Tag Archives: Tiger Force

New photo – ‘C’ Flight Pilots, June to September 1945

© Simon Sommerville/ 75nzsquadron.com

© Simon Sommerville/ 75nzsquadron.com

I am really pleased to present what I think, is a ‘never seen before’ photograph of ‘C’ Fight Pilots taken, sometime between June and and September 1945. A quick pass around between Chris and Kevin has suggested some ideas, but at this stage I am happy to present it and add it to the ‘Group Photographs’ section as a numbered version to aid identification of individuals.

I have often resisted the urge to search Ebay for Squadron memorabilia, partly as I know if I started I would not be able to stop! Having said this, I came across this image and despite no response from the seller regarding provenance, I thought it was worth a punt. Thus, I have the original and for anybody who comes across a relative I am happy to supply a ridiculously high resolution digital file for printed output.

Personally, I think the image is that more fascinating, as it’s apparent date places it during the period that 75(NZ) Squadron was transitioning from Bomber Command to “Tiger Force”. We can, obviously be assured that at least one of the Pilots is James Sutherland.

Jimmy completed 2 Post War sorties on the 14th and 25th of June and was then retained to join the ‘new ‘ Squadron. In the absence of any substantial details in the Squadron ORB’s, this period is really a black hole, regarding aircrew details – it might perhaps have been taken just at the transition – I do not know, and until perhaps we have identified some of the individuals in the photograph we shall have to wait to see.

I look forward to any suggestion as to the identities of the airmen in the photograph!

View the numbered, identification version of the photograph here

Alfred George Daly, RNZAF NZ4211789 – Pilot.

Sad news indeed, has reached me from Paul, son of RIchard Collings, via Ron, of the recent passing of his Father George Daly, a Pilot with 75(NZ) Squadron, on the 25th of February, 2017 at the venerable age of 97.

George and his crew arrived at Mepal on the 8th of June 1945 and thus did not fly Operationally, though they flew twice before the Squadron moved to Spilsby as part of Tiger Force.

18/06/1945 – Viewing the Effects of the Bombing Offensive
5 Aircraft were detailed for viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive.

Lancaster Mk.III PB132 AA-T

F/S Alfred George Daly, RNZAF NZ4211789 – Pilot.
F/S S. Peterson, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Gordon John Dennis, RNZAF NZ4215822 – Air Bomber.
F/S John Benjamin Garland, RNZAF NZ4216682 – Wireless Operator.
F/S John Sayers , RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Roy Dawkins, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Richard ‘Dick’ Collings, RAFVR 1852784 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 09:50 – Landed 14:26
Flight Time 04:36

25/06/1945 – Checking German Radar Equipment
21 aircraft were detailed for the Postmortem operation for checking German Radar Equipment. W/O S. Sutherland (JN.K)had to make an early return through flat accumulators, but took off again in JN.T and completed the operation. F/L S. Peryer (JN.V)had a petrol leak and made an early return on three engines.

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-O

F/S Alfred George Daly, RNZAF NZ4211789 – Pilot.
F/S S. Peterson, RAFVR – Navigator.
F/S Gordon John Dennis, RNZAF NZ4215822 – Air Bomber.
F/S John Benjamin Garland, RNZAF NZ4216682 – Wireless Operator.
F/S John Sayers , RAFVR – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Roy Dawkins, RAFVR – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt Richard ‘Dick’ Collings, RAFVR 1852784 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 09:57 – Landed 16:05
Flight Time 06:08

I am sure that you will all join with me in offering our most heartfelt condolences to Paul and his family at this sad time.

Paul’s original contact with us was almost 4 years ago, with a request for information on the other members of George’s crew. At the time, we didn’t hear anything, but I wonder whether now, given how the blog has grown, if we now have a chance to learn a little more about the Daly crew…….

Ake Ake Kia Kaha

Mepal from the air

Broadbent (22)

‘Bombing’ photo taken from 16,000 feet by S/L Dickie Broadbent’s Bomb Aimer on 20 October 1943.
Courtesy New Zealand Bomber Command Association/ © Ron Mayhill collection.

Thanks to Chris for putting together this post on the Mepal airfield and sharing with us all, more pictures from his visit to the New Zealand Bomber Command archive.

One of the frustrations I had early in my search for information about my uncle’s time at Mepal, was the lack of photos of the place during the War years. Most of the photos I came across were aircraft and crews in front of aircraft, with the occasional glimpse of Nissen huts, a few trees, fences, and flat, featureless farmland in the background.

The  three photos from the NZBCA archives give a good idea of the layout of the Base, and how it sat amongst the surrounding countryside.

RAF Mepal  was located near Ely, just north of Cambridge, between the villages of Mepal, Sutton and Witcham. You can still see the outline of the runways and taxiways on Google Earth.

75 (NZ Squadron had moved from Newmarket to Mepal in late June 1943. The June Form 540 records the transfer from Newmarket as follows;

The Squadron was moved to R.A.F. Station, Mepal (Satellite to Waterbeach). The advanced party proceeded on the 27th. June 1943, the Main Party on the 28th. June, and the Rear Party on the 29th. June 1943. This was successfully carried out with the assistance of Motor transport provided by No. 2 M.T. Coy. Cambridge.

This photo at the top of the post is oriented with North at the bottom, South at the top. Mepal village is at the bottom of photo, Sutton at the top and Witcham is out of picture, left. The twin Bedford River canals are visible at bottom right.

At least 34 Stirlings can be seen parked around the various dispersals. Aircraft were kept in the open, dispersed around the airfield, for safety reasons, and to present less of a target. A perimeter road around the outside of the three runways connected the aircraft dispersal ‘pans’ (circular concrete pads about 130 feet in diameter, accessed off the perimeter road by 50 ft-wide taxiways) – crew were delivered out to their aircraft by Bedford bus or truck.

The main runways were about 1 mile long.

Buildings were mostly “tin can” Nissen huts; two messes catered for 1,884 males and 346 females. there was a single B1 and  T2 hanger for maintenance. The photograph was taken from an aircraft piloted by S/L ‘Dickie’ Broadbent, Commanding Officer, ‘C’ Flight, in 1943

From the RAF website ‘Bomber Command Mepal’
Mepal airfield was built to Class A specification as one of the two satellite stations for the Waterbeach cluster. The site on a 20-foot rise out of the Cambridgeshire fens, was confined by the New and Old Bedford Rivers to the west; the villages of Sutton to the south, Mepal to the north and Witcham due east. As the A142 between Mepal and Sutton ran across the middle of the site it was closed off and diverted to run on the road through Withham. Construction began in July 1942 on a £810,000 contract. The concrete runways were: main 08-26 at 2,000 yards, and OS-23 and 14-32 both at 1,400 yards. Thirty-six hardstandings were provided, all being the loop type. Hangars were a T2 and a B1 positioned on the technical site between runway heads 26 and 32, the Bl being to the north, with another T2 on the north side of the airfield between runway heads 23 and 26. The bomb store lay to the north-west, between 08 and 14. The 11 dispersed sites were all to the east of the airfield around Witcham and consisted of two mess, one communal and eight domestic catering for 1,884 males and 346 females.

Officially opened in June 1943, its first occupants were the Stirlings of No. 75 Squadron, removed from the turf of Newmarket Heath, which conducted its first operation from Mepal on the night of July 3. Named the New Zealand Squadron and manned largely by citizens of that country, No. 75 was to remain in residence for a little over two years, seeing out the war from Mepal. No other squadron was based there during this period as No. 75 maintained three flights, their complements often totalling more than 30 aircraft, particularly after Lancasters replaced the Stirlings in March 1944. The squadron lost 104 bombers in operations from Mepal, 50 being Stirlings and 52 Lancasters.

No. 75 Squadron moved out in July 1945 to make way for the assembly and training of Tiger Force, the RAF bomber contingent scheduled to move to the north-east Pacific for operations against the Japanese homeland. These were Nos. 7 and 44 Squadrons, although the latter was soon replaced by No. 49 Squadron. However, the contraction of the RAF during the first year of peace provided several stations with better accommodation than the `tin can huts’ at Mepal and the Lancasters left in July 1946. Thereafter Mepal remained empty of active units for 12 years.

In 1957, the airfield was one of the sites selected to deploy Thor medium-range missiles and three emplacements were built in the north-east corner of the original airfield. When the missiles became active, the operating unit was No. 113 Squadron. By 1963 the Thors were considered obsolete and were removed, the airfield later surrendering to commercial and agricultural use.

The road between Mepal and Sutton villages had been re-opened in the 1950s and in the 1970s the A142 from Chatteris to Ely was established on a new three mile stretch of highway built right across the airfield, bypassing all three of the local villages. Today little of the airfield remains apart from odd lengths of perimeter track used as farm roads. On the south-eastern corner of the airfield site the largest agricultural machinery sale yard in the country was opened in 1997 where monthly hundreds of farm tractors echo the thunder of long-gone heavy bombers.

The photo below was taken by F/L John Aitken, probably some time in 1944, approaching the airfield from a direction equivalent to the top left of the first photo. Sutton village at left. Comparing the two, a new hangar (?) can be seen at  the right (large dark building).

Ron Mayhill (5)

Aerial view from Lancaster approaching Mepal.
Courtesy New Zealand Bomber Command Association/ © John Aitken via Ron Mayhill collection.

After the cessation of the Bombing Campaign, the Squadron was slowly re configured regarding the reformation of Tiger force, built solely around RNZAF crew. In preparation for the formation of Tiger Force, which at the time was planned to be deployed to the Far East, the Squadron left Mepal after 2 years and a month.

The Squadron moved from R.A.F. Station Mepal, No. 3 Group, to R.A.F. Station, Spilsby, No.5. Group. The journey was made by rail and the whole move was carried out very smoothly. We owe a debt of gratitude to both stations for their excellent cooperation in the movement.

Once again, many thanks to Peter Wheeler and the New Zealand Bomber Command Association for the permission to present these pictures.

Request for information – George Daly – Pilot. 1945

Thanks to Ron for contacting me regarding his Father, George Daly, who is still I am pleased to say, with us and living in Christchurch.

Ron would like to know if there are any relatives, or in fact surviving aircrew from Georges crew.

The Daly crew were;
F/O Alfred George Daly RNZAF (NZ4211789) – Pilot.
F/Sgt S Peterson RAFVR – Navigator.
W/O Gordon John Dennis RNZAF (NZ4215822) – Air Bomber.
F/Sgt John Benjamin Garland RNZAF (NZ4216682) – Wireless Operator.
F/Sgt John Sayers RAFVR FE 8 Jun to x Jul 1945. c/w A G Daly.
Sgt. Roy Dawkins RAF VR AG 8 Jun to x Jul 1945. c/w A G Daly.
Sgt Richard Collings RAFVR AG 8 Jun to died of injuries x Jul 1945. c/w A G Daly as R/Gnr.

8.6.45. NZ4211780 F/SGt. A.G. Daly & Crew reported on posting from No.73 Base.

18.6.45 – Viewing the Effects of the Bombing Offensive.
Lancaster Mk.III PB132 ‘T’

25.6.45 Checking German Radar Equipment
Lancaster Mk.I LM544 ‘O’

N.Z.4211798 F/S. Daly A.G. (Pilot promoted to T/W/O.

NZ.4211789 W/O Daly, A.G., Pilot was appointed to commissioned rank and granted the Acting Rank of Flying Officer as Captain of a Heavy Aircraft.

Very frustratingly, by this point in time, the daily records are based solely on Form 540 of the ORB, so it is impossible to identify specific crews and their flights.

Perhaps if George still has his logbook, we might be able to find out a little more about the Daly crew and as always, hopefully someone might come across this post who themselves know something  about George and the boys.

many thanks to Errol and Dave, via Steve for this extra information on George;NZ4211789  Pilot  75 Sqn 8 June to 4 October 1945, including service with Tiger Force.
Posted in ex 73 Base; original crew members were:- N) F/Sgt S Peterson; AB) F/Sgt G J Dennis; WOp) F/Sgt J B Garland; FE) F/Sgt J Sayers; MUG) Sgt R Dawkins; RG) Sgt R Collings.

On ops 18 – 25/6/45 only (although obviously not shooting and bombing, as all after VE-Day.

Tiger Force crew members:– P/FE) F/Sgt W M S White; N) F/Sgt W K Dalzell; AB) F/Sgt G J Dennis; WOp) F/Sgt W D Johnstone; A/G) F/Sgt A M Gardiner.

Posted out to Wigsley, to 12 PD&RC
5/11, disemb NZ (2 PDT) 7/2/46, tfd to Reserve (date?)

Graduated as multi-engine pilot @ 1 SFTS (Wigram) in rank of Sgt 20/11/43 (to F/Sgt 20/5/44, to W/O 20/5/45),

Emb for UK ex Auckland 3/1/44, appointed to commission in rank of P/O w.e.f. 27/6/45, reposted to sqn as officer 17/8/45, and granted Acting rank of F/O as captain of heavy aircraft (by 18/8/45, so presume w.e.f. 17/8/45).

Emb NZ for UK 2/1/44, disemb UK approx 26/3/44.

Units served in UK: 15(P)AFU 22/8?, 11 OTU 28/12/44, 73 Base 12/4/45, 75(NZ)Sqdn 8/6, ditto 17/8/45 (as officer), rtd NZ 7/2/46.

Tfd to Reserve A1 6/3/46, commission terminated 1/6/56.