Thursday, 29 August 2013

15. Lancelot Waugh (replacement bomb aimer), Randal Springer and the Milsom crew

As I noted earlier, Bob Jay and the rest of the crew were posted to 75 (NZ) Squadron at Mepal on the 6th March 1945. As this extract from the March summary in the squadron's O.R.B. shows, there was one other crew posted from RAF Langar on the same day, that of F/O Bob Milsom (NZ429356).

Part of the monthly summary of 75 (NZ) Squadron's ORB for March 1945
The bomb aimer in this crew was F/O Lance Waugh (NZ429021)**, who transferred to my dad's crew around the end of May 1945 when the rest of his crew volunteered for Tiger Force, and the wireless operator was F/S Randal Springer (NZ4213129).
On the 29th August 2013 I received an e-mail from Keith Springer, Randal's son, who had found my blog and been struck by the similarities between the experiences of his dad and my dad. Both became operational late in the war, both were posted to Mepal on the same day and took part in several operational sorties together and both thankfully survived the war. Randal was also at the I.T.W. in Rotorua at the same time as Bill Mallon and travelled to Canada at the same time as Bill (May 1943). Thanks to Simon Sommerville there is more on the Milsom crew at

The Milsom crew:
  • F/O Robert Milsom (NZ429356) - Pilot
  • F/S Rex Baxter (NZ432738) - Navigator
  • F/O Lancelot Waugh (NZ429021) - Bomb aimer
  • F/S Gilbert Randal Springer (NZ4213129) - Wireless operator
  • Sgt William (Bill) Smith - (RAFVR) - Flight engineer
  • F/O John Alexander Williamson (NZ4210049) - Mid-upper gunner
  • F/O John (Ted) Smith (NZ428291) - Rear gunner
In one of Jim Haworth's letters he refers to F/S Rex 'Shorty' Baxter's move to another squadron at the end of May 1945. 'Shorty' was the navigator with the Milsom crew and their transfer led to Lancelot Waugh joining Bob's crew as Bomb Aimer and replacing F/O Ken Philp.
More details of Shorty's transfer emerged when I received another e-mail from Keith on the 2nd of December 2013. He had found reference to the transfer in his dad's notes, written about twenty years ago:

"While serving in No 75(NZ) Sqn we were in No 3 Group which was what they called the main stream of the bomber force. Having completed some successful operations over Germany our crew was considered sufficiently experienced to become part of a specialist squadron in the offensive against Japan and we were posted to No 9 Squadron RAF at Bardney, Lincolnshire, which was a few miles east of the city of Lincoln. We were now in No 5 Group and part of what became known as ‘Tiger Force’. We had a new bomb-aimer, Ian Rowe from Wellington, and a new flight engineer, Bill Anderson, a Scot, so we were still an almost all NZ crew. We continued our training doing mostly High Level Bombing (H L B in my log book) and cross country navigation (including H2S) flights. Our first flight on 9 Sqn was on 17 June when we went on a ‘Baedeker’ operation over Germany to observe the results of the bombing offensive. On 6 July we flew to our new base at Waddington, the Dam Buster base a few miles south of Lincoln.  We shared the base with 617 Sqn so there were two very well known RAF squadrons together." 
No. 617 Squadron hadn't taken up residence at Waddington until 17th June 1945, about three weeks before No. 9 Squadron. Previously, from March '43 until January '44, it had been based at RAF Scampton, from where it took part in the 'Dambuster' raids, and then at RAF Woodhall Spa until June 1945.

The Milsom crew that was transferred to No. 9 Squadron, probably in early June, 1945:
Sgt. Bill Smith (left) and F/O Ted Smith from the original Milsom crew

  • F/O Robert Milsom (NZ429356) - Pilot
  • F/S Rex 'Shorty' Baxter (NZ432738) - Navigator
  • F/S Ian Rowe (NZ410043) who had been F/O L.Sinclair's (NZ428917) Bomb Aimer. He replaced F/O Lancelot Waugh (NZ429021), who in turn joined Bob Jay's crew
  • F/S Gilbert Randal Springer (NZ4213129) - Wireless operator
  • F/S Bill Anderson (RAFVR) who had been F/O F.Bader's (NZ416076) Flight engineer. He replaced Sgt William (Bill) Smith (RAFVR) in a straight swap. By this stage all six of F/O Bader's crew were RAFVR
  • F/O John Alexander Williamson (NZ4210049) - Mid-upper gunner
  • F/O John (Ted) Smith (NZ428291) - Rear gunner

** Bill Mallon wasn't the only crew member to suffer bereavement whilst posted thousands of miles from home. Barrie Mallon recently came across the following notice from 'The Bay of Plenty Beacon' of 16th March, 1943:

Lance left the squadron on the 15th July 1945. In 1954 he published 'The Historical Development of Kowhai Intermediate School' for his thesis at the University of Auckland where he completed his M.A. in 1955. He was born on the 27th June, 1914, and died in 1994 at the age of 80.

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