Tag Archives: RNZAF

A very long shot, but…………………………

Many thanks to Jo for contacting me about a photograph that came into her possession. She knows nothing about the individual in the photograph and the only extra information available is that it was taken at some point by the Paramount Studios in Winnipeg, Canada.

As with all of these things, it’s an incredibly long-shot, but if anyone knows or has a suggestion as to who this individual might be, please get in touch, Jo is keen to return it to a family if it is possible.

Please everybody, share this as much as you can and lets see if we can achieve the impossible!

Roll of Honour artwork now available

Roundel comp copy2

After a steady stream of enquiries regarding the Roll of Honour artwork that I posted last week on Remembrance Sunday, I am pleased to announce it is in now available in the online store. As well as the original RAF Roundel design I have added another 3 variants, commemorating those who died flying with the RNZAF, RAAF and RCAF. A few people asked about this sort of design, but with only the names of the airmen from that country. I feel, as the boys flew and died together, they should be kept together as well.

The artwork is available on either t-shirts based on a suitably restrained colour palette or a series of high quality art prints, ranging from poster to metal plate. As with all other items in the shop – all profits will be donated to the Memorial Garden fund.

Get to the Roll of Honour collection here.

Andrew John “Jack” Moller RNZAF NZ411770 – Air Bomber. 1942

LogbookJackMoller-11

Many thanks also to Tony for contributing his Father’s logbook to the collection. The presented document covers initial training and ‘Jack’s’ tour with 75(NZ) Squadron between June and September 1942. Their full tour was cut slightly short. 3 Ops short of 30 the crew volunteered for PFF duties and left the Squadron after their 27th Op. Ultimately Jack was destined to complete 57 Ops, including his tour with 156 Sqdn (PFF), where he was awarded the DFM.

View Jack Mollers logbook here

Andrew John “Jack” Moller DFM, Bomb Aimer – Kearns crew

Jack-training

Andrew John ‘Jack’ Moller, taken during training.
Copyright Tony Moller.

Many thanks to Tony for very kindly helping Chris in putting together this history of his Father, Jack Moller and the Kearns crew, who he flew with during whilst at Feltwell with 75(NZ) Squadron.

As always, I’ll let Chris tell the story, which has a personal connection………

I first met Jack Moller back in 1971 – he was my very first boss, and manager of the butter factory that gave me a summer job before university started. He was a real character, and a great story-teller. My strongest memory of Jack is holding court with a glass of beer in his hand at a Friday after-work “do”, in the middle of some long yarn, with people around him folding up with laughter.

I knew back then that he had been in the RAF, but it was only very recently, when I read Max Lambert’s “Night After Night“, that I realised he had flown with 75 (NZ) Squadron. Sadly he has since passed away, but my good friend Google told me that the Air Force Museum of New Zealand held a copy of his memoirs and logbook. Then I managed to make contact with his son Tony, who has very kindly loaned me copies of these, and other material from Jack’s extensive collection. The memoirs were 21 hand-written pages that Tony found after his Dad had gone; some wonderful anecdotes from the past.

So many thanks to Tony Moller for these photos, logbook and memoirs, and thanks also to the Air Force Museum of New Zealand, for initial permission to reproduce Jack’s memoirs and logbook. It is a privilege to be able to pass on the achievements and memories of a fine man, and an outstanding crew, who contributed more than their share to the war effort.

The Kearns crew had met up and trained at 11 OTU Bassingbourne, and then at 23 OTU Pershore.  Jack Moller, from Hawera, had originally trained in Canada as a Wireless Operator but due to a surplus of those at the OTU, he re-trained as a Bomb Aimer.

His crew were all Kiwis; Pilot Terry Kearns, (Reefton, West Coast South Island); Navigator John “Hone” Barclay (Dunedin); Wireless Operator Morrie Egerton (Winton); Rear Gunner Buck Price (Waraniwa, Southland). They had already completed two op’s by the time they arrived at 75 (NZ) Squadron, as crews under training had been pulled in to make up numbers in the first two Thousand Bomber Raids, to Cologne and Essen.

The Kearns crew was posted for operational flying to 75 (NZ) Squadron, Feltwell, Norfolk, on 17 June 1942.

The crew was:
Sgt Richard Stansfield Derek “Terry” KEARNS, RNZAF (NZ405572), Pilot (later Sqn Ldr DSO, DFC, DFM pff)
Sgt William John Muir Low “Hone” BARCLAY, RNZAF (NZ404454), Navigator (later F/L DFC, DFM pff)
F/Sgt Morris Watson “Morrie” EGERTON, RNZAF (NZ41576), Wireless Operator (later F/O DFM pff)
F/Sgt Andrew John “Jack” MOLLER, RNZAF (NZ411770), Front Gunner/Bomb Aimer (later F/O DFM pff)
F/Sgt Harold Ernest Anzac “Buck” PRICE, RNZAF (NZ405505), Rear Gunner. (later P/O DFM pff)

Operational history:
20.6.42. War Ops
– Attack Against Targets at Emden.
Sgt. Kearns 2nd Pilot with F/S John Wilmhurt’s crew.

25.6.42. War Ops – Bremen – Thousand Bomber Raid.
Wellington Mk.III X3597 AA-C “Charlie”
Up 23.25/ Down 04.25
From Kearns logbook: “Attacked by Three ME 110s – Evasive Action Successful”.

28.6.42. War Ops – St. Nazaire/ Bremen.
Wellington Mk.III X3597 AA-C “Charlie”
Up 23.40/ Down 06.45
From Moller logbook: “Sticky trip

From Jack’s memoirs:
Briefed to Bomb the U Boat pens at ST. NAZAIRE with 17 x 250lb armour piercing bombs. The pens had about 30’ of concrete above them hence the AP bombs as normal bombs would be like fire crackers.

Flak heavy and some sticky moments on our bombing run. After we cleared the target Terry took the Wimpy down to 0’ level and we skimmed  over the shore line which was heavily defended.

I was in the front turret and ahead of us I could see these 3 white wakes and yelled to Terry to pull up fast, depressed my guns and let drive, as did Buck in the rear turret. There was a crash at the rear of the a/craft and the intercom went dead so I went to the rear turret and pulled Buck out and helped him up to the astrodome. I said where are you hit Buck and he said up the arse. It appeared that we had run over a few E boats and a shell from one of their Oerlikons had exploded just under the rear turret and Buck copped about 9 pieces of shrapnel up his leg and arse.

We were well over the Channel by then and I gave Buck a jab of Morphine and put a marked ticket around his neck.

The rear turret was out of commission with holes everywhere. A great sight for our chaps when we limped home were the White Cliffs of Dover, as we knew if we could get over them we were on our own pad. So many of our boys finished up in the Channel.

29.6.42. War Ops – Bremen.
Wellington Mk.III X3714 AA-W
Up 23.40/ Down 05.00
Sgt. J.E. Ford replaces the injured Harry Price as R/Gnr.

2.7.42. War Ops – Bremen.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 23.40/ Down 05.00
F/S Eric Wilson replaces Sgt. Ford as R/Gnr.

7.7.42. Gardening – Frisian Islands.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.10/ Down 05.10
Sgt. Ford returns as R/Gnr.

From Jack’s memoirs:
“We also did several mining trips to the Frisian Islands. We would take 2 mines and say 3 x 500lb bombs. The mines would be dropped from about 1500’ by parachute in the German shipping lanes. I believe several ships were lost by this method. One of the hazards of this operation was running into a flak ship which were heavily armed and at 1500’ we were sitting ducks. The 3 x 500lb bombs were to have a bit of fun with and to be dropped on anything of our choice and just to be a bloody nuisance. If we didn’t use our bombs we would drop them in the sea on the way home.”

8.7.42. War Ops – Wilhemshaven.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.00/ Down 05.00

10.7.42. War Ops – Dusseldorf. (daylight, recalled)
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 15.30/ Down 17.10

From Jack’s memoirs:
“Took off at Feltwell with 9 x 500lb bombs to bomb Dusseldorf. Weather was very bad and after an hr and 40 mins received a BBA (Back to Base). Weather by now was atrocious and 10/10 cloud with low cloud base. Had one hell of a job to locate station. Received instructions to drop bombs safe at dumping area but impossible to locate this area. Dumped a lot of gas and Terry decided to try and land with bombs on.

Feltwell was a grass runway and every time he tried to brake the the tail came up and we started to nose in. Overshot the runway and went through the barb-wire perimeter, ploughed through a sand-bagged Bofors gun emplacement and finally finished up between two Oak trees. I was standing up alongside Terry and got a nasty crack on my head when we hit the emplacement. Blood all over my face. We carefully left the aircraft (Well Mark 3) and were greeted by a lot of station staff who had rushed over. When they noticed that the bomb doors had been ripped off and the 9 x 500lb bombs were covered in barb-wire, sand bags and rubbish, they slowly filtered away.

A lot of them hadn’t realised we still had the bombs on board. I received a lot of sympathy for my blood covered face but it was only a small cut, but bled like hell. Have often told this story and it’s amazing how many people have said to me …”Did the bombs go off?””

13.7.42. War Ops – Duisberg.
Wellington Mk.III X3751 AA-P
Up 00.35/ Down 05.30

14.7.42 Minelaying – Frisian Islands / Terschelling
Wellington Mk.III X3751 AA-P
Up 22.55/ Down 01.40

23.7.42 Duisberg
Wellington Mk.III X3714 AA-W
Up 00.55/ Down 04.40
Harry Price returns as R/Gnr.

25.7.42 Duisberg
Wellington Mk.III X3714 AA-W
Up 00.30/ Down 04.40

26.7.42 Hamburg
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.35/ Down 05.35

From “Night After Night” by Max Lambert:
“The Kearns team flew both Hamburg raids, their 14th and 15th ops. Moller, a youthful 19, had the time of his life the first night, Their Wellington – in the first wave with a load of incendiaries for starting fires to light up the target for the follow-up bombers – was coned by searchlights over the city. Kearns dived steeply, down to rooftop level, before flattening out. At one stage they were so low they roared under high tension cables strung below pylons. Moller laughs as he remembers.   “As we went under, Terry lifted the nose so the big tail would drop and not snag the cables. We got through OK.”

As they flew off, Moller and Price fought an exciting and exhilarating private battle with searchlight crews. The Germans depressed their lights, looking for the cheeky bomber they could hear but not see. Whenever they got a chance – and there were plenty because the city was studded with belts of lights – the gunners turned their barrels down the beams and clattered off hundreds of rounds.   Says Moller:

“When we hit them, the lights exploded with a brilliant flash of whites and pinks and went out. The ones I missed, Buck got from the rear turret. I think we shared seven lights between us that night. It was very satisfying. We were young and shouted out when the lights blew up.   We were like kids who do wheelies today. Something in our systems we had to get rid of”.

Moller and his mates exulted again when they knocked out a machine gun post firing at them from alongside a searchlight. Moller took aim and cut down a German who jumped out of the gun pit and dashed across the paddock: “I gave him a burst and bowled him over.” “

From Jack’s memoirs:
“This was a particularly bad raid and in all we lost 6 aircraft, which contained 27 Kiwis and 3 Poms from our squadron. These were mates of ours who we had left NZ with, and trained in Canada, and finally on to the NZ Squadron. We were quite dazed and sure started to realise that war was for real. Incidentally over the target aircraft were going down in flames all around us. This was a balls up as we expected a saturation raid with about 600 aircraft, but for some reason all Groups except 3 Group were given a BBA (Return to Base) early on in the raid and we went in like sitting ducks. When we found out what had happened the mood on the Sqdn was quite mutinous and Bill Jordan the NZ High Commissioner was sent down from London to pacify the NZ airmen. Those are the little incidents in war-time that don’t go into print.”

28.7.42 Hamburg
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.40/ Down 05.00
(75 (NZ) Sqdn lost six a/c on this op’)

29.7.42 Saarbrucken
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.10/ Down 04.20
Sgt. William George Henry White replaces Harry Price as R/Gnr.

From Kearns logbook: “Load 1 x 1000lb, 7 x 500lb, 2 x 250lb. Bombs in Target – No Searchlights – Flak Weak – One Ju 88 Encountered – Close Call.

From the ORB:
Ten a/c were detailed to attack the above target and bomb load of 4000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in target area. Hits were observed in target area. A.A. fire was weak and searchlights were scarce. A twin engined fighter was seen on return route. Well. III, X3396, captain. Sgt. Kearns, was attacked by a JU88 but evaded it. Weather was cloudy. Navigation by TR and DR.

31.7.42. War Ops – Dusseldorf.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.20/ Down 04.15

4.8.42. War Ops – Essen.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.45/ Down 01.50

6.8.42. War Ops – Duisburg.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 01.25/ Down 05.00

9.8.42. War Ops – Osnabruck.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 00.20/ Down 04.40

11.8.42. War Ops – Mainz.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.40/ Down 03.40

12.8.42. War Ops – Mainz.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.25/ Down 04.40

From Jack’s memoirs: “On above dates we were briefed to bomb Mainz which was a mainly wooden built town in Germany. This first raid on 11.8.42 was mainly incendiaries to set fire to this old wooden city and the 1st raid was a great success with huge fires being started. The flak was heavy as usual but managed to get in, bomb and away again.

On the 12.8.42 we were loaded up with High Explosive bombs and ordered to stir the old fires and ashes up. On arriving near the target area we struck 10/10 cloud and had to hunt around for a while, and lo and behold right over the city was a big hole in the cloud which had been formed by the previous night’s fires causing an updraft. It was an amazing sight as I looked down from my bombing position and it looked like a huge carpet of gleaming coals. Reminded me of a toasting fire of coals when I was a boy.

Dropped my bombs in amongst the fires and got a good photo of the city, or what was left of it. I believe the water mains were badly damaged in the first raid and the fires had raged through the city out of control. All in all this was a very successful raid.”

15.8.42 From Moller logbook: ”Shifted to Mildenhall”

17.8.42. War Ops – Osnabruck.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 22.30/ Down 03.05

24.8.42. War Ops – Frankfurt.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 21.20/ Down 02.35
From Moller logbook: “Attacked by FW190”.
From the ORB: Several enemy aircraft were seen and one aircraft, X3396, came under attack by an Fw190, which was unsuccessful.

27.8.42. War Ops – Kassel
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 20.45/ Down 03.15
F/S Henry Rousseau flies with crew as 2nd Pilot.
From Moller logbook: “Attacked by ME110 drove him off from front turret”.

28.8.42. War Ops – Nurnburg.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 20.45/ Down 04.20
Sgt. Eric Lees flies with crew as 2nd Pilot.

1.9.42. War Ops –  Saarbrucken.
Wellington Mk.III X3396 AA-R
Up 23.35/ Down 05.05
Sgt. James Law flies with crew as 2nd Pilot.

Note: After having logged 49 flights (operational and non-operational) in “their own” Wellington X3396 AA-R over a period of two months, this aircraft was shot down over Emden only two days later, with all crew lost.

This was the Kearns crew’s final op’ on 75 (NZ) Squadron; they had completed 27, and after 3 more, would have earned a 6 month break from operations. However they had volunteered for the brand new Path Finder Force  and were immediately posted to 156 (Path Finder Force) Squadron, Warboys, where they completed their “tour” after 57 op’s.

KearnsCrew

The Kearns crew at Warboys, Jack centre, Terry Kearns next to him, third from left. The school had donated the life raft from the proceeds of a penny trail.
Copyright Tony Moller.

After this, Jack went on to a training post at 21 OTU, Moreton-in-Marsh, ending up with a total of 479 hours and 5 minutes of flying time and the Award of the D.F.M.

Jack-crop

Copyright Tony Moller.

Excerpt from the book “By Such Deeds”, by Colin Hanson:
MOLLER, Flying Officer Andrew John, DFM, (pff) NZ411770; Born Hawera, 31 Mar 1922; RNZAF 15 Mar 1941 to 27 Feb 1945; Bomb Aimer Citation Distinguished Flying Medal (14 Apr 1943): [156 (PFF) Squadron RAF (Wellington)] Flight Sergeant Moller is a most keen and determined bomb aimer who has achieved a fine operational record. His skill has been responsible for much of the success gained by his crew. His knowledge and grasp of his duties are remarkable.

Kearns and Barclay continued on for another tour with 617 “Dambusters” Squadron.

More about Terry Kearns and his amazing career here: http://rnzaf.proboards.com/thread/15273/terry-kearns?page=2