Tag Archives: X.3636 AA-R

‘Browny’ Hirst, Douglas Gould and the Wilmshurst crew 1942

TeArohaFlyer-AkStar8Jun42[3]

Auckland Star item, 8 June 1942.

Chris keeps the posts coming! – many thanks also to Chris Cook, Robert Davey and Athalie Davey for sharing their information, and for permission to reproduce the above photograph and letter.

An old newspaper article, a page in an old autograph book, and a frail letter found folded in the pocket of a World War I diary.

They sound like the ingredients for a good mystery, and they are! In fact, more than one mystery.

One of my early searches on Papers Past, New Zealand’s online newspaper archive, turned up an exciting account of the squadron’s first “kill” of 1942, credited to R.J.F. Hirst, Rear Gunner in the Wilmshurst crew, on the night of 2/3 June.

TE AROHA FLYER GETS HUN NIGHT FIGHTER

 Auckland Star, 8 June 1942

N.Z. BOMB SQUADRON
Thrilling Episodes On Raids Over Germany
Special Correspondent. Rec. 1 p.m. LONDON, June 7.

“The distinction of shooting down the first Nazi night fighter for the New Zealand Bomber Squadron this year was achieved by Sergeant R. J. F. Hirst, of Te Aroha. He is a freshman to the squadron and had carried out four raids in recent nights in which he accounted for a Junkers 88 on his fourth trip. He is rear gunner of the crew, which comprised Flight-Sergeant J. C. Wilmshurst, of Stratford, who was captain and has carried out 15 raids; Sergeants D. J. Gould, of Otautau, R. E. Sharp, of Matamata, and P. D. Lowther, of Auckland.
 
Sergeant Hirst said: “We were returning from a big 1000-plane raid against Essen, stooging along at 4500 feet, 30 miles from the English coast, feeling happy and singing the captain’s theme song. ‘Why Can’t We Do This More Often?’
 
While watching the moon rising over the sea behind us, Sharp, who was standing in the astrodome, reported aircraft to the starboard 1000 yards away at 1000 ft over us. I picked him out and watched him turning for an attack, so told Wilmshurst to turn to starboard. He and I both opened fire at a range of 600 yards. The Hun over-shot and went to port.
 
Hun 800 Yards Away
“The Hun then turned to reattack again. I told Wilmshurst to go to the port side. The Hun opened up but I held my fire, being still dazzled with the glare from tracer bullets. The first bursts from the Hun swept over us. Sharp and I recognised him as a Junkers 88. He disappeared for a minute, then I saw him 500 ft under us to starboard 800 yards away. He turned on his searchlight and again attacked. He opened fire when 600 yards from us. I held him in my sights until he was 200 yards away, then I gave him a three-second burst. He began to glow, banked steeply and silhouetted against the moon for a second. I put a burst in his belly. He became immediately aflame, seemed to hover for a moment, and then plunged to the sea. He hit the water in a white sheet of flame. We returned to find four holes through the tail and two in my turret.” Wing-Commander E. G. Olson complimented Sergeant Hirst and the crew during the briefing which Mr. Jordan attended.
 
Previous Narrow Escape
The crew captained by Flight- Sergeant I. J. McLachlan, D.F.M., of Wairarapa, was previously attacked by a night fighter which is thought to be the one Sergeant Hirst shot down. Flight-Sergeant McLachlan is regarded as one of the best pilots of the squadron. His crew comprises Sergeants G. E. Lewis, of Hamilton, A. G. E. Pugh, of Auckland, J. Walters, of Gisborne, and also an Englishman. They were flying at 11,000 ft over the Channel when a night fighter attacked. Sergeant McLachlan dived to 20ft above the sea, taking violent evasive action. Sergeant Pugh said: “The Hun gave up after a while. We were at about the same place as Wilmshurst was when he was attacked earlier.”

Sgt Raymond John Finlay Hirst (born Te Aroha, 5 April 1920), arrived at Feltwell on 13 May, together with his Operational Training Unit crew (possibly 12 O.T.U., Pilot P/O G.W. Horne?).

Their Pilot would have been given a 2nd Pilot role in an experienced crew, and the rest of the crew were assigned to an experienced Pilot, John Wilmshurst.

F/Sgt John Charles Wilmshurst had been at Feltwell since 24 March, and had already flown 10 op’s over a concentrated period of 3 weeks, as a 2nd Pilot with P/O J.F. Fisher and crew.

He is first mentioned in the ORB’s as skipper of his own crew on 11 May, carrying out a test flight in Wellington Mark III, X3720, AA-U, Fisher’s old aircraft.

The Wilmshurst crew flew their first op’ together on the 29th of May, to Dieppe, and were immediately in the thick of it.

On the 2nd of June, the Wilmhurst took off for their 4th Op, this time to Essen.

2/3.6.42 Attack against targets at Essen
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs and 4lb inc was dropped in the target area but no results were observed. A few small fires were seen near target. A.A. fire was fairly heavy and searchlights operating in cones were numerous. No enemy a/c were seen*. Weather marred the operation, there being a heavy ground have. Navigation was excellent. Well, X3408, captained by P/O Carter, failed to return.

Wellington III X3720, AA-U

F/S. John Charles Wilmshurst, RNZAF NZ411962 – Pilot
Sgt. James Douglas Gould, RNZAF NZ411233 – Navigator
Sgt. Richard Edwin Sharp, RNZAF NZ405513 – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Peter Desmond Lowther, RNZAF NZ403583 – Front Gunner
Sgt. Raymond John Finlay ‘Browny’ Hirst, RNZAF NZ404067 – Rear Gunner

Take Off 23:55 – Landed  03:55
Flight Time 04:00

*N.B. This was in fact the night that the newspaper item describes above, not the 1000 Bomber Raid of the previous night. Hirst claimed the first “kill” of the year for the squadron, and the McLachlan crew fought off a night fighter, yet ironically, all the squadron Operations Record Book Form 541 says is “No enemy a/c were seen”!

The Wilmhust flew a further 10 Ops, before their 15th Op to Dusseldorf on the 10th of July 1942.

10.7.42 Daylight sortie against Dusseldorf
Four a/c set out to attack the above target. Bomb load of 500lbs was brought back as m/c returned owing to lack of cloud cover. Well. III, X3720 (Sgt, Wilmshurst) failed to return. There was no A.A. fire or fighters. Weather was cloudy and navigation was good.

Wellington III X3720, AA-U

F/S. John Charles Wilmshurst, RNZAF NZ411962 – Pilot
Sgt. James Douglas Gould, RNZAF NZ411233 – Navigator
Sgt. Richard Edwin Sharp, RNZAF NZ405513 – Wireless Operator
Sgt. Peter Desmond Lowther, RNZAF NZ403583 – Front Gunner
Sgt. Raymond John Finlay ‘Browny’ Hirst, RNZAF NZ404067 – Rear Gunner

Take Off ~ 14:30 – MISSING

X3720, AA-U was the first of the four 75 (NZ) Sqdn aircraft detailed to carry out the attack to take off from Feltwell. They left at around 2.30 in the afternoon,  followed by the Jarman, McLachlan and Kearns crews. The four were recalled on the way to the target, near the Dutch coast, due to lack of cloud cover over the target. All but X3720 were safely back on the ground at Feltwell by 5.37pm.

The Wilmshurst Wellington came down into the sea off the German-Netherlands coast, well north of their expected route back to base. Three of the crew are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. The bodies of the wireless operator and front gunner washed ashore a few days later onto the German island of Borkum. They were buried there in the Lutheran Cemetery on the 15th, but later reinterred at Sage, 24km south of Oldenburg.

Wilmshurst-crew-missing[3]

”Missing” notices for three of the crew, as published at the time in the Auckland Weekly News.
– Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph.

Just recently, a post popped up on the 75 Squadron Assn Facebook page, from another Chris, a historian from Feltwell in the UK., who mentioned that he had in his possession an autograph book that contained the signatures of airmen who had visited Feltwell’s Blue Cafe during the war. A Mrs Steward, the owner of the cafe had kept the book, and it had been passed down to Chris.

He posted a photo of a page from the small leather-bound book to see if anyone recognised a name…..

BlueCafe-autographs-6-7-42[3]

Page from the autograph book kept by Mrs Steward in the Blue Cafe, Feltwell, signed 7 July 1942.
– Chris Cook.

One signature jumped out at me – “Browny Hirst, Te Aroha, N.Z. 6-7-42”. “Hirst” and “Te Aroha” definitely rang a bell!

Then it dawned that the other signatures on the page were his crewmates, Lowther, Gould and Sharp, and that the boys’ best wishes and thanks to Mrs Steward had been written in the book only 4 days before they were lost!

It was another one of those moments that brings home the horrible waste, and the sadness that the whole community must have lived with back then.

However it was nice to be able to make the connection with Chris, and send through a few details about the crew, and the above newspaper article.

Then another twist in the story………..

Checking the listings for the crew members on the Auckland War Memorial Museum Online Cenotaph, included in James Douglas Gould’s entry, was a transcript of a letter that someone had uploaded. It had been written a few days after Douglas failed to return, by a good friend of his, Robert Brisco, a fellow Navigator with the P.J. Wilson crew – it was addressed to Gould’s mother:

N.Z.411204 SGT OFC Brisco, R.H.
Agar St,
The Strand
London

16/7/42

Dear Mrs. Gould
By now you will (know) that Douglas has been posted missing since July 10th. I put off the writing before this in the hope that something would have been heard of them by now. Nothing has turned up, however,  there is still a chance as there was a convoy in the vicinity of where they went down, and the old saying that “truth is stranger than fiction” is truer even in time of war than at any other time. I will tell you all I know as to be left in doubt and wondering is not pleasant. Unfortunately I had been on a weeks leave and returned on the July 10th about 8.30pm. What a welcome!

Doug’s crew with three or four others were sent out from here on a daylight raid to the Ruhr as it was thought it was a 10/10 cloud. However they were recalled just as they got to the Dutch coast, at least the others were. Their plane “U” was the first off by 10 or 15 minutes and perhaps they were a bit further in. Two of the other crew reported being chased by fighters but lost them in the cloud which was fast breaking up, and the chances that “U” being further away had even less cloud covering and the fighters who were chasing the first lot home, turned back to Holland and found “U” streaking from cloud to cloud. There is no doubt whatever it was the fighters that got them and there was two or more. They were top-notcher’s at fighter affiliation as they proved when they got the JU88.

However it seems that they sent out a wireless message saying that they were going down into the sea 10 or 12 miles from the English Coast. Planes were sent out from here that evening and launches from Yarmouth, but they found nothing. Still there was a convoy in the vicinity and it would have to maintain a wireless silence until it reached its destination.

Well that’s all I can tell you and if its been any help in clearing matters up I’ll be glad. He was one of my best friends and we have been together ever since our first day in Levin. The crew was the finest bunch of boys one could wish to meet and except for the pilot we have all been together for seven months and living as we do one can soon find the good and bad in a man and there was nothing bad in any of them. Hoping for good news soon.

Yours Sincerely,
Robert H. Brisco

Tragically, Robert Brisco was himself shot down and killed on 29 July, only two weeks after writing this. It seems that the letter was never posted. But it did make it to New Zealand.

Robert Davey, the person who uploaded the letter, explained that it had been found only a year ago, in frail condition, folded in a pocket inside one of his great grandfather’s World War I diaries!!

I emailed Robert to offer the extra background on Douglas’s crew, to see if that could help solve the mystery of how the letter ended up in his family’s possession, and he passed me on to his grandmother, Athalie.

She was able to make the connection – ‘Browny’ Hirst had lived on a nearby farm and been a friend of the Davey family in Te Aroha. Somehow the letter addressed to Mrs Gould must have been passed to the Hirst family, and then found it’s way to neighbours, the Davey family, and somehow into one of Albert Davey’s diaries!

The next step is to try and find out if Douglas Gould’s mother ever received the information laid out in Robert Brisco’s letter, and if the Gould family knows of the letter’s existence?

Douglas came from Otautau, a farming area in Southland, not far from Invercargill, so we are trying to interest the Southland Times. If anyone else has contacts for any of the crew members’ families, please let us know.

It would be wonderful if the letter could finally be delivered after all these years …

View the Wilmhust Op HIstory in full here.

– Thanks to Chris Cook, Robert Davey and Athalie Davey for sharing their information, and for permission to reproduce the above photograph and letter.

P/O Trafford McRae Nicol and the Jarman crew, 1942

Fernie-1stJarmanCrew[4]

The first Jarman crew, in front of Vickers Wellington X3636, AA-R, probably March 1942.
Back row, L-R: John Fernie, Wireless Operator, Trafford Nicol, 2nd Pilot, Eric Jarman, Captain, Stanley Hall, Navigator.
Front, L-R: Jim Harris, Rear Gunner, Ron Davey, Front Gunner / Bomb Aimer.
– NZ Bomber Command Assn, Stan Brooks collection, via Anna Rhodes-Sayer.

Thanks as always to Chris and special thanks to James and Barbara Ogilvie and the Nicol family for sharing these photos and their own research. Thanks to Anna Rhodes-Sayer and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for permission to reproduce the main crew photo.

Trafford McRae Nicol was born in 1921, son of James Alexander & Louisa Clara Nicol who lived in Inglis St., Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand.

He went to school at Rongotai College, and Wellington College, and enlisted in the RNZAF in early 1941, aged 20, undergoing Initial Training (probably at Levin), then pilot training at No. 2 Service Flying Training School (2 SFTS), Woodbourne.

TraffordMcRNicol-Course14BWoodbourne[3]

Graduation photo for No. 14B (War) Course, 2S.F.T.S., Woodbourne, 1941. Trafford Nicol, back row, second from right.
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Five other 75 (NZ) Squadron pilots appear in this group:

– middle row left, Graham Murdoch, whose path closely followed Trafford’s (see below);
– next to him, Alan Tolley, lost with all the crew of Stirling BF506, AA-P on 21st April 1943 in a raid on Rostock ;
– front row left, a very young Cyril “Mac” Baigent, DSO, DFC, AFC, later to become Wing Commander and Commanding Officer of 75, the youngest CO in Bomber Command;
– next to him, John McCullough, DFC, lost with Stirling BK604, AA-S on 3 Feb 1943.
– William Horne, who flew 2nd Pilot with S/L Ray Newton.

Trafford then sailed to England, and went through Operational Training at 12 O.T.U, Chipping Warden:

TraffordMcRNicol-23CourseChippingWarden[3]

No. 23 Course – Pilots – Chipping Warden, UK, December 1941.
Back row, L-R: 3. Rip Rogers (+), 4. Johnny Wilmshurst (missing), 5. Cyril Wrightson (+).
Middle row, L-R: 4. ? Buller (+), 6. Roy Willson (+).
Front row, L-R: 1. Roy Spear (missing), 2. Jim Cowan (missing), 3. Trafford Nicol (+), 4. Stinker Murdoch (+), 8. John Keenberg, 9. Ric Richardson (+), 10. Rupert Smith (missing).
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Again, several of the pilots named in this photo went on to serve with 75 (NZ) Sqdn.

Sgt Johnny Wilmshurst was lost with all his crew on a daylight op’ to Duisburg on the 10th of July.

Incredibly, P/O Graham “Stinker” Murdoch and P/O Rupert John Smith, both died on the same night captaining separate aircraft, both with all crew lost, on the 9th of June during a raid on Essen.

And equally incredible, Sgt Cyril Wrightson died flying 2nd Pilot with F/S Mahood, with all crew lost, on the night of the 22nd/23rd of April during a raid on Cologne, the same operation that resulted in Trafford Nicol’s death.

75 (NZ) Squadron Operational Record Book,  Form 540, March 1942: P/O Nicol, T.M. Posted to this unit from No, 12 O.T.U w.e.f. 10.3.42

Trafford was posted in from 12 OTU on the 10th of March, together P/O Graham Murdoch, and must have joined Eric Jarman’s crew within a day or two.

Sgt Eric “Rick” or “Riki” Jarman came from Yeppoon, in Queensland, Australia, and was a clerk at Rockhampton before he enlisted in the RAAF in September, 1940.

He had arrived at 75 (NZ) Sqdn in November the previous year, and had been flying as 2nd Pilot with S/L Peter Kitchin. The squadron had flown very few operations during this period as Bomber Command re-assessed strategies after a disastrous Berlin raid on 7/8 November, and then as 75 became busy training and converting from the 1C Wellingtons to the new Mark IIIs.

Jarman carried out his first Night Flying Test as Captain of his own aircraft on 9 March, a 15 minute flight in Wellington III  X3587, AA-P.

The Jarman crew were:
Sgt Eric George Delancey Jarman, RAAF AUS404507 – Pilot
P/O Trafford McRae Nicol, RNZAF NZ411929 – 2nd Pilot
Sgt Stanley Frederick Hall, RNZAF NZ402182 – Navigator
Sgt John Alexander Fernie, RAF 980003 – Wireless Operator
Sgt Ron S. Davey, RAF – Front Gunner / Bomb Aimer
Sgt Richard James Harris, RNZAF NZ402999 – Rear Gunner

Stanley Hall and Richard Harris had arrived separately on Squadron only a week or so earlier, but John Fernie and Ron Davey had been on the Squadron since November the previous year.

Fernie originally crewed up with Sgt Robert Arthur Colville RNZAF, and had already flown 7 op’s.

He had very fortunately not been on board when Colville took Wellington X3355, AA-Y up for an air test on 28 February, although as was the norm at the time, four ground crew had gone along for the ride. Just after take-off, Colville lost his starboard engine, and then as he attempted to turn back to the airfield to make an emergency landing, the port engine failed as well. The aircraft crashed near Lakenheath, killing two of the ground crew, and leaving the 2nd Pilot Sgt Woodham fatally injured. Colville and the other two ground crew were seriously injured, Colville almost losing both legs.

Davey had flown 2 op’s with Sgt Giddens, but for some reason Giddens left the Squadron in December. Davey may have trained with other crews during January and February.

RIck Jarman flew his first Op as skipper on the 13th March 1943, bombing targets at Dunkirk. Twelve days later, Trafford Nichol would join the crew as 2nd Pilot for an OP to Essen and St.Nazaire on the 25th of March.

The Jarman crew would fly a further 7 Ops, before they boarded Wellington Mk.III X.3487 AA-O on the 22nd of April, that night flying to Cologne.

22/04/1942 – Operations – Attack Against Targets at Cologne
Ten Well.III a\c were detailed attack the above targets. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 100lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs, 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in the target area but no results seen owing to cloud. There were only a few searchlights active and A.A. fire was slight. Well.III, X3487 captained by P/O Jarman was attacked by a JU.88 which attacked once and broke away to port. The results of this short attack were however serious the second pilot, P/O Nicol being mortally wounded, the rear gunner Sgt. Harris being killed and the Navigator Sgt. Taylor and W/Op. Sgt. Fernie were wounded. The bomb load was not dropped on the target but was dropped in the sea. The a/c was brought back to base and crash landed. Well.III, X3705, captained by F/S. McLachlan, was also attacked and the second pilot killed (P/O. Fountain) and Sgt. Tutty was wounded. F/Sgt. McLachlan managed to reach base and crash land.

Wellington Mk.III X.3487 AA-O
a/c shot up by JU88 and crash landed on return. Sgt. Harris was killed in the attack. P/O Nicol died of injuries the day after

P/O Eric George Delancey ‘Rick/ Riki’  Jarman , RAAF AUS.404507 – Pilot.
P/O Trafford McRae Nicol RNZAF NZ411929 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. William Henderson Taylor, RAFVR 1051621/ 122053 – Navigator.
Sgt. John Alexander Fernie, RAFVR 980003/ 127783 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. R.S. Davey, RAFVR – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Richard James Harris, RNZAF NZ402999 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:15 – Landed 04:40
Flight Time 06:25

Feltwell Station Log Wednesday 23rd April 1942: “0442 O.75 crash-landed (18th) last A/c.”

Rick Jarman was awarded the DFC for his part in the incident:
DFC citation E.G.D. Jarman, RAAF:
Citation DFC (Imm) (15 May 1942) “One night in April 1942 this officer was the captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Cologne. Whilst over the target area, the aircraft was hit by shellfire and sustained damage. The navigator, wireless operator and front gunner were injured, but despite this, Pilot Officer Jarman flew on to make his attack. On the return journey it was discovered that a bomb had not fallen owing to the damage caused by the enemy’s shellfire whereupon Pilot Officer Jarman altered course and headed for the North Sea so that the bomb could be jettisoned. Before reaching the sea, however, his aircraft was subjected to an attack by an enemy fighter whose fire killed the rear gunner, wounded the second pilot and inflicted further damage on the aircraft. Skilfully controlling the bomber Pilot Officer Jarman continued his flight and after jettisoning the bomb in the sea, he finally reached this country where he made a safe landing with the undercarriage retracted.”

They crash-landed at 4:40 in the morning. Trafford was badly wounded, and passed away later that day.

From “New Zealanders in the Air War”, by Alan Mitchell:

On these five operations only one aircraft was lost, but several injured men were brought back. One, Pilot Officer T. McRae Nicol, of Welling­ton, had been badly hit in the abdomen by shell-splinters. He was in great pain when they lifted him tenderly from the aircraft into the ambulance, but he had a smile for Olson.

I’ve got a guts full of lead, sir,” he told the CO., almost proudly. Morphia eased the rack of the pain, but although he probably knew he had little chance of survival, he remained cheerful until he died.

Trafford’s niece, Barbara remembers reading a letter from the Squadron’s Chaplin to Trafford’s parents saying that Trafford was a great leader, was always so positive and one of his favourites.  The letter also said that a WAAF had given Trafford a cup of hot tea before he was removed from his Wellington, and that the hot tea may have caused more damage to his stomach.  Barbara says she always thought that it was funny how her uncle died in the war from a hot cup of tea…….

Trafford was buried with full military honours at Feltwell’s St. Nicholas Churchyard, Row C Grave 11, on the 29th of April.

His crewmate Jim Harris was buried the same day at St. Nicholas Churchyard, Row B Grave 11.
 
Returning from the same Cologne operation in the early hours of 23 April, another night fighter had attacked the McLachlan crew’s Wellington X3705, AA-F, killing 2nd Pilot P/O Cedric Fountain, RNZAF (NZ41981). They also struggled to reach Base, and had crash-landed at Feltwell about an hour before the Jarman crew.  Trafford, Jim and Cedric were all buried at St Nicholas Churchyard on the same day, and the photograph of the funeral party suggests that the three airmen were taken on the same carriage:

TraffordMcRNicol-Funeral-Felwell-27May1942[3]

P/O Trafford Nicol’s funeral, Feltwell, 29 June 1942.
– Barbara Ogilvie.

Rick Jarman eventually flew 41 op’s to complete his tour with 75 (NZ) Squadron on 3 August, and after a stint instructing at 27 OTU, went on to a second tour with 460 Squadron. He was promoted to Squadron Leader, but sadly on their 9th op’, he and 5 of his crew were lost over Germany on 28 April 1944. The crew is immortalised in a famous painting, “Bomber Crew”, which was still being worked on by the artist when they were shot down.

Trevor Smith went on to skipper his own aircraft, but was lost with all his crew on the 9th of July, during a raid on Wilhelmshaven. Fernie and Chunn survived the war.

– Read more about the events of the night of 22nd /23rd of April, within a post about Feltwell Cemetery here  (about half way down the post)

To read the crew history in full, please click here to be taken to the Jarman crew Op history page.

Again, special thanks to James and Barbara Ogilvie and the Nicol family for sharing these photos and their own research. Thanks to Anna Rhodes-Sayer and the NZ Bomber Command Assn for permission to reproduce the main crew photo

 

Shrewsbury General Cemetery – Sgt. Alan John Francis RAFVR 1815847

DSC02858

Alan Francis was killed on or about the 17th of May 1943 when the Stirling Mk.I that he was  Gunner in suffered a double engine failure whilst on a training flight over Stoke-on-Trent.

On instructions from the Pilot, Leslie Charles Wright, the entire crew baled out. Sgt. Wright bravely stayed at the controls of the aircraft and in doing so, prevented the aircraft from crashing into Stoke-on-Trent. All of the crew landed safely, apart from Alan, who was found 4 days later in a field, one assumes a victim of a parachute failure.

As was common, a training flight sometimes included Ground crew and not a full compliment of Air crew. Certainly on that day, AC1 Bailey was on board. It would appear that Alan was also not regular crew. The Wright crew had only flown 4 Ops so far with 75(NZ) Squadron RAF, but for all of these, the positions of Mid Upper and Rear Gunner had been filled by Fred Crowther and Bert Knox respectively.

Read the post about the crash and the headstone of Sgt. Wright here.

A bit of a puzzle…..

Looking back through the database things seemed to become more, not less complicated……

Interrogating the database under the 2 gunnery positions only identified a ‘J. Francis’ – this individual flying essentially the ‘Stirling Portion’ of the Jackson crew’s tour before continuing, with the majority of the Jackson crew (sans John Jackson) to crew under S/L Frank Andrews.

Referring to the ‘Official’ records, there are 2 Francis’ that are to be considered:

FRANCIS Sgt Alan John RAF (1815847) AG 4 to 17 May 1943, c/w J H R Carey as R/Gnr. Died Monday 17th May 1943, age 19, during a local training flight when his aircraft developed a double engine failure. Died on baling out. Buried Shrewsbury Ceneral Cemetery, England.

and

FRANCIS. F/Sgt J RAF (1319643) A/G x Oct 1942 to 21 Oct 1943. c/w J Jackson as MU/Gnr. then F A Andrews.

The second individual fits perfectly into the record that the database presents and on the face of it – that should be that.

However, for some reason, I didn’t feel comfortable with this…..

“Sgt. Francis” as we shall refer to him arrives after the ‘main’ Jackson crew. The  Squadron is in a period of transition  from Wellington to Stirling bombers and 75(NZ) is negotiating the transfer  of the Squadron by Flights, to Oakington for conversion training. To this end, the Jackson crew take on an extra gunner for the position of Mid Upper Gunner – Sgt. Francis and a Flight Engineer, Bill Riley.

This ‘new’ Jackson crew fly their first Op back on Squadron on the 16th of December 1942 – Operations, Gardening off Bordeaux.

Sgt. Francis undertakes all Ops with the Jackson crew, through the beginning of the new year, as Mid Upper Gunner including on the 18th of February a Gardening trip to the Gironde Estuary.

Now referring back to the database – there is a sudden gap until the 5th of May 1943, for which I have no explanation.

Scanning through the crew movements for April at the end of the Form 540 identifies the following:

page116 francis to 1657

this clearly shows 4 of the Jackson crew – including a Sgt. A. Jackson 1815847 and their movement to 1657 Conversion Unit.

At this point, I would observe that if the two personnel records previously stated are true, there is no way that the Sgt. Francis listed in the above movement could possibly exist – theoretically his service number would not be known to the person typing this record, for another month………

In the equivalent portion of the May 540 the same 4 airmen are recorded as returning back to 75(NZ) Squadron from 1657 CU. Once again, but now with his second initial, A.J. Francis 1815847.

page 158 francis to 1657

Perhaps, on the next page of this record for May there exists a clue to this puzzle:

J Francis and Beaver in from 1657

Sgt. A.J. Francis is listed again, with Sgt. T.E. Beaver – who was part of John Carey’s crew. Now, I believe, this has to actually be Sgt. J. Francis – the irony being that having misidentified Alan all this time as J. Francis, as soon as a J. Francis DOES arrive, they misidentify him as Alan.

FINALLY, in the October Form 540 Sgt. J. Francis 1319643  appears – just as he leaves to go to No.12 O.T.U.

J Francis to OTU Oct 1943

Based on the evidence, I believe that Alan John Francis was Mid Upper Gunner with John Jackson’s crew, from his first Op at the end of December 1942, until , or around the 13th of May 1943 when the crew flew to Bochum.

There is indeed an almost perverse irony that, it would seem that Alan’s replacement after his death on the 17th May was also called Francis.

 

John deserves his portion of the Jackson crew’s Op history to be presented, as do all the other members.

Perhaps finally he has a history – which until now seems to have been lost within the ‘Official’ records of the Squadron………..

John Jackson’s crew arrived at the Squadron, probably at some point early to mid July 1942, their first Op being on the 28th of July to Hamburg.

28/07/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Seventeen a/c were detailed to carry out an attack on the above target. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in target area and bursts were seen in dock area. A.A. fire was very accurate, light and heavy predicted. There were many accurate searchlight cones in parts but clear over target. Navigation was good by TR and DR. Six a/c failed to return to base

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. S.A. Warburton, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:00 – Landed 05:15
Flight Time 06:15

29/07/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Saarbrucken
Ten a/c were detailed to attack the above targets and bomb load of 4000lbs, 500lbs, 250lbs, 30lb and 4;b incendiaries was dropped in target area. Hits were observed in target area. A.A. fire was weak and searchlights scarce. A twin-engined fighter was seen on return route. Well. III, X3396 was attacked by JU88 but was able to evade it. Weather was cloudy. Navigation was TR and DR.

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. S.A. Warburton, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:59 – Landed 05:35
Flight Time 05:36

31/07/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Dusseldorf
Eleven a/c were detailed to carry out an attack on the above targets. Bomb load of 4000lbs, 30lb and 4lb incendiaries was dropped in target area. Good results were obtained and hits observed. A.A. fire was moderate and search lights although numerous, were ineffective. Well.III, X3396 was attacked by a JU88 but evaded successfully. F/Sgt. Lewis, rear gunner of Well.III, X3646 was struck and injured by a 4lb incendiary bomb falling from another a/c. Weather was good and navigation was by DR and TR

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. S.A. Warburton, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:25 – Landed 05:10
Flight Time 04:45

06/08/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Duisburg
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target, Bomb load of 4000lb, 250lb, incendiaries and flares were dropped in the target area. A.A. fire was heavy and in some parts scattered, ground haze caused searchlights to be ineffective. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was good. Navigation was fairly good bt T.R. and D.R. Wellington X3636, captained by Sgt. Jackson.J. was hit by A.A. fire which caused hydraulics to be unserviceable in his aircraft, he landed successfully on return.

Wellington Mk.III X.3636 AA-R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. F.J.G. Tanner, RAFVR – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Dunn, RAF? – Front Gunner.
Sgt. William George Henry White, RNZAF NZ41717 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 01:50 – Landed 06:00
Flight Time 04:10

27/08/1942 – Attack Against Targets at Kassel
Twelve aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack. Bomb load of 4000 lb. 500 lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Numerous fires were seen in the whole area. A.A. fire was moderate, very few searchlights were encountered. Wellington BJ.584 captained by Sgt. Burril met JU88 when about 30 miles from target, combat ensued in which Sgt. Burrill’s aircraft was seriously damaged amid port engine put out of action. The rear gunner, Sgt. Gorman claims to have shot down the JU88 and to have seen it falling in flames to the ground, the bomb load was jettisoned, and he turned for home. The aircraft failed to maintain height and was down to 700ft at the Dutch Coast, being shot at by light A.A. fire. He crossed the sea still losing height and belly landed at R.A.F. Wattisham on return. The weather was fine, navigation was excellent. Wellington BJ.708 captained by F/Lt Osbourn failed to return.

Wellington Mk.III BJ.832 AA-Z

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. John David Robert MacGillivary, RAFVR 922684 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. Edward McDermot, RCAF R.96960 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:00 – Landed 02:50
Flight Time 05:50

16/09/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Essen
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of4,000lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area, large fires seen. A.A. fire was intense heavy and accurate, searchlights were in heavy concentrations. Wellington B.J.790 captained by Sergt. Blincoe K, was hit by A.A. ire in starboard main plain two minutes prior to bombing, which made a large hole between starboard motor and fuselage, making it impossible to turn to port. Near Dutch coast on return, the aircraft was attacked from underneath by an unseen enemy aircraft, being hit several times and the WOP. Being wounded in the back The enemy aircraft was not seen by any of the crew. On return the aircraft belly landed on the aerodrome with hydraulics unserviceable. Wellington B.J.772 captained by F/Sgt. Wright J.L. was attacked by a JU.88 on return after bombing. The enemy aircraft was fired at by the front gunner; after several bursts it was seen by the captain WOP and front gunner to explode in the air. A few enemy aircraft were seen by other aircraft but no attacks were made. The target area was covered by 8/10 to 9/10 cloud. Navigation was good by TR and DR.

Wellington Mk.III X.3959 AA-L/R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. L. Newbold, RAFVR – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 20:30 – Landed 02:00
Flight Time 05:30

18/09/1942 – Operations. Gardening of St. Nazaire
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. vegetables were successfully planted. Light tracer was encountered over St. Nazaire which appeared to come from the town. A few searchlights were seen operating independently. No enemy aircraft were seen, the weather was very clear at target area, navigation was by D.R. and T.R.

Wellington Mk.III X.3959 AA-L/R

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. W.F. Thompson, RAFVR 962902 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:05 – Landed 01:20
Flight Time 06:15

06/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Osnabruck
Fourteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4,000 lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Scattered fires were seen, flares were lighting up the whole area. Considerable light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered. Searchlights were numerous and operating mainly in cones. The weather was good with low cloud and slight haze at target area. Navigation was good by D.R. , T.R. visual, pinpoints, loop and fixes. Wellington DF639 captained by Sgt. Rhodes G.W. failed to return.

Wellington Mk.III BJ.832 AA-Z

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
P/O Alexander Fielding Minnis, RAFVR 126499 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 19:10 – Landed 01:00
Flight Time 05:50

09/10/1942 – Operations. Gardening off East Frisian Islands
Seven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. vegetables were planted in the allotted area. No A.A. fire was encountered, one searchlight was seen to be sweeping the sea in the area. 10/10th. Cloud was over the allotted area, visibility was poor. Navigation was by D.R., T.R. loops, fixes and map reading.

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:10 – Landed 23:10
Flight Time 05:00

13/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Kiel
Thirteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 4,000 lb and incendiaries were dropped in the target area. Large fires were seen particularly on West side of Fiord. Light, medium and heavy A.A. fire was encountered over a large area, searchlights were also seen on the way to the target. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was clear, with no cloud over the target, visibility was good by the light of flares. Navigation was D.R, T.R. visual and pin-points. Wellington X3954 captained by Sergt. Watters failed to return. Wellington BJ837 captained by Sergt. Davey crashed at R.A.F. Station Lakenheath on return owing to shortage of petrol, four of the crew were injured. All taking part considered this to be a very successful raid.

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:30 – Landed 01:30
Flight Time 07:00

22/10/1942 – Operations. Daylight Attack on Targets At Lingen
Two aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 500lb. 250lb. incendiaries. The bombs were successfully dropped in the target area from a low altitude. One of the aircraft claimed successful hits on a railroad station. No A.A. fire was encountered and no enemy aircraft were seen. The cloud cover was good having a ceiling of 700ft. Navigation was good.

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

Sgt. John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 12:30 – Landed 17:15
Flight Time 04:45

23/10/1942 – Operations. Attack Against Targets At Genoa
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target. Bomb load of 1,000 lb. 500lb. and 250lb. and incendiaries were dropped in the target area, some aircraft claimed to have also bombed Savona. A few light A.A guns and one or two searchlights were encountered. No combats took place. The cloud base at target was down to 3 to 4,000 feet. The aircraft came below this cloud to bomb. Navigation was good by D.R., T.R., loops and fixes.

Wellington Mk.III BK.362 AA-?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:15 – Landed 03:20
Flight Time 09:05

25/10/1942 – Operations. Gardening of Frisian Islands
Two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation. 1500lb. vegetables were successfully planted by one of the aircraft, the other aircraft returned early owing to the Wireless being unserviceable. No. A.A. fire searchlights or enemy aircraft were seen. It was cloudy over the Gardening area, although visibility was fairly good. Navigation was good by D.R. and T.R.

Wellington Mk.III BK.302 AA-?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Observer.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Front Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 03:00 – Landed 06:30
Flight Time 03:30

There now follows a 3 week hiatus while the Jackson crew

16/12/1942 – Operations. Gardening off Bordeaux
Nine aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with 1500lb. vegetables. The take-off was rather cross wind and unfortunately during take-off the wind backed severely so that the flare path was dead cross wind. Three aircraft swung violently on take-off. Then Sergeant Frankin tried to take-off in Stirling I, R.9245, it swung as violently as the other aircraft, but went on, straightened and got airborne, only to crash a mile away from the aerodrome. Two mines exploded and all of the crew were killed. It later transpired that the starboard under carriage wheel had hit Devil’s Dyke, only four feet from the top. The under carriage carried away the oil tank to the starboard inner engine and this is presumed to have seized, causing the aircraft to spin into the ground. No other aircraft took off after this. The three aircraft who successfully took off all planted their vegetables in the allotted area. Some light tracer and a few searchlights were encountered, no enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was variable with heavy rain and hail storms over the gardening area, but clear generally. Navigation was good.

Stirling Mk.I BK617 AA-D

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276/ 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Hector Bernard Duffett, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis , RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw , RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:45 – Landed 05:00
Flight Time 07:15

08/01/1943 – Gardening off the North Sea of Denmark
Three aircrafts were detailed to carry out the above operations with vegetables of 1500 lbs.Two of the aircraft successfully planted their vegetables in the allotted area, the other aircraft captured by F/Sgt. Bailey, was forced to abandon the operation, as his port inner engine failed over the North Sea and he lost height. This put him in heavy icing cloud and forced him to jettison his bombs, all Sperry instruments went u/s. He eventually got “Gee” fix near English coast and arrive safely back at base. No A.A fire, searchlights, or enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was fairly good, as was also visibility, navigation was by D.R and T.R.

Stirling Mk.I BK617 AA-D

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Charles Raglan Davey, NZ413937 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edward Henry Gray, RNZAF NZ412878 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:20 – Landed 22:45
Flight Time 05:25

03/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Hamburg
Nine aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with 4 lb. incendiaries. The crews were instructed to return if they hit bad weather, which unfortunately they did. Heavy cloud and icing were experienced forcing five aircraft to return early. Two aircraft attacked the target but they were unable to observe results owing to 10/10ths. cloud. Some A.A. fire and a few searchlights were encountered although low cloud prevented accuracy. No enemy aircraft were seen. Navigation was good. Two aircraft failed to return, they were Stirling 1 BK604 captained by P/O J McCullough and Stirling 1 R9280 captained by P/O K.H. Blincoe. This was a sad loss as they were two of the oldest captains in the Squadron, with them was also lost Sergt. Scott and P/O Henderson, two new captains gaining experience as second pilot. This leaving us with two headless crews.

Stirling Mk.I BK617 AA-D

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Randolph Ernest Redding, NZ414678 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edward Henry Gray, RNZAF NZ412878 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:25 – Landed 22:00
Flight Time 03:35

04/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Turin
Seven aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 1,000 lb. 500 lb., and 4 lb. incendiaries. Only five aircraft attacked the target, two returning early, one due to turret and inter comm., trouble and the other as the aircraft failed to climb over the Alps, he therefore bombed and objective in occupied France. The five aircraft attacking the target successfully did so on P.F.F. markers, large fires were seen from their own and other incendiaries. Light and heavy A.A. fire was encountered, which was inaccurate. A few searchlights were also operating. Some enemy aircraft were seen, but no combat took please. Heavy cloud was hit in France but the weather was good with clear visibility at the target area. Navigation was very good, by D.R. T.H., and visual. This /is considered to be a very good and concentrated operation.

Stirling Mk.I W7469 AA-T/C/O?

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Randolph Ernest Redding, NZ414678 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edward Henry Gray, RNZAF NZ412878 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 02:25
Flight Time 07:40

13/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Lorient
Eleven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with bombs of 1,000 lb. and 4 lb. incendiaries. Nine aircraft are known to have successfully attacked the target, of the other two, one returned early owing to the mid upper and front turrets being u/s and the other aircraft failed to return. Fires were burning fiercely in the target area, although they appeared to be scattered. F/Lt. Trott had his aircraft damaged by flak at the target, the number two tank on the port side was holed, the trimming tab was hit and his aerial was shot off. He preceded to Middle Wallop and landed safely. Both heavy and light flak was encountered which was intense at first but later spasmodic and appeared to be swamped. Searchlights were seen in the early part of the attack but later went out. Some enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather was very good with clear visibility and no cloud. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft was Stirling 1 R9316 captained by Sgt. R.A. Williams.

Stirling Mk.I BK602 AA-R

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 17:45 – Landed 23:15
Flight Time 05:30

14/02/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Cologne
Eight aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with bombs of 1,000 lb. and 4 lb. incendiaries. All of the aircraft, with the exception of one which returned early owing to engine trouble, successfully bombed the target in 10/10ths cloud by means of P.F.F. sky marker flares, so the success of the trip could not be judged, although a red glow was seen on the clouds as the aircraft left the target area. Heavy and light A.A. fire was encountered, mainly predicted. Several enemy aircraft were seen but no combats took place. There was broken cloud from base to enemy coast, which gradually built up to 10/10ths cloud at the target area. Navigation was very good. A stranger from 214 Squadron landed on our runway and made the aerodrome completely unserviceable. Three of our aircraft therefore, had to be diverted to Lakenheath and Waterbeach.

Stirling Mk.I BK602 AA-R

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
Sgt. Richard Otway French, NZ415756 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:25 – Landed 23:55
Flight Time 05:30

18/02/1943 – Mining in the Gironde Estuary
Seven aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation, with mines of 1500 lb. six of the aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area and the majority of the parachutes were seen to open. One aircraft met flak at Cherbourg which proved to be quite accurate, but the aircraft was not hit. No searchlights were seen. Three enemy aircraft were seen but no attacks were made. The weather over the mining area was hazy, with visibility fair to good. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.I BK647 AA-M

F/S John Jackson, RAFVR 1204276, 140920 – Pilot.
F/S Hector Bernard Duffet, RAFVR 1176955/ 141020 – Navigator.
Sgt. David Walker Findlay, RNZAF NZ412217 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. John Ellis Higgs, RAFVR 1161218/ 155859 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. William Laurence Riley, RAFVR 994223/ 161701 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Alan John Francis, RAFVR 1815847 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. E.A. Shaw, RAFVR 1059434 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 18:45 – Landed 00:35
Flight Time 05:50