John Mahoney, RAFVR 1628335/ 190539 – Flight Engineer.
F/S Robert Samuel Bawden, RNZAF NZ4212629 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. D. Dalimore, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:52 – Landed 07:07
Flight Time 09:15

Lancaster Mk.I ME450 AA-W

SONY DSC

Extract from the logbook of Robert ‘Jock’ Sommerville, Air Bomber with the Zinzan crew

F/O Vernon John ‘Taffy’ Zinzan, RNZAF NZ425314 – Pilot.
W/O James Sydney George Coote, RAFVR 517881/ 56715 – Navigator.
F/O Robert Douglas ‘Jock’ Sommerville, RAFVR 1562617/ 161049 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Miles ‘Joe’ Parr, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. A. Ackroyd, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. H. Hutchinson, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frank Watts, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:13 – Landed 06:32
Flight Time 08:19

Lancaster Mk.I HK561 AA-Y

Gordon Ford

Extract from the logbook of Gordon Ford, Wireless Operator with the Watson crew (the clipped reference to ‘1 A/C lost’ refers to the Chemnitz Op, the following night

F/O Matthew Watson, RAFVR 1495959/ 176130 – Pilot.
F/S Kenneth Raffill Wood, RNZAF NZ4212783 – Navigator.
F/S Richard Godfrey Dawson, RNZAF NZ421686 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gordon Ford, RAFVR 1523080 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R. Pare, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. W. Mentiply, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. A. Bolland, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 07:13
Flight Time 08:58

Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D

Gerry Newey

Extract from the logbook of Gerald Newey, Wireless Operator with the Wood crew

F/O John Henry Thomas Wood, RNZAF NZ426235 – Pilot.
F/S John Austin White Pauling, RNZAF NZ422976 – Navigator.
F/S Noel Ridley Hooper, RAFVR 1336483/ 196925 – Air Bomber.
F/S Gerald Newey, RNZAF NZ425285 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt Douglas Williamson, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Albert John Tipping Cash, RCAF R.147817 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Ralph Charles Sparrow, RCAF R.263518 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:52* – Landed 06:44
Flight Time 08:52
*While listed as 21:52, Gerry Newey’s logbook lists the crew’s take-off time as 21:50

Lancaster Mk.I NG322 JN-F
F/O Wi Rangiuaia, RNZAF NZ427319 – Pilot.
Sgt. A. Matthew, RAFVR – Navigator.
Sgt. D. Morrison, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S John Edward Barry Mossman, RNZAF NZ42112587 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt L. Player, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. T. Mynott, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. T. Morgan, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:07 – Landed 07:20
Flight Time 09:13

Lancaster Mk.I PB820 JN-V
F/L Donald Winter Thomson, RNZAF NZ41613 – Pilot.
F/S Herbert Ronald Holliday, RAAF AUS.434602 – Navigator.
F/L Grant Alan ‘Russ’ Russell, RNZAF NZ411729 – Air Bomber*.
F/S D. Brazier, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. C. Payne, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S Jack Heaton, RAFVR 982650/ 196880 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S J. Messer, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.
*Hilray Hubert Stratford, the crew’s regular A/B is listed in the Form 541, however, the position of A/B was in fact taken by the Squadron Bombing leader Grant Alan Russell, Hilary Stratford being ill for this Op – from A.G. Russell’s book ‘Dying for Democracy’

Take Off 22:08 – Landed 07:08
Flight Time 09:00

Lancaster Mk.I HK593 JN-X
F/O Ronald Christie Flamank, RNZAF NZ427270 – Pilot.
F/S A. Westbury, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S E. Carver, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S Douglas Haig Rapson, RNZAF NZ428323 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. V. Saunders, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. K. Moore, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. D. Hills, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:08 – Landed 06:34
Flight Time 08:26

Lancaster Mk.I HK554 JN-Z
F/O Herbert Wilfred Hooper, RNZAF NZ40111 – Pilot.
Sgt. Royston Edgar Lane, RAFVR 195332 – Navigator.
Sgt. E. Holt, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
W/O A. Gordon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. J. Petrie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. R. Sturrock, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Spiby, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:54 – Landed 06:59
Flight Time 09:05

 

Lest we forget………