Tag Archives: Raymond Walter John Stratton

More pictures from Simon……..


A group photo including, Simon believes, 2nd from left, Alfred ‘Bill’ Dance, Air Bomber, Wilson crew  and 5th from left Norman Wilson Pilot EE897. The photograph clearly shows other pilots, though their identities are not known.

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Alfred ‘Bill’ Dance, Air Bomber, Norman Wilson crew.


Unknown crew from same period.

The rear gunner’s turret of a 75 Squadron Stirling being inspected by S/Ldr. Dick Broadbent and W/Cdr. Wells, a visiting fighter pilot, after damage by a night fighter over Duisburg on 26th April 1943

Many thanks to Simon for passing on a few more pictures, including an additional picture of Eric Witting’s Stirling, taken after returning from the Baltic Sea mining Op that cost the lives of 3 of the 4 aircrews sent. Even Eric’s crew didn’t escape unscathed, their Rear Gunner, Walter Hurdle was killed, being brought back, he was laid to rest in Cambridge City Cemetery.

4.11.43. mining in the Baltic Sea
Four aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1500lbs. This was an unfortunate night as three aircraft failed to return and the other aircraft returned early having jettisoned its mines. This aircraft met an enemy night fighter and sustained damage to the port wing, starboard flap, rear turret and many other large holes in the fuselage, the rear gunner Sgt. W. Hurdle was killed during the combat. The weather was bad and ten tenths cloud made visibility  poor. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings MkIII BF461 Captained by P/O. G.K Williams, BK778 captained by P/O. W.S. Masters and EE897 captained by F/O. N.Wilson.

The Wilson crew – Ray Stratton, Flight Engineer. 1943

image2 corrected

The Wilson crew left to right: Alf Dance, Ron Charlton, Arnold Fawcett (sat in fuselage doorway), Ray Stratton, Len Gaskins, Norman Wilson and Tom Lodge.
Stood in front of BF465, so taken middle of august 1943.

Many thanks for Simon for passing on these fantastic images of the Wilson crew and they regular aircraft EE897 AAG. Simon contacted me a few weeks ago and at the time I put up a post for any information that might be out there on Ray, or the other boys in the crew.

Since then Simon has met up with Jack Richards, the President of the UK Friends of 75(NZ) Squadron, who was ground crew at the time for the Wilson boys.

Simon re-contacted me yesterday to let me know of his chat with Jack and with a query over Jack recalling and showing a picture of the crew in front of another aircraft – this time EF465. This query allowed me to use Simon as a first test guinea pig for what is slowing taking shape as a searchable database for Squadron records that I have been (very slowly) transcribing from the Operational Record Books over the last 10 weeks or so. Fortunately Simon’s query was regarding 1943 – which is the most complete year so far in the database – relative to my usual trawl from a hundred pages of an ORB, I am pleased to report that a crew Op history for Ray was able to be generated very quickly indeed and I am particularly pleased to say that the search identified a single Op with another crew, something that I would have probably missed doing a more traditional ‘find the Pilot in the pages’ search of the ORB. The search also confirmed Jack’s recollection – the Wilson crew flew in BF465 twice (possibly 3 times) at the beginning of their tour, as well as other a/c before appearing to adopt EE897 as their regular steed.

The Wilson crew arrive from 1651 Conversion Unit on the 5th August 1943.

The ORB seems to show a strange discrepancy regarding accepted practice of a Pilot flying at least 1, though at this point usually 2 ops with another crew to gain experience.

9.8.43. Gardening – Mining in the Frisian Islands
Stirling Mk.III BF518 AA-E
F/O Norman C B Wilson – Pilot
F/O Thomas Lodge – Navigator
P/O Alfred Dance – Air Bomber
Sgt. G. Cross – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Raymond Stratton – Flight Engineer
Sgt. Arnold Fawcett – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Leonard Gaskins – Rear Gunner


Fixing a puncture in a tyre of one of the indispensable bicycles used to transport aircrew through the lanes around Mepal Len Gaskin and Arnold Fawcett.

It would then, rather bizarrely appear that Norman then took 2, 2nd Dickie Ops.

10.8.43 War Ops – Attack Against Nurenburg.
Norman Wilson flies 2nd pilot with Jack Joll’s crew.

12.8.43. War Ops – Attack against Turin
Norman flies a 2nd Op with the Joll crew.

(The ORB records Norman as ‘A. Wilson’, however there were no A. Wilsons, as a Pilot, ever in the squadron, so we must assume this is Norman).

15.8.43 Gardening – Mining the Gironde Estuary.
Stirling Mk.III BF465 AA-J/K
Len Gaskins and Arnold Fawcett swap respective gunnery positions.

17.8.43 War Ops – Attack Against Penemunde.
Stirling Mk.III BF465 AA-J/K
(ORB says ‘EF’, but give a/c above – this Op – I suspect a typo?)

23.8.43 War Ops – Attack Against Berlin.
Stirling Mk.III BF461 AA-B
Sgt. G. Cross is replaced by F/S Ron Charlton as Wireless Operator.

27.8.43 War Ops – Attack Against Nurenburg.
Stirling Mk.III EE898 AA-D

31.8.43 War Ops – Attack Against Berlin.
Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G

8.9.43 War Ops – Attack Against Boulogne.
Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G
Rear Gunner Arnold Fawcett is replaced by F/O Don Laycock.

16.9.43 War Ops – Attack Against Modene.
Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G
Arnold Fawcett returns as Rear Gunner.

22.9.43 War Ops – Attack Against Hanover.
Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G
Don Laycock returns as Rear Gunner.

23.9.43 War Ops – Attack Against Mannheim.
Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G

2.10.43 Gardening – Mining in the Baltic Sea.
Stirling Mk.III BF459
Ray Stratton joins Noel Parkers crew for 1 Op as Flight Engineer.

8.10.43 War Ops – Attack Against Bremen.
Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G
Arnold Fawcett returns as Rear Gunner.

4.11.43 Gardening – Mining in the Baltic Sea.
Stirling Mk.III EE897 AA-G

According to Jack Richardson, that night, prior to take-off, Alf Dance wrote ‘Dance man Dance’ on the tail plane. Norman Wilson being a disciplinarian insisted it was cleaned off with a rag given by ground crew – the crew then boarded in less than cheerfull mood. They never returned….

As a footnote, apparently Ray Stratton’s mother never accepted his loss and every time she went out she left the key in the back door so he could get in

F/O Norman Clarence Bruce Wilson RNZAF NZ417139. Pilot.
Commemorated on Panel 198 Runnymede Memorial.

F/O Thomas Lodge RNZAF NZ417284. Navigator.
Commemorated on Panel 197 Runnymede Memorial.

P/O Alfred Thomas Dance RNZAF NZ42495. Air Bomber.
Commemorated on Panel 197 Runnymede Memorial.

F/S Ronald Carlton RAFVR 644136.Wireless Operator.
Commemorated on Panel 135 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Raymond Walter John Stratton RAFVR 1166593. Flight Engineer.
Commemorated on Panel 166. Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Leonard Charles Gaskins RAFVR 1392668. Mid Upper Gunner.
Commemorated on Panel 150 Runnymede Memorial.

Sgt. Arnold Goodrick Fawcett RNZAF NZ422698. Rear Gunner.
Commemorated on Panel 198 Runnymede Memorial.


Some of the Wilson boys horsing around in front of what is believed to be EE897.

Simon has supplied some great photos of the crew, though partially named, so if you have any suggestions as to who the remaining crew are in these pictures, please contact me and I’ll pass the information onto him.

Request for Information – Raymond Stratton, Wilson crew.

I have been contacted by Simon, who is looking for information on the Wilson crew, who were lost with 2 other crews on the night of 4th November 1943 on a Gardening Op to the Kattegat area of the Baltic Sea. In particular, he is interested in finding out about Sgt Raymond Stratton, who was the Flight Engineer with the crew and the family would dearly love to find a photograph of the crew.

The Wilson crew on that night were;
F/O Norman Clarence Bruce Wilson RNZAF NZ417139 – Pilot.
F/O Tom Lodge RNZAF NZ417284 – Navigator.
F/O Alfred Thomas Dance RNZAF NZ42495 – Air Bomber.
F/Sgt Ronald Charlton RAFVR 644136 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Raymond Walter John Stratton RAFVR 1166593 – Flight Engineer
Sgt. Leonard Charles Gaskins RAFVR 1392668 – Mid Upper Gunner.
F/Sgt Arnold Goodrick Fawcett RNZAF (NZ422698 – Rear Gunner

The family would like to mark the anniversary of their loss this year, so, relatively speaking, time is of the essence.