Tag Archives: Ron Mayhill

RAF Bomber Command Commemorative Service, AWMM, 12 June 2016

the lads

Photo: Four 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF veterans attended the service, pictured here , L-R: David Anderson (Navigator, Bill Hardie crew), Douglas Williamson (Flight Engineer, Johnny Wood crew), Ron Mayhill DFC (Bomb Aimer, John Aitken crew), and John Swale (Rear Gunner, Vic Adolph crew).
– Photo courtesy of Dave Homewood.

From Chris……….

The NZ Bomber Command Assn. held its annual Bomber Command Commemorative Service at the Auckland War Memorial Museum (AWMM) in Auckland on Sunday June 12th. Similar services are held each year in Canberra, Toronto and London. This year’s service incorporated a rededication of the AWMM’s RAF Bomber Command Memorial, originally dedicated in 2009. It was recently completed and moved to its permanent position in the Air Force Annex in the Hall of Memories.

A large contingent of dignitaries attended, including representatives of the armed forces of New Zealand, Canada, Australia, the United States and Britain; the Ministry of Veterans Affairs, British High Commission, Returned Serviceman’s Ass., and the consulates of the Netherlands and Poland.

It was a very moving service, with several speakers pointing out some of the tragic stories and tragic statistics of Bomber Command, all underlined by the dwindling numbers of veterans able to attend commemorations such as this. Highlights for me were the Last Post, a beautiful rendition of the national anthem, and the laying of poppies, accompanied by the full-volume sound of Lancasters passing overhead.

Another highlight of course, was the opportunity to meet up with the veterans, four of whom were 75ers. One of these was my good friend Doug Williamson, from my uncle’s crew, and another was NZBCA  President (and author of one of the best books about 75 (NZ) Sqdn RAF), Ron Mayhill DFC.

David Anderson, Navigator with the Hardie crew (June – September 1945) was another, and the fourth, relatively new to these events, was John Swale, rear Gunner with the Adolph crew (June – October 1944).  John, who served with the RAF, only emigrated to New Zealand a year ago, so it was very interesting to chat to him about his story.

The RAF Bomber Command Memorial was designed and created by Sir Richard Taylor and his team at Weta Workshops, famous for their movie props and effects. Sir Richard couldn’t be at the service, but he addressed the gathering via a very personal video. In a curious twist, Doug Williamson’s wife Janet, herself a very accomplished painter, sculptor and set designer, used to work with (Sir) Richard Taylor!

For more photos of the service click here to go to the New Zealand Bomber Command Association.

– Thanks to Dave Homewood for the above photograph, and thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn. for all their fantastic work.

The Three Pickerels – a little something to remind us

The Three Pickerels

A picture from across the bridge looing back at the front of The Three Pickerells, in Mepal.

I must confess when we all first went to Mepal for  our first Remembrance Sunday, I was very much looking forward to going to ‘The Three Pickerells’, having read about it in Harry Yate’s wonderful account of his stay with the Squadron called “Luck and a Lancaster”. On arriving and going in I was gutted to discover that there was nothing in the pub, apart a small photograph that somebody had apparently left of Jake Aitken’s crew – ironic as it contained, of course, Ron Mayhill, the author on another book that features The Three Pickerells……..

The owners have changed since this first visit and when Bev and I stayed this time last year for a night before the Reunion, I asked Emily whether she would like a few pictures and wonderfully she said yes. Now I must confess, it took longer than I had hoped, but the pictures and frames finally went back down with us for the Mepal Retro event at the end of the summer and Emily
picked 3 to put up in the pub.


a little reminder of the Squadron Association with The Three Pickerells, on display in the restaurant section of the pub

I think its great that there is something back on the walls that records the association the boys from the Squadron had with the ‘Pickerells and to be able to remind visitors that the pub is mentioned in both Ron’s and Harry’s books.

Emily says the visitors to the pub love to read the information on the Squadron and if in this way the Squadron is remembered by someone with a drink in their hand – I think the boys would approve!

The Three Pickerels was a regular watering hole for the crews from 75(NZ) Squadron as well as perhaps other local Squadrons such as 115, based just up the road at Witchford.

From “Luck and a Lancaster – Chance and survival in World War II” by Harry Yates:

“At briefing , seventeen aircrews were detailed bombing sorties to Brunswick, Russelsheim and Falaise, while six more would lay mines in the Gironde Estuary. But F/O Yates and his crew spent the evening peppering the dart board at The Three Pickerels , a favourite watering hole of both Mepal and Witchford crews. At nine-thirty the noise of Merlins interrupted out game. We took our drinks outside to toast our colleagues. One hundred and sixty-one of them took off from Mepal that night. The seven from P/O Mulcahy’s crew disappeared without trace………”

From “Bombs on Target – A compelling eye witness account of Bomber Command operations” by Ron Mayhill:

“That afternoon Dunc and I cycled a couple of miles around the air field boundary to a strategic spot just beyond the main runway where there was a permanent gap in the hedge, to get photos of Lancs taking off and landing during air tests for the night’s operations.

We took some great action close-ups with full flaps and undercart down, and then discreetly rode onto Sutton, very much aware cameras weren’t allowed around the station. It was the first time we had seen the Fen villages and farms from the ground and they were a lot more interesting than we had thought, everything looked flat and featureless from the air.

The War seemed far away as we cycled slowly back to Mepal village and the picturesque pub The Three Pickerels, aglow, weary yet invigorated”.

3 picks

in print

If anybody would like either or both of the images above, just let me know and I will send you print quality pdf’s with crop marks for mounting – they mount and fit in an IKEA frame (nothing to do with Bev being a consultant for IKEA of course…..)

You can contact Emily here

Ron Mayhill – Knight of the French Legion of Honour


Ronald Mayhill (left) and Basil Williams receive their medals yesterday from French Ambassador Florence Jeanblanc-Risler. Photo / Jason Oxenham from the New Zealand Herald

I am sure you would all like to join me in congratulating Ron Mayhill, President of the New Zealand Bomber Command Association in his recent award of the French Legion of Honour , for is eminent merit in service to France.

As readers will probably all know Ron flew with 75(NZ) Squadron as an Air Bomber with Jake Aitken’s crew between June and August 1944. On his 26th Op Ron was temporary blinded on the run into target, but insisted that his Pilot circle and make a second run to drop their bomb load – for this Ron received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Ron was awarded his medal last Wednesday on the French frigate, the Prairial, which was docked in Auckland, by the French Ambassador to New Zealand, Florence Jeanblanc-Risler.

Also awarded was Basil Williams. Basil, who flew with 51, 431 and 432 Squadrons, RAF Bomber Command, was shot down on the 23rd September 1943 and spent 4 days adrift in the North Sea before being picked up by the German Navy. He was taken to a German prisoner of war camp, from which he was liberated at the end of the war.

The campaign to award the Legion of Honour started last year and is awarded to both military and civilian services to France. Fifteen New Zealanders have been officially decorated since then, including Pippa Doyle and Dambusters pilot Les Munro.


Wellingtons in the snow 1941

Ron Mayhill (35)

Vickers Wellington R1162, AA-Y, 75 (NZ) Squadron. New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Ron Mayhill.

Many thanks to Chris as always for passing on a couple more pictures from his ‘NZBCA archive treasure trove’! This time, its 2 images from an original collection of Ron Mayhill.

Two more photos from the New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive, possibly taken the same day. The photos would have been taken at Feltwell, and probably in January or February 1941.

Both show ground crew working on the aircraft, with engine cowlings removed and sitting on the ground.  After a snowstorm, the whole Squadron might be called out on shovels to help clear runways.

The picture at the top of the post shows R1162, which was one of the older, less-powerful 1C models, arriving on Squadron probably November or December 1940. She flew 24 op’s (Wayne Mellor) with the Lockwood, Pownall, Mathieson, Fletcher, Fotheringham and Curry crews, the last flown on 17/18 May. She was transferred to No. 27 O.T.U., Lichfield, on 16 August 1941. She failed to return from the third One Thousand Bomber raid on Bremen, June 25/26, 1942, one of 23 OTU aircraft and crews lost that night.

Ron Mayhill (2)

Vickers Wellingtons of 75 (NZ) Squadron undergoing servicing in the snow. New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archive / Ron Mayhill.

This second image clearly shows Wellingtons AA-C (left) and AA-V (right) in the foreground, with 2 other, unidentifiable Wellingtons in the snowy murk of the background. There is also what appears to be a fifth Wellington’s tail, just poking out from the tailplane of AA-C.

Once again, thanks to Peter Wheeler and the New Zealand Bomber Command Assn. archives.