Tag Archives: ND768 AA-F “Freddie”

75 x 2 – Leslie Edgerton, the Armstrong crew and Harry Yates – by David Yates

Leslie and logbook comp

Right: Leslie Edgerton, Wireless Operator with the Baines crew, now aged 95.
A bout of German measles meant Leslie had to leave the crew for a stay in hospital, on his return he discovered they had failed to return from their 27th Op. Until Leslie spoke to Harry, some 50 years later, he had held out a hope they might have survived.
Left: The addendum Leslie made to his log-book after speaking to Harry about the fate of his crew .

Many thanks to David, son of Harry Yates, for contributing the following piece. It proves again that there are strange coincidences that time occasionally chooses to reveals to us – something I have experienced many a time while researching the Squadron.

75 x 2

by David Yates

Monday 8th May 1995 is memorable in our household not so much because it was the fiftieth anniversary of VE Day, and was marked accordingly with official ceremony all across the West, but because something kept secret from the family for four decades was finally revealed.

Not many days earlier, my wife Geraldine and I had completed a major extension and renovation to the house we then owned, tucked away in a pleasant downland village near Lewes in East Sussex.  I had taken upon myself the task of applying a paint roller to the expanse of brand new render, which would be followed with a fine brush to all the sashes – also new, and there were over thirty of them.  It was a labour of love already turning into just labour.

Anyway, my in-laws were driving over the downs from their home in East Dean to see their grandchild and have lunch with us.  At noon I was still balanced on my ladder at the back of the house, rolling on the second or, perhaps, third coat of emulsion.  From inside the house Geraldine was clattering away with pots and pans.  The smell of a roasting joint wafted through an open window.  Away to my right the crunch of wheels on gravel told me my morning’s work was at an end.  There were female voices, the sound of car doors closing.  A moment or two later my father-in-law Leslie appeared from around the side of the house, hand-in-hand with his infant grand-daughter.

We made the usual greetings and stood talking for a while, probably about not very much. Then, with no particular seriousness, I asked him what he had been doing fifty years ago, on 8th May 1945.  He didn’t seem too sure, “Joan and I were married by then,” he said eventually, “I think we must have been in London.”

Now, I had known for very nearly a quarter of a century, since not long after I started going out with Geraldine, that her dad’s war service had been as a wireless operator on heavy bombers.  My own father had served as a pilot on Lancs, flying alongside some New Zealanders, although he was a North Bucks country boy through and through.  I knew that the whole subject of the war had been handled differently in Leslie’s household than in ours.  My dad didn’t make a great thing out of it.  But his crew were all known to me from the letters and photos which arrived  in the family home (usually) at Christmas time.  Indeed, on one Sunday back in 1975, when we were still single, Geraldine and I waited at table on the whole crew when they – said to be already the last full 75 crew living – came to the house following a squadron reunion at Mepal.  But it wasn’t like that in Leslie’s house.  There, a discrete silence was maintained over the whole topic.  The detail of his own wartime service was unknown to his two sons and two daughters.

It was not that unusual.  I had childhood friends whose fathers wanted, for whatever reason, to close the wartime chapter and keep it closed, leaving their sons high and dry for knowledge.  One accepted that there were histories which were not happy, and men who were quietly haunted by them.  The tremendous will of the people to move on, which erupted so joyously with victory in Europe, gave such men the opening to a new life they needed, and they took it.  If there was no need to revisit the past, it was not revisited.

Still, standing there with Leslie I thought it was worth another question.  “So you weren’t still flying by this point?” I asked.

He wasn’t, having finished his tour in September 1944.

Then, out of nowhere he blurted out, “I didn’t finish with my own crew though.  I was sent to hospital with German measles, you see, and my own crew carried on flying without me.  It was six weeks before the doctor let me go back.  I expected them to still be there, but they weren’t.  I made enquiries.  But nobody seemed to know anything, just that they hadn’t come back from a raid.  The radio operator who had gone in my place was only young, and he’d just married, I think.  Anyway, over the years I’ve tried a few times to find out what happened to them – you know, at the library.  But I still don’t know.  I’ve always hoped one or two of them were made POWs, and got back home to New Zealand eventually.”

“New Zealand?” I retorted.

“Yes, it was a New Zealand squadron, based at Mepal in Cambridgeshire.”

I could scarcely believe what I was hearing.  “Wait a minute, you are saying you flew from Mepal?”

”Yes, that was the airfield.”

”Yes, but that’s the airfield which 75 Squadron flew from.”

”That’s right, 75 squadron.”

“Wait a minute, you are saying you flew from Mepal with 75 Squadron RNZAF?”

”That’s right ….”
“But my father flew with them”.

“No no no” he said, completely certain of his facts.  Well, he had been an accountant in civilian life.  “Your father was a fighter pilot with the New Zealand ‘fighter’ squadron.”

I put him right as gently but firmly as I could.  That evening, after Leslie and Joan had returned home to East Dean, I telephoned my dad to tell him what had come to pass.  I knew that he possessed a well-thumbed copy of Forever Strong, Norman Franks’ history of 75, which I had borrowed and read myself.  Norman and Dad had met or exchanged correspondence at some point and become friendly, and Norman and his wife had visited for dinner.  Norman wrote in Dad’s copy of Forever Strong (which I have in my office at home today):

“To Harry Yates DFC -Who completed a tour of with 75 Sqn
and was seen in the smoke 30 times
Best wishes,
Norman Franks”

Information on the fate of Leslie’s crew had to be in there.  I gave Dad Leslie’s number, and he duly checked and telephoned the next day.  The information was that Leslie’s skipper P/O Armstrong and all his crew were killed on the Dortmund raid of 22/23 May, 1944.  Flt Sgt George Leslie Edgerton – taciturn, stoic man that he was – now knew for certain that he was the only Armstrong crew-member to survive the war.  But at least he had that knowledge, and the long vigil of the heart that he had kept for his crew could be brought to a close at last.

Extraordinarily, Geraldine and I were in the nineteenth year of our marriage when he had finally spoken of his sorrow that day in our garden, and the coincidence of our respective dad’s war service came to light.

The event only spurred my dad on in a plan he was quietly hatching to research, write and publish the story of his flying years, centred on five hard months at Mepal.  At the time I knew nothing about this.  I was aware that, always a reader of history, he had become focussed on RAF history and had amassed quite a comprehensive book collection.  I also knew he had been to the Public Records Office at Kew and acquired a large pile of yellow sheets logging 75 operations for the period of his service.  I thought it was just a surfeit of nostalgia.

Harry at about the time he was planning Luck and Lancaster

Harry at about the time he was planning Luck and Lancaster
supplied by David Yates

It was my mother who finally told me that dad had quite forsaken her company in the evenings to disappear upstairs and start tapping on his 1970s IBM golf-ball typewriter.  Apparently, he had been hammering away at the keyboard for a year or more.  When I asked him about it he showed me a sheath of close-typed A4 sheets, the front one of which read:

“Luck and a Lancaster by Harry Yates DFC”

It was a pretty chaotic presentation, it must be said, with passages long and short crossed out everywhere and re-typed, and lengths of type stuck with sellotape on top of other lengths, or across the whole of the top or bottom of the sheet.  But there was the unmistakable voice of my dad talking quite naturally about events in his life I had little or no idea had ever taken place.  For his part, he was very unsure about the quality of the thing, which was obviously why he had kept quiet about it.  Did I think anyone would publish it, he asked.  I had no idea. “Let me take it home and read it properly,” I said.

I began reading that night, sitting up in bed.  A few pages in I turned to my wife and said, “Some of this is beautiful.”

My judgement on the manuscript was that it had to be worth sending off to publishers, but not in that condition.  So dad bought himself a modern electronic machine and re-typed the whole thing, which at that point ran up to his release from the eye hospital at Littleport.  But he had lost his creative impetus in the laborious typing process.  I suggested that he send what he had to some publishers anyway, and if one of them was interested he could return to writing, and finish the thing.

The first manuscript went, for some reason known only to dad, to Haynes, the technical manual publisher.  Unsurprisingly, it bounced back with a rejection slip within a month or two.  He then posted a copy to (the now defunct) Airlife Publishing, who were a much more likely prospect.  But weeks of silence turned into months.  I urged dad to find another publisher to try.  But he had become disheartened, quietly concluding that he had probably miscalculated, and there wasn’t really any interest in a septuagenarian heavy bomber pilot with only half his story told.

The whole project was put away in a chest of drawers, and he returned to mum’s company in the evenings.  Then, right out of the blue in the early summer of 1999, fully a year after shipping off the manuscript, he received a letter from Airlife’s managing editor.  “Dear Mr Yates,” it began, “Thank you very much for sending me the manuscript for your memoir, Luck and a Lancaster.  I sincerely apologise that I had rather a lot of submissions to read before I could get to yours.  But I have now read it with much interest, and would be very pleased indeed to publish the finished manuscript for you if you are still seeking a publisher.”

Still seeking a publisher!  Dad was electrified.  A standard authors contract was received, signed and shot back within a few days.  The only thing was that Airlife wanted to have the book available for its Christmas list, which meant finishing the whole manuscript in three months.  Everything came out of the chest of drawers and Dad threw himself back into his writing.  He made the deadline, but he wasn’t entirely happy about having to work so fast.  He felt that something was lost that perhaps did not return until the very last chapter and the epilogue.  I know there were two small factual mistakes that made it into print, and they always annoyed him.  But when I read the new material I thought it worked in rather well, given that this was the hard-grind of the tour from which all naivety had been drained by his hospitalisation.

Today, in one form or another, <em>Luck and a Lancaster</em> has probably sold getting on for 45,000 copies.  The response of readers has been incredibly generous and kind.  Hundreds of people, some of them fellow aircrew, many more of them relatives of aircrew, wrote often touching letters to dad.  He was very grateful and answered all he could until, over the final six years of his life, illness drained him too much.

He passed away in Hastings Conquest hospital on 20th November 2011, two months short of his 90th birthday.  He had lived a wonderful, satisfying life, which was what he deserved, and a life which is very much caught and held in aspic as the memory of a young flyer by his much older self.

One of the things Dad had done in his research period was to visit Barry Aldridge’s museum at Witchford, and sign the visitors book.  In the summer of 2001, I took Leslie up to Cambridgeshire to re-connect with his own past.  We visited Ely and the Cathedral, and we went to the old airfield, of course, and to the village green at Mepal.  Then we went on to Barry’s museum.  Leslie wandered through the exhibits and breathed in the pungent perfume of that Hercules power-plant which fills the place.  But some private regret, that will obviously never be expunged, stopped him from signing the visitors book.

Leslie had his 95th birthday dinner with Geraldine and I on St George’s Day this year.  He is still surprisingly hale and very determined to remain independent as long as possible.

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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