Tag Archives: Wallace Bassett Martin

Thomas Fredrick Duck display dedication service, MoTaT, Auckland, 2 February 2016

Thanks again to Chris for this post………

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The Thomas Fredrick Duck crew families and friends at the dedication service, MoTaT Aviation Hall, 2 February 2016 (NZ Bomber Command Association).

A wonderful gathering took place at Auckland’s Museum of Transport & Technology (MoTaT) on the 2nd of February, a meeting born out of friendships first made over 70 years ago.

A special dedication service was held for the “Thomas Fredrick Duck” display, put together by MoTaT and the NZ Bomber Command Association, and recently opened in MoTaT’s Aviation Hall. The display commemorates the crew of the famous 156 Path Finder Squadron Lancaster, JA909, GT-T, Thomas Fredrick Duck, as featured in Alan Mitchell’s book, “New Zealanders in the Air War”.

You can read the Thomas Fredrick Duck story here. https://75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/new-zealanders-in-the-air-war-john-leonard-wright-the-crew-of-thomas-frederick-duck/

There is a very strong 75 (NZ) Squadron connection. All six New Zealanders in Jack Wright’s crew at 156 PFF Squadron had crewed together or got to know each other on their previous tour of op’s with 75, along with a seventh individual, Jack’s original Rear Gunner, Bruce Neal.

Members of the families of five of the TFD crew were represented at the service, plus the family of Bruce Neal, who would also have been part of the legend if tragedy had not intervened.

At 75 (NZ) Squadron, Feltwell, Pilot Jack Wright, Navigator Charles Kelly, W/Op Nick Carter and gunners Podge Reynolds and Bruce Neal, had flown Wellington BJ772, AA-D “Donald”, which proudly carried  nose art depicting an aviator-attired Donald Duck sitting in a half-shell. Navigator Alf Drew had flown with Neville Hockaday’s crew in BJ837, AA-F “Freddie”.

“Donald” and “Freddie” were in adjacent dispersals, so the two crews had got to know each other well. At the same time, Rear Gunner Ken Crankshaw had been flying as a “spare part” gunner with a variety of crews, including Squadron Leaders Frank Denton, Ray Newton, and Artie Ashworth. He ended up his tour flying with Frankie Curr and his crew.

After completing their tour, most of the “Donald” crew were posted to 30 OTU as instructors for six months, before being posted to 156 Path Finders Squadron at Warboys.

Tragically, Bruce was killed while instructing at a Bombing & Gunnery School, and never got the chance to re-join his mates at 156 PFF Sqdn.

Path Finder Lancaster crews needed two Navigators, so their mate Alf Drew was recruited to join them. Crankshaw was already at 156 when they arrived, so he joined the crew as Rear Gunner, along with an English Flight Engineer, Harry Hammond.

Legend has it that the boys had brought the original Donald Duck nose art with them, on a piece of Wellington canvas, but in fact their old “Donald” had been burnt out when a Boston bomber crash landed at Mildenhall, just before they were posted out. Apparently copies of the nose art were made at 156, and after the “Donald” and “Freddy” veterans had been allocated Lancaster GT-T for “Tommy”, “Duck” was applied to their new aircraft, along with the compromise name, “Thomas Fredrick Duck”.

After the TFD crew had safely completed their tour at 156, the nose art was removed from their Lancaster and kept by Nick Carter, and a second copy was kept by Jack Wright.

Many years after the war, the original art was donated by Nick to the Air Force Museum at Wigram, and the second copy was donated by the Wright family to MoTaT. The latter has become the centre piece of the new display.

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Thomas Fredrick Duck copy artwork produced on canvas at 156 PFF Sqdn, 1943, signed on the back by a member of TFD’s ground crew, LAC Maund (NZ Bomber Command Assn).

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A representative of each Thomas Fredrick Duck crew member family, in front of the display – L-R: Alf Drew’s son, RNZAF Chaplain S/L Stuart Hight, Charles Kelly’s son Steve, Jack Wright’s daughter Lesley, Ron Mayhill (NZBCA President), Nick Carter’s widow, Ken Crankshaw’s grandson Clayton (NZ Bomber Command Assn).

There was an impressive turn-out of around 50 people. Sadly, none of the crew survives, the last, Nick Carter, passing away last year. However it was very special that his widow was able to attend.

RNZAF Chaplain S/L Stuart Hight led the service, and NZBCA President Ron Mayhill DFC, Legion of Honour, Peter Wheeler and Chris Newey each spoke about aspects of the crew and the significance of the display in helping us to remember the contributions of the airmen of Bomber Command.

It was an uplifting and at times very emotional occasion to have all six families together, 70 years later, to pay our respects to these brave men, for individuals to be able to speak to the gathering, read items from diaries, logbooks and memoirs, recount favourite anecdotes, and then meet and chat afterwards. The respect and affection felt towards their skipper and crewmates was a strong common theme in the stories that have been handed down, and it must have been deeply satisfying for descendants to hear these shared again after so many years.

One very exciting thing that emerged from the gathering was the realisation that the families collectively hold a large amount of previously unknown material, so the full story of the Thomas Fredrick Duck boys is yet to be told.

It was just a shame that no-one from the family of Raymond “Podge” Reynolds could be located in time for the occasion. Raymond passed away in 1991 and is buried at Otaki – the NZBCA would very much like to hear from anyone who can help put them in contact with relatives.

– Thanks to Peter Wheeler and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for these photos.

 

Maurice Thorogood, Navigator – Martin and McKenna crew 1945

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F/L Maurice Thorogood, Navigator with the Martin and then McKenna crew. With 75(NZ) Squadron RAF from January to July 1945. © Mary Morris

Many thanks to Mary for contacting me regarding her Father, Maurice Thorogood, who was a Navigator with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF between January and July 1945. Maurice arrived, I believe with Wallace Martin’s crew on the 16th January and flew 3 Ops with the crew between the 28th January and the 1st of February. For a reason, which is not clear, it would appear that Wallace Martin left the Squadron early in February, having flown only 3 Ops with his crew.

On the 2nd of February Lawrence McKenna arrived on posting from No.3 L.F.S – having already completed a tour with 101 Squadron and being awarded a D.F.C.

Whatever the specific details of Wallace Martin’s departure from the Squadron, it would appear that Lawrence McKenna essentially took over the ‘headless’ crew and it was this ‘new’ crew with F/L Mckenna as Skipper that completed their tour with the Squadron.

In addition to flying with the McKenna crew, Maurice also flew 2 ops with Wing Commander Mac Baigent. His role seems to have been a lead navigator, providing a new crew with Op experience with Mac Baigent acting as Pilot.

Very interestingly, there also seem evidence of more errors in the Operational Record Book.

On the 16th of May, 26th of May and 22nd June Maurice’s Logbook clearly shows details of 3 Ops that are not, in the first case correctly recorded in the ORB and in the second 2 cases, not recorded at all. These Ops are placed in the Op history, though of course in the absence of a crew list for the second 2 flights, we must assume, based on the relative consistency of the McKenna crew, that the ‘normal’ crew remained unchanged.

Mary has taken the trouble to scan over a series of parts a remarkably detailed Op chart for the 9th of April Op to Kiel and also included for this Op, what I will describe (in ignorance of its proper title) as the Navigation route list for this Op. Both of these documents, thanks to Mary scanning them in parts, means that they are astonishingly detailed and should certainly be clicked on to zoom in and see that detail.

16/01/45
W.R. Martin and crew arrive on Posting from No. 31 Base.

28/01/1945 Attack Against Cologne (Gremberg)
Twenty aircraft attacked Cologne (Gremberg) as ordered, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C. “50 G.P. and Munro bombs. Cloud broke to nil just before the target and crews were able to identify the marshalling yard. Accurate slight to moderate H/F was met over the target. No fighters were seen. Bursts were seen on the marshalling yard. All returned to base.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (41)

P/O Wallace Bassett Martin RAAF AUS.424429 – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood RAFVR 1322861/ 139697 – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent RCAF J.29721 – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy RAAF AUS.423476 – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper RAFVR – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland RAFVR 196611 – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills RAFVR 1445361/ 196610 – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:31 – Landed 16:24
Flight Time 05:53″

29/01/1945 Attack Against Krefeld M/Y
Nineteen aircraft attacked Krefeld marshalling yard in ten tenths cloud, carrying 4,000 H.C., 500 ANM., 500 M.C., and 250 G.P. Bombs. Aircraft bombed in formation with the aid of instruments. A good concentration was reported. Slight H/F over the target was the only opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (42)

F/O Wallace Bassett Martin – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:25 – Landed 15:49
Flight Time 05:24

01/02/1945 Attack Against Munchen Gladbach
Seventeen aircraft bomber Munchen Gladbach. No results were observed owing to cloud being ten tenths over the target.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (43)

F/O Wallace Bassett Martin – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 13:01 – Landed 18:33
Flight Time 05:32

16/02/1945 Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aircraft attacked Wesel as detailed. Slight accurate H/F was encountered over the target but no fighters were seen. A concentrated raid was reported.

Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-B  (23)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 12:45 – Landed 17:45
Flight Time 05:00

18/02/1945 Attack Against Wesel
Twenty aircraft attacked Wesel. Twenty one were detailed but AA”R” F/S Scott, returned early through technical trouble. Aircraft bombed on special equipment in ten tenths cloud with tops about 10,000 ft. Leaders were satisfied it was a good raid. Very slight H/F was only opposition.

Lancaster Mk.I LM740 AA-B (48)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 12:02 – Landed 17:10
Flight Time 05:08

19/02/1945 Attack Against Wesel
Twenty one aircraft were again detailed to attack Wesel. AA”J”, captained by F/S Lukins, B.L., returned early through engine trouble. Cloud was 1-10/10ths with some haze. A few crews were able to identify the river bend. Bombing appeared to be accurate. Very slight H/F was the only opposition.

Lancaster Mk.III LM740 AA-B  (49)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 13:30 – Landed 18:23
Flight Time 04:53

23/02/1945 Attack Against Gelsenkirchen
Sixteen aircraft attacked Gelsenkirchen as detailed. There was ten tenths thin cloud over the target with horizontal visibility between 500/ 1000 yds. Formation keeping was very difficult in these conditions, but crews reported quite a good bombing concentration on special equipment and leaders. Opposition from flak was very slight and no fighters were seen. F/S Barr, D. landed at Warboys.

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F (69)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:51 – Landed 17:12
Flight Time 05:21

24/02/1945 Sea Mining in Oslo Fjord
Two aircraft laid mines in the Oslo Fiord area. Both crews reported a good trip without opposition. Cloud 8 – 10/10ths.

Lancaster Mk.I PB741 AA-E  (33)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 17:05 – Landed 00:29
Flight Time 07:2

07/03/1945 Attack Against Dessau
Thirteen aircraft attacked Dessau as ordered. Aircraft bombed in 10/10ths haze and thin cloud. Crews were given instructions by M/B to bomb on skybmarkers but some were able to make out T.I’s and in two cases identify the street. Fires were burning over a wide area when aircraft left the target. Flak practically nil in target area. Some E/A were seen and AA”S” F/L Spilman had a short inconclusive encounter. A satisfactory operation.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (2)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Robert Sinclair Milsom – 2nd Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 17:34 – Landed 02:04
Flight Time 08:3

11/03/1945 Attack Against Essen
Twenty one aircraft were again detailed for operations, tis time against Essen. Very slight H/F was the only opposition. Cloud was 10/10ths. A gradual blackening of the cloud tops was all that could be seen

Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-D  (101)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:59 – Landed 17:07
Flight Time 05:0

18/03/1945 Attack Against Bruchstrasse
Seventeen aircraft were detailed to attack the coking areas and Bensol plant at Bruchstrasse. Cloud was 10/10ths over the target with tops at 6/7,000 ft. Crew report formation was good through the target and bombs fell away together. No results were seen. Slight H.F was encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (8)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:40 – Landed 17:03
Flight Time 05:2

27/03/1945 Attack Against Hamm (Sachsen)
Twenty one aircraft attacked Hamm (Sachsen) as detailed in ton tenths cloud, tops about 8,000 ft. Formation was well packed in the run in. No results were seen other than smoke pushing up through clouds after bombing. Very slight flak was the only opposition encountered.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J (11)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:21 – Landed 15:50
Flight Time 05:29

09/04/1945 Attack on Kiel
Nineteen aircraft were detailed to attack Kiel, carrying 8,000 H.C., 4,000 H.C.N. AND 500 A.N.M. A good concentration of bombing was carried out which appeared to have been a good prang. Many fires and explosions were seen. There was no fighter opposition. Flak was moderate.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (13)

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Target photograph for Kiel, 4th of April 1945. McKenna crew. © Mary Morris

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Maurice Thorogood’s operational navigation chart for Kiel op, 4th of April 1945. © Mary Morris

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Maurice’s Navigational route list for Kiel Op, 4th April 1945 (front of sheet). © Mary Morris

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Maurice’s Navigational route list for Kiel Op, 4th April 1945 (back of sheet). © Mary Morris

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 19:43 – Landed 01:44
Flight Time 06:01

13/04/1945 Attack on Kiel
21 aircraft were detailed to attack Kiel. The target was covered by 10/10 cloud with tops 4/5000. Bombing was concentrated and fires were seen on leaving the target. Flak was slight. M/B was clearly heard. (AA’K’ F/O. Morgan W.) returned early, bombs were jettisoned. This was also a leaflet raid.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J (14)

F/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O  H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 20:42 – Landed 02:13
Flight Time 05:3

18/04/1945 Attack on Heligoland
25 aircraft were detailed to attack the target HELIGOLAND. Weather was good with good visibility. Crews were able to identify northern top of Island and also western edge. The rest of the Island was obliterated by smoke. Bomb bursts on fires. The crews bombed as ordered by the Master Bomber and bombing was thought to be well concentrated, but there was some overshooting as well as undershooting.

Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F  (8)

W/C Cyril Henry ‘Mac’ Baigent – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/S F. Leaman – Air Bomber
F/S James Frederick Freestone – Wireless Operator
F/S William Thomas Soper – Flight Engineer
F/S  D. Nash – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt.  H. Poet – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:15 – Landed 15:07
Flight Time 04:52

This appears to ostensibly be Ronald Drummond’s crew (obviously minus Ron and with Maurice as Navigator)

20/04/1945 Attack on Regensburg
20 aircraft were detailed to bomb REGENSBURG. Perfect visibility and the river, dock and target areas could be made out. Bombing appears to have been fairly well concentrated  round the target starting with a slight undershoot but some bombs also spread to the M/yards beyond. The crew on starboard side of formation claimed direct hits on railway bridge. Flak slight but accurate.

75NZRegensburg

Target Photograph for Regensburg Op – 20th April 1945, McKenna crew. © Mary Morris

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (17)

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‘Operational take-off of Squadron’ – believed to be from the Regensburg Op. © Mary Morris

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Caption on back of second photo: No.75( NZ) Squadron en route for Regensburg 20.4.45. Leading aircraft: S/L McKenna (P), F/L Thorogood ( N), P/O Mills G.A. A/G(rear), P/O Sizeland. © Mary Morris

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 09:40 – Landed 17:07
Flight Time 07:27

22/04/1945 Attack on Bremen
21 aircraft were detailed to attack BREMEN. 2-5/10ths cloud over target and many crews made out river bend and factory area. Bombing results were satisfactory though slight overshooting and undershooting but not outside built up area. Flak from Wilhemshaven and Bremen was at intervals moderate and very accurate. Flight Engineer (Sgt. R. Clark) of AA/P was killed. No fighters seen.

Lancaster Mk.I HK806 AA-B  (21)

W/C Cyril Henry ‘Mac’ Baigent – Pilot
F/S Leslie Esterman – Navigator
F/O M. Thorogood – 2nd Navigator
F/S Francis Lachlan Fraser – Air Bomber
F/O Owen Dudley Dunning – Wireless Operator
Sgt. W. Richardson – Flight Engineer
Sgt. Milton Edwin Bardsley – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Stuart Henry McKechnie – Rear Gunner

Take Off 15:16 – Landed 20:44
Flight Time

Again, it seems as if Mac Baigent takes up a crew, minus the Pilot, but with Maurice on an initial Op. In this case it was Edward Plowman’s crew – ironically, or bizarrely, Ed Plowman also flew on this Op, but as 2nd Pilot with Charlie Stevens and his crew.

29/04/1945 Supply Dropping in the Delf Area
9 Aircraft were detailed for Supply Dropping in the Delft area. The operation was uneventful and crowds were seen waving and cheering. Quite a number of packs hung up.

Lancaster Mk.I NG448 AA-A  (23)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 12:36 – Landed 15:00
Flight Time 02:24

02/05/1945 Supply Dropping at Delft
21 Aircraft were detailed for Supply Dropping at Delft. This mission was successful. The crowd were not as large as usual, but more flags were observed. F/O E.Ohlson reported having seen Germans in barracks cheering and waving white flags. F/O R, Flamank saw Germans waving from gunposts on the coast.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (19)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/O Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
Sgt. T. Harper – Flight Engineer
F/S Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 11:48 – Landed 14:17
Flight Time 02:29

09/05/1945 Repatriation of Prisoners of War
10 Aircraft were detailed for repatriation of Prisoners of War. The number of men brought back was 240. S/Ldr. B. Mckenna (AA.J) crashed when taking off at Dunsfold for Base. There were no injuries and the crew returned with F/Lt. M. Adamson (AA.K). Complaints were made of the bad landing procedure at Dunsfold.

Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-J  (78)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St. Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 07:42 – Landed – no record
Flight Time no record

12/05/1945 Evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt
15 Aircraft were detailed for the evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt. The total number returned for the day was 336. F/O G. Cleminson (JN.O) developed a hydraulic leak at Juvincourt. He had to stay overnight and on the return trip next day, brought another 24 men. The total number of men brought back to date is 1320.

Lancaster Mk.I HK561 AA-Y  (49)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O H. St.Laurent – Air Bomber
F/S Leslie Thomas Patrick Murphy – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 08:30 – Landed 13:07
Flight Time 04:37

16/05/1945 Evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt
4 Aircraft were detailed for the evacuation of Prisoners of War from Juvincourt. 96 men were brought back bringing the total number now to 1967.

logbook 16th May 1945 crp

Extract from the logbook of Maurice Thorogood, showing unrecorded flight to take G/C Campbell OBE to oversee repatriation of allied Prisoners of War. © Mary Morris

4 aircraft are listed for this Op, but it does not include the McKenna crew.

26/5/1945 Repatriation of Belgian Refugees to Brussels and Ex-Prisoners of War to England
7 Aircraft were detailed for the repatriation of 71 Belgian refugees. 120 ex Prisoners of War were brought back on the return trips. Flight Lieutenant Lukins was involved in a slight mishap at Brussels and some of the crew were brought back by another aircraft.

Logbook 26th May 1945 crp

Extract from logbook of Maurice Thorogood, showing participation as Navigator with the Clarkson crew on the 26th of May. © Mary Morris

F/O Ronald Thomas Clarkson – Pilot
Sgt. D. Brooks – Navigator (As listed in ORB, incorrectly)
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/S W. Apps – Air Bomber
F/S Edgar Ernest Willaim Clark – Wireless Operator
Sgt. R. Walmersley – Flight Engineer
F/S K. Connelly – Mid Upper Gunner
Sgt. Firth – Rear Gunner

12/06/1945 Viewing the Effects of the Bombing Offensive
5 Aircraft were detailed for viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive.

Lancaster Mk.I RA541 AA-J  (21)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/S A. Griffiths – Air Bomber
F/O W. Wilson – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 14:31 – Landed 19:23
Flight Time 04:52

22/06/1945 Checking German Radar Equipment

Logbook 22nd June 1945 crp

Extract from the logbook of Maurice Thorogood showing unrecorded op (ORB) on the 22nd of June 1945. © Mary Morris

This Op is not listed in the Operational Record Book – we must assume this was the ‘normal’ McKenna crew.

29/06/1945 Checking German Radar Equipment
2 aircraft were detailed for viewing the effects of the Bombing Offensive. 11 aircraft were detailed for the Post Mortem Operation for checking German radar equipment.

Lancaster Mk.I NN747 JN-O ” (61)

S/L Laurence Douglas McKenna – Pilot
F/L Maurice Frank Thorogood – Navigator
F/O O. O’Dwyer – Air Bomber
F/O W. Wilson – Wireless Operator
F/S T. Harper – Flight Engineer
P/O Sidney George Frederick Sizeland – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Gordon Albert Mills – Rear Gunner

Take Off 10:11 – Landed 15:44
Flight Time 05:33

New Zealanders in the Air War – John ‘Jack’ Leonard Wright & the crew of ‘Thomas Frederick Duck’

Lesley Family021

Squadron Leader John ‘Jack’ Leonard Wright, DSO, DFC.
© Leslie Hill

I really must apologise for the very belated posting of this chapter from ‘New Zealanders in the Air War’ by Alan W. Mitchell. The contents of the chapter was actually bought to my attention by Jack’s daughter, Leslie and her sister.

So, as I say, very belatedly;

NEW  ZEALANDERS IN THE AIR WAR
CHAPTER 20 – Squadron Leader J. L. Wright
(and the crew of “ Thomas Frederick Duck ”)
On a wintry night in October 1943 the staff in the control-room of a Bomber Station watched solemnly as the word ‘ missing ’ was chalked on a large blackboard opposite the flight record of T Tommy, which was then nearly two hours overdue, and from which no signals had been received for several hours. All the other aircraft in that particular Lancaster squadron had been accounted for, but hope for this remaining one had been abandoned. The main lights in the control-room were switched-off, and tired men and women left for a well-eamed rest. More than one went rather glumly, knowing that the crew of T Tommy was on the final operation of its second tour. It was indeed wretched luck that it should now be posted missing.

Actually, however, although T Tommy was posted as missing on the blackboard, it was still airborne and each of its crew of seven was firmly determined they would make base again that night. There were six New Zealanders and one Cockney in T Tommy, which bore as its mascot a painting on the fuselage of an irate Donald Duck with the caption “ Thomas Frederick Duck.” All the New Zealanders were on their sixtieth operation, and the Londoner was on his thirtieth; and, while the chalk was yet scratching the fateful word on the board, two of the four engines of the Lancaster were still rumbling several thousand feet above the English Channel.

It had been an unpleasant flight. They had been to Leipzig. On the way out, over the Channel, one of the Lancaster’s four motors had spluttered, but the captain had flown on without hesitation. It was the starboard inner motor, and after helping to lift the aircraft over a high, cold front, it finally cut-out when Hanover lay below. The aircraft began to lose height, the needle on the oil temperature gauge flickered towards the higher figures, the altitude ‘ blower ’ stopped working, and the two outer motors also beat unevenly. Yet the Lancaster maintained course.

Instead of flying at 20,000 feet it was now at 11,000 feet, which made it a much easier mark for the German defences; but eventually the target was reached, and the bomb-aimer automatically called his directions to the captain and pressed the bomb switch. The bombs, however, remained in their racks, and stuck there until one of the navigators and the wireless operator removed a part of the flooring and hacked at the bomb releases with an axe and set them free. Its mission accomplished, the Lancaster then headed for England.

The captain consulted his navigators, for he knew that the aircraft could not climb above the cold front, which reached to 23,000 feet, on three motors. There were three alternatives open: one, to fly below the front and risk the deadly flak and fighters; the second, to fly at almost tree-top height and still risk the defences; the third, to veer southwards and fly on a semicircular course to England. The navigators advised the third alternative. They were confident they could keep a good course, and every one in T Tommy agreed that it was the safest method.

When the crew stumped into the control-room nearly two and a half hours overdue they smiled at the chalked word ‘ Missing ’ still standing against T Tommy, and agreed it was an excellent joke. They were weary but elated at the normal ending to an abnormal flight.

Lesley Family027

The crew of ‘Thomas Frederick Duck’ at 156 PFF Squadron May – November 1943.
Standing, L to R: Nick Carter, Jack Wright, Podge Reynolds, Charlie Kelly
Front, L to R: Alf Drew, Ken Cranshaw, Wally Hamond
© Leslie Hill

Read the rest of this chapter in the ‘Collections’ section of the blog here.

Squadron Leader John ‘Jack’ Leonard Wright DSO, DFC

Lesley Family021

Squadron Leader John ‘Jack’ Leonard Wright, DSO, DFC.
© Leslie Hill

Some time ago, I was contacted by Leslie, daughter of S/L John Leonard Wright, who flew with 75(NZ) Squadron twice, as well with 156 Pathfinder Squadron.

Leslie wishes to try to understand details of her father’s wartime career and this includes the difficult matter of what she believes to be his deteriorating mental state, clearly through the accumulated stress of 3 tours of Ops. The following is an open letter from Leslie to anyone who might know anything about her father and his time during the war;

“During the past year I have been researching my father’s war service and have come up against a brick wall.  Now that I’ve found your lively and interesting blog I’m sure some people will have information that will be of interest to me.  

My father, Squadron Leader John (Jack) Leonard Wright DSO, DFC did his first Tour on 75 Squadron from 29 May to 20 October 1942.  

He and his crew were later on 156 Pathfinder Squadron from 21 May 1943 to mid November 1943.   

After they finished on 156, things get a bit puzzling as the crew was disbanded. His record from Trentham, Wellington, NZ says he was seconded to Liaison duties at Uxbridge, No 31 Base from 1/11/44 (and the same date RAF Staff College – the same place, I presume).

THEN he is back on 75 from 28 November 1944 as ‘A’ Flight Commander, until around the end of March.

There are two things I’d like to shed light on:
1.  I believe my father was in a bit of a bad way by the time he and his crew finished on 156, and I have heard that he may not have been in a fit state to be flying on 75 again (I guess we’d call it Post Traumatic Stress these days) and that some were reluctant to fly with him as pilot.  (I have 12 hours of tapes of one of his original crew members talking in the 1990’s and he mentions Jack’s nervous tics briefly.)

I realise that out of respect for my father, people may be reluctant to say much about my father’s condition, but I really want to know about it, and would appreciate anyone with information being open and frank with me.   I do have the names of some of the people who crewed with him during this second tour on 75, but they may prefer to get in touch with me privately – through Simon.

2.  Later, he is with PWX Liaison Sectn, SCHAEF Rear from 5 April 1945 – I’d like to know what this was, and what were they doing?  I know that my father was in Germany for some months – were they repatriating British POW’s? or what????

I do hope you may be able to point me in the right direction with some of this, or even provide me with some information.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Lesley

 (Lesley Hill (nee Wright))”

Jack’s career with the Squadron is as follows;
1.6.42 Attack Against Targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III X3760
Sgt. Wright 2p with Fraser crew

2.6.42 Attack Against Targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III X3760
Sgt. Wright 2p with Fraser crew

5.6.42 Attack Against Targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III Z1570
Sgt. Wright 2p with Ball crew

6.6.42 Attack Against Targets at Emden
Wellington Mk.III X3538
Sgt. Wright 2p with Leggett crew

8.6.42 Attack Against Targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III X3538
Sgt. Wright 2p with Leggett crew

20.6.42 Attack Against targets at Emden
Wellington Mk.III X3646
Sgt. Leonard John Wright RNZAF NZ405781- Captain
Sgt. Charles Wynne Brunsdon Kelly RNZAF NZ403562 – Navigator
Sgt. Maurice Allington Carter RNZAF NZ391694 – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Raymond Clifford Reynolds RNZAF NZ403030 – Front Gunner
Sgt Bruce Neal RNZAF NZ411771 – Rear Gunner

22.6.42 Attack Against targets at Emden
Wellington ‘F’

29.6.42 Attack against targets at Bremen
Wellington Mk.III X3646

7.7.42.  Attack against targets at Bremen
Wellington Mk.III X3541

8.7.42.  Attack against targets at Wilhemshaven
Wellington Mk.III X3541

13.7.42.  Attack against targets at Duisburg
Wellington Mk.III X3468

21.7.42.  Attack against targets at Duisburg
Wellington Mk.III BJ625
F/Sgt Victor Kenneth Westerman RNZAF NZ41970 as 2nd Pilot – Died Wednesday 29th July 1942, age 24, during a raid on Hamburg. Buried Becklingen War Cemetery Germany.

23.7.42.  Attack against targets at Duisburg
Wellington Mk.III BJ625
Sgt. J.E. Ford replaces Bruce Neal as Rear Gunner

25.7.42.  Attack against targets at Duisburg
Wellington Mk.III BJ625
Bruce Neal returns as Rear Gunner.

26.7.42.  Attack against targets at Hamburg
Wellington Mk.III Z1570

28.7.42.  Attack against targets at Hamburg
Wellington Mk.III BJ625

29.7.42.  Attack against targets at Saarbrucken
Wellington Mk.III X3468

31.7.42.  Attack against targets at Dusseldorf
Wellington Mk.III X3586

4.8.42. Attack against targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III J3586

6.8.42. Attack against targets at Duisburg
Wellington Mk.III J3586

9.8.42. Attack against targets at Osnabruck
Wellington Mk.III X3389

11.8.42. Attack against targets at Mainz
Wellington Mk.III X3389

12.8.42. Attack against targets at Mainz
Wellington Mk.III X3389

24.8.42. Attack against targets at Frankfurt
Wellington Mk.III BJ772

28.8.42. Attack against targets at Nurenburg
Wellington Mk.III BJ772
Sgt Roy William Raharuhi RNZAF NZ412737 as 2nd Pilot

1.9.42. Attack against targets at Saarbrucken
Wellington Mk.III BJ772
F/L Gerald Howard Jacobson RNZAF NZ41333 as 2nd Pilot – Died Thursday 17 December 1942, age 27, during a raid on Fallersleben. Buried Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.

10.9.42. Attack against targets at Dusseldorf
Wellington Mk.III BJ772

14.9.42. Attack against targets at Wilhelmshaven
Wellington Mk.III BJ772
Sgt Benjamin Allan Franklin RNZAF NZ414277 as 2nd Pilot – Died Wednesday 16th December 1942, age 21, when his aircraft crashed on take-off for a mine-laying sortie to the Gironde Estuary – the mine load exploding. Buried Newmarket Cemetery, England.

16.9.42. Attack against targets at Essen
Wellington Mk.III BJ772

18.9.42. Attack against targets at St.Nazaire
Wellington Mk.III BJ772
Sgt George William Rhodes RAFVR 1331658 as 2nd Pilot

19.9.42. Attack against targets at Saarbrucken
Wellington Mk.III BJ772
Sgt George William Rhodes RAFVR 1331658 as 2nd Pilot – Died Tuesday 6th October 1942, age 20, during a raid on Osnabruck. Buried Hardenberg Protestant Cemetery Netherlands.

24.9.42. Operations – Gardening off Texel
Wellington Mk.III BJ772

26.9.42. Operations – Gardening in Baltic
Wellington Mk.III BJ772

P/O Wright J.L. NZ405781 G.D Posted to No.30 O.T.U w.e.f. 20.10.42 authority 3 Group postagram 3G/6601/7A/P4

Lesley Family027

I suspect Jack and his crew at 156 PFF Squadron May – November 1943.
Standing, L to R: Nick Carter, Jack Wright, Podge Reynolds, Charlie Kelly
Front, L to R: Alf Drew, Ken Cranshaw, Wally Hamond
© Leslie Hill

By the 21st May 1943 John and it would appear Charles Kelly, Maurice ‘Nick’ Carter and Ray ‘Podge’ Reynolds have joined 156 Squadron PFF. He will stay with the Squadron until mid November of that year.

John returns to 75(NZ) Squadron RAF at the end of November 1944 as ‘A’ Flight Commander.

5.12.44. Attack Against Hamm Marshalling Yard
Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J
F/L John Leonard Wright RNZAF NZ405781- Pilot
F/L C. Williams RAFVR – Navigator
P/O Maurice Edward Parker DFC, RNZAF NZ414332 – Air Bomber
P/O William Lachlan Wilson DFC, RNZAF NZ41117 – Wireless Operator
P/O John Henry Morgan DFC RAF 1131866/ 157630 – Flight Engineer
W/O T.R. Kemp RAFVR 1412409 – Mid Upper Gunner
P/O Roy deWilmot Tully DFC, RAFVR 175537 – Rear Gunner

11.12.45. Attack Against Osterfeld
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A

27.12.44. Attack Against Rheydt
Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

29.12.44 Attack Against Koblenz
Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-J

1.1.45 Attack Against Vohwinkle
Lancaster MK.III PB427 AA-U

2.1.45. Attack against Nurenburg
Lancaster Mk.I ME751 AA-P

22.1.45. Attack Against Duisburg
Lancaster Mk.I HK573 AA-H
F/O Wallace Bassett Martin as 2nd Pilot.
F/Sgt Eric Thomas Coulson replaces F/L Williams as Navigator

1.2.45. Attack Against Munchen-Gladbach
Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F
F/O Percival McDowell Johnstone replaces Eric Coulson as Navigator

3.2.45 Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk.III ME751 AA-M

2.3.45. Atack Against Cologne (Aborted)
Lancater Mk.III LM544 AA-D?

6.3.45. Attack Against  Salzbergen
Lancaster Mk.I LM266 AA-F
W/O Roderick Adrian Powell replaces Roy Tully as Rear Gunner.

7/8.3.45. Attack against Dessau
Lancaster Mk.I PB763 AA-A
F/O Robin James Hamilton as 2nd Pilot
W/O Robert John Torbitt replaces Adrian Powell as Rear Gunner.

12.3.45. Attack Against Dortmund
Lancaster Mk.III LM544 AA-D
Roy Tully returns as Rear Gunner.

21.3.45. Attack Against Munster Viaduct
Lancaster Mk.I RF190 AA-F
Bob Torbitt replaces Roy Tully as Rear Gunner.

This brings Jacks Op’s with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF to a total of 47 – with a tour with 156 PFF to be added to this figure.

I hope that someone is able to help Leslie regarding in formation on her Father. If you have information about Jack, but would prefer not to publicly post it then please contact me directly at  info@75nzsquadron.com and I will pass it on to Leslie.

Additionally, if you come across this post based on a search for 156 PFF Squadron and you are able to help, we would love to have Jack’s Op history and possibly crew from that Squadron.