Tag Archives: Trier

MOTAT Lancaster to be repainted as NE181 JN-‘Mike’, ‘The Captains Fancy’

JNM cropped comp

NE181 JN-‘Mike’ – The Captains Fancy’ – the new paint scheme for the Lancaster on display at the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand.
Image via NZBCA Facebook page – © Peter West

I woke up this morning to see the exciting news on the New Zealand Bomber Command Facebook page, that the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland has announced their Lancaster will be repainted in the markings and nose art of 75(NZ) Squadron RAF NE181 JN-Mike – ‘The Captains Fancy’.

The Lancaster on display at MOTAT was built in June 1945. NX665 was destined for service in the Pacific as part of the proposed Allied invasion of Japan. However, Japanese surrender in September 1945 made the deployment unnecessary. The aircraft instead went into storage at Llandow until sold to the French navy in 1951.

Following acquisition by the French, NX665 was given the military registration WU13, and deployed first in France, then Morocco and Algeria on anti-submarine patrol, maritime reconnaissance, and air-sea rescue operations. After service in North Africa, WU13 returned to France in preparation for deployment in the Pacific with Escardrille 9S based in Noumea, New Caledonia. This was the aircraft’s last period of active service before being gifted to MOTAT as a good will gesture to New Zealand by the French Government.

‘The Captains Fancy’ holds a special fascination with 75(NZ) Squadron as it was the only aircraft in the Squadron to pass its ‘century’ of completed Operations. Perhaps inevitably because of this ‘fame’ there is a degree of ‘fogginess’ that exists around the aircraft, regarding the exact number of Ops credited to it and even in some quarters, what crew and what date the magic figure of 100 Ops final was recorded. The mystery is compounded by the fact that ‘Mike’ never carried more that 101 bombs (indicating Ops completed), even though research strongly suggests this figure is possibly 104 – after leaving Mepal for maintenance, it returned, but the ORB’s seem to contain inaccuracies regarding ‘Mike’s’ further flights and in some cases it is a matter of vigorous conjecture as to whether the  aircraft listed are others or in fact NE181. What we do know of course is that ‘Mike’ DID complete at least 101 Ops whilst with the Squadron – so I am very interested to see how MOTAT will present and try to communicate the disparity between the ‘official’, painted total and the higher figure that many, including myself, think she reached.

The bittersweet irony of this aircraft’s presence in the Museum is that the officers in 75(NZ) Squadron lobbied hard to have NE181 bought home (some believe the maintenance break towards the end of the war was as much to prepare ‘Mike’ for the flight back home as it was to simply overhaul her for further Ops). Despite the desire of the Squadron to bring the old girl back home with them, it would appear that the New Zealand government baulked at the fuel bill for the homeward flight……..

See a past post by Ian and Chris regarding the mystery of the final Ops and in fact whereabouts of NE181 here.

See the announcement on the NZBCA Facebook page here.
Visit the MOTAT Lancaster webpage here.

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 14. We will remember them

I didn’t want to let Jack Wall’s memoirs just stop, so I will finish them simply, but in a way that I think is fitting.

TO ALL AIRCREW OF ’75’ SQUADRON WHO FLEW IN WORLD WAR TWO

Boys of then, who are men today, turned in their civvies to free my land
Volunteers they were, these aircrew chaps who gave the hun no place of fun
Bomber Command this mighty force, had boys of spirit to serve the cause
Belgium people in those days would listen carefully to their voice
The voice of Merlin who night and day, boosted their morale in a magnificent way
No one else as those involved, will ever understand the meaning of it all
A song of freedom high above, who would bring relief for the people I so dearly love
My father and mother and many more, have prayed for you, who helped to win the war
We think of them, these magnificent men of ’75‘, who served and died to free my land
Standing here today, is thanks to them, who served and died
We will remember them.

Peter Loncke.
First Sergeant Belgium Air Force.

Ake Ake Kia Kaha
forever and ever strong

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 13. NE181, The Captains Fancy

NE181, JN-Mike – ‘The Captains Fancy’ holds a special fascination with 75(NZ) Squadron as it was the only aircraft in the Squadron to pass its ‘century’ of completed Operations. Perhaps inevitably because of this ‘fame’ there is a degree of ‘fogginess’ that exists around the aircraft, regarding the exact number of OPs credited to it and even in some quarters, what crew and what date the magic figure of 100 Ops final was recorded. Certainly yesterdays post makes it clear from Jack’s and no doubt the entire Bailey crew that it was them!

NE181 original artwork

(Original caption from Jack Wall); 75(N.Z.) Squadron – Mepal. The Captains Fancy prior to the Air Ministry order that the majority of the figure was to be blacked out as it was too visible at night……
NE181 sporting a ‘brighter’ version of ‘The Captains Fancy’ nose art, after her 51st Op, which was to Calais, 20th September 44, piloted by S/L Williamson.

The picture below showing The Captains Fancy prior to her 100th Op with a clearly ‘blacked out’ version of the original artwork……..

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945. L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member. picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

The Bailey crew in front of NE181 JN-Mike ‘The Captains Fancy’, just after ‘bombing up’ 29th January 1945.
L to R (back row), Jack Brewster (Nav), Norman Bartlett (F/E), Jack Bailey (Pilot), Jack Wall (A/B), Dick Pickup (W/Op). (front row) Sgt. Phillips, unknown ground crew member, Roy Corfield (R/Gnr), Tony Gregory (MUG), unknown ground crew member.
picture supplied by Tony Pickup ©

original advertisement artwork

An image supplied by Mirror Group Newspapers, dated 27th July 1988; ‘We are enclosing with our compliments a copy of the cartoon character which you requested. He is Capt. Reilly-Ffoul, and he appeared in our ‘Just Jake’ strip during the 1939-45 war.’

JCWall Memoir Appendices_0001

Air Ministry Bulletin announcing the award of a Bar to Jack Bailey’s D.F.C., won during the Osterfeld OP
Jack Wall’s Recollections of the OSTLEFELD Opoeration;
This was a daylight raid and we led the flight formation – this was probably why we had so much flak aimed at the aircraft. When the other aircraft in the formation saw our bomb doors open they opened theirs and when they saw our bombs start to fall they followed with theirs. If we had been shot down they were instructed to bomb on their own. We did take a battering and Jack had to feather one engine over the target. However he still managed to fly straight and level for our bombing run and I have a good photo of the bombing in my small collection. Our load was 1×8,000 lb., 6×500 lb., and 1×250 lb. Bombs. When we landed it was found that we had been hit in all engines and had a total of 57 holes in various sizes. However no one was injured and all 21 Aircraft from the Squadron that took part returned
safely I cannot remember if any others were hit by flak; It was for his skill and courage on this operation that Jack was awarded the Bar to his D.F.C. – John was always known as Jack.

JCWall Ops Log & Bombing Photos_0006

A letter from Fred Woolerton, one of the ground crew that looked after NE181 throughout her stay at Mepal. The first part is an extract from an Air Ministry Bulletin, sent by Fred to Jack, the second part an explanation from Fred why ‘The Captains Fancy’ missed that one Op…….

The memoirs of Jack Wall – Part 11. Target Photographs

When I was posted to 75(NZ) Squadron for second tour they already had a
New Zealand Squadron Bombing Leader. As I had become an “A” Category
Bombing Leader at Manby on 24.6.44. I took over the duties of Bombing
Leader when the Squadron Bombing Leader was absent on leave etc.
I was therefore able to “acquire” some of my Bombing Photos.
When we dropped our bombs we also released a time controlled flash and the
camera was also timed to take a photo at a set time to coincide when the
bombs detonated on the ground. It was therefore essential to keep the
aircraft on course and straight and level on the bombing run and after
“Bombs Away” to take an accurate photo. This was not an easy task for the
Pilot with Searchlights and Flak all around the aircraft.

The photos show
Squadron Base – Mep is Mepal.
Date.
Height.
Compass bearing.
Time.
Target.
Bomb Load.
Camera and Flash setting.
Pilots Rank and Name.
Aircraft letter and Squadron number.

cologne

COLOGNE
Daylight
28.10.44
18,000′
Aircraft “M”
We were one of the first over the target.
Little flak.
Visual Bombing

soligen

SOLINGEN
Daylight
4.11.44.
20,000′
Aircraft “M”
Light Flak
Plenty of Cloud
Bombed on Markers

NEUSS Night 28/29.11.44. 19,000' Aircraft "M" Light flak Bombed on Markers Poor photo.

NEUSS
Night
28/29.11.44.
19,000′
Aircraft “M”
Light flak
Bombed on Markers
Poor photo.

TRier Daylight 23.12.44. 17,000' Aircraft "M" Little Flak

Trier
Daylight
23.12.44.
17,000′
Aircraft “M”
Little Flak

RHEYDT Daylight 27.12.44. 20,000' Aircraft "M" We were one of the first over the target Visual Bombing

RHEYDT
Daylight
27.12.44.
20,000′
Aircraft “M”
We were one of the first over the target
Visual Bombing

NEUSS Night 6/7/.1.45. 20,000' Aircraft "V" Medium amount of flak on way in and over target Bombed on Markers Poor Photo

NEUSS
Night
6/7/.1.45.
20,000′
Aircraft “V”
Medium amount of flak on way in and over target
Bombed on Markers
Poor Photo

WESEL Daylight 16.2.45. 20,000' Aircraft "M" (it was our 102nd operation for "M") Vsual Bombing in formation - we led.

WESEL
Daylight
16.2.45.
20,000′
Aircraft “M”
(it was our 102nd operation for “M”)
Vsual Bombing in formation – we led.

OSTERFELD Daylight 22.2.45. 19,000' Aircraft "Z" We led our Squadron formation and the other aircraft bombed when we did. We were the target for most of the Flak but we got a good photo. Hit in all engines and one hade to be feathered over the target. Had a total of 37 holes .Skipper awarded Bar to D.F.C.

OSTERFELD
Daylight
22.2.45.
19,000′
Aircraft “Z”
We led our Squadron formation and the other aircraft bombed when we did. We were the target for most of the Flak but we got a good photo.
Hit in all engines and one had to be feathered over the target. Had a total of 37 holes .Skipper awarded Bar to D.F.C.

KIEL NIght 9/10.4.45. 19,000' Aircraft "K" Our last Operation. Bombed on Markers Note 2 other aircraft below us shown on photo.

KIEL
NIght
9/10.4.45.
19,000′
Aircraft “K”
Our last Operation.
Bombed on Markers
Note 2 other aircraft below us shown on photo.