Tag Archives: ME691 AA-R

Harold Whittington crew 1944

The Whittington crew. Back Row: F/S Andrew Crawford Fletcher, RNZAF, Rear Gunner; F/O Philip Edwin Tompkins, RAFVR, Wireless Operator; Sgt Don W Gore, RAFVR, Flight Engineer; Sgt Alfred Alexander Simpson, RNZAF, Bomb Aimer. Front Row: F/L Joseph Stevens, RAFVR, Navigator; P/O Harold (Dick) Whittington, RNZAF, Pilot; Sgt Ronald John Morton Batty, RAFVR, Mid Upper Gunner.
Photo from Graham Nicholson.

Many thanks to Chris and all those involved in gathering information for this post!

On the 20th/ 21st of July 1944, 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF suffered one of its worst disasters, the loss of seven Lancasters and their crews in the attack on an oil refinery at Homberg. This the story of one of those crews.

Pilot Harold Whittington, from Hamilton, NZ, initially crewed up at No. 11 OTU, Westcott, Buckinghamshire, while training on Vickers Wellingtons.

11 OTU graduation photo, Course 66, 1944 – cropped version below to identify crew members: Back Row: 9th from left – Andrew Crawford Fletcher. Middle Row: 2nd, 3rd and 4th from left – Don W Gore, Alfred Alexander Simpson and Harold Whittington. Front Row: 1st and 2nd from left – Philip E Tompkins, Joseph Stevens and on the end Ronald John Morton Batty.
Photo from Graham Nicholson.

During April the full seven man crew, two Kiwis and four Englishmen, converted to Stirling bombers at 1657 Heavy Conversion Unit, RAF Stradishall, Suffolk. They then spent about a week at Lancaster Finishing School, RAF Feltwell.

 The Whittington crew was posted to No. 75 (NZ) Squadron at Mepal, Cambridgeshire, arriving on the 12th of June 1944, to report for operational duties.

The crew was:
F/S Harold “Dick” Whittington, RNZAF NZ42488 – Pilot.
F/O Joseph Stevens, RAFVR 125607 – Navigator.
Sgt. Alfred Alexander Simpson, RNZAF NZ425112 – Air Bomber.
F/O Phillip Edwin Tompkins, RAFVR 157922 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Don W. Gore, RAFVR 1624691 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Ronald John Morton Batty, RAFVR 548542 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Andrew Crawford Fletcher, RNZAF NZ42675 – Rear Gunner.

As part of his preparation for operations, Whittington flew a second dickie trip to Le Havre on the 14th of June with the McRae crew in Lancaster ND752, AA-O “Oboe”.

ND752 was at the time starring in a short film being made at Mepal, “Maximum Effort”, featuring Eric Witting’s crew.

Then the crew flew their first op’ together on the night of the 15th/16th of June, an attack on the Marshalling Yards at Valenciennes in France.

15/16.6.1944 – Attack Against Valenciennes
Lancaster Mk.III ND756, AA-M
F/S Harold Whittington, RNZAF NZ42488 – Pilot.
F/O Joseph Stevens, RAFVR 125607 – Navigator.
Sgt. Alfred Alexander Simpson, RNZAF NZ425112 – Air Bomber.
F/O Phillip Edwin Tompkins, RAFVR 157922 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. Don W. Gore, RAFVR 1624691 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Ronald John Morton Batty, RAFVR 548542 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S Andrew Crawford Fletcher, RNZAF NZ42675 – Rear Gunner.

The crew flew eight more op’s over France, in support of the Normandy invasion, and attacking V1 rocket launching sites:

17.6.44 – ND756, AA-M – Montdidier.
 Jettisoned bombs in the Channel after combat with a Fw190 – claimed as possibly destroyed.

 24/25.6.44 – ND747, AA-T – Rimeux.

 27/28.6.44 – ME691, AA-R – Biennais
The Form 541 says that F/S David Fox RNZAF NZ426065 replaced Andrew Fletcher as R/Gnr for this operation.

2.7.44 – ME691, AA-R – Beauvoir.
Harold Whittington promotion – now listed as W/O.

12.7.44 – ND747, AA-T – Vaires.

15/16.7.44 – ND747, AA-T –  Chalons Sur Marne.

17.7.44 HK562, AA-L – Vaires.
Recalled, refuelled and placed on standby.

18.7.44 HK562, AA-L Cagny.

18/19.7.44 HK562, AA-L Aulnoye.

See the crew’s full operational history here: https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/h-whittington-crew-15-6-44/

Then came the fateful Homberg operation on the night of the 20th/21st of July.

A force of 147 Lancasters, including 26 from 75 (NZ) Squadron, and 11 Mosquito’s of 1, 3 and 8 Groups, were dispatched to attack the synthetic oil plant at Homberg (8 mls NE of Düsseldorf). Although the refinery was severely damaged in this attack, aircraft losses were heavy. German night-fighters wrought havoc on the bombers, shooting down 20 aircraft – 13.6 per cent of the attacking force.

20/07/1944 – Attack Against Homberg
Twenty six aircraft took off, as detailed, to attack the oil refinery at Homberg. Nineteen aircraft were successful in bombing the target, with the aid of markers, which seemed well concentrated. Two good explosions were seen and smoke came up from the target area. Heavy A.A. fire was moderate, but fighters were very active, eight combats taking place. Seven aircraft failed to return, the captains were AUS22776 W/O. Gilmour, H., NZ428819 F/S. Howell, E., NZ421829 F/S. Mackay, K., NZ422057 F/S. Davidson, N., NZ42488 W/O. Whittington, H., NZ413219 F/S. Roche, G. & NZ414560 P/O. Burtt, H.

Lancaster Mk.I ME691 AA-R

W/O Harold Whittington, RNZAF NZ42488 – Pilot.
F/O Joseph Stevens, RAFVR 125607 – Navigator.
Sgt. Alfred Alexander Simpson, RNZAF NZ425112 – Air Bomber.
P/O Phillip Edwin Tompkins, RAFVR 157922 – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. D. W. Gore, RAFVR 1624691 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Ronald John Morton Batty*, RAFVR 548542 – Mid Upper Gunner.
* ORB for this Op lists Sgt. Leslie De’Lungo, RAFVR as Mid Upper Gunner, however the recorded loss of Sgt. Batty clearly identifies this as an error.
F/S Andrew Crawford Fletcher, RNZAF NZ42675 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Lancaster Mk.I ME691 AA-R was brought down by an enemy aircraft at 01:33hrs beside a road near Veghel (Noord Brabant), 4 miles South West of Uden. All but the flight engineer perished in the crash and were buried in the local War Cemetery, Uden. Sgt Gore, the flight engineer, survived but was taken as a P.o.W.

P/O Harold Whittington, RNZAF NZ42488 – Pilot.
Killed age 26.
Son of John Richard and Minnie Whittington, of Hamilton, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Uden War Cemetery, Holland.     .
Grave location – 3. I. 2. 203

F/L Joseph Stevens, RAFVR 125607 – Navigator.
Killed age 32.
Son of Joseph and Hilda Stevens, of Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire. M.Sc.
Buried Uden War Cemetery, Holland.     .
Grave location – 5. A. 8. 103
‘Greater love Hath no man than this,
That a man lay down
His life for his friends’

F/S Alfred Alexander Simpson, RNZAF NZ425212 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 28.
Son of Frederick John and Jessie Ann Simpson, of Gisborne, Auckland, New Zealand; husband of Gladys Simpson, of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.
Buried Uden War Cemetery, Holland.     .
Grave location – 3. I. 4. 205

F/O Phillip Edwin Tompkins, RAFVR 157922 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 21.
Son of Edwin George and Gladys Elizabeth Tompkins; of Merton Park, Surrey; husband of Joan Grace Tompkins, of Merton Park.
Buried Uden War Cemetery, Holland.     .
Grave location – 5. A. 10. 105
‘Father, In Thy gracious keeping
Leave we now
Thy servant sleeping’

Sgt. Donald W. Gore, RAFVR 1624691 – Flight Engineer.
P.o.W
Prisoner of War Number: 455
Prison Camps: Dulag Luft, Stalag Luft VII
Date of return to United Kingdom: not known

Sgt. Ronald John Morton Batty, RAF 549542 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 26.
Buried Uden War Cemetery, Holland.     .
Grave location – 5. A. 9. 104

F/S Andrew Crawford Fletcher, RNZAF NZ42675 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 24.
Son of Daniel Fletcher and of Jeanie Fletcher (nee McNeill), of Devonport, Auckland, New Zealand; husband of Dorothy May Fletcher, of Devonport, Auckland.
Buried Uden War Cemetery, Holland.     .
Grave location – 5. A. 1. 101

Back in New Zealand, Harold Whittington, Alfred Simpson and Andrew Fletcher were listed as missing.
photos from the Weekly News, via AWMM Online Cenotaph.

It is incredibly sad to note that at least three of  the crew left behind young widows.

Dave Homewood has put together a wonderful record of Andrew Fletcher’s life and full service history on his Wings Over Cambridge website:  http://www.cambridgeairforce.org.nz/Andrew%20Fletcher.htm

F/O Philip Edwin Tompkins, RAFVR, Wireless Operator.
Photo from Graham Nicholson.

Wireless Operator Philip Tompkins was 21, and had married the girl next door, Joan, only two months earlier.

Later, she re-married, and it is her second husband, Graham Nicholson, that we have to thank for these photos of Philip and his crew. Graham (86 at the time) posted about Lancaster ME691 on the Wings Over New Zealand forum a couple of years back, and he and I briefly corresponded by email. He was very keen to share the photos, to make sure that the crew is remembered.

A further postscript can now be added to the story, as the same WONZ thread recently led to contact with Dutch researcher Adrian van Zantvoort. Adrian has long been interested in crash sites in the area where he lives, the South East of The Netherlands.

In 2005, he spotted an article in a local newspaper, the Udens Weekblad, about the discovery of a wartime photo album. This is Adrian’s translation:

Herman du Maine, a citizen from Haarlem, found a shelter from November 1943 until the liberation in September 1944 in a farm at Maria-Heide (a village east of Veghel).  After his death his daughter, Willie Bloks-du Maine, discovered a pile of letters and documents about the war period, and also a photo album with never published pictures.

It took some to getting used to but the stay of Herman went very well. He started with buying postcards and also he got a photo camera and a few rolls of film to take pictures of certain events in his neighbourhood. The pics he took were printed by Johan van Eerd, a photographer from Veghel. Herman started with taking some pics of his fellow hiding comrades. In the night of 20/21 July 1944, a Lancaster bomber crashed on the edge of Maria-Heide village. The cockpit touched the farmhouse which was belonging to the Family A. Vissers. The remainder of the aircraft fell around the farm in a field. Six crew members where killed and buried at Uden War Cemetery. One crew member managed to bale out, but was arrested later and became a POW. Willie Bloks-du Maine said “as soon as he got the chance my Father Herman made a pic of the damaged farm with in front a part of the aircraft”. 

The article was published alongside Herman’s photo of the crash site. Adrian contacted his daughter Willie, and has obtained a copy:

ME691 crash site, with the Vissers family and their damaged farmhouse, 1944. Piece of Lancaster wreckage at left.
Photo from Mr H.F.du Maine, via his Daughter Mrs Willie Bloks-du Maine, and Adrian van Zantvoort.

Adrian is very keen to visit the crash site, although Willie says that the original farmhouse is currently being demolished to make way for a new one. Apparently Mr du Maine only took the one photo, but Mrs Bloks-du Maine has provided a map.

The photo has revealed another piece of fascinating information. The aircraft wreckage lying on the ground at left of the photo is part of the fuselage, from just below the cockpit where the Pilot would be sitting, and there are faint bomb markings and clear writing on it – evidence of nose art and probably a name that was applied to ME691.

The visible lettering is “.. RGAN GRINDER’S SWING”, probably “Organ Grinder’s Swing”. This was a popular song of the 30s and 40s (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organ_Grinder’s_Swing) and perhaps there is also a humorous reference to the place where the (street entertainer) organ grinder’s monkey sat, ie., the guy who is not really the boss at all.

Referring back to the operational history of the aircraft, Avro Lancaster ME691, AA-R (https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/me691/), her first five op’s were flown by W/O Des HORGAN and his crew! So the nose art was probably applied by or for them.

In fact, Des Horgan & crew flew all of their last seven op’s in ME691 before ending their tour (https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/horgan-crew-27-8-43-empty/).

There may be more to add to this story, as Adrian continues his research, as I try and track down Andrew Fletcher’s family (he came from Devonport where I live), and as we try and learn about Flight Engineer Don Gore’s POW exploits. Hopefully, someone will see this post and be able to contribute more about the other crew members.

However, in the meantime it is very satisfying to put together the pieces that we do have, in memory of Harold Whittington, Philip Tompkins, Andrew Fletcher and the rest of the crew of Lancaster ME691.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha!

Special thanks to Graham Nicholson, Adrian van Zantvoort, Mrs Willie Bloks-du Maine. Thanks also to Dave Homewood and the fantastic resources and community that he has created and fostered at Wings Over New Zealand and Wings Over Cambridge.

 

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