Tag Archives: Reginald Smith

More information on the McCaskill crew, courtesy of Guy

Regular blog visitors will be aware that I have made a number of posts about Donald McCaskill’s crew who were all lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart, whilst returning from a raid on Stuttgart.

Guy  has been continuing to search for information on the crew and is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. As I always say regarding this subject and Guy’s efforts, anything that can still discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

Guy has recently contacted me with some new information and also a request, regarding his research – Over to Guy;

Sergeant Ernest Desmond COOK (19 years old) was a crew member of the Bomber Short Stirling BF513 of R.A.F. Sqn 75 which was shot down on April 15th, 1943 over Belgium and fell near the hamlet of Regniessart in the Municipality of Viroinval.

The authorities of the Municipality of Viroinval intend to organize in the year 2015 a remembrance of this event to pay tribute to these young men who gave their life to defend our freedom.
So, I would need help to get in touch with members of his family.

You will find below all the elements which I have concerning Ernest COOK.

  • His Parents Ernest and Esther Cook lived in Station road, Kintbury.
  • They had another son Gerald Cook who used to live at Mant Close, Wickham Newbury which is about 5km from Kintbury. He  passed away on 11th January 2005 but his widow, Hilda COOK, may still live there.
  • Gerald and Hilda had a son, Gary, who was born around December 1969. He, I believe to be a landscape gardener and still lives in the area.

I hope that somebody among the blog readers can help me to get in touch with one or several members of Ernest COOK’s family that possibly still survive. I think mainly of the members of the group of contacts in the UK.

Guy has also discovered some new information on Reginald Green, who featured in a previous post about the crew;

Reginald Green was native of Great Easton ( Leicestershire). Born in 1916, he was the oldest member (27 years old) of the crew of the Stirling BF513 and the only one to be married.
 
Thanks to Margaret Stamp, the reference person of the local history of Reginald’s home Village, which has invested in the researches and is a part of our group of contact.
 
Thanks also to Keith Sandars living in Medbourne  (Leicestershire).
Keith was the first contact on site  which allowed in particular to find Carol Anholm, the daughter  of Edna Searcy who had married in first marriage Reginald Green on April 26th, 1941.
 
Carol Anholm provided us with photos and documents which present a big value for us. Furthermore, the close relations, the family but also the inhabitants of Medbourne showed a lot of interest for the current researches as well as for the commemorative ceremony which will be organized to Viroinval on May 8th, 2015.
 
Edna, who had married Reginald Green in 1941, wrote a very moving poem  after the tragic death of Reginald in operations on April 15th, 1943. In fact, Edna and Reginald were separated from the day after their marriage and have gotten together only during a permission of 15 days before his departure for Newmarket.

“It was one cold November day
That my sweetheart went away.
To join the RAF had gone
To knock the bottom out of the huns.
 
No wedding for me while the war is on
He’d said to me before he was gone.
But only two weeks has passed away
Before he wrote and named the day.
 
April 26th had come
Now we meant to have some fun.
There I stood in snowy white
Loving the bridegroom as well I might.
 
One heavenly day with my husband I had
But it ended all too sad.
The very next day he had to go
Back to barracks full of woe.
 
The time had come for him to be a gunner
And he also was a runner.
Every day I spent in fear
Often shedding a silent tear.
His sergeant’s stripes he now obtained
A wireless op and gunner named.
Over to Frankfurt he had to go
But Smithy’s guns they failed to show.
 
My husband’s leave had come at last
But I guess it went too fast.
Fourteen days of love and laughter
Which I remember ever after.
 
Back to his crew he had to go
Back to the lads that he did know.
There was Jim, Ken, Don and Smut.
I sure did wish them the best of luck.
 
The fatal day it had to come.
I was riddling potatoes in the sun.
A telegram – an awful sight.
My husband had failed to return last night.
 
We all did cry, yes even Dad.
I really thought I should go mad.
I knew in my heart he wasn’t dead.
He seemed to tell me whilst in my bed.
 
I cried and cried but all in vain
It didn’t bring him back again.
The parson came to preach and pray.
I shall never forget that dreadful day.
 
Every day a letter came
And every one did bear his name.
But they didn’t make me any better.
All I wanted was his love letter.
 
Well my story now must end.
My broken heart I’ll never mend.
Unless one day I hear the news
That my husband’s alive with other crew’s”
 
Twenty years after her first poem, Edna wrote another one putting in perspective her life which continued. Indeed, in 1946, Edna remarried with Kenneth Burton and had two children; a son, Nigel and a daughter, Carol.  
 
“Its twenty years since last I wrote.
My broken heart has gone amok.
Five long years went slowely by.
But then I didnt stop to cry.
 
Another man had come my way.
Marry me darling he did say.
We married in July in the sun.
And we had lots and lots of fun.
 
Our darling son came very soon.
On easter day he sang his tune.
The lord had given me back my life.
And I mean to be a real good wife.
 
Our married life wasnt quiet complete.
We wanted something with 4 feet.
My brother gave me a lovely puppy.
He looked so cute fat and fluffy.
 
The years went by Nigel went to school.
I feltso lost without his tune.
A little girl came to live in our fold.
She had big blue eyes but never a curl.
Life was one sweet happy whirl.
We loved them both as we should.
They were so happy kind and good.
 
And my life is now complete.
We can hold the golden seat.
We live and laugh and love each day.
That is all I have to say.
 
So when you feel you cant go on.
And everything you do goes wrong.
Just kneel and pray to the lord and see.
That he will help you as he helped me.”
 
Edna died in 2010 at the age of 90 and is buried in Medbourne.

Reginald GREEN mariage cont

Edna and Reginald on their wedding day, April 26th, 1941.© Carol Anholm 

The first post about the McCaskill crew can be read here.
The second post including pictures of Donald McCaskill and his logbook can be seen here.
The third post containing information about Reginald Green, Wireless Operator witht e McCaskill crew can be read here.

More information on the McCaskill crew – Reginald Green

Reginald GREEN en équipement de volcorrected

Sgt. Reginald Green NZ415378, Wireless Operator with the McCaskill crew

Promotion de Reginald GREEN Identificationcorrected

Training group photograph – date and location unknown. The picture contains Donald McCaskill and Reginald Green (both labelled), so I think this image must also contain the rest of the crew – if at 11 OTU, minus a gunner and Flight Engineer, though if taken at 1657 HCU, then the entire crew might be present.
Guy and the relatives of the boys are interested to get a definitive place and date for the photograph and are also keen to identify anybody else in the photograph.

Many thanks to Guy for passing onto me these extra 2 images of Reginald Green, Wireless Operator with the McCaskill crew who were lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart. All crew were killed and now rest in  the municipal cemetery of Florennes.

Guy  has been working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. To this end, anything that could be discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

As I note in the caption to the large group photograph – there is a high probability that the other members of the McCaskill crew are in this photograph – as always viewers, if you see anybody you recognise, please contact me and I will pass your information onto Guy.

The McCaskill crew – more information

MCCASKILL groupe

Donald McCaskill, far left middle row during flight training.

Ronald  groupe

Ron Smith, Rear Gunner with the McCaskill crew, far right back row, during training

201310280959reduced

Record card for BF513

I was contacted by Guy a couple of months ago regarding his research into the McCaskill crew, who  were lost on the 15th April 1943, their Stirling crashing in Nismes Forest, near Regniessart. All crew were killed and now rest in  the municipal cemetery of Florennes.

Guy  is working in conjunction with the Municipality of Viroinval, in Belgium to gather information to add to the Municipalities commemorations in 2014 of the 100th anniversary of the 1st World War and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. To this end, anything that could be discovered about the crew would add to the story of the McCaskill boys within these commemorations.

Guy got back to me a few weeks ago with some more information that he had found with help of Jared at Archives New Zealand. He has also made contact with the sister of Ron Smith and hopes to find some more information from her.

The first interesting thing to note is that originally, Ronald was lasted as Reginald……

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the strange coincidences that seem to regularly occur within this blog, a few days later I was contacted by Russell, cousin of Douglas McCaskill – who, thanks to Russell, we now know actually to be Donald McCaskill. Russell had come across the post and was struck by the information contained within it – he had been bought up on tales that Donald had managed to keep his plane aloft long enough for the crew to bail out – when reading a 75(NZ) Squadron history several years ago was quite stunned to find that the whole crew had in fact perished.

Russell came back very quickly with the pages of Donald’s logbook that covered his stay with the Squadron and ended so tragically on the night 15th April 1943.

McCaskill_19430317-0328

He also supplied me with information that he had gathered from Errol Martyn’s excellent published research.

Excerpt from Errol Martyn’s trilogy For Your Tomorrow – A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services since 1915 (Volume Two: Fates 1943-1998):

Wed 14/Thu 15 Apr 1943
BOMBER COMMAND
Raid on Stuttgart, Germany (by 462 aircraft – 25 lost) . . .
75 (NZ) Squadron, RAF (Newmarket, Suffolk – 3 Group)
Stirling III BF513/E – took off at 2132 and shot down by a night-fighter over Belgium at 0225, crashing near Regniéssart, 27km south of Florennes, where the seven crew are buried.
Captain: NZ413573 Plt Off Donald Gordon McCASKILL, RNZAF – Age 19. 444hrs. 7th op.
Navigator: NZ42295 Plt Off James Kennedy GRAINGER, RNZAF – Age 21. 249hrs. 4th op.
Rear Gunner: NZ415378 Sgt Ronald Alexander SMITH, RNZAF – Age 21. 168hrs. 4th op.

And from Vol Three (Biographies & Appendices):

Pilot Officer Donald Gordon McCaskill
NZ413573; b Wgtn 11 Oct 23; Nelson Coll; student. RNZAF Ohakea as Aircrafthand (AMD) 23 Jun 41, ITW 6 Nov 41, remust as Airman Pilot u/t 11 Nov 41, 2EFTS 20 Dec 41, 3SFTS 7 Feb 42, 1SFTS 8 Mar 42, Pilots Badge [wef 4.4.42] & Sgt 13 Jun 42, att RAF & emb for UK 22 Jun 42, 3PRC 30 Jul 42, 3(P)AFU 18 Aug 42 [att 1519BATF for c.1 wk in Sep], 11OTU (Wellington) 27 Oct 42, 1657HCU (Stirling) 29 Jan 43 [att 90 Sqn (Stirling – 1 op) c.18-25 Feb, att 214 Sqn (Stirling – 1 op) c.26-27 Feb], Comm 21 Feb 43, 75(NZ)Sqn (Stirling – 5 ops) 14 Mar 43, kao 15 Apr 43. Florennes Communal Cemetery – 2.27, Namur, Belgium. Son of Lt Col Gordon Milton McCaskill & Mrs Gwendolyn Lillian McCaskill (née Rogers), Palm Nth. [OHT2 & phot. TWN 7.7.43].

Note: ‘TWN’ refers to the New Zealand publication The Weekly News. There is a small photo of McCaskill featured in its illustrated pages of 7 Jul 43. A scan of the photo can be obtained from the Air Force Museum of New Zealand for a small fee – info@airforcemuseum.co.nz

Pilot Officer James Kennedy Grainger
NZ42295; b Shannon 1 Jan 22; Napier BHS; clerk – NZ Police, Wgtn. NZ Army/TF (NZ Scottish Regt) 9 mths; RNZAF Levin/ITW as Air Observer u/t 24 Jan 42, emb for Canada 5 Apr 42, att RCAF 30 Apr 42, 5 M Depôt 1 May 42, 1AOS 10 May 42, remust as Air Navigator u/t 7 Jun 42, Air Observers Badge [in lieu Air Navigators Badge] & Sgt 11 Sep 42, 1 Y Depôt 22 Sep 42, att RAF & emb for UK 25 Sep 42, 3PRC 9 Oct 42, 11OTU (Wellington) 28 Oct 42, 1657HCU (Stirling) 31 Jan 43, Comm 21 Feb 43, 75(NZ)Sqn (Stirling – 4 ops) 14 Mar 43, kao 15 Apr 43. Florennes Communal Cemetery – 2. coll. grave 22-26, Namur, Belgium. Son of William Kennedy & Ida Grainger Thomasina (née Main), Napier.

Sergeant Ronald Alexander Smith
NZ415378; b Lauriston 29 Oct 21; Ashburton HS (1st XI/XV); clerical cadet – ‘NZ Govt’, Wgtn. NZ Army/TF 10 mths; RNZAF Levin/ITW as Airman Pilot u/t 30 Sep 41, 1EFTS 8 Nov 41, emb for Canada 8 Jan 42, att RCAF 3 Feb 42, 1 M Depôt 5 Feb 42, 14SFTS 15 Feb 42, pilot trg terminated, KTS, remust as Air Observer u/t 29 May 42, remust as Air Gunner u/t 10 Jun 42, 4BGS 21 Jun 42, Air Gunners Badge & Sgt 14 Aug 42, 34OTU (Ventura) 11 Sep 42 [cancelled?], 1 Y Depôt 15 Sep 42, att RAF & emb for UK 25 Sep 42, 3PRC 9 Oct 42, 11OTU (Wellington) 28 Oct 42, 1657HCU (Stirling) 1 Feb 43, 75(NZ)Sqn (Stirling – 4 ops) 14 Mar 43, kao 15 Apr 43. Florennes Communal Cemetery – 2. coll. grave 22-26, Namur, Belgium. Son of David Watson & Agnes Adelaide Smith (née Doyle), Ashburton.

The crew were buried at 1900hrs on the 16th.

View Donald’s logbook here.