As there is a bit of a lull in Broody’s flying logs for a couple of weeks, I thought I’d go off on a bit of a tangent and share the following story with you.
An old friend commented on a photo of Broody that I posted on Facebook on the 70th Anniversary of D Day. She said:
“My great uncle was a navigator on a Lancaster – part of an Australian squadron – unfortunately he and his crew (3 Aussies, 4 Brits) didn’t make it. He was with 463 squadron. I don’t really know much of his story; he didn’t fly many missions before being shot down at the age of 21. I have his crew list; they are all buried in Liesse Communal Cemetery. One guy was 33 but the others ranged in age from 19 to 23. I have a pic of 6 of the 7 of them standing in front of a Lancaster, and another pic of their graves”
The temptation to delve into the story was too great to resist, so armed only with a name and a place of interment, I set out to see what I could discover about Fg Off Stanley Alfred Isham.
This is what I found:
He enlisted in the RAFVR between Apr/Oct 1941 . His service number was 1610904.
He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer (General Duties Branch) from Leading Aircraftman on 30/04/43. His Commissioned service number was 151994. (Gazetted 13/07/43 – P3162)
He was promoted to War Substantive Flying Officer on 30/10/43 (Gazetted 05/11/43 – P4863)
I could not find any record of him with any Operational Training Units or Conversion Units, but knew from the initial information I had that he was posted to 463(RAAF) Squadron at RAF Waddington. There is no record of his arrival in the ORB for 463 Squadron, but he was not part of C Flight, 467 (RAAF) Squadron who formed the initial core of 463 in November 1943. Based on flights by McKnight as 2nd Pilot in December 1943, it is likely that was his date of arrival.
In total, he flew 7 Operational missions as detailed below. The first 6 were successfully completed, but the final flight on 25/02/44 was sadly the one he did not return from. There are no corresponding Luftwaffe / German AA claims for this aircraft, so most likely cause was a crash due to AC failure
The crew of DV274 on 26/02/44, were as follows:
||Kevin Harold McKnight
||Stanley Alfred Isham
||Clifford James Johnson
||Stanley James Nelson
||(Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
||Leslie William Roberts
All done with the power of the Internet – Thanks to all those who helped! What I did discover is that the National Archives in Australia have made publically available some ORBs for RAAF Squadrons. The national Archives in Kew should take note of this insightful step by the Aussies, as it makes historical research a lot easier and more accessible to all! You can search these records at http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/search/
So now we know a bit more about Stan Isham’s war time service – but can we expand on the story and fill in the gaps between enlistment in 1941, through training and conversion until he joined 463 (RAAF) Squadron in early 1944? And of course there is the photograph that Nic shared with me. The photo is not annotated, but can we identify the others in the picture?
Stan Isham (2nd from right) and his crew-mates in front of aircraft DV274 (JO-R) of 463(RAAF) Squadron.