Tag Archives: Sgt. M. Parr

Serendipity – Bob and the boys appear again……..

from Lto R; Sgt. Parr, Bob, James Coote and Sgt. Ackroyd

I tend to work from home on a Monday – a relatively long drive at each end of the day, coupled with the astonishing amount of admin and marking etc means I can get far more done on my clear day when I am not teaching.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are ‘troughs’ within a day and sat at the bottom of one I make a cup of tea and idly click through the images I have so far collected. I alight on the big squadron photo I found near the beginning of my search – with nothing better to do I open it in Photoshop and try a bit of up scaling of its size and resolution. This is a notoriously dubious way of enlarging a digital image, but I figure it might help. I am pleasantly surprised (relatively) with the results and sit enjoying the ‘bigger view’.

I know I should no longer be surprised by these moments I seem to have regarding my search for Bob, but it happens again…….

As with the smaller ‘B’ flight image, Vernon is the first to appear, stood right on the far right hand side of the photograph. I start slowly scanning across the rows in front of the Lancaster, but nothing. My eye is drawn to the port inner propeller and bugger me, James Coote is stood next to it – to his right is Sgt. Parr….and it suddenly dawns on me that the chap stood behind them, beaming over their shoulders is in fact Bob…..

Battle Orders for Dortmund 3/1/45 from Kevin

I get a reply back from Kevin regarding any details on Dad’s second tour crew. Disappointingly nothing, though an unexpected surprise Kevin sends me a copy of the Battle Orders for the daylight raid on Dortmund, 3rd January 1945. This raid is before Bob goes back to 75(NZ), but the gap under Air Bomber suggests that perhaps until his arrival, there was no ‘fixed’ member in that position for the Zinzan crew.

From a Squadron point of view, the Battle Order is also very useful as it not only provides another check regarding the aircraft flown on that raid, but also perhaps more interestingly, given the rarity ( or as I have found it) of information identifying crews in the 3 flights that 75(NZ) operated.

A Sleepless Night…….

Dad, front row left, his pilot, Vernon John Zinzan and navigator James George Sydney Coote. Middle row Sgt. H. Hutchinson, Mid Upper Gunner. Back row from left Sgt. A. Ackroyd, Flight Engineer and Sgt. M. Parr, Wireless Operator.

I went to bed last night with my mind turning like a washing machine regarding the photos I received from Helen. I don’t know how the brain works when you are asleep, but obviously I was doing some sort of processing. I woke at about 4.00am with the sudden realisation that Vernon at least is in the group photograph with the Lancaster in it.

Out of bed, into the studio and turn the computer on – Vernon’s heavy brow is very distinct and I swear to god there is a chap near Bob in the photo with the same heavy brow – to be honest I am not sure I consciously remember seeing this individual, but I wake up sure that I have, maybe I haven’t properly woken up – at this point, I have no idea, other than a belief that he is there……

I open up the group picture and the crew photo I got from Peter with his Dad in it – I don’t even have to zoom – next door but one to Bob in the front row is Vernon, so obviously that I can’t believe I didn’t see it straight away.

Zooming into the group shot to get a better look at Vernon and it’s as if a light has suddenly been turned on. It is Vernon, there’s no question – and next to him is James the navigator. Before I have time to take this in I realise that stood in the 2 rows behind Dad, Vernon and James are Sergeants Hutchinson, Ackroyd and Parr!?!

I grunt with pleased satisfaction, get up and stagger off back to bed. Noisily positioning myself under the covers causes Bev to suddenly wake…

‘Where have you been? What’s happened? Have you been up?
‘yeah….just found the boys in that photo…Dad and Vernon and the rest….there all the bloody time……sods…….’
You’ve been where? What photo?

I am reliably informed at the point of expected reply, I am again, fast asleep…..

Scanning the pictures from Helen

The new scanner is set up in the studio, so I decide to scan the group photos from Helen in. The results are astonishing. Setting a high scan resolution blows the images up on screen way beyond their existing physical size and the detail is amazing. I allow my self a wry grin – its ironic I think, that in this age of digital technology, the pictures are set at the resolution there were created at – these images 70 years old, in some cases provide a resolution impossible today.

1945 crew list from Wayne

I receive an email from Wayne today – it lists a full crew for 1945. The list is as follows;

12 March 1945.

Lancaster I RF127 AA.W  Up 13:01 Down 18:16
F/O Zinzan, V. NZ425314 Captain
W/O Coote, J. Nav
F/O Sommerville, R. A/B
Sgt Parr, M. WO/Air
Sgt Ackroyd, A. F/Eng
Sgt Hutchinson, H. MU/Gnr
W/O Torbitt, M. R/Gnr

Bomb Load 1 x 4,000 lb H.C, 13 x 500 lb ANM.
Primary Target – Dortmund.
Tracking error of .02 large on G.H. H2S on at 16:50 on run to the target.

It feels as if I am slowly putting a picture together now. It also feels slightly as if my loyalties feel split – its almost as if Bob had 2 ‘families’ – one in 1943 and one in1945 – where should I begin? I don’t want to ignore one of them, but at the same time I don’t want to go off on a wild goose chase looking for stuff that might not be there, if its at the cost of finding other information………

I need to see the ORB’s to learn more about the crew….