|Sergeant Robert Jay, November 1944|
As a child I never tired of asking my dad about his experiences as a flight engineer in a Lancaster. I wanted to know where he sat, what his job was, what flak was like and even how aircraft were able to fly. By the time I left primary school my interest had started to wane and when he died in 1974 at the age of 55 any chance of questioning him further about his experiences was lost. I was left with a handful of photographs, his flying log book and the name of his New Zealand pilot, Bill Mallon.
In the spring of 2012 I acquired his service record and decided to document as much as I could of his war-time experiences so that his grandchildren, who never met him and for whom the Second World War was ancient history, could learn about this momentous part of his life. This decision took me on an incredible voyage of discovery which is described in my recently published article (25th April 2015) entitled 'Peter Jackson's next project?'
What's new in 2015?
30th April - a sad postscript to the 25th February up-date below was the recent death of John McFarland, one of the three survivors of Jim Murray's crew.
28th April - as a 'Yellowbelly' I have been closely following the progress of the International Bomber Command Centre project and came across this account written by Sgt John Sargeant DFM. John was a flight engineer with No. 106 Squadron based at RAF Syerston in Nottinghamshire.
25th April - one of the replies to the article I had published recommends the video 'Maximum Effort', a short film about a day in the life of a 75 Squadron crew - it is well worth a look! The crew completed their tour but the aircraft in the film, AA-O (ND752), was one of seven from the squadron lost on the notorious Homburg operation of the 20th/21st July, 1944. The pilot, Henry Burtt, and four of his crew were killed.
4th April - Ken Philp (bomb aimer): Ken's family has now been traced and I am hopeful that I will be able to add to his chapter (chapter12) shortly.
3rd April - in 1940 Bob was given a Rotary watch for his 21st birthday - it is 75 years old today and still going strong!
|75 years old today!|
20th March - Denis Eynstone (rear gunner): Chapter 11 now complete, with details of all his post-war service, and Chapter 11a has some of Denis's art work from earlier in the war.
28th February - Bill Mallon's dad Alexander (Alec) emigrated from Australia to New Zealand in about 1910, leaving behind family and friends. One of these was his sister, May Elizabeth Mallon, whose granddaughter Pat still lives in Australia. Pat lost contact with Alec's family many years ago and has only a sketchy recollection of Alec and some of his family visiting her grandmother in Sydney before the war. On the 28th January 2015 I received an e-mail from Pat's son-in-law Michael who had been researching his wife's family history and came across this blog. Pat had known Alec's sons were pilots but had no idea what had happened to them - Michael said she read their chapters with pride and they are planning a reunion with the Mallons when they travel to New Zealand later this year.
25th February - F/O Henry James Murray: I have written at length about the sacrifices made by the people of New Zealand and by the Mallon family in particular. The 75(NZ) Squadron blog recently told the story of another family that suffered the heartbreak of losing more than one son. On the 26th May 1941 David Magnus Murray (27) was killed serving with the New Zealand Infantry in Crete. Just over a year later, on the 22nd July 1942 David's brother Gavin Allan Murray (32), a New Zealand Engineer, was killed at El Alamein. The third of the four Murray brothers, Henry James ('Jim') (26), became a pilot and was posted to No 75(NZ) Squadron in February 1944. In the early hours of the 19th April 1944 Jim died along with three of his crew when their aircraft was brought down over Denmark on a mine-laying operation at Kiel Bay. Their surviving brother, the youngest, was not then permitted to serve overseas, although both he and their sister did serve with the N.Z. armed forces.
- Bob Jay - flight engineer.
- The crew. 3a. Bob's operational sorties. 3b. The war is over.
- Bill Mallon - pilot
- Bill Mallon - early years and his epic journey.
- Jim Haworth - navigator.
- Jim Haworth - more letters home.
- Jim Haworth - his account of a 'Baedeker trip'.
- Jim Haworth - navigating at night.
- Frank Symes - wireless operator
- Denis Eynstone - rear gunner 11a. Denis Eynstones 'War Plane Atlas'
- Ken Philp - bomb aimer
- Don Cook - mid-upper gunner
- Eric Butler - replacement pilot
- Lancelot Waugh (replacement bomb aimer), Randal Springer & the Milsom crew.
- Jack Mallon.
- Jack Mallon and 'The Other Few'.
- Tom Mallon.
- Tom Mallon - "Say not 'goodnight'".
- Les Hofert.
- RF127 (AA-W) & NX611.
- Squadron Leader Alban Chipling D.F.C. (RAFVR 108178)
- No.75(NZ) Squadron - operations from March - April 1945.
- No.75(NZ) Squadron - losses from March - April 1945.
- Appendix I: 'You are going to be a Flight Engineer' (pamphlet).
- Appendix II: Pages from the Squadron's O.R.B. showing Bob's 'War ops'.
- Appendix III: 'Flak'.
- Appendix IV: Bob's RAF 'Record of Service'.
- Appendix V: Bob's Flying Log book.
- Appendix VI: RAF identity card (Form 1250).
- Appendix VII: RAF Service Book (Form 64 Part I).
- Appendix VIII: RAF Airman's Pay Book.
- Appendix IX: Pages from Bob's I.T.W. exercise book (Feb-Mar 1944).
- Appendix X: What happened to the crew after the war?
- Appendix XI: An unexpected benefit of a flying suit.
- Appendix XII: Bob's Bomber Command Clasp 2014
- Appendix XIII: Time travel
- Appendix XIV: My Lancaster flight - 18th August 2014
Originally planned as my dad's story this blog has now become the story of his crew - or at least his pilot, navigator, wireless operator, bomb aimer and rear gunner. To complete the story I need to find out more about their mid-upper gunner:
- Sgt Don Cook (RAFVR), aged 20 in 1944/5 (born 1924 or 1925) from London (?)
A huge thank you to all of the following:
- 75nzsquadron- a fantastic collection of material related to No. 75 (NZ) Squadron and compiled by Simon Sommerville. This blog, started in memory of Simon's dad, also called Bob, has continued to grow at a remarkable pace since its inception. Bob took part in 51 operations during two tours with the squadron and died in August 2011.
- The Lancaster Archive forum
- Wings over New Zealand
- Aircraft Q failed to return - the story of Cecil Butler, a flight engineer whose training parallelled that of Bob's but started 6 months earlier. As he flew with the Pathfinder Force he was expected to complete a tour of 45 operations rather than the usual 30. He was shot down and killed on his 31st operation. Much of the detail about my dad's training came from this website, painstakingly researched by Pete Tresadern.
- www.75squadron-raf-rnzaf.com - the New Zealand 75 Squadron Association, first created in 1950 and the source of lots of help and useful information
- NZDF Serials - Lancaster
- RAF Bomber Command Diary
- P/O Thomas Forbes - at No. 7 I.T.W. at RAF Newquay
- Royal Air Force Organisation
- RAF Bomber Command 1939-45: Rob Davis
- 'Luck and a Lancaster' by Harry Yates, DFC
- 'No Moon Tonight' by Don Charlwood
- 'Bombs on Target' by Ron Mayhill, DFC
- 'The Nazi & the Luftgangster' by D. B. Williamson and Lutz Dille
- 'Kiwis do fly' by Peter J. Wheeler
- 'Lancaster' by Christopher Chant
- 'Lancaster' by M. Garbett & B. Goulding
- 'Avro Lancaster (1941 onwards): owners' workshop manual' - Haynes Publishing.