Tag Archives: William Lake

Thomas Darbyshire, Mid Upper Gunner/ Rear Gunner – Mayfield crew 1943

Uncle Tom flying gear

© Paul Shacklady

Many thanks to Paul for passing on this fantastic picture of Tom Darbyshire, Dad’s Mid Upper/ Rear Gunner during his first tour with the Squadron in 1943. Paul received the picture from his Aunt, one of 2 surviving sisters of Toms. Date and location of the photograph are unknown.

In the email with this picture was an interesting question from Paul. He wondered if there was any reason why Tom swapped with John, the crew’s original Rear Gunner half war through their tour. I personally have no idea why they decided to  – maybe superstition, perhaps a gentleman’s agreement. Certainly I think the rear gun turret was considered the coldest, loneliest and most dangerous place in a Stirling – and you probably wouldn’t want to spend any longer in the position than you had to……..

Funnily enough Pauls question also jogged my memory that I had realised on receiving Tom’s logbook that the ORB’s were incorrect – consistently recording John Hulena as the Rear Gunner.

Having spent some recent weeks beginning to convert the 1943 ORB to a database, it has struck me what an appalling inaccurate document it is – Toms logbook shows another mistake – I wonder how many there are that we will never know……..

Oh my gosh – has it happened again ?!?

Search terms for this morning........

Search terms for this morning……..

Some of you might recall a similar screen grab from the blog statistics I put up a few months ago when someone put in a search for Thomas Darbyshire. That time, it ended up being fantastic news –  it was the nephew of Tom and I finally had a christian name for Sgt. Darbyshire.

Am I hoping too much this might have just happened again, this time for Sgt. Warburton, Flight Engineer with the Mayfield crew in 1943?

Please, as before, if he is, let me know……….

Harold Dewhurst – Mid Upper Gunner. Warren crew

Kevin has passed onto me an inquiry from Yvonne regarding her uncle, Harold Dewhurst, who was the MId Upper Gunner with the Warren crew between November 1943 and May 1944. The crew were tragically lost on the Louvain raid, the aircraft exploded and crashed at Castle Elderschans some 2km NW of Aardenburg (Zeeland) , Holland.

Yvonne knows very little about her Uncle, but is desperate to find out more – I can’t promise anything, but based on the amazing connections that have happened already via this blog, my fingers are crossed for her………

The Warren Crew arrived on or around the 5th November 1943. There appears to be no record of Derek completing a 2nd dickie Op with another crew before flying operationally with his crew.

11.11.43 Mining in the Gironde Estuary. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.00
Down 01.00
F/L Derek Warren – Pilot
F/O Arnold Irving – Navigator
P/O Donald Gage – Air Bomber
F/S David Clough – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Harold Dewhurst – Mid Upper Gunner
F/S Harold Hewitt – Rear Gunner

25.11.43 Mining in the Bay of Biscay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
up 17.20
Down 23.20
Same crew

16.12.43 Mining in the Bay of Biscay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.05
Down 22.45
Same crew

22.12.43. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 21.10
Down 23.55
Same crew

21.1.44. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 18.30
Down 20.55
Same Crew

25.1.44. Attack Against a Special Target. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 23.55
Down 03.00
Same Crew

27.1.44. Mining in the Heligoland Area. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 17.10
Down 21.50
Same crew.

28.1.44. Mining in Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 18.50
Down 00.50
Same crew

11.2.44. Mining in the River Adour. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up18.20
Down 01.50
Same Crew

15.2.44. Mining in the River Adour. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 23.30
Down 06.40
Same Crew

20.2.44. Mining off Morlaix. Stirling Mk.III EF512.
Up 18.35
Down 22.50
Same crew

22.2.44. Mining Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
UP 16.40
Down 19.25
Same crew

24.2.44. Mining Kiel Bay. Stirling Mk.III EF217
UP 17.10
Down 00.35
Same crew

FORM 540 Squadron ORB
March 1944
Administration.  Conversion to Lancaster Aircraft. It was decided by higher authority to convert the Squadron from Stirling to Lancaster aircraft, and our first Lancaster was received on 13th March, 1944, since that date we have received a further 19. All crews are being converted to Lancaster aircraft and at present 13 have passed through No.3 Lancaster Finishing School at R.A.F. Station Feltwell.

26.3.44
Administration. The following proceeded for Lancaster conversion to No. 3 L.F.S Feltwell:- NZ415820 F/O H. Murray and crew, NZ42354 f/S Armstrong C. and crew, NZ414591 A/F/L S. Clark and crew, NZ403561 A/S/L D. Climie and crew, 151118 A/F/L D. Warren and crew, NZ422282 F/O R. Herron and crew, NZ401266 A/S/L D. Gibb and crew, AUS413157 P/O A. Humphreys and crew and NZ421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew.

5/6 March 1944. Special Operations March Moon Period.
Operation PETER 24 (Abortive)
Same Crew

7/8 March 1944. Operation AUTHOR 17 (Abortive)
Same Crew

10/11th March 1944. Operation MONGREL 20 (Successful)
Same crew

13.3.44. Mining off Brest. Stirling Mk.III EF217
Up 22.40
Down 03.25
Same crew.

15/16th March 1944 Operation BOB 155 (Abortive)
Same crew

18.3.44. Mining in the Heligoland Bight. Stirling Mk.IIIvEF217
Up 18.55
Down 23.20

FORM 540 Squadron ORB
1.4.44
Administration. NZ421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew proceeded on detachment to No.33 Base, Waterbeach. The following crews ceased to be detached to No.3 L.F.S. Feltwell:- NZ415820 F/O Murray H. and crew, NZ42354 F/S Armstrong C. and crew, NZ414591 A/F/L S. Clark and crew, NZ403561 A/S/L J. Climie and crew, 151118 F/L Warren D. and crew, NZ422282 F/O R. Herron and crew, NZ401266 A/S/L D. Gibb and crew, AUS413157 P/O A. Humpreys and crew and NZ 421105 Sgt. Scott F. and crew.

18.4.44. Mining in Kiel Area. Stirling Mk.III ND768*
Up 20.45
Down 02.55
P/O Bill Lake (Wireless Operator with my Fathers 1st Tour crew) replaces David Clough as Wireless Operator.
*This appears to be an error in the ORB – ND768 was in fact a Lancaster MK.III AA-F (Shot down target Dortmund 22.5.44)

24.4.44. Attack Against Karlsruhe. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
Up 22.25
Down 03.45.
P/O Ralph Barker replaces Bill Lake as Wireless Operator.

26.4.44 Attack Against Essen. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
UP 23.30
Down 03.40
F/S Colin Megson flies with crew as 2nd Dickie.
Sgt. T. Hamilton replaces Ralph Barker as Wireless Operator.

27.4.44. Attack Against Friedrichshafen. Lancaster Mk.III ND911 JN-V
Up 22.10
Down 05.30
David Clough returns to the crew as Wireless Operator.

10.5.44. Attack Against Courtrai. Lancaster Mk.III ND753 ??-G
Up 22.05
Down 01.15
F/S Bill White flies with the crew as 2nd Dickie

11.5.44 Attack Against Louvain. Lancaster MK.III ND919 AA-D
Up 22.56
FAILED TO RETURN

F/Lt. Derek Warren, RAFVR 151118 – Pilot.
Died age 20. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery Netherlands.

F/O Arnold Earle Irving, RCAF J.19819 – Navigator.
Died age 23.Buried Aardenburg  General Cemetery, Netherlands.

P/O Donald Irwin Gage, RCAF R.166/183, J.19996 – Air Bomber.
Died age 24. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

F/S David Clough, RAFVR 1193544 – Wireless Operator.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands. (American Citizen)

Sgt. Francis Christopher Riley, RAFVR 1584169 – Flight Engineer.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery Netherlands.

Sgt. Harold Dewhurst, RAFVR 1094980 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Died age 23. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery, Netherlands.

F/S Harold Max Hewett, RAAF AUS.419311 – Rear Gunner.
Died age 21. Buried Aardenburg General Cemetery.

2 more pictures of Tom Darbyshire

Thomas Darbyshire 1

© Paul Shacklady

Thomas Darbyshire

© Paul Shacklady

Many many thanks to Paul for continuing to pass on information about his Uncle, who was the Mid Upper Gunner with my fathers first tour crew in 1943.

After visiting his mother, Toms sister this weekend, Paul provided the extra following information;

Tom was born on the 15th of May 1922 in Rivington Lancashire. After leaving school he worked as a farm labourer. Sometime in 1940 Tom and his best friend Peter Riley volunteered at the Omskirk Labout Exchange – Peter joined the army, but sadly subsequently killed in action.

After demobilisation in 1946 he opened a fish and chip shop in Stalham,
Norfolk with his wife, whom he had met while in the RAF.

Tom Darbyshire sadly he died of cancer in Northwood, Middlesex in 1994 at the age of 72.

Thomas Darbyshire RAFVR 1032870 logbook

T Darbyshire Air Gunners Log Book 011

If it wasn’t amazing enough to hear from Paul, the nephew of Tom Darbyshire, Dad’s Mid Upper Gunner out of the blue a few days ago, it only got better when he instantly and very generously supplied a copy of his Tom’s logbook.

The arrival of his book means I now have 3 of the Mayfield crew logbooks, with I hope, another on its way at some point in the future. As such, this is the most complete set of a single crew that I have so far.

As described in the previous post, Tom and also his Wireless Operator Bill Lake joined the Mayfield crew in August of 1943, having lost their pilot, Jack Thomson, on his second 2nd Dickie flight with the Bailie crew on the 2nd August. Interestingly, Tom’s logbook and in fact the page above, shows the day before Jack was lost, Tom had in fact flown with Cyril Bailie on a ‘familiarisation’ flight……

See Tom’s full logbook here

Many thanks again to Paul for this wonderful donation

Incredible – Sgt. Thomas Darbyshire, Mid Upper Gunner – Mayfield crew

Tom at wedding b&W

Warrant Officer Thomas Darbyshire, 2nd from left, best man to his older brother Henry (on Tom’s left). On the far right of the photograph is a friend of the family, Tom Draper and on the left of the photograph, Tom Draper jnr.
© Paul Shacklady

Regular readers will have seen my post regarding my chance discovery on Monday, that someone had been brought to the site on a search term ‘Thomas Derbyshire mu gunner‘. I was so excited that this might be the same Sgt. T. Derbyshire that flew with Dad, that I posted a ‘plea post’ on the blog to ask them to contact me.

I was blown away to hear from Paul yesterday, with conformation that yes, indeed Thomas was the same and that as he had his uncle’s logbook, there was no question about it.

I find this contact all the more poignant as I set myself the objective of at the very least, knowing the christian names of all the boys that Bob flew with – now I can finally talk about ‘Tom’.

Tom Darbyshire and Bill Lake joined the rest of the boys over the period of 2 consecutive raids (ironically both) to Turin in August of 1943. The boys had lost their original pilot, Jack Thomson on his second ‘2nd Dickie’ op with the Bailie crew on the Hamburg raid of 2nd August.

After the departure of the majority of the Mayfield crew, Tom continued to complete another 7* flights.

4th January 1944 Alan Spiers crew  –  Mining North of Biarritz. Rear Gunner.
19th January 1944 Geoffrey Rowberry crew – Air-to-Sea firing.
21st January 1944 Desmond Horgan crew – Special Target. – in the Squadron ORB the MUG is apparently incorrectly listed as F/Sgt. D Baverstock….
27th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Mining in the Heligoland area. Rear Gunner.
28th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Mining in Kiel Bay. Rear Gunner.
28th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew –  Mining in Kiel Bay. Rear Gunner. – in the squadron ORB this is listed as a second op of the same day to the same target – there is no record of it in Tom’s logbook.
30th January 1944. Cecil Armstrong crew – Bombing High Level.
28th January 1944. Harold Bruhns crew – Air Sea Rescue.
*expanded from initial count of 4 ops after receiving a copy of Tom’s logbook

Tom appears to have ben posted to No. 1 A.A.S. at Manby, where he qualified as a Category ‘A’ Gunnery Instructor. He returned to Operational flights on the 21st March 1945 with 195 Squadron at Wratting Common;

21.3.45 F/O Blackman crew – Munster
22.3.45 F/O Hamilton crew – Bocholt.
27.3.45 F/O Blackman crew – Allenbogge.
4.4.45 W/O Brown crew – Merseberge.
9.4.45 F/Lt Walker crew – Kiel.
24.4.45 F/O Blackman crew – Bad Oldsloe.
29.4.45 F/Lt Alt crew – Rotterdam.
1.5.45 F/O Scott crew – The Hague (Operation ‘Mana’).
3.5.45 F/O Blackman crew – The Hague (Operation ‘Mana’).
11.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
12.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
13.5.45 F/O Scott crew – Juvincourt (Operation ‘Exodus’).
23.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
23.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
24.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
26.7.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Formation Flight Jettison.
7.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Aerodrome Bari Italy (Operation Dodge).
10.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Aerodrome Bari Italy (Operation Dodge) – Glatton.
11.8.45 F/Lt Davies crew – Glatton – Base.

Once again, many thanks to Paul for getting in contact with me and adding another little piece to the puzzle.

A tantalising hope……….

search results - thomas derbyshire

Perhaps an inevitable outcome of a blog like this is that from time to time I do get a bit obsessed about visitor counts etc. A quick peruse this afternoon led me to scroll down to the search terms that have led visitors to the site and I was amazed to see a search for ‘Thomas Derbyshire mu gunner’. I am hoping against hope that this is the same T. Derbyshire that was a MUG with Dad on his first tour in 1943…….

My discovery and now the wait is all the more excruciating – Sgt. Derbyshire was the only airman in the Squadron with that surname and the same search in Google throws up no other instant possibilities – is it too much to hope ?

Please, please, if the person/ people that typed in this search see this post contact me – I really want to be able to put a christian name to all of the boys that flew with Dad at the very least.