B.B. Wood crew 21.5.43 †

Benny

F/S Benjamin Brinley ‘Benny’ Wood, Pilot – lost with all of his crew on 23rd June 1943, Mülheim. © Liz and Dave Wood

Ben Wood was born in 1919 in New Tredegar, Wales, the family went to Jersey in about 1928.  He finished his education at St Clements School Jersey.  His first job was as a bus conductor.  He was then an apprentice Motor Engineer at La Motte St Garage, Jersey.  As he was of military age, had he stayed in Jersey he would have been interned.  He left the Island in June 1940, and joined the RAF.   Trained as a Cadet Pilot at the Dart School of Aeronautics, Albany, Georgia, USA.  He married Sadie on 13th April 1943 and tragically died only two months later.

Ben Wood

Ben Wood, tending his parents vegetable plot in Jersey.
© Bill Wood

W/O Edgar Reader - Wireless Operator, Wood crew. 15th May - 23rd June 1943

W/O Edgar Reader – Wireless Operator, Wood crew. 15th May – 23rd June 1943

Many thanks to Adrian for contacting me regarding his uncle, Edgar Reader, who flew with Ben Wood crew between May 15th and June 23rd, when he and the rest of the crew were lost on the Mulheim raid.

Adrian has done a great research job, so what follows is his gathered research, with the odd extra bit from what I have;

Edgar Reader was born and raised in the village of Fordham Cambs only 5 miles from where he was to later serve with 75(NZ) Squadron at Newmarket. He enlisted in the RAFVR in January 1941 and after being placed on reserve was called up for service the following July. Initial induction training was carried out at Blackpool before going on to specialist training as a Wireless Operator/ Air Gunner passing through  1 Signal School Cranwell , 2 Signal School Yatesbury and 3 Air Gunner School Castle Kennedy. He was then posted to 12 OTU based at Chipping Warden in October 1942. On the 12/4/43 he was transferred to 1651CU at Waterbeach to convert to the Stirling bomber before Edgar and the rest of the Wood crew finally arrived at 75(NZ) Squadron on the 14th May 1943.

As was normal procedure, Ben undertook 2 familiarisation Ops with  more experienced crews before taking his crew on their first Operational sortie on the 21st of May.

23/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Dortmund
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attacks with bombs of 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble, and the remaining aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Some very large fires were seen, and the bombs were seen to explode amongst large buildings. Medium and Heavy A.A.Fire co-operating with searchlights was encountered. One aircraft was hit whilst over the target, and the port outer propeller was shot off, but the aircraft successfully returned to base. Some enemy aircraft were seen, and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was good in the target area, but identification was difficult owing to smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. Stirling Mk.III,BK.783 captained by Sergeant S.M. Tietjens failed to return.

Stirling Mk.I BF777 AA-U

P/O Richard Otway French, RNZAF NZ415756 – Pilot.
Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – 2nd Pilot.
Sgt. F. Richardson, RAFVR 1097879 – Navigator.
Sgt. B. Tregonning, RAFVR 1319088 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Rupert George Moss, RAFVR 1256127/ 147773 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Norman Bartlett, RAF 54290 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Harold Ernest Moss, RNZAF NZ413274 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J. Moran, RAFVR 1117083 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:13 – Landed 03:13
Flight Time 04:00

25/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Dusseldorf
Sixteen aircraft were detailed to carry out the above attack with bombs of 1000lb and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. Four aircraft returned early owing to engine trouble, and one failed to return. The remaining eleven aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area, and some large explosions were also seen. Both heavy and light A.A.Fire was encountered, co-operating with searchlights, which were ineffective. Some enemy aircraft were seen and two short combats took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. Ten tenths cloud was prevalent in the target area, but visibility was fairly good. Navigation was very good. This missing aircraft was Stirling Mk.I. BK602, captained by Sergeant T.W. Darton.

Stirling Mk.III BK809 AA-T

F/S Charles Arnold Rothschild, RCAF R.66347/ J.18852 – Pilot.
Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – 2nd Pilot.
F/S George King Samson, RNZAF NZ402563 – Navigator.
P/O Arthur Wilfred Lane, RAFVR 383885/ 139406 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Robert Ernest Tod, RCAF R.91742 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Eric Grainger, RAFVR 625045 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Richard Douglas Tod, RCAF R.91741 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. J.L. Moss, RAFVR 1312565 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:59 – Landed 01:08
Flight Time 01:09

21/05/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Six aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with Mines of 1500lb, All of the aircraft successfully dropped their Mines in the allotted area. And the parachutes were seen to open. No.A.A. Fire, searchlights or enemy aircraft were encountered. The weather was good, but visibility was impaired by sea haze. Navigation was very good..

Stirling Mk.III BK809 AA-T

Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – Pilot.
Sgt. Peter Gerald Dobson, RNZAF NZ439022 – Navigator.
Sgt. Stuart Richard Bisset, RNZAF NZ415738 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edgar Henry Reader, RAFVR 1331432 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Webb, 1266998 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Cyril Benjamin Hemmings, RAFVR 1235070 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick Johns Hobbs, RAFVR 1609558 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 21:55 – Landed 01:52
Flight Time 03:57

27/05/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Five aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with mines of 1500lbs. All of the aircraft successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area and the parachutes were seen to open. Some light A.A.Fire was encountered, but it was ineffective. No enemy aircraft were seen. The weather was good in the mining area, except for slight sea haze. Navigation was very good.

Stirling Mk.III BK619 AA-X

Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – Pilot.
F/O Lindsay Stewart Dixon, RNZAF NZ416469 – Navigator.
Sgt. Stuart Richard Bisset, RNZAF NZ415738 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edgar Henry Reader, RAFVR 1331432 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Joseph Germain Fabien Sansoucy, R.66953/ C.86345 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Cyril Benjamin Hemmings, RAFVR 1235070 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick Johns Hobbs, RAFVR 1609558 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 22:49 – Landed 03:01
Flight Time 04:12

29/05/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Wuppertal
Twenty aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation with bombs of 2000lb, 1000lb, and incendiaries of 30lb and 4lb. One aircraft failed to take-off owing to the rear turret being unserviceable, and two returned early. Four aircraft failed to return. The remaining thirteen aircraft successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Very large fires were seen and also some big explosions. Some heavy A.A.Fire was encountered, but it was ineffective. No searchlights were seen. A few enemy aircraft were seen and one short combat took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. The weather was good in the target area, but visibility was impaired by smoke from the fires. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirlings Mk.III BK776 Captained by P/O. R.F.Bennett, Mk.I EF398, captained by F/O. R.B. Vernazoni, MK.III EH881 captained by Sgt. J.H. Carey and Mk.III Bf561 captained by Sgt. S.R. Thornley.

Stirling Mk.I BK619 AA-X

Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – Pilot.
F/O Harold Sidney Frank Daborn, RAFVR 1376732/ 116534 – Navigator.
Sgt. Stuart Richard Bisset, RNZAF NZ415738 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edgar Henry Reader, RAFVR 1331432 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Webb, 1266998 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Cyril Benjamin Hemmings, RAFVR 1235070 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick Johns Hobbs, RAFVR 1609558 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:30 – Landed 01:05
Flight Time 01:35

01/06/1943 – Mining off the Frisian Islands
Two aircraft were detailed to carry out the above operation, with Mines of 1,500lbs., they both successfully dropped their mines in the allotted area, and parachutes were seen to open. One aircraft had the bad luck to fly over Flak ships and received several hits in the fuselage, none of which were serious. NO enemy aircraft or searchlights were encountered. The weather was clear and visibility was good. Navigation was a very good.

Stirling Mk.I BK619 AA-X

Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – Pilot.
F/S George King Samson, RNZAF NZ402563 – Navigator.
Sgt. Stuart Richard Bisset, RNZAF NZ415738 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edgar Henry Reader, RAFVR 1331432 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Webb, 1266998 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Cyril Benjamin Hemmings, RAFVR 1235070 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Frederick Johns Hobbs, RAFVR 1609558 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 00:37 – Landed 03:33
Flight Time 02:56

21/06/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Krefeld
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above target with incendiaries of 30lb. and 4lb. bombs in the target area. The operation was very successful, the whole of the town was seething in flames and the smoke from the fires was rising to a height of 8,000ft. On the return the fires could be seen from the Dutch Coast. Heavy, moderate and light A.A. fire. Some enemy aircraft were seen and one short combat took place, but no damage was sustained to our aircraft. The weather was good with clear visibility except in the target area, where there was haze caused by fires. Navigation was excellent.

Stirling Mk.III BK619 AA-X

Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – Pilot.
F/S George King Samson, RNZAF NZ402563 – Navigator.
Sgt. Stuart Richard Bisset, RNZAF NZ415738 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edgar Henry Reader, RAFVR 1331432 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Webb, 1266998 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick Johns Hobbs, RAFVR 1609558 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Cyril Benjamin Hemmings, RAFVR 1235070 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:54 – Landed 02:30
Flight Time 02:36

22/06/1943 – Attack Against Targets at Mannheim (actually Mülheim)
Fifteen aircraft were detailed to attack the above targets with incendiary bombs of 30lbs and 4lbs. Four aircraft failed to return and the remainder successfully dropped their bombs in the target area. Large concentrated fires and some explosions were seen the whole RUHR area was smoke palled. A very heavy A.A. barrage co-operating with searchlights was encountered and five aircraft were slightly hit by A.A.fire, some enemy aircraft were seen and three short combats took place, but no damage was sustained by our aircraft. There was 3/10ths cloud on the target area but visibility was fairly good, except for smoke haze. Navigation was very good. The missing aircraft were Stirling Mk.I EF399 captained by F/S Burbidge, Mk.III EF408 captained by Sgt. Wood, MK.III BK810 captained by W/O McKenzie and Mk.III EH889 captained by F/O McCrorie.

Stirling Mk.III EF408 AA-P

Sgt. Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAFVR 656588 – Pilot.
F/S George King Samson, RNZAF NZ402563 – Navigator.
Sgt. Stuart Richard Bisset, RNZAF NZ415738 – Air Bomber.
Sgt. Edgar Henry Reader, RAFVR 1331432 – Wireless Operator.
Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Webb, 1266998 – Flight Engineer.
Sgt. Frederick Johns Hobbs, RAFVR 1609558 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Sgt. Cyril Benjamin Hemmings, RAFVR 1235070 – Rear Gunner.

Take Off 23:40 – Landed –
Flight Time Missing

Stirling Mk.III EF408 AA-P was hit by flak and crashed at Gelsenkirchen. There were no survivors. All were buried in the Bismarck Friedhof, but later reinterred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

F/S Benjamin Brinley Wood, RAF 656588 – Pilot.
Killed age 24.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 19. G. 4-6.

F/S George King Samson, RNZAF NZ402563 – Navigator.
Killed age 27.
Son of Walter and Margaret Samson, of Wellington City, New Zealand.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 19. G. 4-6.

F/S Stuart Richard Bisset, RNZAF NZ415738 – Air Bomber.
Killed age 20.
Son of Alexander and Aline Constance Bisset, of Kaitaia, Auckland, New Zealand.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – Coll. grave 19. G. 4-6.

Sgt. Edgar Henry Reader, RAFVR 1331432 – Wireless Operator.
Killed age 21.
Son of Henry John and Ethel May Reader, of Fordham, Cambridgeshire.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 19. G. 3.
‘We thank our God
For every remembrance of him’

Sgt. Stanley Lawrence Webb, RAFVR 1266998 – Flight Engineer.
Killed age 33.
Son of George William and Lily Matilda Webb; Husband of Violet Eileen Webb, of Northolt Park, Greenford, Middlesex.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 19. G. 1.
‘In proud and loving memory
Of our dear Stanley’

Sgt. Frederick Johns Hobbs, RAFVR 1609558 – Mid Upper Gunner.
Killed age 19.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 19. G. 2.

Sgt. Cyril Benjamin Hemmings, RAFVR 1235070 – Rear Gunner.
Killed age 21.
Buried Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany..
Grave location – 19. G. 7.

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