Monday, 10 November 2014

1. Introduction.

Sgt. Bob Jay, November 1944
This blog is the extraordinary result of four years research. My dad was a flight engineer with No.75(NZ) Squadron and, as a child growing up in the 1950s, I never tired of asking him about his experiences, wanting to know where in the aircraft he sat, what his role 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 just 55, I thought that any chance of finding out more was lost. I was left with a handful of photographs, his log book and the name of his pilot.

In the spring of 2012 I acquired Bob's 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 something about this momentous part of his life. This decision took me on an incredible voyage of discovery which is summarised in the recently published article 'Peter Jackson's next project?' (25th April 2015). What was intended to be a single-entry blog for the benefit of close family now has 30 chapters, 17 appendices and more than 30,000 words and has unearthed incredible stories of courage, sacrifice and disappointment. I even discovered a photograph of the Lancaster carrying Bob and his crew on the last of their operations over Germany. 

No. 75(NZ) Squadron flew more sorties than any other Allied heavy bomber squadron and suffered the second most casualties - one of its airmen was even awarded the Victoria Cross. But this story is not about the squadron, nor is it about individual heroism, it is about a small number of unremarkable men thrown together briefly during the last few months of the war and the amazing way in which their tales are unfolding seventy years later. I defy anyone not to be moved by their tragedies or to marvel at the power of the internet.

All of the crew survived the war but their lives would never be the same again.

  • What happened in 2015
  • The crew.
  • Bob Jay - flight engineer.
  • 3a. Bob's operational sorties.
  • 3b. The war is over
  • 3c. Some of Bob's stories.
  • 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.
  • Denis Eynstone's '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.
  • Charles Green - mid-under gunner.
  • Owen Willetts.
  • Les Hofert.
  • Doug Williamson.
  • S/L Alban Chipling D.F.C. (RAFVR 108178).
  • RF127 (AA-W) & NX611.
  • No.75(NZ) Squadron - operations from March - April 1945.
  • No.75(NZ) Squadron - losses from March - April 1945.
  • Jack Mallon and Paul Warnault (the mayor of GuĂ®nes).
  • Jack Mallon and 'The Other Few'.
  • Tom Mallon.
  • Tom Mallon - "Say not 'goodnight'".
    • 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:'Tiger Force'
    • 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
    • Appendix XV: Hereworth School
    • Appendix XVI: Navigating World War 2 bombers
      An appeal
      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 (?)
      Can anyone help? (my contact details are in 'View my complete profile' below)

      A huge thank you to all of the following:
      I am particularly grateful to Pete and Simon for their help during the writing of this blog and to all the other people who have helped, but most of all I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the families of my dad's crew.
      • '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.

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