Tag Archives: ND747 AA-T

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.

 

Jack Meehan – Wireless Operator, Glossop crew

jack-meehan

Jack Meehan, Wireless Operator with the Glossop crew
image copyright New Zealand Herald

It is with great sadness that I must report the passing of Jack Meehan, Wireless Operator with the Glossop crew, on the 27th of December.

Jack and the Glossop crew flew out of Mepal with the Squadron between July and December 1944, taking part in Ops to support the Allied invasion of Europe, before switching back to the main bomber campaign against targets in Germany.

Jack’s full obituary in the New Zealand Herald can be read here.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha!

Alfred George Humphreys RAAF AUS.413157 – Pilot

then and now portraits copy

Alfred George Humphreys, Pilot with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. © Alfred Humphreys/ John Humphreys

It is with great sadness that I must announce another significant addition to the Crew Op Histories section of the blog and with it, record the passing of another of the brave boys who flew with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF. This time it is Alfred George Humphreys, RAAF, who flew with the Squadron from Mepal between 1943 and 1944.

John, his son, contacted me and passed on a personal account of Alf’s time in training, Operations with 75(NZ) and subsequent War-time experiences as an Instructor.

Sadly, 10 days later Alf passed away.

In December of 2015, Alf was one of 5 veterans to be awarded the Légion d’Honneur by the French Ambassador to Australia. His award was featured in the Australian press (see below). Alf captured in so few words the events of the Op with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF on the 21st of May 1944 on the return from Duisberg, when their Lancaster was attacked be an Me,110.

“We were badly shot up by fighter aircraft. My navigator was wounded, we had one engine out and there was a hole in the plane where my parachute fell out – I told the crew to bale out and they said they would stay. We had to fly 100 miles across the North Sea to get back to our base at Mepal in Cambridgeshire….”

Read a more detailed account of this Op, as well personal anecdotes of his time with the Squadron on the Humphreys Crew Op page here.

Alf Humphreys Medal of Honour. tidied and cropped

The article that appeared in the Leader
piece supplied by John Humphreys

 

Ake Ake Kia Kaha!

William Caster, Mid Upper Gunner – Gray crew 1944

I have received the sad news that Bill Caster, Mid Upper Gunner with Alex Gray’s crew has passed away.

Bill and the boys arrived at Mepal on the 9th of March 1944 and over the following 6 months completed a total of 33 Ops, in both Stirling and Lancasters. The Grey crew undertook Mining operations during the swansong of the Stirling with the Squadron before converting to Lancasters and then participation in Ops in support of the allied invasion of Europe, before moving back to main War Ops, including the infamous 20th of July, Homberg Op where the Squadron lost 7 aircraft.

As a tribute to Bill and his crew, their Op history is listed below:

21/03/1944 – Mining off Cherbourg
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines off Cherbourg, but one was unsuccessful owing to the failure of navigational aids.

Stirling Mk.III EF233

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S J. Coucher, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:35 – Landed 22:00
Flight Time 02:25

22/03/1944 – Mining in Kiel Bay
Six aircraft were detailed to lay mines in Kiel Bay. Only four took off, but they completed their sorties successfully.

Stirling Mk.III EF233

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/S J. Coucher, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:20 – Landed 00:20
Flight Time 06:00

30/03/1944 – Mining of the coast of Holland
Two aircraft were detailed to lay mines off the coast of Denmark and two off Le Havre. All were successful in clear weather and the trips were uneventful.

Stirling Mk.III EF207

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt G. Tedman, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:20 – Landed 04:50
Flight Time 02:30

18/04/1944 – Attack Against Rouen
Ten Lancasters were also detailed to bomb the marshalling yards at Rouen, one was withdrawn, but the remaining nine attacked in clear weather with ground haze.

Lancaster Mk.III ND802 JN-D “The Flying Scotsman’

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Andrews, RAFVR 1129988 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:55 – Landed 03:25
Flight Time 04:30

24/04/1944 – Attack Against Karlsruhe
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack Karlsruhe. One was withdrawn but the remainder carried out a successful attack with little opposition.

Lancaster Mk.III ND908 JN-M

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 05:50

26/04/1944 – Attack Against Essen
Fifteen aircraft (Lancasters) were detailed to attack Essen. Two were withdrawn, but the remaining thirteen took part in a successful and very concentrated attack. The defences were considered to be moderate and all the aircraft returned safely.

Lancaster Mk.I R5692 JN-P

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 04:25

01/05/1944 – Attack Against Chambly
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the marshalling yards at Chambly. Fifteen of these successfully attacked in clear weather, bombing being accurate. Two brief encounters with enemy aircraft took place and resulted in one being possibly damaged. One of our aircraft (Captain NZ41362 F/L. A/S/L. E.W. Sachtler) failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III ND768 AA-F “Freddie”

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 03:30

07/05/1944 – Attack Against Chateau Bolgon Aerodrome
Ten aircraft were detailed to attack Chateau Bougon aerodrome near Nantes. All aircraft successfully attacked in clear weather and bombing was concentrated.

Lancaster Mk.III ND908 JN-M

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:25 – Landed 05:50
Flight Time 05:25

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.I R5692 JN-P

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:13 – Landed 00:50
Flight Time 02:37

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 LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
P/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:50 – Landed 01:30
Flight Time 02:40

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 LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:20 – Landed 02:10
Flight Time 01:50

27/05/1944 – Attack Against Aachen
Eighteen aircraft were detailed to attack Aachen, one of which returned early and two failed to return (Captains NZ414971 F/L. S. Fauvel and NZ421105 Sgt. Scott, F.). The remaining fifteen successfully bombed the target in clear weather, one aircraft (Captain NZ40750 F/L. R. Berney) had five successive inconclusive combats with an ME 410 in the Courtrai area.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:45 – Landed 04:15
Flight Time 03:30

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 LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:59 – Landed 01:04
Flight Time 01:05

02/06/1944 – Attack Against Wissant
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack a target at Wissant, N. France. Owing to thick cloud over the target, twelve aircraft were unable to identify the markers and brought their bombs back. No opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:15 – Landed 03:20
Flight Time 02:05

04/06/1944 – Mining off the Hook of Holland
Three aircraft were detailed for mine laying, one off Calais, one off the Belgian coast, and the third off the Hook of Holland. All aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted areas without incident.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 02:25 – Landed 04:25
Flight Time 02:00

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

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:40 – Landed 07:10
Flight Time 03:30

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

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:01 – Landed 03:16
Flight Time 03:15

08/06/1944 – Attack Against Fougeres
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Fougeres in N. France. Nineteen aircraft bombed successfully, one bringing its bombs back owing to the Bomb sight being unserviceable when over the target area. Two aircraft had inconclusive combats with enemy aircraft, but the remainder carried out their mission without incident, there being no opposition in the target area.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 02:30
Flight Time 04:30

10/06/1944 – Attack Against Dreux
Of the twenty four aircraft detailed to bomb Dreux, twenty two successfully attacked in good weather, the marshalling yards being visually identified until they were obscured by smoke. One aircraft had an inconclusive combat with a JU.88. The aircrafts captained by NZ422098 P/O. L. Bonisch and NZ422267 F/S. Donaghy, T. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:05 – Landed 03:45
Flight Time 04:40

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 LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:50 – Landed 05:20
Flight Time 05:30

14/06/1944 – Attack Against Le Havre
Twenty six aircraft were detailed to attack shipping in the port area of Le Havre. Twenty five aircraft attacked and a very concentrated and accurate raid resulted. Fires from an earlier attack were still burning when our aircraft were over the target. One aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble. Opposition was slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 01:35
Flight Time 02:00

15/06/1944 – Attack Against Valenciennes
Twenty four aircraft took off as detailed to attack the Marshalling Yards at Valenciennes. Twenty three aircraft attacked the primary target with the aid of markers. A.A. Fire was very slight, but fighters were active, two of our aircraft having combats with enemy aircraft. The aircraft captained by 175311 P/O. C. Crawford claimed hits on an enemy fighter, but sustained serious damage itself, the pilot, however, was able to land safely at Manstone. The aircraft captained by NZ421495 F/S. Betley, R. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O John Murray Watts, RNZAF NZ427239 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 03:20

21/06/1944 – Attack Against Domleger
Twenty three aircraft were detailed to attack the constructional works at Domleger during daylight. Two aircraft failed to take off and the remainder were unable [to] locate the target, the markers not being visible owing to 10/10th cloud. they were instructed by the master bomber to abandon their mission, and apart from some aircraft which jettisoned their load, bombs were brought back. Opposition was very slight.

Lancaster Mk.III ND747 AA-T

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:00 – Landed 20:50
Flight Time 02:50

23/06/1944 – Attack Against L’Hey
Twenty aircraft were detailed to attack the constructional works at L’Hey. All crews bombed on instructions from the Master bomber, and the glow of fires seen through clouds indicated a concentrated raid. Opposition was very slight, although one aircraft had an inconclusive combat with two enemy fighters.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 02:45

24/06/1944 – Attack Against Rimeux
Twenty five aircraft took off as detailed to attack the constructional works at Rimeux. Twenty four crews bombed successfully with the aid of markers, and an accurate raid was reported.   There were numerous searchlights in action, but the A.A. opposition was not serious. The aircraft captained by NZ424788 F/S. Bateson, B. failed to return.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 02:35

30/06/1944 – Attack Against Villers Bocage
Twenty four aircraft in daylight were detailed to attack enemy concentrations at Villers Bocage, in support of the British and Canadian Armies advance in Northern France. Two aircraft were withdrawn, owing to technical faults, but the remaining twenty two aircraft all bombed their target successfully, and reported a very concentrated raid. Moderate, but heavy A.A. Fire was encountered over the target, but there was no fighter opposition. On return one aircraft landed at Woodbridge and another put down on one of our landing strips in Normandy (the Flight Engineer 1586862 Sgt. McDevitt, P.W. being slightly injured). A unique incident for the Squadron. Another aircraft was damaged by A.A. Fire, but reached Base and made a successful landing.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed 21:25
Flight Time 03:15

02/07/1944 – Daylight Attack Against Beauvoir
Twenty three out of twenty four aircraft detailed took off in daylight to attack the construction works supply site at Beauvoir. All aircraft successfully bombed the target and a concentrated raid developed. Opposition from A.A. fire was slight.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/O B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
Sgt. R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. Mckenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:59 – Landed 15:55
Flight Time 02:56

15/07/1944 – Attack Against Bois Des Jardine
Ten aircraft took off to attack the constructional works site at Bois Des Jardins. All aircraft bombed the target, but a scattered raid was reported owing to eight to ten tenths cloud. No opposition was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/S Murray Smith, RNZAF NZ425948 – 2nd Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:35 – Landed 02:20
Flight Time 02:45

17/07/1944 – Attack Against Vaires
The twenty seven aircraft previously detailed took off to attack the Vaires marshalling yard in daylight, but the aircraft were recalled shortly after setting course. On landing they were re-fuelled and kept standing by to attack a tactical target.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 dnc AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:21 – Landed 14:21
Flight Time 02:00

18/07/1944 – Attack Against Cagny
Twenty eight aircraft took off, as detailed, to make a dawn attack on the village of Cagny, in Northern France where the enemy had large concentrations of armour and troops situated. This attack was in direct support of the Allied 2nd Army, and all crews were successful in bombing the target with the aid of markers and a very concentrated raid was reported. Moderate A.A. fire was encountered, but only one of our aircraft suffered damage, this was captained by NZ421549 F/S. Moriarty, D. who was injured on the scalp and left eye, by fragments of perspex or shell splinters caused by an A.A. shell which exploded in the cockpit. In spite of his serious injuries, F/Sgt. Moriarty safely flew his aircraft back to base.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

P/O Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 04:42 – Landed 07:44
Flight Time 03:02

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.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:40 – Landed 02:58
Flight Time 03:18

22/07/1944 – Mining in the Kattegat Area
Six aircraft were detailed to lay mines in the Kattegat area. All aircraft dropped their mines successfully, and crews reported an uneventful trip.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:07 – Landed 05:06
Flight Time 07:59

23/07/1944 – Attack Against Kiel
Twenty aircraft took off as detailed to attack Kiel, and all successfully bombed the target. A concentrated raid was reported and the glow of fires could be seen from the Danish west coast on return. A moderate A.A. barrage was met and two aircraft had combats with enemy fighters.

Lancaster Mk.I LM544 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
F/O Bernard Peter Adam Daines, RAFVR 1513708/ 142086 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:42 – Landed 03:51
Flight Time 05:09

25/07/1944 – Attack Against Stuttgart
Fourteen aircraft took off to attack Stuttgart, only ten however, were successful, and they reported a concentrated raid to be developing, with many fires and explosions. Heavy A.A. fire was only slight in the target area, but enemy fighters were again active. Two aircraft had combats and one, captained by NZ425948 F/S. Smith, M. claimed a FW190 destroyed. On return two aircraft landed at Ford, one due to engine trouble and the other owing to damage to the petrol tank and rear turret by heavy A.A. fire. Of the four abortive sorties, one aircraft jettisoned after its starboard inner engine had caught fire when in combat, another failed to see any markers when over the target, and brought its bombs back, and the other two returned early owing to severe icing.

Lancaster Mk.I LM554 AA-J

F/S Alexander George Gray, RNZAF NZ422280 – Pilot.
P/O Lyndon Clifford Perry, RNZAF NZ428925 – Navigator.
F/S B. Bedford, RAFVR – Air Bomber.
F/S R. Windon, RAFVR – Wireless Operator .
Sgt. W. McKenzie, RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
F/S William Caster, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Griffin, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:39 – Landed 05:51
Flight Time 08:12

 

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