Tag Archives: Roderick Bruce Crawford

75(NZ) Squadron and ND801 in print…….!

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Something perhaps a little different, but nevertheless very much worth telling and an opportunity to get the Squadron name known by more people.

Off the back of the fantastic pictures that Pauline sent to me, now over 12 months ago, regarding her father, Mike Smith, Rear Gunner with Bruce Crawford’s crew, I was contacted by Christian from the German scale modelling magazine ‘Jet and Prop’.

Recently, two internationally renown manufacturers of model kits announced a work over / new release of Avro Lancaster (B) Mk. III kits. While HK-Models features a giant 1/32 scale version, Tamiya launched a 1/48 kit. These aircraft are amazingly big and of incredible detail. Having come across the post, Christian was sure that his readers would firstly love to know about ND801 and would find the photograph of its final demise in the Bakery an irresistible opportunity for a super detailed diorama.

What follows is the article, presented in the July/ August edition of Jets and Props.

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So, we will have to wait to see if any of the readers of Jet and Prop rise to the challenge to model the crash of ND801 ‘Get Sum Inn’!

Earlier posts on the Crawford and Waugh crew and ND801 ‘Get Sum Inn’ can be seen here:
Arthur George Smith, Mid Upper Gunner – Crawford crew, 1944 – 1945 here
The Crawford crew – some new information here
Colin Woonton, Navigator – Waugh crew and ND801’Astra’ here

A break in Brighton…..

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Many thanks to Noel for reacting so quickly to last nights post about the Crawford crew with this wonderful picture of Bruce Crawford, Noel Thorpe and Noel’s Dad, Wynn Russell.

Noel says that the photograph was taken in Brighton in March 1944 with the caption ‘note the crowns‘ – clearly a hint that they are all Flight Sergeants. Based on the date of this visit to Brighton, it was certainly when Noel Thorpe was at No. 3 (P) A.F.U. – we must assume that therefore, Bruce and Wynn arrived in the UK at the same time and also were at No. 3 at the same time.

Clearly the boys were close and must have literally moved through training along side each other – arriving at 75(NZ) Squadron on the 21st, 30th and 31st of December 1944  respectively.

Tragically the 3 friends would not see the end of the War together. On the 26th of February 1945, whilst in formation over base, having returned from Dortmund, ME450 AA-W appeared to lose power in its starboard engines and whilst in a gentle right turn, the aircraft lost height and crashed North West of the airfield near the village of Chatteris at 16:10. As well as Noel Thorpe, the Navigator George William McManus, Joseph McKenzie Alfred the Air Bomber and Frederick Henry Saffill the Mid Upper Gunner were killed in the crash.

 

The Crawford crew – some new information

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The Crawford crew – left to right, back row ( I believe) : Francis Geoffrey Boulton (Navigator), Sgt. C. Bullock (Air Bomber), Roderick Bruce Crawford (Skipper), Sgt. J. Tutty (Rear Gunner) & Sgt. D. Scott (Wireless Operator). Front row, left to right: Sgt. R. Allred, Flight Engineer & Arthur George Smith (Mid Upper Gunner) © Rosalind Ebbrell

It never ceases to amaze and please me when, after a post, a relative of another of the crew contacts me. I have to confess, Rosalind probably broke all records to date, when after posting the story about Arthur Smith, the Crawford crew and the crash of ND801 ‘Get Sum Inn’ she had placed a comment on the post within 30mins! I am a little ashamed that I have only just got round to posting this remarkable set of photographs of Rosalind’s Father and the rest of the Crawford crew.

Rosalind’s Father was Francis Geoffrey Boulton, Navigator with the Crawford crew. Known as Geoff, he suffered a broken neck in the February 3rd crash and this explains  his absence from the last recorded flight by the crew on the 26th of May 1945 (Form 541).

Ros has passed on a number of photographs and a puzzle exists in terms of who is in some these photographs if we subtract Geoff, Bruce Crawford and Mike Smith……..

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Geoff Boulton, sat front row, 4th from left. © Rosalind Ebbrell

Taken obviously at some point through Geoff’s training, in my mind, the white flashes on the caps and the generally plump and happy demeanor of the individuals in the photograph suggest that this might actually be No 1 Aircrew Reception Centre, RAF Regent’s Park.

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© Rosalind Ebbrell

This second picture of Geoff, is possibly from his trade training – none of the individuals in the picture, apart from the chap with his hands on the shoulders of the little boy, have brevets or stripes – both awarded after this stage of training, prior to crew formation at O.T.U.

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© Rosalind Ebbrell

My suspicion is that these 2 pictures are also from Geoff’s time, training as a Navigator.

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© Rosalind Ebbrell

As will all trainee aircrew, after completion of ‘trade training’, he would have gone To O.T.U, formed into a crew, progressed through a Conversion Unit and at this point in the War, completed a final week at a Lancaster Finishing School, before being posted to an OPerational Squadron – in the case of Geoff and the rest of his crew, 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, Mepal, Cambridgeshire.

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Picture 1 – The Crawford crew: from Left to Right (I think) Sgt. R. Allred, Geoff Boulton, Sgt. C. Bullock, Bruce Crawford, Sgt. J. Tutty, Sgt. D. Scott and Arthur Smith.

The following 2 images (above and below) provided me with enough to go on, in terms of known individuals and visible brevets to make a stab at identifying all the airmen in the photographs. My logic was as follows, based on the known identities of 3 – Geoff the Navigator, Bruce Crawford the Pilot and Arthur Smith the Rear Gunner. Picture 1 (top image) – obviously I have begun with Bruce, Geoff and Arthur. At this point I did not know who the other members of the crew in this photograph were.

Picture 2 – Looking at the individuals to the right of this photograph, the airman second in has what appears to be a 2 letter brevet (uniform badge). This means he is the other air gunner in the crew, thus, I believe Sgt. J. Tutty.

The airman on the far right of the photograph I think has a ‘B’ brevet – thus I think he is Sgt. C. Bullock. The airman on the far left of the picture seems to have a WOAG (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) badge on his right shoulder – I think therefore he is the Wireless Operator Sgt. D. Scott. By a process of simple elimination this means that the 7th member in the top picture is missing from this lower photograph and thus must be Sgt. R. Allred, the crew’s Flight Engineer. Based on this, I then named the individuals in Picture 1

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Picture 2 the Crawford crew:from left to right (again I think) Sgt. R. Allred, Arthur Smith, Bruce Crawford, Geoff Boulton, Sgt. J. Tutty and Sgt C. Bullock. © Rosalind Ebbrell

This third group photograph has provided far more discussion in the Sommerville household. Bev’s vehement refusal to believe the individual on the front row far right was Arthur Smith, finally was infact proved to be correct – having latterly shown the image to Arthur’s daughter Pauline, she also felt this wasn’t Arthur.

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© Rosalind Ebbrell

After the Dormund crash on the 3rd of February 1945, The Crawford crew did not fly together again until the 25th of May. On this Op, Geoff was still absent and his position of Navigator was taken by P/O McGarry. Geoff returned to the crew, first under taking a formation flying exercise on the 15th June 1944. Three more training flights took place during the rest of June.

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© Rosalind Ebbrell

Through July of ’44, Geoff and at least Bruce, flew another 4 times – interestingly, the logbook page for July seems to suggest through the ‘Summary for 75 NZ Squadron’ that perhaps at this point the crew’s time with the Squadron was at an end – I have never seen however a final tally entry like this, only to then see another flight after it – perhaps an indication of the lack of necessary immediacy to ‘get out’, now the War in Europe, at least, was 2 months over………

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© Rosalind Ebbrell

The crew history that I originally posted in my first post about the Crawford crew and ND801 “Get Summ Inn’  (here) shows that certainly the 2 gunners in the crew, Arthur Smith and Sgt. Tutty completed a number of Ops after Dortmund, both surviving the crash relatively unscathed. This might in some part suggest at least their absence from this picture.

Frustratingly, Form 541 ceases to exist at the beginning of July, so unless we hear from someone else, it might be difficult to put names to the faces in this last photograph.

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A picture of the ‘Skipper’ Roderick Bruce Crawford. © Rosalind Ebbrell

I am aware, though not of the specific details of Geoff’s career after his time in 75(NZ) Squadron, but the final photograph shows Geoff and 3 unknown individuals in sunnier climes, in front of the Taj Mahal in India – now sporting an “R.A.F. moustache”

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Geoff Boulton, by this time, ex-Navigator with the Crawford crew, second from left. © Rosalind Ebbrell

 

 

B Flight Pilots, June 1945.

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B Flight No. 75 (NZ) Squadron, Mepal, June 1945 – NZBCA archives, Ivan Carroll collection.

Thanks as always to Chris for doing a bit of detective work on this photograph of ‘B’ Flight Pilots, taken in June 1945 and generously passed on by Peter from the NZBCA archives.

Flying Officer Ivan Carroll arrived at Mepal on 13 March 1945, flew his first op’ on 18 March, and stayed on with the Squadron after VE Day for Tiger Force training at Spilsby until 29 September.

This is the first formal group photo I have seen from the immediate post-war period.

The photo is a little worse for wear, but nevertheless a great shot of the Pilots who made up B Flight, just after the war ended, and for once we can put faces to all the names- luckily for us, Ivan wrote them on the back:
B-Flight-Pilots-June1945-reverse

Back row: F/O Bruce Crawford (F/O Roderick Bruce Crawford, RNZAF, NZ427551), F/O John Young (F/O John Simpson Young, RNZAF, NZ4213650), Self (F/O Ivan Silvester Carroll, RNZAF, NZ4213254), F/O Hardie (F/L William Leslie Hardie, RNZAF, NZ 428111), F/S Daly (F/O Alfred George Daly, RNZAF, NZ4211789), F/O Don Shearer (P/O Donald Babington Shearer, RNZAF, NZ4210512), F/O Pete Trevarthen (F/O Peter Lloyd Trevarthen, RNZAF, NZ429974).
Front row: F/O Alan Baynes (F/O Allan Ralph Baynes, RNZAF. NZ427453), F/L Charlie Stevens (F/Lt Charles Mackenzie Stevens, RNZAF, NZ4210535), S/Ldr Ballingall (Sqn Ldr. Alexander Stewart Ballingall, RNZAF, NZ2286, B Flight Commander), F/Lt Rus Banks (F/Lt Russell Ashley Banks, RNZAF, NZ416437), F/O Bill (Tubby) Evenden (F/O William Evenden, RAF, 1337365, 196039).

As always, thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn., for permission to reproduce this photo.

See this photograph within the ‘Group Photographs’ section of the blog here.

ND801 JN-X ‘Get Sum Inn’, 86 Ops – QED

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From Form 541 75(NZ) Squadron RAF 03.2.45. Attack Against Dortmund “Aircraft crashed on landing. Pilot, Nav, W/Operator, Engineer and A/Bomber injured and in hospital. Prt. Outr. Failed prior to reaching target and overshot on landing. Camera completely wrecked”. © Pauline Whittall

There was perhaps inevitably, a high level of interest in the post I made a few weeks back regarding the final fate of ND801 JN-X. If not for the astonishing pictures supplied by Pauline showing the aircraft’s final resting place in a chicken shed on the edge of the airfield, then for not only the identification of another 75(NZ) Squadron RAF Lancaster with nose art (unicorn rarity springs to mind), but also a clear OP count – 85 painted, sadly the 86th shown in this picture.

ND801 is (frustratingly) notable for being one of the few Lancasters from the Squadron with identifiable nose art and a name of ‘Get Sum Inn’, perhaps the style of the artwork and the name suggests a reference to a pub, or having a pint generally. The origin of this artwork will probably never be know, though looking at the operational history, it would appear that relatively early in ND801’s flying career, she became the relatively regular mount of Colin Megson’s crew (21 Ops). Latterly, a similar level of frequency can be seen after the Megson crews departure from flying ‘801 ( though they were to be on base longer) by Tom Waugh’s crew, who flew 16 Ops in her.

A high count Lancaster from this period in the war, such as ND 801of course poses the tantalising question of whether she would have ever reached her ton, or even overtaken NE181, JN-M, ‘The Captains Fancy. Well, obviously she didn’t, but statistic fans might be interested to know  that at the point ND801 and Bruce Crawford’s crew crashed on the 3rd of February 1945, ‘Mike’ had clocked up her 98th the day before to Weisbaden. Perhaps more interestingly, at this same point, there were some other Lancasters that were also accumulating high totals – LM544 was on 86 also ME751 AA-M had reached 75 and HK562 AA-L was on 74 (all figures subject to final checking and revisions to database).

Readers will have, no doubt, got bored with my now regular wittering about the ‘Form 541 database’ that I have slowly been chipping away at over now the last 14 or so months. This morning I realised I had just added the a/c and pilot details for the 3rd of February 1945. Deciding to test the contents of the database I filtered in the serial number no. column and low and behold got 86 Ops for ND801, which, to be honest I am astonished by.

I suppose I am saying all of this to make a number of observations. Firstly, the full Op list for ND801 was generated, as opposed to found. I make this observation and differentiation because I think its significant. Up until now (and in real terms I will have to continue for a while), when someone requests information on a relative, I have to essentially trawl through the ORB’s, looking for a crew. Now this activity in itself is wrought with problems. Firstly, you are ‘looking’ for, normally a Pilots name, at the top of the crew list – looking for things assumes you find all that you are looking for. More problematically, whilst you might note a change in a member of a crew, its very difficult to find if a member of the ‘subject’ crew might have flown a ‘fill in’ for another crew – this level of analysis, is simply beyond my time, unless I am aware that this is the case. From my experience, I know the ORB’s are littered with errors, ranging from incorrect initials to the completely chaotic, non consecutive ordering of pages – from recent typing I have discovered that Tim Blewett, Pilot, is consistently listed in the Form 541 with a first initial of ‘J’. these typographical errors become more acute when you deal with the aircraft serial codes – a case in point relating to ND801 – in place she is listed as ‘NF801’ – only by cross referencing Ian’s amazing database on the blog was I able to satisfy myself that in the absence of another ‘NF’ aircraft with a similar number, that these entries were in fact ND801. Sad to say that these errors and others are repeated in other documents, so the process of categorically confirming the identity of a certain aircraft within the ORB’s is at best time consuming and I fear perhaps on occasions to come, even maybe impossible.

The data base is still a long way off being complete in terms of even basic information. My creative left sided brain decided to begin the whole activity at the beginning of 1943 – I guess because Dad joined the Squadron for his first tour in that year, so eagle eyed readers that noted my reference to completing the Dortmund raid of 3rd February 1945 shouldn’t get too excited – when 1945 is complete, I have to go back and do 1940, 1941 and 1942…….

Whilst portions of the database contain full information – target a/c serial, Pilot, Nav, AB, W/Op, FE, MuG and R/Gnr, a significant portion does not yet. Quickly I realised in terms of raw usable and extractable information it was better to focus on Target, a/c and Pilot. In addition to this, the ‘up’, ‘down’ times have to be added.

I estimate that based on work and sleep, there is probably another 2 years of work to complete the basic database – obviously once this is complete, a full history for aircraft, crews and individuals will be able to generated. How this is done I am not sure – it might provide the tipping point regarding the much muttered about website to replace the blog. My gut feeling is that a searchable database is not the way forward – whilst I am and always will be keen to share anything I have, there is a difference between information and time – this database will represent too significant an investment in time to simply allow people to hoover it all up – and I will not let that happen.

Ian Chris and I have been in some discussions over the last few months regarding expanding the A/C datbase to include images – it strikes me, with the creation of the Op history for ND 801, an individual page for each aircraft of the Squadron might be the way forward. Based on my magnificent presentation of ONE aircraft to this point, I have added a shell section below the 3 aircraft types and under it an ‘ND series’ page that links then directly to at this moment just ND801 – but hopefully this will grow.

I’m interested in your feedback and thoughts

View the Operational history of ND801 JN-X ‘Get Sum Inn’ here

cheers

Simon

Arthur George Smith, Mid Upper Gunner – Crawford crew, 1944 – 1945

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From Form 541 75(NZ) Squadron RAF 03.2.45. Attack Against Dortmund “Aircraft crashed on landing. Pilot, Nav, W/Operator, Engineer and A/Bomber injured and in hospital. Prt. Outr. Failed prior to reaching target and overshot on landing. Camera completely wrecked”. © Pauline Whittall

Many thanks to Pauline for contacting me regarding her Father, Arthur George ‘Mike’ Smith, Mid Upper Gunner with Bruce Crawford’s crew. As is often the case when a relative contacts me about a member of aircrew who served with the RAF, its an opportunity to add a christian and usually a middle name to the usual initials that exist within the RAF records for the Squadron. In addition to this small but nevertheless important extra piece of information that Pauline has supplied, she has also provided an additional and I believe, a significant new piece of information relating to the Lancasters that flew with the Squadron.

It has always been a considerable frustration, relative to other blogs and websites on other bomber squadrons, that the record of names and nose art for 75(NZ) Squadron aircraft seems to be so scant. Well, it would appear that we have a new one to add to our list – Lancaster Mk.III ND801 JN-X ‘Get Sum Inn’ – the nose art seems to be a flag, the vertical pole clearly visible, but on closer inspection there also seems to be a horizontal bar with ties to the top of the flag. In the bottom left hand corner, its difficult to see if there is a small additional detail or perhaps just damage to the nose art owing to the crash. Additionally, its interesting to note 2 other things, firstly ND801 had racked up 85 Ops (perhaps this was number 86) and also that the bomb tallies clearly are made up of darker and lighter bomb silhouettes – I will stick my neck out at this point and hazard a guess that these possibly distinguish daylight and night Ops…..

The Crawford crew arrived at Mepal on the 21st of December 1944, from No.31 Base. 6 days later Roderick Crawford, the skipper, flew a familiarisation Op with Wylie Wakelin’s crew.

27.12.44 War Ops – Attack Against Rheydt.
F/L Wylie Wakelin and crew
Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M
P/O Roderick Crawford as 2nd Pilot.

The following day, the Crawford crew undertook their first Op.

28.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Gremburg Marshalling Yards/ Cologne
Lancaster Mk III PB132 AA-X
F/O Roderick Bruce Crawford RNZAF NZ427551. Pilot
Sgt. Francis Geoffrey Boulton RAFVR. Navigator
Sgt. C. Bullock RAFVR. Air Bomber
Sgt. D. Scott RAFVR. Wireless Operator
Sgt. R. Allred RAFVR. Flight Engineer
Sgt. Arthur George Smith RAFVR. Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. J. Tutty RAFVR. Rear Gunner

29.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Koblenz
Lancaster Mk.I LM733 AA-R
Same crew

31.12.44. War Ops – Attack Against Vohwinkel
Lancaster Mk.III PB427 AA-U
Same crew

3.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmynd Oil Refinery
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L
Same crew

5.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Ludwigshafen
Lancaster Mk.I HK601 JN-D
Same crew

6.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Neuss
Lancaster Mk.I PB761 AA-Y
Same crew

7.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Munich
Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-M
Same crew

11.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Krefeld
Lancaster Mk.I NG447 AA-T
Sgt. Scott is replaced by an airman, whose name is indecipherable from the Form541 records

13.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Saarbrucken.
Sgt. Bullock flies with Zinzan crew as A/B
Lancaster Mk.I HK562 AA-L

15.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Langendreer
Lancaster Mk.I NG447 AA-T
F/S C. Pratt Replaces flies with the crew as Wireless Operator – perhaps this is the same individual who flew the 11th of January Op to Krefeld with the crew.

16.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wanne Eickel
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Sgt. Scott returns to crew as Wireless Operator

28.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Cologne/Gremberg
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Same crew

29.1.45. War Ops – Attack Against Krefeld marshalling yards
Lancaster Mk.I ME450 AA-W
Same crew

1.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against München Gladbach
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Same crew

2.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Wiesbaden
Lancaster Mk.I NG449 AA-T
Same crew

3.2.45. War Ops – Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk III ND801 JN-X
Same crew

From ORB Form 541
No report. Aircraft crashed on landing. Pilot, Nav, W/Operator, Engineer and A/Bomber injured and in hospital. Prt. Outr. Failed prior to reaching target and overshot on landing. Camera completely wrecked.’

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The inevitable destruction caused by a Lancaster when crash landing. Pauline, Arthur’s daughter comments ‘Apparently it ran into the garden of the houses at the end of the runway and killed the chickens in the hen house’. © Pauline Whittall

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The final image showing confirmation of identity – ND801 JN-X. © Pauline Whittall

Additionally:
F/O Crawford & crew lost power in their port-outer engine just prior to reaching the target but completed their attack before returning home on three engines. However, on landing back at base at 21.47hrs, the aircraft undershot the approach and crashed heavily on the airfield. The Pilot, Nav, W/op, Engineer and Air Bomber all received injuries and were hospitalised‘.

It is difficult from the above description to understand the exact injuries listed to all of the crew except the gunners. One must assume all were relatively serious. Going through the Form 541 for the rest of 1945, there appears to have been the odd fill in for Sgt. Tutty and  Arthur – however, particularly in Arthur’s case, with a name as common as Smith, in places his apparent presence on a crew list might be a typo. The Ops that might have included the 2 Crawford crew gunners are as follows and includes a commentary where appropriate. Their absence from regular Ops or even their arrival in new crews is perhaps not unusual, given by this point in the War, the Squadron was essentially ‘double crewed’ in each flight – as such, even if an airman wanted an Op it might have been difficult to find a space to fill………

8.3.45. War Ops – Attack on Dattlen
Lancaster Mk.I RF127 AA-W
Vernon Zinzan crew
Sgt. J. Tutty Rear Gunner.

9.3.45. War Ops – Attack on Dattlen
Lancaster Mk.III PB418 AA-C
Ronald Russell crew
Sgt. A. Smith Rear Gunner.

20.3.45. War Ops – Attack on Hamm Marshalling Yards
Lancaster Mk.I NF981 JN-K
Ronald Russell crew
Sgt. A. Smith Rear Gunner.

20.3.45. War Ops
– Attack on Hamm Marshalling Yards
Lancaster Mk.I RF157 AA-X
Charlie Stevens crew
Sgt. J. Tutty Rear Gunner.

14.4.45. War Ops – Attack on Potsdam
Lancaster MK.X RF190 AA-F
Bob Milsom crew
A. Smith Rear Gunner*

11.5.45. War Ops – Repatriation of Prisoners of War at Juvincourt
Lancaster MK.X RF190 AA-F
Bob Milsom crew
A. Smith Rear Gunner*
*I suspect these 2 possible Ops are actually typos in the records, especially as the regular Rear Gunner for the Milsom crew was John ‘Ted’ Smith – and that on a subsequent Op Ted is listed as ‘D Smith’.

Perhaps the fitting end to Arthur’s and the Crawford crews story is that it does seem that they finally got to fly again as a crew, albeit without the original Navigator Sgt. Boulton, who we must therefore assume had injuries perhaps too severe to allow him to fly again.

26.5.45 – Viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive
F/O Crawford, R.
P/O McGarry, J.
F/S Bullock, C.
F/S Scott, D.
Sgt. Allred, R.
Sgt. Smith, T.
Sgt. Tutty, J.
S/L Godfrey passenger
LAC Jones Passenger
LAC Baxter Passenger

Form 541 ends after this month, so it is impossible to know if Sgt. Boulton did finally get back to the crew, or if in fact, the Crawford crew ever flew again with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.

Given the content of these images, and the discovery of, I believe, a new name and noseart, I would politely request anybody wishing to re-post or re-present these images on the web, please read the copyright section of this blog before doing so.