Saturday, 4 June 2016


11th Sept -  Bergen op Zoom:  During a recent trip to Belgium and the Netherlands I took some time to visit Bergen op Zoom, a city with a population of about 66,000 in the south of the Netherlands.

Bergen op Zoom town hall in the Grote Markt
On the outskirts of the city there are two Commonwealth War Cemeteries, side by side and surrounded by woodland. The one on the left is the Canadian War Cemetery, the last resting place of 968 Canadians, including 64 from the R.C.A.F. It is also where Sgt Trevor Hedley Gray and his crew, of No. 75(NZ) Squadron, are buried.

The graves of Trevor Gray and his crew, September 2016

Like the Mallon boys, Trevor was an old boy of New Plymouth Boys' High School and his crew's story is told in the book 'The Mallon Crew', to be published shortly. Tom Mallon and his navigator, P/O George Brock, are buried in the adjacent War Cemetery.

The graves of Tom Mallon and George Brock, September 2016

31st May - Jim Haworth's grandson and great grandson:  Ruth sent me this picture of her grandson, Izaak, taking his dad, Andy, for a short flight after gaining his pilot's licence.

25th March - 'The Mallon Crew', the book based on the stories in this blog, should be published later this year, either through one of the publishers that have expressed an interest or by 'self-publishing.

7th March - Jim Haworth, navigator: Jim's daughter Ruth found this poem amongst her dad's belongings recently. She doesn't know its origin but she believes it to be her dad's handiwork and, from what I have learned about Jim during the last couple of years, I would have to agree. It was definitely written by one of the squadron's navigators - there is a glossary below for those unfamiliar with R.A.F. slang and the range of techniques at the navigator's disposal before global positioning satellites were available.

To the tune of "The Mountains of Mourne"
At Mepal our briefing’s a wonderful sight
The Sprog navigators all shitting with fright
They don’t hold with loops or use astro at all
Their only way home is a bloody Gee crawl
At least from their logs it would so appear
That they just guess a course for the skipper to steer
With D.R.M. setting and blue end in red
It’s no wonder they’re always so late into bed.

When all’s said and done they must know their stuff
When the vis has clamped down & the Met is all duff
With H2S fixes and DR as well
And API winking like a bat out of hell
And revise ETA they just alter course
And hope to be still with the rest of the force
But when ‘H’ hour comes round & TI’s go down
You can bet Seventy-five will be raining bombs down.

When coming back home with the crew all asleep
The Nav working backward to fill in his gaps
Across the North Sea they erratically roam
Believing the Nav when he says “Soon be home”.
And when at long last the poor bastards arrive
A sweet voice from control says turn ‘25’.

Astronavigation – using celestial bodies to fix the aircraft’s position using a sextant
Air Position Indicator
Dead Reckoning - calculating one's current position by using a previously determined position and estimated speeds over an elapsed time.
Direct Reading Magnetic compass. Blue end in red probably refers to the N and S poles of the compass, coloured red and blue respectively.
Estimated time of arrival
An early form of ground control radar
Aircraft mounted radar
H Hour
The moment bombs are scheduled to start to fall
Loop antennae, part of the Radio Direction Finder system (R.D.I.)
The Meteorology Officer’s weather report
A newly qualified airman
Target Indicator flares dropped by Pathfinder Force

3rd March - Charles Frederick Green: after a fascinating and lengthy conversation with Charles I have been able to update his story. What a privilege to be able to talk to someone who flew with my dad, even if it was on only three operations and he flew with so many different crews during his second tour that he remembers none of them.

1st March - Charles Frederick Green D.F.C: just like Cook, Green is not an unusual surname and I expected to have just as much difficulty tracing Charles as I did Don. I was mistaken -  I was delighted to discover not only the whereabouts of Charles, but also that he was alive and well, the only one so far to have survived to read my story. I received an e-mail this afternoon from Mike, a friend of Charles, who was trying to find a way of obtaining a copy of his D.F.C. citation. He wrote: "He is a fabulous chap who wouldn't have done this himself but I think he deserves some recognition of his wartime experiences." I couldn't agree more!

January - Don Cook: just before Christmas 2015 I decided that all my efforts to trace Don or his family were getting me nowhere. I decided I needed the help of the professionals and who better than 'FinderMonkey', one of the organisations featured in the BBC documentary series 'Family Finders.'

Unfortunately they were unable to help.

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