Tag Archives: Project ORB

Half a million views!

Half a million views!

I must take this opportunity to let everybody know, that today, 75nzsquadron.com passed the incredible milestone of 500,000 views. This amazing figure has taken almost 7 years to reach, but it has truly been worth the wait, given the amazing journey that many others and I have enjoyed in the mean time.

The growth and success of the blog has really been remarkable – I have said it before – but I certainly never dreamt that it would grow the way it has and been able to engage so many people – as I write, the blog contains 721 posts, is followed across all platforms by 852 people and has been visited over 123,000 times.

The interest in the Squadron seems unabated and it’s my plan to get back to the old days of regular posts – we have a lot of new material in the pipeline which will all be share in due course. We have now complete all the large structural projects, so as new information appears, it can all be added to what is possibly the most detailed record of an RAF Bomber Squadron that exists.

This wonderful event in the site’s history is perhaps a timely point to make another important announcement:

Project ORB is complete!

Five and a half years ago I began the slow transcription of the Squadron’s Form 540 “Operations Carried Out” for the duration of 75(NZ) Squadrons existence. Many have contributed, but special thanks must go to Hubert, David and Brian for their protracted efforts to complete certain years. In recent months I have turned my attention to 1942, and the latter months of 1940 – finally it is finished.

Whilst other Squadrons have already had their diary documents transcribed in whole, this is the first time that it has been achieved for 75(NZ) Squadron – an other first for the site!

I have also added a little navigation to make the reading of the individual months a little easier. Clicking in the “75(NZ) Squadron RAF Records” section in the top menu and then clicking on any specific year will give you a page with links to all months in that particular years (as opposed to holding on a year to get the jump off menu that will take you to a certain month).

In addition, at the foot of each month is a link which will take you automatically to the next month – at December you will progress to the following year.

For ease of entry to the records, please click below to go to the relevant year sets:


Project ORB – July 1940 – completed

cover for Jul ORB post 2

Many thanks to Brian for his stalwart efforts with regards to the 1940 Operational Record Books – and I am pleased to announce that July is now complete and can be viewed here.

I must confess, my efforts in the past few years to complete the database and the subsequent creation of the Crew Op History pages has at times perhaps let me forget the ORB project. However, existing as it does as the primary record and reference for the Squadron’s activities during the War, it’s a resource that needs to be valued and ultimately, it’s transcription needs to be completed.

Please, if any of you out there want to help, contact me – there is still a lot to do, but, relative to the number of people who follow this blog, and reflected in this, a daily traffic of about 200 views, the task could actually be completed in perhaps a couple of months……….

fingers crossed………

Project ORB update – Form 540 June 1940 complete

A massive continuing thanks to Brian for his ongoing efforts with the 1940 Form 540 – June is now added to our collection for your perusal.

Slowly, but steadily the 540’s for the War are coming together – but there are still a lot of months to do – so if you want to step up and join Brian and others, then please contact me!

Read Form 540 June 1940 here.

Project ORB – June 1943

A massive thanks to Bryan for his efforts to complete the Form 540 for June 1943. Those of you that are familiar with the Form 540 ‘Summary of Events’ for the Squadron will know that in particular, 1943 is an amazing research resource, detailing as it does all crew movements in and out of the Squadron for that year.

While other early years also contain this information, the sheer size of the Squadron by 1943 means that while this is a fantastic research reference, it simultaneously represents a nightmare for anybody undertaking a transcription of a month – having done a few months for 1943 myself, I take my hat off to Bryan for having the patience to complete June.

So another month is added and Project ORB slowly rolls on to completion. If any of you are reading this post and fancy having  a go at one of the 4 remaining months from 1943 – please contact me – you are more than welcome!

View the Form 540 for June 1943 here.

Project ORB – May 1940

My continuing thanks to Brian for his sterling single handed efforts with Operational Record Book for 1940 – May 1940 has now been added to the ‘Squadron Records’ section of the blog.

Included in Brian’s email were a couple of ‘transcribers notes’ of interest:

“May 17th. Weather report – Cloud section has the only examples I have seen in the ORBs were the ampersand is used instead of “at”.”

“May 21st. Formation of new flight. It would seem that although the New Zealand flight took over the 75 number plate in April 1940 it still operated as a flight until this date when it split into “A” and “B” flights and officially became a Squadron. Presumably following an expansion in the number of aircraft and personnel.”

View May 1940 here.

Project ORB January, February, March & April 1940 – complete

Continuing thanks to Brian for sending the first 4 months of 1940 for the Squadron Operational Record Book Archive.

These early months of 1940 record not only the disbandment of No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron, but also the 3 months that saw the change of the ‘New Zealand Squadron’, to 75(New Zealand) Squadron.

As Brian notes in his transcription for the month of April 1940, on the 4th of that month, there is no record of the fact that the Squadron changes it’s name from ‘New Zealand Squadron’ to ’75(New Zealand) Squadron.

View January to April 1940 – No. 75(Bomber) Squadron here.
View February 1940 – New Zealand Squadron here.
View March 1940 – New Zealand Squadron here.
View April 1940 – New Zealand/ 75 (New Zealand) Squadron here.

75 Squadron RAF – Operational Record Books, 1916 – 1939

Squadron hand over document inverted

A massive thanks to Brian for a completely single handed (and self initiated) transcription of the entire Operational Records of 75 Squadron RAF, prior to it’s absorption into No. 15 OTU at Feltwell and the simultaneous awarding of the number plate to 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF

No.75 Squadron, RFC, was formed at Goldington (Bedford) on 1st October 1916, as a Home Defence unit. Its first equipment consisted of the usual collection of single- and two-seat BE types, but it later received Avros and then Sopwith Camels.

Disbanded in Essex in 1919, the squadron was re-formed in 1937 as a heavy bomber squadron but in March 1939, became a Group pool squadron or, in other words, assumed the role of what was later known as an operational training unit. Soon after the outbreak of war the squadron was posted to No.6 (Training) Group and on 4th April 1940, its number plate, with the letters “NZ” added, was transferred to a Royal New Zealand Air Force heavy bomber flight which was based at Feltwell, Norfolk, a station in No. 3 Group.

View No. 75 (H.D.) Squadron 1916 – 1919 here.
View No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF – 1937 here.
View No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF – 1938 here.
View No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF – 1939 here.

This new set of ORB’s has been placed as a jump off at the top of the 75(NZ) Squadron RAF Records menu under ‘No. 75 (H.D.) Squadron, No. 75 (Bomber) Squadron RAF ORB’s

140,000+ views – thank you all and please bear with me……

As is normal for the addition of another 10,000 views to the blog I send out my heart felt thanks to everybody who has helped to achieve this.

In some respects, this summer has not panned out as I had hoped – perhaps stupidly I viewed the summer as an opportunity to catch up with everything that had built up regarding submitted information – of course this rather simplistic view ignored two things – one, that I would spend my summer doing nothing other than the blog and two, that the information I would be processing would be static, i.e. nothing else would arrive in my inbox.

In hindsight, I am actually pleased to say that neither of these 2 assumptions proved correct or were able to be completed.

The imminent arrival of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum’s Lancaster ‘VeRA’ at the beginning of the summer clearly provided some travel opportunities but at the time of booking tickets for a few events to see VeRA, Thumper and Jane, I didn’t envisage what would build around these plans and the wonderful summer I would have (with Bev), driving, walking and sitting in various parts of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire. The summer has now gone and I am pleased to say (perhaps as a number of you would have encouraged me to do so anyway) that I have actually spent what available time I have had, enjoying myself, rather than worrying about the blog – I observe this, certainly not in a negative way regarding the blog and those who have contacted me over the summer, but simply I suppose to recognise the fact that I too in fact have a life and at some points you need to enjoy it.

A few posts will appear in the next few weeks that add to my original post a couple of weeks back regarding our exploration of Mepal airfield and I suppose can be grouped under a common heading of ‘what I did in my summer holidays’

As I have mentioned already – I came to the summer period after a particularly busy and difficult year at work with a pile of things I wanted to do with the blog. Some of these have been done and some have still to be completed. I must confess now, that probably at a few points the stress I was beginning to create, entirely internally, turned the blog into a problem and a chore – which of course, is utterly ridiculous and to various individuals credit, the obviously sensible observation of:

‘For christ’s sake Simon – if you aren’t enjoying it why the hell are you doing this?’

finally sank in – as crazy as it sounds, perhaps in moments such as this, an individual has to truly experience the proverbial ‘waking up and smelling the coffee’ moment themselves to see the stupidity of the situation they have managed to entirely create themselves.

Walking around Mepal and Sutton, sitting on a windswept airfield, waiting to see a couple of old girls that ended up standing me up, sitting in the sun and hearing the sound of 12 Merlin engines and simply talking to people and listening to them regarding the proudness they feel for a relative, whether they flew in 75(NZ) Squadron or not was actually what I needed to do in order to remember myself, why I started this blog and why I will carry on doing it – it’s just that I can’t do everything in one go and life goes on around it………

Well thanks for listening to my public therapy session………

Regarding the blog:
Firstly, thank you to everyone who has contacted me over the last month or so with information or questions about relatives or the Squadron – I am working through things – but I am aware that some of you still have not heard back from me after your initial contact – I will touch base – I promise.

I now currently have about another 6 logbooks to present – which is utterly fantastic and certainly makes the blog the single largest resource on the web for records of this kind relating to the Squadron. In order to present these logs in the best and most appropriate manner, they need a bit of work doing on them and this, inevitably takes time. To everybody who has sent logbooks to me recently, – please bare with me – they will go up on the blog, but it will take a while to get them all done.

I note also that the blog is now running at about 10,000 views a month.

Interestingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, the contacts I am making with people seem at the moment to be moving subtly from those that are providing information to those that are asking for information. This is completely fine and it’s an aspect of the blog that I quickly realised, was a service that was required and should be provided – I appreciate myself the frustration of contacting someone for help and never getting a response – but obviously the generation of information for these inquiries takes longer than the (relatively) easier  activity of receiving information and preparing it for a post on the blog (accepting that some of you that have sent information over the summer might disagree with this!)

I also want to take this opportunity to again than Hubert for his efforts and patience in single handedly transcribing the entire set of Form 540’s for 1944 – it’s a massive addition to Project ORB, which now sees us chronologically, at least, approximately half way through the activity. Having said this, I am fully aware that what remains, certainly regarding 1943, is a nightmarish task, given the significantly greater detail of information that is recorded in these documents relative to the quite succinct records of 1944 and 1945.

As always, anybody that wants to have a go, just let me know………

The database is slowly growing. I am trying to now integrate requests for aircrew/ individual information as a way of specifically adding the requested information back into the database where this data has not already been added – whilst this sometimes is time consuming, it means the data is in and thus is less to add later. I have also added more cells to each row, allowing more information to be added and thus gathered when a search is performed.

So, in summary, thanks to everyone who has viewed the blog – whether you are new or a regular reader, thank you to everyone who has contacted me with a request or information – I’ll get back to you or get the material up on the blog as soon as I can……….




Project ORB, 1944 COMPLETE – an amazing personal effort

Another significant milestone has been reached in the transcription of the Squadron Operational Record Book Form 540. The whole of 1944 has been completed and this is down to the single efforts of Hubert.

I know from the now relatively small amount of transcription that I have done on these documents , that to complete a month can be a trial in itself, so to manage to not only devote the time, but the energy and concentration to work through a complete set of 12 months represents a massive commitment to this activity.

Hubert, personally and behalf of all of our readers who might use these months to either search for information on a relative, or simply peruse them through interest, I thank you from the bottom of my heart – you have made a massive single contribution to this project and everybody should know that.

A thousand thanks

View March 1944, including the new additional Special Operations Annex here.
View April 1944 here.
View May 1944 here.
View June 1944 here.

75(NZ) Squadron ORB’s – errors and gaps……Part 3.

Oh dear, as I am going through the ORB’s – I wonder whether this might become a regular slot……

This time relating to Form 541 March 1945.

The Munster Op that begins on Page 158 (based on complete ORB pdf numbering) is duplicated on the following Page 159.

The document then continues.

75(NZ) Squadron ORB’s – errors and gaps……Part 2.

Putting together a final Op History for Bob Herron’s crew this evening I have found another mistake in the 1944 ORB.

This time FORM 541 27th January 1944 Mining in the Heligoland Bight.

The records run over 2 pages of the ORB Page 21 to Page 22.

Page 22 is then repeated as Page 23, before the document returns to order

75(NZ) Squadron ORB’s – errors and gaps……

Despite my enforced absence recently regarding posts, I have been trying for 20 minutes over lunch  (everyish day) to continue to add the Form 541 information into an Excel database – currently 3,300 rows, with about 20 columns of information for each row (you do the math) – this so far covers from the beginning of 1943 through to August 1944. In addition to this, Form 540 continues to be attended to by my band of helpers – continuing thanks guys……

I discovered after repeated scrolling up and down yesterday that there is an error regarding page ordering in the 1944 ORB. The second page for the Cagny Op (18th July) is actually not there and in fact reappears after the first page of the Homberg Op (20th July).

Form 541 1944 (page numbers based on pdf numbering of document from National archives)
Page 180 is first page of Cagny Op – Page 181 appears to conclude this Op list.

Page 184 begins the  Homberg Op, Page 185 continues it, but the  next page (186) is the missing second page of Cagny

Additionally, I was informed by Brian a couple of weeks ago that the second page of Form 540, January 1945 is missing – again based on the numbering of the complete pdf document, page 2 (January 1st to 7th) is then followed by a skip to the 15th January.

I am uncertain whether this represents just an initial archiving activity for the complete set (which I purchased in its entirity on a CD), or whether this is a fundamental absence which now exists in the files which are available as individual monthly downloads from the National archive.

My concern is that this page might be lost – if anybody has a version of this document with this missing page – I would be very grateful for a copy – without it, January will not be complete.

thanks in advance…….