Tag Archives: Norman George Errington

P/O Trafford McRae Nicol and the Jarman crew, 1942

Fernie-1stJarmanCrew[4]

The first Jarman crew, in front of Vickers Wellington X3636, AA-R, probably March 1942.
Back row, L-R: John Fernie, Wireless Operator, Trafford Nicol, 2nd Pilot, Eric Jarman, Captain, Stanley Hall, Navigator.
Front, L-R: Jim Harris, Rear Gunner, Ron Davey, Front Gunner / Bomb Aimer.
– NZ Bomber Command Assn, Stan Brooks collection, via Anna Rhodes-Sayer.

Thanks as always to Chris and special thanks to James and Barbara Ogilvie and the Nicol family for sharing these photos and their own research. Thanks to Anna Rhodes-Sayer and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for permission to reproduce the main crew photo.

Trafford McRae Nicol was born in 1921, son of James Alexander & Louisa Clara Nicol who lived in Inglis St., Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand.

He went to school at Rongotai College, and Wellington College, and enlisted in the RNZAF in early 1941, aged 20, undergoing Initial Training (probably at Levin), then pilot training at No. 2 Service Flying Training School (2 SFTS), Woodbourne.

TraffordMcRNicol-Course14BWoodbourne[3]

Graduation photo for No. 14B (War) Course, 2S.F.T.S., Woodbourne, 1941. Trafford Nicol, back row, second from right.
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Five other 75 (NZ) Squadron pilots appear in this group:

– middle row left, Graham Murdoch, whose path closely followed Trafford’s (see below);
– next to him, Alan Tolley, lost with all the crew of Stirling BF506, AA-P on 21st April 1943 in a raid on Rostock ;
– front row left, a very young Cyril “Mac” Baigent, DSO, DFC, AFC, later to become Wing Commander and Commanding Officer of 75, the youngest CO in Bomber Command;
– next to him, John McCullough, DFC, lost with Stirling BK604, AA-S on 3 Feb 1943.
– William Horne, who flew 2nd Pilot with S/L Ray Newton.

Trafford then sailed to England, and went through Operational Training at 12 O.T.U, Chipping Warden:

TraffordMcRNicol-23CourseChippingWarden[3]

No. 23 Course – Pilots – Chipping Warden, UK, December 1941.
Back row, L-R: 3. Rip Rogers (+), 4. Johnny Wilmshurst (missing), 5. Cyril Wrightson (+).
Middle row, L-R: 4. ? Buller (+), 6. Roy Willson (+).
Front row, L-R: 1. Roy Spear (missing), 2. Jim Cowan (missing), 3. Trafford Nicol (+), 4. Stinker Murdoch (+), 8. John Keenberg, 9. Ric Richardson (+), 10. Rupert Smith (missing).
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Again, several of the pilots named in this photo went on to serve with 75 (NZ) Sqdn.

Sgt Johnny Wilmshurst was lost with all his crew on a daylight op’ to Duisburg on the 10th of July.

Incredibly, P/O Graham “Stinker” Murdoch and P/O Rupert John Smith, both died on the same night captaining separate aircraft, both with all crew lost, on the 9th of June during a raid on Essen.

And equally incredible, Sgt Cyril Wrightson died flying 2nd Pilot with F/S Mahood, with all crew lost, on the night of the 22nd/23rd of April during a raid on Cologne, the same operation that resulted in Trafford Nicol’s death.

75 (NZ) Squadron Operational Record Book,  Form 540, March 1942: P/O Nicol, T.M. Posted to this unit from No, 12 O.T.U w.e.f. 10.3.42

Trafford was posted in from 12 OTU on the 10th of March, together P/O Graham Murdoch, and must have joined Eric Jarman’s crew within a day or two.

Sgt Eric “Rick” or “Riki” Jarman came from Yeppoon, in Queensland, Australia, and was a clerk at Rockhampton before he enlisted in the RAAF in September, 1940.

He had arrived at 75 (NZ) Sqdn in November the previous year, and had been flying as 2nd Pilot with S/L Peter Kitchin. The squadron had flown very few operations during this period as Bomber Command re-assessed strategies after a disastrous Berlin raid on 7/8 November, and then as 75 became busy training and converting from the 1C Wellingtons to the new Mark IIIs.

Jarman carried out his first Night Flying Test as Captain of his own aircraft on 9 March, a 15 minute flight in Wellington III  X3587, AA-P.

The Jarman crew were:
Sgt Eric George Delancey Jarman, RAAF AUS404507 – Pilot
P/O Trafford McRae Nicol, RNZAF NZ411929 – 2nd Pilot
Sgt Stanley Frederick Hall, RNZAF NZ402182 – Navigator
Sgt John Alexander Fernie, RAF 980003 – Wireless Operator
Sgt Ron S. Davey, RAF – Front Gunner / Bomb Aimer
Sgt Richard James Harris, RNZAF NZ402999 – Rear Gunner

Stanley Hall and Richard Harris had arrived separately on Squadron only a week or so earlier, but John Fernie and Ron Davey had been on the Squadron since November the previous year.

Fernie originally crewed up with Sgt Robert Arthur Colville RNZAF, and had already flown 7 op’s.

He had very fortunately not been on board when Colville took Wellington X3355, AA-Y up for an air test on 28 February, although as was the norm at the time, four ground crew had gone along for the ride. Just after take-off, Colville lost his starboard engine, and then as he attempted to turn back to the airfield to make an emergency landing, the port engine failed as well. The aircraft crashed near Lakenheath, killing two of the ground crew, and leaving the 2nd Pilot Sgt Woodham fatally injured. Colville and the other two ground crew were seriously injured, Colville almost losing both legs.

Davey had flown 2 op’s with Sgt Giddens, but for some reason Giddens left the Squadron in December. Davey may have trained with other crews during January and February.

RIck Jarman flew his first Op as skipper on the 13th March 1943, bombing targets at Dunkirk. Twelve days later, Trafford Nichol would join the crew as 2nd Pilot for an OP to Essen and St.Nazaire on the 25th of March.

The Jarman crew would fly a further 7 Ops, before they boarded Wellington Mk.III X.3487 AA-O on the 22nd of April, that night flying to Cologne.

22/04/1942 – Operations – Attack Against Targets at Cologne
Ten Well.III a\c were detailed attack the above targets. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 100lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs, 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in the target area but no results seen owing to cloud. There were only a few searchlights active and A.A. fire was slight. Well.III, X3487 captained by P/O Jarman was attacked by a JU.88 which attacked once and broke away to port. The results of this short attack were however serious the second pilot, P/O Nicol being mortally wounded, the rear gunner Sgt. Harris being killed and the Navigator Sgt. Taylor and W/Op. Sgt. Fernie were wounded. The bomb load was not dropped on the target but was dropped in the sea. The a/c was brought back to base and crash landed. Well.III, X3705, captained by F/S. McLachlan, was also attacked and the second pilot killed (P/O. Fountain) and Sgt. Tutty was wounded. F/Sgt. McLachlan managed to reach base and crash land.

Wellington Mk.III X.3487 AA-O
a/c shot up by JU88 and crash landed on return. Sgt. Harris was killed in the attack. P/O Nicol died of injuries the day after

P/O Eric George Delancey ‘Rick/ Riki’  Jarman , RAAF AUS.404507 – Pilot.
P/O Trafford McRae Nicol RNZAF NZ411929 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. William Henderson Taylor, RAFVR 1051621/ 122053 – Navigator.
Sgt. John Alexander Fernie, RAFVR 980003/ 127783 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R.S. Davey, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Richard James Harris, RNZAF NZ402999 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 04:40
Flight Time 06:25

Feltwell Station Log Wednesday 23rd April 1942: “0442 O.75 crash-landed (18th) last A/c.”

Rick Jarman was awarded the DFC for his part in the incident:
DFC citation E.G.D. Jarman, RAAF:
Citation DFC (Imm) (15 May 1942) “One night in April 1942 this officer was the captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Cologne. Whilst over the target area, the aircraft was hit by shellfire and sustained damage. The navigator, wireless operator and front gunner were injured, but despite this, Pilot Officer Jarman flew on to make his attack. On the return journey it was discovered that a bomb had not fallen owing to the damage caused by the enemy’s shellfire whereupon Pilot Officer Jarman altered course and headed for the North Sea so that the bomb could be jettisoned. Before reaching the sea, however, his aircraft was subjected to an attack by an enemy fighter whose fire killed the rear gunner, wounded the second pilot and inflicted further damage on the aircraft. Skilfully controlling the bomber Pilot Officer Jarman continued his flight and after jettisoning the bomb in the sea, he finally reached this country where he made a safe landing with the undercarriage retracted.”

They crash-landed at 4:40 in the morning. Trafford was badly wounded, and passed away later that day.

From “New Zealanders in the Air War”, by Alan Mitchell:

On these five operations only one aircraft was lost, but several injured men were brought back. One, Pilot Officer T. McRae Nicol, of Welling­ton, had been badly hit in the abdomen by shell-splinters. He was in great pain when they lifted him tenderly from the aircraft into the ambulance, but he had a smile for Olson.

I’ve got a guts full of lead, sir,” he told the CO., almost proudly. Morphia eased the rack of the pain, but although he probably knew he had little chance of survival, he remained cheerful until he died.

Trafford’s niece, Barbara remembers reading a letter from the Squadron’s Chaplin to Trafford’s parents saying that Trafford was a great leader, was always so positive and one of his favourites.  The letter also said that a WAAF had given Trafford a cup of hot tea before he was removed from his Wellington, and that the hot tea may have caused more damage to his stomach.  Barbara says she always thought that it was funny how her uncle died in the war from a hot cup of tea…….

Trafford was buried with full military honours at Feltwell’s St. Nicholas Churchyard, Row C Grave 11, on the 29th of April.

His crewmate Jim Harris was buried the same day at St. Nicholas Churchyard, Row B Grave 11.
 
Returning from the same Cologne operation in the early hours of 23 April, another night fighter had attacked the McLachlan crew’s Wellington X3705, AA-F, killing 2nd Pilot P/O Cedric Fountain, RNZAF (NZ41981). They also struggled to reach Base, and had crash-landed at Feltwell about an hour before the Jarman crew.  Trafford, Jim and Cedric were all buried at St Nicholas Churchyard on the same day, and the photograph of the funeral party suggests that the three airmen were taken on the same carriage:

TraffordMcRNicol-Funeral-Felwell-27May1942[3]

P/O Trafford Nicol’s funeral, Feltwell, 29 June 1942.
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Rick Jarman eventually flew 41 op’s to complete his tour with 75 (NZ) Squadron on 3 August, and after a stint instructing at 27 OTU, went on to a second tour with 460 Squadron. He was promoted to Squadron Leader, but sadly on their 9th op’, he and 5 of his crew were lost over Germany on 28 April 1944. The crew is immortalised in a famous painting, “Bomber Crew”, which was still being worked on by the artist when they were shot down.

Trevor Smith went on to skipper his own aircraft, but was lost with all his crew on the 9th of July, during a raid on Wilhelmshaven. Fernie and Chunn survived the war.

– Read more about the events of the night of 22nd /23rd of April, within a post about Feltwell Cemetery here  (about half way down the post)

To read the crew history in full, please click here to be taken to the Jarman crew Op history page.

Again, special thanks to James and Barbara Ogilvie and the Nicol family for sharing these photos and their own research. Thanks to Anna Rhodes-Sayer and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for permission to reproduce the main crew photo

 

Sgt Sir Charles Thomas Hewitt Mappin – Ramsey crew 1941

SgtGunnerSirCharlesMappin-crop

Sergeant Air Gunner Sir Charles Mappin, 1940
The Spectator.

Another post from Chris – and another Knight of the British Empire…….

Born March 7, 1909, Sir Charles Thomas Hewitt Mappin was the 4th Baronet and son of Thomas Wilson Mappin and Violet Maud Duke , a member of one of the families behind the Mappin & Webb business, steel manufacturers, silversmiths and jewellers.

Apparently a member of the House of Lords, and listed as a “landowner”, Charles married Ruby Duff, and had a son Michael in 1931. According to the Daily Express of the day, he was ‘a leader of the Bright Young Things’.

A lover of practical jokes, in 1932 he announced plans for the “Old Berkeley Square Cat Hunt”, to round up all the stray felines of Mayfair whose howling had been disturbing him at night, with the aid of 100 residents and greyhounds. The cats were to be locked in a room and painlessly put down. A large outraged crowd gathered, and the police and RSPCA also fell for the prank.

Neither politics nor family life appear to have suited Charles, as by 1939 he had apparently spent most of his Mappin & Webb inheritance, and was sailing around the islands of Tahiti on a yacht, fishing, drinking, pearl-collecting and womanising. He left a rollicking, bawdy record of his exploits in a diary, published in the Spectator many years later by his half-sister, the equally eccentric Margot Duke.

“And then came the famous Quatorze Juillet, and Tahiti is reputed to do it as well as any place. All shops are shut, the square in front of Government House is turned into a fair with roundabouts, coconut-shies, dance halls, bars and all the whoopsy nonsense you can imagine. This continued for 14 days, open day and night, and not a sober person on the whole island. Each night the districts sent their dance teams to dance before the Governor in native costume, and to sing their local himenes. All very impressive and romantic and a wonderful excuse for one more rumble-bumble, and one more bottle before returning to the country to sleep it off before starting again the following morning. I man- aged to make the 14 days, then chaos. By this time Bryan and I were staying with Rupert, who had taken a house, also in Punaauia, in preparation for the return of wife and infant toreador-aviateur.

Fortunately I had asked an Australian, Roger Barry, to lunch with me the following day at the Blue Lagoon and he arrived at 1 o’clock to find me quite crazy, imagining the most extraordinary things and living a life of my own entire imagination. He stayed with me for three days and three nights without leaving me for one minute. My ravings I won’t try and explain as, except for Ann, they only concerned people on the island. I was cured by intravenous injection of somnafeine, and, although I pray to God it never happens again, it has done two good things: it has shown me I have a very good friend in Roger Barry, and it has frightened me on to the wagon until Christmas.”
(From The Spectator Archive – http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/23rd-april-1994/23/adventure-on-the-south-seas)

According to the Spectator article, his vessel carried no radio, and the war had been declared for six months before he heard of it. However his final diary entry, as published, is dated 22 September, just 3 weeks after war was declared, and he mentions the Administrator giving them “the latest war bulletin” when they came into port.

He came home, and volunteered for the RAF as a rear-gunner, and is said to have refused a commission and a ground job. His sister described the decision as “suicide . . the norm was three trips, and they used to hose them out.”

Sir Charles graduated as a sergeant gunner, and was posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF – then  based at RAF Feltwell.

11.10.41.
Wellington 1c. Z8942 was received on squadron strength from No. 10 M.U.

31.10.41.
P/O Ralph Foster and crew were posted in, from No. 20 O.T.U. Lossiemouth, Scotland.

Charlie’s first op’ was as Front Gunner with the experienced Ramsey crew.

04/11/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Essen
Nine Wellington 1C aircraft from this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. Heavy cloud was experienced throughout the whole trip and although bombs were dropped in target area no results were observed. Accurate Heavy Flak was met over the target area and searchlights were active, but ineffective owing to cloud.  No enemy aircraft were met. Weather was very poor with 10/10th cloud which completely marred the whole operation.

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9941 AA-A

Sgt. Neil Gordon Cresswell Ramsey, RAFVR 116065 – Pilot.
P/O Ralph Owen Foster, RNZAF NZ402443 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Nathaniel Edmund Hodson, RNZAF NZ403603 – Navigator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Sir Charles Thomas Hewitt Mappin, RAFVR 1380356 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. George Reginald McQueen, RAFVR 1109382/ 123292 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:05 – Landed 22:40
Flight Time 04:35

For his second Op, he and Foster joined the Wilson crew. Navigator Ryder, Wireless Operator Reid  and Rear Gunner Hope were probably members of their original OTU crew.

John Wilson had arrived on Squadron on 2nd of September, and this was his first Op as Captain of his own crew

07/11/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Berlin and Ostend
Fourteen Wellington Ic aircraft were detailed from this Unit to attack the above targets. Two of these aircraft, X.9951, captained by F/O Methven and X.9976, captained by Sgt. Black, failed to return to base. A mixed bomb load was carried consisting of 1000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs and containers of incendiaries. Bombs were dropped in target area and some large fires were started, but results were not clearly observed owing to heavy cloud over target area. A considerable amount of heavy flak was met over target area but searchlights, where seen, were ineffective. No enemy aircraft were met throughout the trip. Weather was poor with 10/10th cloud over target area. Navigation was good, Astro and D/R loops being used. Wellington Z.1091, captained by P/O Sandys returned to base owing to engine trouble. Wellington Z.1068, captained by Sgt. Parham returned to base owing to Navigator being sick.

Wellington Mk.Ic Z.8942 AA-J

Sgt. John Stephen Wilson, RNZAF NZ402530 – Pilot.
P/O Ralph Owen Foster, RNZAF NZ402443 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Leslie Owen Ryder, RAAF AUS.404626 – Navigator.
Sgt. James Henry Reid, RAFVR 997006 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Sir Charles Thomas Hewitt Mappin, RAFVR 1380356 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Lawrence Beresford Hamilton Hope, RNZAF NZ40940 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:54 – Landed 00:03
Flight Time 03:09

Sadly, the crew’s second op’ together was their last:

08/11/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Essen
Eleven Wellington Ic aircraft from this Unit carried out the above attacks. Three of these aircraft, X9268, captained by Sgt. Smith, X9977, captained by Sgt. Nunn, and Z8942, captained by Sgt. Wilson failed to return to base. Bomb load consisted of 1000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs. and containers of incendiaries. Many large fires were started with resultant explosions and burst were observed across a but-up area. A railway junction to the South of the target was also successfully attacked. Much heavy and light flak was experienced and large cones of searchlights were active in target area. Several enemy aircraft were seen in target area co-operating with searchlights. Weather was moderately clear to target but haze over target. Navigation was very good.

Wellington Mk.Ic Z.8942 AA-J

Sgt. John Stephen Wilson, RNZAF NZ402530 – Pilot.
P/O Ralph Owen Foster, RNZAF NZ402443 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Leslie Owen Ryder, RAAF AUS.404626 – Navigator.
Sgt. James Henry Reid, RAFVR 997006 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Sir Charles Thomas Hewitt Mappin, RAFVR 1380356 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Lawrence Beresford Hamilton Hope, RNZAF NZ40940 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off – – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Wellington Z8942, AA-J was shot down by Flak and crashed at 22:15 on the night of 8 November 1941 at Zuidland (Zuid Holland), 20 km SW of Rotterdam. All were killed except for the Rear Gunner, Lawrence Hope, who was captured and became a Prisoner of War.

Sgt. John Stephen Wilson, RNZAF. NZ402530, died age 27.
P/O Ralph Owen Foster RNZAF NZ402443, died age 29.
P/O Robert Leslie Owen Ryder, RAAF. AUS.404626, died age 25.
Sgt James Henry Reid, RAFVR 997006, died age 21.
Sgt Sir Charles Thomas Hewitt Mappin, RAFVR 1380356, died age 32.

WilsonCrew

Wilson, Foster and Hope. – Auckland Museum Online Cenotaph/Weekly News, and WO2VPR (https://sites.google.com/site/wo2vpr1/home/1941-11-09-wellington).

The crew are buried in the city‘s Crooswijk General Cemetery. Sir Charles Mappin is buried in Plot LL. Row 1. Joint grave 14.

Sgt Lawrence Beresford Hamilton Hope, RNZAF NZ40940, survived and was captured. Prisoner of War No.24510. Camps,  Dulag Luft, Stalags VIIIB, Luft III, Luft VI and 357.

Tragically, Lawrence Hope did not survive the war. Whilst on a forced march from Stalag 357 at Fallingbostel to Lübeck with some 500 Allied prisoners, he was one of 30 POWs who died at Gresse, 14km NE of Lauenburg, when RAF Typhoon fighter-bombers attacked the column, mistaking them for enemy troops. He died on 19 April 1945, less than three weeks before VE Day. Initially buried in the parish churchyard at Gresse, but in July 1947 reinterred at the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.

On the day Sir Charles Mappin was posted as missing, his Mother told the Daily Express:

“I am proud of Charles, he had guts”.

 

Squadron Leader William ‘Jeff’ Rees, May 21th 1920 – March 13th 2015

Jeff Rees fixed and cropped

Squadron Leader William ‘Jeff’ Rees, May 21th 1920 – March 13th 2015. © Jackie Blizard.

Some time ago I was contacted by Jackie, the daughter of Jeff Rees, who had recently passed away. Jackie wondered if I had any information on Jeff, in advance of the preparation of his obituary. I sent Jackie the citation for Jeff’s immediate D.F.C. award after his aircraft was attacked over Duisburg on the 15th of July 1941, by an unidentified enemy aircraft, resulting in the death of his 2nd Pilot Sgt. David Joyce, the mortal wounding of his Front Gunner, Sgt. David  Conibear and the injury of Rear Gunner, Sgt Gwyn William. In the ensuing melee the Observer, P/O Robert Hunter fell through the blown open hatch of the aircraft and Wireless Operator, Sgt. Ian Lewis, was stunned and deafened by a canon shell exploding near his station. Despite this and with the help of the recovered Sgt. Lewis, Jeff was able to get the aircraft and his remaining crew back safely.

I must confess, when, some weeks later Kevin sent me an email telling me about an obituary he had just seen in the Telegraph, my heart sunk as I realised I had let slip from my grasp the Op History I had promised to Jackie.

Recontacting Jackie, with the complete Op History for Jeff during his time with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, I am pleased to say she has passed on 2 pictures Of Jeff and also given permission for me to reproduce the text of Jeff’s obituary.

Squadron Leader Jeff Rees – obituary

Airman awarded a DFC after flying a flak-damaged Wellington home in perilous conditions

Jeff Rees (1)cont and cropped

One night in July 1941 Pilot Officer Rees and Sergeant Lewis were the captain and wireless operator respectively of an aircraft which attacked a target at Duisburg. Although the aircraft was hit by antiaircraft fire, Pilot Officer Rees persisted in his attack and completed a successful run over the target. On the return journey whilst over the Ruhr, the aircraft was held in the beams of a large searchlight belt and subjected to an attack by an enemy fighter which inflicted severe damage. The second pilot was killed and two other members of the crew dangerously wounded, while Sergeant Lewis was badly shocked and rendered temporarily deaf when a cannon shell exploded close to him. Nevertheless, realizing that his captain was without aid and could not leave the controls, Sergeant Lewis tended his wounded comrades, afterwards collecting the navigator’ s log and maps and assisting him in setting out the courses. Pilot Officer Rees, with exceptional skill, finally overcame all navigational difficulties and helped by Sergeant Lewis who had repaired his wireless set and obtained bearings, flew back to this country where a safe landing was made. Pilot Officer Rees displayed outstanding courage and determination in extremely harassing circumstances and was ably assisted by Sergeant Lewis who showed great fortitude and initiative. Both have participated in numerous operational missions. © Jackie Blizard

Squadron Leader Jeff Rees, who has died aged 94, carried out more than 60 operations with Bomber Command and twice flew badly damaged aircraft back to Britain.

On the night of July 15 1941, Rees was the captain of a Wellington bomber of No 75 (NZ) Squadron tasked with bombing targets in Duisburg. The operation by the force of 38 bombers was disrupted by the enemy’s concentrated air defences but Rees managed to attack his target.

Crossing the Dutch-German border on the return flight, Rees’s Wellington was “coned” by searchlights and damaged by anti-aircraft fire. Almost immediately, a night fighter attacked the damaged bomber; cannon shells exploded in the cockpit and blew out the hatch in the lower fuselage.

The second pilot was killed and the front gunner severely wounded (he died in hospital). A shell splinter temporarily blinded the rear gunner, and the navigator, hurrying to assist him, fell through the missing hatch. Fortunately, he had clipped on his parachute and he landed safely to spend the next four years as a prisoner of war.

The wireless operator (Sergeant Lewis) was shocked and deafened by the explosion close to his head. For a time, Rees was left to fly the aircraft alone . Eventually Lewis recovered sufficiently to tend to the wounded, assist Rees with the navigation and obtain radio bearings to allow Rees to head for his airfield, where he made an emergency landing.

The citation for the award of an immediate DFC to Rees highlighted his “exceptional skill, and his outstanding courage and determination in extremely hazardous circumstances”. Sergeant Lewis was awarded an immediate DFM.

William Jeffrey Rees was born on May 21 1920 at Seaham, Co Durham, and was educated at Pocklington Grammar School. He joined the RAF at the outbreak of the war and trained as a pilot. In December 1940 he joined No 75 (NZ) Squadron, the first Commonwealth squadron to be formed in Bomber Command. Rees bombed targets in Germany, Italy and the French Biscay ports during early 1941 before a more concentrated campaign against industrial targets in the Ruhr. After completing his 30th operation a few weeks after his flight to Duisburg, he became a bombing instructor. He was mentioned in despatches.

12/03/1941 – Bombing Attack on Targets GY477, Town 13a and CC29
Nine Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks on the above targets. A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 1000lbs 500lbs 250lbs and cases on incendiaries. XDA 240 reports bombs fell in target area and fires started. XDA.245 reports bombs dropped on Dock Buildings South of DOCK . XDA.283 dropped bombs across centre of targets on Westerly Leading.
XDA.283 captained by P/O Hewitt reports his aircraft was caught and held in searchlights for 30 minutes and was shot at from the ground during that time and machine hit in may places and hydraulic gear rendered U/S which necessitated a “Crash Landing” on return. This machine was damaged.
XDA.627 reports bombs burst in target area.
XDA.671 reports bombs dropped on SCHIPOL AERODROME owing to wireless being U/S.
XDA.907 reports bombs burst in neighbourhood of AIRMINISTRY BUILDING approx. 1/2 mile S.E. of TIERGARTEN.
Two dummy aerodromes were observed to West of SCHIPOL AERODROME. Very intense heavy A.A. Fire was experienced over the whole route. Intense searchlight activity was experienced and they were mostly operating in cones. XDA.283 report seeing one MW110 over Dutch Coast.
The weather throughout this trip was very good and Navigation was by D/R Astro and Map Reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1161 AA-?

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
F/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Brenton Murray Sheppard, RNZAF NZ39977 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:45 – Landed 23:15
Flight Time 03:30

13/03/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Hamburg
Eight Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. Hits were registered in the target area and many fires were observed to be burning when last aircraft left. Heavy and light flak was experienced over the target and numerous searchlights were used working in cones. ARU 271 observed one ME109 and one ME110 near DUTCH COAST and ARU 250 engaged one JU88 results were not observed. Good weather was experienced and navigation was by D/R and Map Reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1161 AA-?

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Brenton Murray Sheppard, RNZAF NZ39977 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed ?
Flight Time ?

18/03/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Kiel and Rotterdam
Eleven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft. GKN.542, ran short of petrol and crashed at Ryhill, Yorkshire. The crew baled out, but one member, SGT. Gilmore (Wireless Operator) was killed owing to his parachute failing to open. Direct hits were scored and fired started. Two photographs of town and docks were taken by GKN.465. Intense and accurate heavy and light flak was encountered at various parts of route, and there was intense searchlight activity over target area. No enemy aircraft were observed. The weather over the target was fair, but fog was experienced over English coast on return. Navigation was by D/R, pinpoint and astro,

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1161 AA-?

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Goodwin, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Brenton Murray Sheppard, RNZAF NZ39977 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:50 – Landed 03:50
Flight Time 08:00

23/03/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Berlin
Six Wellington aircraft of this Unit carried out individual bombing attacks against the above target. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 1000 lbs., 50lbs., and containers of incendiaries..
UNL.405 reports incendiaries were seen, through cloud, to ignite, but H.E. not observed.
UNL.548 bombed through 8/10 cloud. Fires were seen to start, and a red glow lit the cloud.
UNL.837 bombed within one mile of target. Flashes, but no results, were observed.
Results were not observed by UNL.896 owing to 9/10 cloud.
UNL.903 dropped incendiaries and H.E. in single stick cross target on N.E. heading, through 9/10 cloud. Explosions not observed.
UNL.951 reports incendiaries burst believed in target area. Two fires started but were quickly controlled. White explosions seen up to 10 mins later.
Four photographs were taken by UNL.405.
A.A. Fire was heavy at some parts of route: fairly accurate.
Searchlights were intense and accurate.
No enemy aircraft were seen.
Heavy cloud was experienced over target area and most of route.
Navigation was by D/R, map reading, astro, W/T.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1161 AA-?

P/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Brenton Murray Sheppard, RNZAF NZ39977 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:45 – Landed 05:05
Flight Time 09:20

03/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Agianst Brest
Eight Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. SAW.728 brought bombs back as nothing could be seen over target area owing to 10/10 cloud. SAW898(Captain, F/O. Prichard) collided in mid-air with another aircraft, believed to have been a Blenheim, and was badly damaged and a forced landing was made at Boscombe Down. The `rear Gunner of SAW.898 (F/O. Brown), shot down one Me110 and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (Immediate). A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 500lbs. S.A.P. and 250lbs. G.P.
SAW.639 observed docks through break in cloud and bombed. No results were seen due to haze and cloud.
Owing to freezing up of distributer, SAW.690 jettisoned bombs in salvo on dock area. Burst seen in dock area, close to water.
No results were observed by SAW.778.
SAW.810 reports bombs burst on docks in vicinity of target.
No results were observed by SAW.849.
Owing to cloud no results were observed by SAW.898 but hits presumed to be in close proximity to target.
No observations or reconnaissance were made but five photographs were attempted by SAW.778
Heavy and light flak was experienced at many parts.
Fairly accurate.
Searchlights were numerous but not very accurate. Fairly heavy cloud, with ground haze, was experienced over target area.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1161 AA-?

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
F/O Brown, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 00:15
Flight Time 05:30

06/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Brest
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. Owing to heavy cloud over target area, the operation was not successful, eight aircraft failing to locate target. The bomb load consisted of 500 S.A.P.
CDS.388 reports two explosions, the first one large and coloured red.
Results were not observed by CDS.798 as bombs were dropped on flak concentration.
Two photographs were attempted by CDS.565.
Heavy and light A.A. Fire was experienced at many parts of target.
Few searchlights were in operation, but these were useless owing to cloud.
A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no attacks were made. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

F/O Graham Noel Parker, RAFVR 36247 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Alan Campbell, RNZAF NZ391857 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:45 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 06:00

07/04/1941 – Bombing Attack on Targets at Kiel
Eleven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. The weather was good and bombs were seen to burst on or very near the targets. Fires were observed over the whole of the target area. A.A. fire was fairly heavy and intense. Searchlights operated mainly in cones and were fairly accurate. A number of enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks developed. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro and map reading

Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Alan Campbell, RNZAF NZ391857 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 06:15

09/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Berlin
Nine Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. The target area was bombed and a number od fires started. One photograph of Templehoff Aerodrome was taken by XRY.645. A.A. fire was fairly intense and accurate, and searchlights were numerous and also accurate. XRY.347 reports being attacked by cannon fighter over Zuider Zee. He also attacked a Dornier three miles off Yuimuden. Good weather was experienced. Navigation was by D/R, map reading, astro and W/T.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1457 AA-P

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Alan Campbell, RNZAF NZ391857 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:15 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 07:45

14/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks on Brest
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. The weather was fine but there was a thin layer of cloud over the target area. Bombs were dropped and a number of bursts were observed in target area. A.A. fire was fairly intense and accurate, and searchlights were accurate when operating in cones. No enemy aircraft were encountered. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T and map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1177 AA-C

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Alan Campbell, RNZAF NZ391857 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:00 – Landed 04:00
Flight Time 06:00

16/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks on Bremen
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft, captained by F/Lt. Fletcher, failed to locate target and bombs were bought back. The remaining aircraft all dropped bombs and bursts were observed from which fires resulted. Light and heavy A.A. fire, fairy accurate, was experienced in target areas. Searchlights were very active. One enemy aircraft was seen but no attack was made. There was a haze and layers of thin cloud over target areas. Navigation was by D/R, astro, W/T and map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1163 AA-?

F/O David Leatham Prichard, RAFVR 36203 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Kenneth Newman Struthers, RNZAF NZ40950 – Observer.
Sgt. Clark, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman George Errington, RAFVR 942763/ 115638 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Alan Campbell, RNZAF NZ391857 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 01:30
Flight Time 05:00

24/04/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Ostend and Kiel
Nine Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. Three of these aircraft failed to locate targets and bombs were bought back. A mixed bomb load was carried consisting of 1000lbs, 500lbs, and containers of incendiaries.
SFY.154 reports that bombs were seen to burst.
SFY.426 saw bombs burst 300 yds S.W. of target.
SFY.515 reports small fire started in target area.
SFY.626 saw bombs and incendiaries burst in target area.
Target was not located by SFY.699,
Results were not observed by SFY.872
S/L Widdowson returned to base on account of the Wireless Operator being ill. Three 500lbs. were jettisoned in sea. P/O Curry failed to locate target.
F/Lt. Fletcher attacked target area and fires were started.
Two large fires were observed in target area.
A.A. fire was fairly intense and accurate.
Searchlights were numerous and working in cones.
A few enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks made.
Heavy cloud was experienced in Ostend area, but elsewhere the weather was fine. Navigation was by D/R, loop, astro, W/T

Wellington Mk.Ic R.1038 AA-H

F/O Graham Noel Parker, RAFVR 36247 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O John Adam Breckell, RAF 60077 – Observer.
Sgt. Banks, RAFVR – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Folkes, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Alexander Thomas Rowe, RNZAF NZ401233 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 02:40
Flight Time 06:10

17/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Cologne and Boulogne
Fourteen Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft, CNY.170, returned to base, with bombs owing to turret trouble. The remainder all dropped their bombs, bursts being seen and fires started. It was observed that the black-out in Brussels was not good. Intense A.A. fire, and searchlights working in cones, were experienced, and although a number of enemy aircraft were seen no attacks were made. The weather was fair, but there was haze over the target areas. Navigation was by D/R, loop, astro, W/T, map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-?

P/O George Ronald Simich, RNZAF NZ391369 – Pilot.
P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. George Hardy, RNZAF NZ40935 – Observer.
Sgt. James Sutton Blundell, RAFVR 977531 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. George Gascoyne, RAFVR 936622 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. David Alexander Abbott, RNZAF NZ401219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:30 – Landed 03:15
Flight Time 04:45

After 12 Ops as a 2nd Pilot, Jeffrey took his own crew and began their tour.

23/05/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Cologne
Ten Wellington Aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 1000lbs. G.P.; 500lbs G.P.; 250 lbs. G.P.; and containers of incendiaries, while one flash bomb was carried by RWX.437.
RWX.241 attacked docks 4,5,6, at Dunkirk and reports that small fires were started in the vicinity.
RWX.275 reports that bombs were seen to burst.
Results were not observed by RWX.437.
Bomb bursts were seen by RWX.468 and reports that a large orange fire started in target.
RWX.585 bombed target area. Incendiaries were seen to burn and bombs burst.
RWX.616 dropped bombs through cloud, but bursts were not observed.
RWX.712 saw green flashes from incendiaries.
RWX.943 saw bombs burst through gaps in cloud.
RWX.991 bombed target and a small fire was started.
P/O Rees reports that no fires were observed, but there was one explosion larger than usual.
No observations were made, and no reconnaissance carried out.
Heavy and accurate A.A. fire was experienced over target areas.
There was a cone of 22 searchlights at Dunkirk. Elsewhere they were intense and fairly accurate.
No enemy aircraft were encountered.
The Weather was fair, but visibility was bad. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro, map reading

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O (2)

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. George Hardy, RNZAF NZ40935 – Observer.
Sgt. James Sutton Blundell, RAFVR 977531 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Douglas Malcolm Mackinnon, RNZAF NZ40923 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. David Alexander Abbott, RNZAF NZ401219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off No Time Listed – Landed No Time Listed
Flight Time No Time Listed

27/05/1941 – Daylight Search for Hipper Class Cruiser
Twelve Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out the above search. The bomb lead was mixed and consisted “B” bombs, 500 lbs. S.A.P. The target was not located and all bombs were bought back. A large number of enemy aircraft were encountered and attacks were made on our aircraft. No serious damage was sustained. Good weather was experienced. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. George Hardy, RNZAF NZ40935 – Observer.
Sgt. James Sutton Blundell, RAFVR 977531 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Holdsworth,   – Front Gunner.
Sgt. David Alexander Abbott, RNZAF NZ401219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 07:15 – Landed 14:45
Flight Time 07:30

10/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Brest
Twelve Wellington aircraft of this Unit carried out the above attacks. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 2000lbs. S.A.P., 500 lbs. S.A.P. 250lbs. S.A.P., whilst RGS.772 carried one flash bomb.
Owing to smoke screen and ground haze no results were observed but all bombs were dropped.
No observations were made.
There was moderate light and heavy A.A. fire, but not accurate.
There were few searchlights.
Two enemy aircraft were seen, but no attacks made.
The weather was fine, but there was haze over the target.
D/R, astro, map reading, W/T.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. George Hardy, RNZAF NZ40935 – Observer.
Sgt. James Sutton Blundell, RAFVR 977531 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. East, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. David Alexander Abbott, RNZAF NZ401219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:35 – Landed 07:00
Flight Time 06:25

16/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Dusseldorf
Fifteen Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks. All bombes were dropped and bursts and fires were observed in target areas. Fairly accurate heavy and light A.A. fire was encountered, and searchlights, working in cones, were very active. FKU.846 reports being attacked by JU.88 on return journey. Cannon shells entered fuselage near elevator and machine gun bullets hit rear turret. There were no casualties. The weather was fine. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, map reading, astro, loop, lorenz

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. George Hardy, RNZAF NZ40935 – Observer.
Sgt. James Sutton Blundell, RAFVR 977531 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. East, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. David Alexander Abbott, RNZAF NZ401219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:20 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 05:00

18/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Brest
Seventeen Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. One aircraft, MFW.819 was unable to locate the target on account of low cloud and smoke screen and bombs were bought back. Bombs were dropped by the remaining aircraft, but owing to smoke screen, bursts were not observed. Moderate light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered, and searchlights were active. The weather was fine but there was slight haze over target area. Navigation was by D/R, W/T, map reading, astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Alfred Hubert Harrison, RNZAF NZ403000 – Observer.
Sgt. James Sutton Blundell, RAFVR 977531 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Phillip Newbury Howard, RNZAF NZ391384 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. David Alexander Abbott, RNZAF NZ401219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:25 – Landed 04:45
Flight Time 05:20

27/06/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Bremen
Sixteen Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. The bomb load consisted of 1000 lbs; 500 lbs; 250 lbs; and containers of incendiaries.

TYF.138 bombed fire in target area, but failed to observe results owing to cloud.
TYF.200 reports that fires started.
TYF.226 was unable to pinpoint target owing to cloud, but bombs were dropped east of river just south of target.
TYF.393 observed bursts in target area.
TYF.447 dropped bombs on west side of river in town through gap in clouds. Bursts not observed but fire was seen in town area.
TYF.501 bombed target and observed bursts. No fires started.
TYF.571 bombed target and observed three fires started.
TYF.602 reports target obscured by cloud, but bombed flak concentrations.
TYF.617 bombed fire and enlarged it.
TYF.716 saw bombs burst in Southern part of the town.
TYF.741 reports incendiaries started fire about one mile S.E. of aiming point.
S/L. Lucas saw bombs burst across centre of city.
Results were not observed by P/O Scott.
F/Lt. Fletcher bombed factory in Bremen area, believed to be Focke Wolfe factory. Large fires seen after bombing.
F/Lt. Gill dropped bombs on town.
P/O Hamlin saw bombs burst and reports that two small fires started.
Several large fires were seen in target area. A number of dummy fires were seen on outskirts of City.
There was fairly accurate and intense heavy and light A.A. fire.
Searchlights were active, but hampered by cloud.
A few enemy aircraft were seen over the target area, but no attacks made. There was fairly heavy cloud on parts of route end in target area.
Navigation was by D/R, loop, astro, map reading, W/T.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter, RCAF J.3754 – Observer.
Sgt. James Sutton Blundell, RAFVR 977531 – Wireless Operator.
P/O Brown,   – Front Gunner.
Sgt. David Alexander Abbott, RNZAF NZ401219 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:30 – Landed 05:00
Flight Time 05:30

03/07/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Essen
Sixteen Wellington aircraft from this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. One of these aircraft, W.5621, captained by Sgt. Reid, failed to return. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 1000lbs; 50lbs; 250lbs; and containers of incendiaries.

YCJ.191 reports bombs burst in Krupps works area alongside three large fires.
Results were not observed by YCJ.234.
Owing to haze results were not observed by YCJ.272, but bombs were seen to burst in target area alongside what appeared to be coke ovens.
YCJ.389 bombed fire in target area and started four further fires around it.
YCJ.434 reports two bombs dropped on fire in target area. Four bombs hung up.
Results were not observed by YCJ.272 owing to haze, but bombs were seen to burst in target area alongside what appeared to be a coke ovens.
YCJ.389 bombed fire in target area and started four further fires around it.
YCJ.434 reports two bombs dropped on fire in target area. Four bombs hung up.
YCJ.514 observed bomb bursts in target area.
YCJ.663 saw bombs burst near and in fire round target area.
YCJ.813 bombed large fire in town. Bursts straddled target.
YCJ.956 reports large fire started.
YCJ.959 saw bombs burst on aerodrome alongside flarepath.
YCJ.970 bombed target area.
Bombs were dropped in target area by YCJ.978.
P/O Scott reports bomb bursts seen and fire started.
P/O Ashworth reports fire started in target area.
P/O Hamlin reports terrific explosions seen as bombs burst.
Several fires were observed in target area.
There was heavy and light A.A. fire. This was intense and accurate. Searchlights were intense and accurate, and working in cones.
A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no attacks were made. The weather was fine, with cloud in some places. Haze over target.
Navigation was by D/R, W/T, astro, loop, map reading

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter, RCAF J.3754 – Observer.
Sgt. Ian William Lewis, RAFVR 952538 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Jack Dennis Thompson, RAFVR 1152206 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:30 – Landed 05:05
Flight Time 05:35

05/07/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Munster
Twelve Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above target. The bomb load was mixed and consisted of 1000 lbs; 500 lbs; 250 lbs; and containers of incendiaries.

DNL.143 reports bombs were seen to burst in target area.
DNL.189 reports port engine failed. Bombed Dortmund-Ems Canal. Bombs seen to burst very close to bank. Fire started, which went out. Point aimed at approx.. 2 miles N.E. of centre of Munster.
DNL.235 saw bombs burst. Estimated on or near target.
DNL.672 bombed near large fire in town just S.E. of marshalling yard.
DNL.748 bombed centre of target, and bombs were seen exploding causing fires which were seen to increase on leaving area. Fires seen from 60 miles away.
DNL.785 bombed very large fire on aiming point. Fire spread just afterwards.
DNL.843 bombed large fire in centre of target area.
DNL.914 dropped bombs in target area and caused large red fires.
P/O Hamlin saw bursts on target.
Sgt. Fotheringham saw bursts on centre of target.
P/O Scott was first on target and started huge fires with incendiaries. Three large explosions were seen. Bombs are believed to have hit chemical works.
Several large fires were observed in and around target area.
A.A. fire was very slight. Heavy and light.
Searchlights were fairly numerous at parts of route, but there were few in the target area.
P/O. Scott reports one Me.109 closed in to 150 yards. Rear gunner fired two bursts and the 109 dived away. Two others seen, but no attacks.
The weather was fine and clear.
Navigation was by D/R, map reading, W/T, astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter, RCAF J.3754 – Observer.
Sgt. A. G. Windiate, RAFVR 911390/ 112731 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Cadieux, RAFVR   – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:20 – Landed 04:35
Flight Time 05:15

07/07/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Munster
Ten Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft, CNF.994, captained by S/Ldr. Widdowson, was attacked by one Me.110 over the middle of the Zuider Zee and was badly damaged. The rear gunner attacked the enemy aircraft which fell away and dived into the sea with heavy smoke pouring from the port engine. On the journey back to base, fire broke out on the Wellington and the 2nd Pilot, SGT. Ward, climbed out on to the starboard wing and attempted to smother the fire, but with only partial success. The fire eventually burned itself out and a landing was made at Newmarket. For his courageous action SGT. Ward was awarded the Victoria Cross; while S/Ldr. Widdowson and Sgt. Box the rear gunner received immediate awards of the D.F.C. and D.F.M. respectively. (For fuller story see “SUMMARY OF OUTSTANDING EVENTS” at end of Forms 540).

CNF.240 reports bombs fell right on aiming point; 1000lbs. caused red glow which sprang into two fires, afterwards running into one.
CNF.260 reports bombs fell across target.
CNF.401 bomber center of target area. Several large fires within target area seen as well as numerous scattered small fire in other parts of town.
CNF.477 reports S.B.C.’s started good fire near target.
CNF.523 was unable to pinpoint Munster.
CNF.605 bombed target.
CNF.708 bombed target and added to fires already there.
CNF719 reports G.P. bombs seen to burst in target. Incendiaries fell close to bursts.
CNF.994 saw bombs burst on target.
F/Lt. Gill bombed target.
Many large fire were observed on aiming point. Dummy fire and explosion seen 10 miles N.E. of
target.
There was very slight medium light A.A. fire.
Searchlight activity was very slight.
The weather was fine and clear.
Navigation was by D/R, pinpoints, beacons, astro, W/T. map reading.

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter, RCAF J.3754 – Observer.
Sgt. Ian William Lewis, RAFVR 952538 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Gwyn-Williams, RAFVR   – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward Callander, RAFVR 1061420 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:20 – Landed 04:20
Flight Time 05:00

13/07/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Bremen
Eleven Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. One of these aircraft, X.9634 captained by Sgt. Miniken was climbing on course when, apparently without warning, the starboard engine cut at 6000 feet. He turned for base but lost height rapidly and force landed near the beach off Corton near Lowestoft. Sgt. Miniken and Sgt. Gilding (Navigator) were rescued but the others are missing.
Bursts were not observed by YCJ.505.
YCJ.609 bombed on E.T.A., but results were unobserved.
YCJ.724 bombed aerodrome 5 miles N/E/ of Ymuiden. A fire was noted on leaving target.
YCJ.726 was unable to locate target owing to 10/10 clouds and storms. Bombes were dropped on two ships 5 miles North of Terchelling. Bomb bursts seen but no results observed.
Results were not observed by YCJ.819.
YCJ.947 bombed target after obtaining astro fix;10/10 cloud.
YCJ.247 bombed on E.T.A. through 10/10 cloud. After bombing heavy flak opened up one mile to port.
Results were not observed by P/O. Ashworth.
P/O Scott dropped bombs 5 minutes short of E.T.A. as plane was icing up and losing altitude. Results not observed due to 10/10 cloud. Sgt. Saunders jettisoned bombs in target area owing to icing –up of aircraft. Ten-tenths thunder cloud prevented any observations of results.
Fairly heavy and accurate A.A. fire encountered on route and in target area.
There were few searchlights in operation.
A number of enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks resulted.
The weather was poor. Ten-tenths cloud over target: severe icing conditions.
Navigation was by D/R, map reading, W/T, beacons, astro, loop

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter, RCAF J.3754 – Observer.
Sgt. Ian William Lewis, RAFVR 952538 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Cadieux, RAFVR   – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Gywn-Willaims, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 05:10
Flight Time 06:10

15/07/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Duisburg
Nine Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft, R.3171 captained by SGT. Fotheringham, failed to return to base. Another, W.5663, captained P/O Rees, (RJT.533) was attacked by unidentified enemy fighter over the target. The aircraft was badly damages and the 2nd Pilot Sgt. Joyce was killed. SGT. Conibear, the front gunner, was seriously injured and died in hospital; and SGT. Gwyn-Williams was injured (Rear gunner). The aircraft returned to base where a landing was made. P/O Rees was awarded the D.F.C.; and the wireless operator, SGT. Lewis, was awarded the D.F.M.

RJT.147 bombed marshalling yard south of aiming point.
RJT.319 Observed bomb bursts in target area.
RJT.385 Attacked target area and saw bomb bursts.
RJT.445 bombed target area.
RJT.533 bombed target area, but thin cloud prevented accurate pin-point.
RJT.570 reports big fire started by bombs on target area.
RJT.683 located target, but it was not clearly pinpointed. A fix was obtained from Rhine and autobahn. Bombs dropped in salvo on large fire within radius of 3 miles of target.
P/O Ashworth reports that results were not observed over Ruhr, but a fire was started and a building blown up on an aerodrome 6 miles south of Hague. Heavy accurate predicted A.A. fire was encountered in target area. Searchlights were very active and accurate. The weather was good, but there was a layer of cloud over target. Navigation was by map reading, D/R, W/T, astro

Wellington Mk.Ic W.5663 AA-O

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
Sgt. David Campbell Joyce, RNZAF NZ401278 – 2nd Pilot..
P/O Robert Cyril Adair Hunter, RCAF J.3754 – Observer.
Sgt. Ian William Lewis, RAFVR 952538 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Henry Conibear, RAFVR 932380 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Gywn-Willaims, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:05 – Landed 03:35
Flight Time 04:30

The citation for D.F.C. (Immediate) P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395  and D.F.M. (Immediate) Sgt. Ian William Lewis, RAFVR 952538 read as follows:
“One night in July 1941 Pilot Officer Rees and Sergeant Lewis were the captain and wireless operator respectively of an aircraft which attacked a target at Duisburg. Although the aircraft was hit by antiaircraft fire, Pilot Officer Rees persisted in his attack and completed a successful run over the target. On the return journey whilst over the Ruhr, the aircraft was held in the beams of a large searchlight belt and subjected to an attack by an enemy fighter which inflicted severe damage. The second pilot was killed and two other members of the crew dangerously wounded, while Sergeant Lewis was badly shocked and rendered temporarily deaf when a cannon shell exploded close to him. Nevertheless, realizing that his captain was without aid and could not leave the controls, Sergeant Lewis tended his wounded comrades, afterwards collecting the navigator’ s log and maps and assisting him in setting out the courses. Pilot Officer Rees, with exceptional skill, finally overcame all navigational difficulties and helped by Sergeant Lewis who had repaired his wireless set and obtained bearings, flew back to this country where a safe landing was made. Pilot Officer Rees displayed outstanding courage and determination in extremely harassing circumstances and was ably assisted by Sergeant Lewis who showed great fortitude and initiative. Both have participated in numerous operational missions.”

12/08/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Hanover and Le Havre
Nine Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft SXA.893, captained by P/O. Roberts, after successfully bombing the target was attacked over the Zuyder Zee by an enemy fighter which hit him with a long burst. He in turn hit the enemy which disappeared in a steep dive. Our aircraft sustained extensive damage, and when nearing base his petrol ran out. He succeeded in baling out five of his crew but he himself had no time to jump. By the aid of his landing light he picked out a firebreak in a forestry plantation and landed safely with little additional damage.
SXA.110 reports that target area was bombed and bombs were seen to ignite but no pinpoint was made.
SXA.243 reports that it was impossible to see the railway station, but the town was identified and hit scored in target area.
SXA.526 bombed small fire in target area. Bombs were seen to burst nearby.
SXA.632 dropped bombs on east side of Dock 6. Fire was started and bomb bursts seen.
SXA.799 reports bombs were dropped in target area.
The target area was bombed by SXA.893.
SXA.965 saw bomb and incendiaries burst across target and fires were started.
P/O. Williams bombed target area and fires were seen.
P/O. Scott started a fire and an explosion was seen.
Large dummy fires and a dummy flare path were observed in vicinity of targets.
There was spasmodic heavy A.A. fire co-operating with searchlights over target.
Searchlights were numerous, but not troublesome.
Thunderstorms were encountered on route and there was slight cloud and haze in target area.
Navigation was D/R, pinpoints, W/T. loop, astro.

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9767 AA-S

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
P/O William Reginald Methven, RAF 67072 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Alan Clifford Edwards, RAFVR 1163977 – Observer.
Sgt. Fred Garde, RAFVR 993802 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Green,   – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Timothy Rowley Murphy, RNZAF NZ404037 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:15 – Landed 01:45
Flight Time 04:30

14/08/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Hanover
Eight Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. A mixed bomb load was carried and consisted of 1000lbs; 500lbs; 250lbs; and containers of incendiaries.
ROB.214 reports bombs fell probably near centre of town but to N.W. of railway station. Bursts observed. Large fires seen when leaving. Have and cloud over target made pinpointing impossible.
ROB.417 bombed south of town.
ROB.476 reports one very large fire started approx.. half mile N.W. of target aiming point.
ROB.556 dropped bombs in target area.
ROB.577 reports that bursts were see and a small fire started.
P/O. Scott reports bomb bursts see and a large fire started.
S/L. Widdowson bombed target.
P/O. Williams bombed buildings near target.
Several dummy fires were observed around target area.
A.A fire was fairly intense and co-operating with searchlights.
Searchlights were active.
ROB.214 was attacked by enemy aircraft, probably JU.88, at about 1200feet over base. One head-on attack was made with cannon and machine gun, but no hits scored. Avoided enemy action by diving to about 200 feet.
The weather was fine in target area, but there was heavy cloud on route.
Navigation was D/R, W/T, loop, astro, Q.D.M.

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9767 AA-S

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
P/O William Reginald Methven, RAF 67072 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Alan Clifford Edwards, RAFVR 1163977 – Observer.
Sgt. Fred Garde, RAFVR 993802 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Robert Lea Warburton, RAFVR 978776 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Timothy Rowley Murphy, RNZAF NZ404037 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:30 – Landed 04:30
Flight Time 07:00

26/08/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Cologne and Boulogne
Fourteen Wellington aircraft of this Unit were detailed to carry out the above attacks. SWU.567 failed to identify the target and bombs were jettisoned over the sea when petrol gauges had been showing zero for approximately one hour. Another aircraft, captained by Sgt Curlewis, failed to identify the target owing to 10/10 cloud and bombs were returned. All other aircraft dropped their bombs, but heavy cloud in the target area prevented observation of results. A.A. fire was moderate and predicted. Searchlights were ineffective owing to cloud. A few enemy aircraft were seen, but no attacks made

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9767 AA-S

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
P/O Walter John Smith, RAF 1058110/ 67704 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Alan Clifford Edwards, RAFVR 1163977 – Observer.
Sgt. Fred Garde, RAFVR 993802 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Robert Lea Warburton, RAFVR 978776 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Timothy Rowley Murphy, RNZAF NZ404037 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:00 – Landed 05:35
Flight Time 05:35

29/08/1941 – Bombing Attacks Against Targets at Mannheim
Nine Wellington aircraft were detailed to carry out individual bombing attacks against the above targets. One of these aircraft, BRO.345 failed to identify the target owing to 10/10 cloud and bombs were brought back. All bombs were dropped by the remaining aircraft, but heavy cloud made observations of results difficult. A.A. fire was heavy and accurate. No enemy aircraft were seen.

Wellington Mk.Ic X.9767 AA-S

P/O William Jeffrey Rees, RAF 86395 – Pilot.
P/O Walter John Smith, RAF 1058110/ 67704 – 2nd Pilot..
Sgt. Alan Clifford Edwards, RAFVR 1163977 – Observer.
Sgt. Fred Garde, RAFVR 993802 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Robert Lea Warburton, RAFVR 978776 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Timothy Rowley Murphy, RNZAF NZ404037 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:50 – Landed 05:00
Flight Time 07:10

Jeff returned to operations in January 1944 when he joined No 139 Squadron to fly the Mosquito in Bomber Command’s Pathfinder Force. Initially the squadron flew ahead of the main bomber force to drop “window” (thin metal backed paper strips) to confuse the enemy’s early warning radars.

Later in the year it was equipped with a precision radar for navigation and bombing and, using this new aid, dropped markers over the target as aiming points for the follow-on bomber force.

Rees attacked Berlin on a number of occasions. On one flight he was over the target when his Mosquito was hit by anti-aircraft fire, which knocked out one of the aircraft’s two engines. Rees flew the badly damaged Mosquito back to England on one engine. He was awarded a bar to his DFC. During the build-up to the Allied invasion in Normandy, the crews of No 139 attacked the coastal batteries and radar installations.

After almost 10 months of continuous operations, Rees was rested and became a pilot instructor on Mosquitoes before being seconded to BOAC to fly long-range routes to the Near and Far East.

On leaving the RAF in October 1946, he was one of a number of ex-Pathfinder pilots recruited by Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett (former commander of the Pathfinders) to join British South American Airways (BSAA).

The job was allocated on a “first come, first served” basis and Rees – driving “Baby Lou”, his decrepit Austin 7 – was the last to arrive in time to be offered an appointment as a captain. He flew converted Lancaster bombers and the ill-fated Avro Tudor on routes to the Caribbean and South America.

After a series of crashes due to technical failures, the airline was wound up and the pilots transferred to one of the two state airlines.

Rees joined BOAC (later British Airways) and flew four-engine piston airliners on long-haul flights before converting to the Bristol Britannia. He flew the early jet airliners and was flying the Boeing 747 when he retired as one of the airline’s most senior captains. After a brief and difficult period flying for Iraqi Airways from Baghdad, he retired.

A keen ornithologist, he also enjoyed his garden and was fascinated by meteorology.

Jeff Rees was married three times and his wives predeceased him. He is survived by three sons and two daughters.

Squadron Leader Jeff Rees, born May 21 1920, died March 13 2015

Jackie would love to find out more about Jeff’s time in 139 Squadron, so if anybody has access to information on the Squadron and more specifically, reference to Jeff, please contact me and I will make sure it is passed on to Jackie and the family.