Tag Archives: ME450 AA-W

Chatteris Memorial

SCN_0003_zpseiygbumr.jpg~original
The Thorpe crewLeft to right: Allen Francis (Wireless Operator), John Duke (Flight Engineer), Noel Thorpe (Pilot), Frederick Saffill (Mid Upper Gunner), George McManus (Navigator), H. Hark (Rear Gunner), Joseph Alfred (Air Bomber)image and caption supplied by Noel Russell.

At approximately 10 minutes past 4 on the afternoon of the 22nd of February 1945, Lancaster Mk.I ME450 AA-W crashed, near to Chatteris gas works. All but 2 of the 7 man crew were killed.

I was recently contacted to be informed that there is a plan and the intent to commemorate the Thorpe crew and their loss. Perhaps more interestingly, after research, the committee driving the planned memorial have discovered that in fact, during the War a total of 7 aircraft crashed in the Chatteris area. Quite rightly, it has now been decided that the memorial should commemorate all those crews.

Personally, I think this a very laudable project, bringing together possibly those, not only interested in the History of the RAF and Bomber Command, but also for the inhabitants of Chatteris, their own local history. After so may years, it’s possibly more poignant for those that will walk past this memorial to know nothing of those tragic events until that moment that they do – then leaving with the understanding that the sacrifices of a time long gone, can and should still be remembered today.

To keep informed of the progress of this very commendable project, you can join the groups facebook page here.

More importantly perhaps, you can make a donation to the project on their just gofundme page here.

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………

Stockport Crematorium – Aircrew panel recorded

Duke John Lawrence

Many thanks to Neil for visiting Stockport Crematorium for me, to record the engraved panel for Sgt John Lawrence Duke RAFVR 2210530 who died of his injuries 2 days after the crash of Lancaster Mk.I ME450 AA-W, on its return from a raid on Dortmund. The aircraft returned with the rest of the Squadron and was seen flying in formation over Mepal, but for some unknown reason crashed soon after, very close to Chatteris gasworks. The crash killed 5 of the 7 crew.

The Navigator and Air Bomber, Sgt George William McManus (RAFVR 1806217)  and F/S Joseph McKenzie Alfred (RAFVR 1810280), respectively lay in Cambridge Cemetery. The crew’s Pilot, F/O Noel Humphrey Thorpe (RNZAF NZ428168) is buried in Ilford (Barkingside) Cemetery, Essex, Sgt Frederick Henry Saffill (RAFVR 1882066) the Mid Upper Gunner, rests in Maldon Cemetery, Essex.

Cambridge City Cemetery – Aircrew headstones recorded

Cambridge City Cemetery CWWG Plot COMPD

A really big thank you to Adrian for taking the time to visit Cambridge City Cemetery to photograph the graves of the 75(NZ) Squadron aircrew who rest there. The 15 airmen that are buried in Cambridge Cemetery are from 8 crews, and were lost during operational and training flights and in one case owing to an extreme act of bravery.

I have decided to group the stones and present the airmen relative to the crews they flew in and the fates that befell them. The are listed in chronological order.

 

Broady crew Broady McWilliam

Sgt Raymond Herbert John Broady (RNZAF NZ39691) was piloting a Stirling bomber on a night flight, on the 28th of November 1942, whilst based at RAF Oakington, where ‘A’ Flight were converting from Wellingtons to Stirlings. Whilst attempting to avoid a head on collision with another Stirling (not a 75(NZ) a/c), his aircraft stalled which resulted in it crashing near Trinity Hall Farm, Oakington. All crew were killed or fatally injured, including a Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Drayton, who it is believed was based on the crew at Oakington.

Initially, Sgt. Robert James McWilliam (RCAF 93977) caused me some confusion – there being little sensible information in the Nominal Roll relating to him – only listing Kenneth Blincoe as his Pilot. The events of the training crash have been pondered over in the blog previously and the scant information regarding the crew on that night was based on hypothesis, based on the last recorded Op the crew flew. It strikes me now that the reason that 2 of these airmen were not killed in the crash is that they had actually left the Squadron – hence perhaps the presence of Robert McWilliam as the crews new Wireless Operator – also, though it seems obvious now – this is why I could find no other report of a crash on the 28th of November…

Sgt Alexander McIssac (RNZAF NZ412891), Rear Gunner, rests in Chevington Cemetery, Northumberland, England, as does the Air Bomber of the crew, Sgt. George Trueman Jobson (RAFVR 1287935). Rear Gunner Sgt Charles Thomas Rogers (RAFVR 1170921) is buried at Crowle (St. John the Baptist Churchyard) whilst the Flight Engineer of the crew, Sgt Ronald Oswald Dibben (RAFVR 1252627) is buried in Ham (St. Andrew) Churchyard.

Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Drayton (RAFVR 1331697), whose identity was the start of the initial research about this incident, rests in Newmarket Cemetery.

More information about the incident that night and the details of the crew that were lost can be read here.

 

Menzies crew menzies dobson

On the night of 8th September 1943, whilst accelerating to take off, the Stirling bomber piloted by F/O. Ian Robert Menzies (RNZAF NZ415002) suddenly veered to the right of the runway and crashed firstly through a petrol bowser and then into two houses on the far side adjoining the perimeter track. It caught fire almost simultaneously, and in the fire, various bombs exploded, causing the aircraft to be a total wreck. Three members of the crew, a W.A.A.F. Officer of R.A.F. Station Mepal and an aircrew Sergeant, and 2 civilians were killed and other civilians were injured.

As well as killing Ian Menzies in the initial crash and explosion, F/O Norman Hathway Gale (RAFVR 849986/151013), the Air Bomber also died and now rests in Bristol (Canford) Cemetery. The Flight Engineer, Sgt Albert Leslie Mellor (RAFVR 943914) succumbed to his injuries and was buried in Buxton Cemetery, Derbyshire.

The aircrew Sergeant mentioned in this description was F/S Peter Gerald Dobson MiD (RNZAF NZ439022), who  was killed by exploding bombs as he went to the assistance of the aircrew crew and the occupants of the houses.
Mention in Despatches (14 Jan 1944):
“For bravery in action and meritorious fulfilment of duty”.

Section Officer Joan Majorie Easton (WAAF/RAF 2986) was also killed when, on attempting to aid the rescue of the aircrew and occupants of the houses, the aircraft’s bomb load exploded. Marjorie rests in Greenwich (Charlton and Kidbrook) Cemetery, London.

Read more about the events of that night here.

 

HURDLE, Walter RNZAF

F/Sgt Walter Hurdle (RNZAF NZ421279), Rear Gunner with Eric Witting’s crew was killed on the 4th of November 1943 during an attack by an enemy aircraft.

The combat report, as is perhaps inevitable for a ‘report’, is stunningly matter of fact, not only about the attack, but also the death of Sgt. Hurdle.

4 November 43 Gardening Baltic Witting

 

Kinross crew Kinross Emmerson Jenkin

Stirling Mk.III EF163 JN-L was one of 4 aircraft from the Squadron that took off to lay sea mines around the Frisian Islands on the 16th December 1943. The aircraft, Piloted by P/O Colin John Kinross (RNZAF NZ417069) crashed at Bidington Farm, Sutton, Cambridgeshire, in part through bad visibility and also, it is theorised, a hung up mine, that may have effected the aircraft’s centre of gravity. Colin and his Navigator and Air Bomber, F/O Ralph Francis Jenkin (RNZAF NZ416119) and  F/S Ronald Harry Emmerson (RAAF AUS.410330) lay in the cemetery.

Sgt Raymond Askew (RAFVR 1477972), Flight Engineer rests in  Seaton Hirst (St John) Churchyard Ashington, Sgt Willis Arthur Savage (RAF 1503913), the crew’s  Wireless Operator lays in Pendelbury (St. John) Churchyard and Sgt. John Albert Warner, Rear Gunner, rests in Bootle Cemetery, Lancashire. The Mid Upper Gunner, Sgt. S. Newman, survived the crash, injured.

 

Blewett WILSON

F/Lt. Terence Douglas Blewett (RNZAF NZ414376) and crew crashed on their return from an attack on Wanne Eickel on the 17th of January 1945. Lancaster PB761 AA-Y, in serious trouble, crashed into a  barn at Wooditton, Suffolk. ‘Tim’ Blewett and the crew’s Air Bomber,  F/O John Stanley Wilson (RNZAF NZ426234) were killed instantly on impact. The Navigator,  F/S Bryant Thomas Cornell (RAFVR 139828) despite the valiant attempts of the surviving crew, succumbed to his injuries and is buried at Southgate Cemetery, Middlesex, England.

Read more about the crash here.

 

Thorpe crew McManus Alfred

On the 26th of February 1945 Lancaster ME450 AA-W crashed on its return from a raid on Dortmund. The aircraft returned with the rest of the Squadron and was seen flying in formation over Mepal, but for some unknown reason crashed soon after, very close to Chatteris gasworks. The crash killed 5 of the 7 crew. The Navigator and Air Bomber,Sgt George William McManus (RAFVR 1806217)  and F/S Joseph McKenzie Alfred (RAFVR 1810280), respectively lay in Cambridge Cemetery. The crew’s Pilot, F/O Noel Humphrey Thorpe (RNZAF NZ428168) lays in Ilford (Barkingside) Cemetery, Essex,Sgt Frederick Henry Saffill (RAFVR 1882066) the Mid Upper Gunner, rests in Maldon Cemetery, Essex and the Flight Engineer, Sgt John Lawrence Duke (RAFVR 2210530), who was only 19 is buried at Stockport Crematorium, having succumbed to his injuries 2 days after the crash.

All these grave stone photographs and others I have already collected have been added to the respective sections of the alphabetical Roll of Honour.