Tag Archives: Operations record Book

488 (NZ) Squadron camera gun footage

The Imperial War Museum has added some web-accessible RAF Camera Gun footage to it’s online collection. The video, which can be found by following this link, has over 250 clips of 16mm cine “camera gun” film showing successful combats.

The collection includes 7 clips of 488(NZ) Squadron kills. The quality of the footage is understandably poor, and nothing like the shocking combat footage that we have been shown of more recent war zones. However, we must take into account the quality of the film itself; and the fact that all these combats were filmed in the dark. I believe that they do all add to the story of the Squadron.

For ease, I have listed the combats below, and referenced the time stamp on the video so that you can easily find the clip you are interested in. I should point out that the dates on the clips refer to the actual date of the combat which may differ to the dates quoted on this site. This is because my reference is the Squadron’s ORB which will record a victory on the day the pilot took off – therefore flights that span midnight may be a day out.

Timestamp Pilot Date
07:48 Sqn Ldr Bunting 14/iii/44
10:02 Fg Off Vlotman 22/iii/44
10:10 Flt Lt J Hall 22/iii/44
10:16 Sqn Ldr Bunting 22/iii/44
21:41 WO Bourke 19/iv/44
21:48 Flt Lt J Hall 19/iv/44
38:22 Flt Lt J Hall 15/v/44

 


In memory of Sgt Jimmy Thornton

As we spend the day remembering and giving thanks to those who gave their lives in conflict, I thought it timely to share another poem that was included in my grandfather’s collection of war memorabilia.

As with the last poem I published, I am not sure of the author. It is unlikely that my grandfather was the author, as the poem makes reference to time spent in Canada and Harrogate. Broody was not stationed at either of these locations.

“Jimmy”

(In memory of Sgt Jimmy Thornton)

From forty one to forty three
We lived our lives as one.
We trained and talked, drank and walked.
Our lives were in the sun.

From Blackpool, Brid to Heaton Park
And Aston Down as well.
Each station brought us near our goal
‘Though some of it was hell.

Wintered in Canadian snows
Our brevets and tapes to earn.
Then back home to Harrogate
And still much more to learn.

Then the parting of the ways,
Our paths no more to cross.
From OTU to HCU
Then a crew for a squadron loss.

We flew, we fought by night and day
Our duty must be done
Without a thought for future years
Till the fight was won.

I tried to found out where you’d gone,
‘Gone missing ‘, so they said.
Then I found in later years
Your name among the dead.

Your name is now emblazoned
On Runnymede’s great wall
In letters clear of shinning gold
Your death reminds us all –

You lie in some forgotten field
Or in a watery grave.
Now I, who live, am humbled
By your young life you gave.

I’m sure you’ll agree this is a very moving piece of writing – a personal tribute from one airman to another who trained together and then went their separate ways to fight in the air war.

Some research of the CWGC database only lists one James Thornton as remembered on the Runnymede Memorial [Panel 277], a Sgt. James Dennis Thornton (1317255) of 36 Squadron.

For much of the war, 36 Squadron had been based in the Mediterranean and North African theatres, but in January 1945 the Squadron was flying Wellington Mk XIVs out of RAF Chivenor, on Anti-Submarine patrols with RAF Coastal Command.

The Squadron’s Operations Record Book for 24/i/45 reports that at 01:39, aircraft NB880 took off on patrol duty LV42. The crew for that flight were:

F/Lt Walter George Edward Becker (62695)
F/O Harry Edwin Hastings (189139)
F/Lt Stanley Walton (125847)
W/O Henry Thomas Large (1384700)
F/Sgt James Murray Smith Richie (656758)
Sgt James Dennis Thornton (1317255)

There is no “Down” time recorded in the ORB. The entry reads:

“This aircraft failed to return. F/Lt Becker and his crew are missing. Later reports state that a fire was seen at sea. P/407 sighted oil patches and wreckage (thought to be pieces of fabric) in position 5302N 0450W.”

(This is a position approximately 18 Nautical Miles SSW of RAF Valley on Anglesey)

Please spare some time today to remember, among the thousands of others, these 6 young men who have no grave except the Irish Sea and who gave their lives so we could have a better tomorrow.


The Broodbank Collection – Catalogue now available!

At long last, I have catalogued the various items in my grandfather’s collection. You can see a complete list of all archive material by following this link.

This is still a bit of a work in progress, as there are currently no links to images etc, but in time this page should allow researchers to view the material in my collection.

As ever, if you want to get in contact about this or any other page on the site, please use the Contact page.


24/vi/44 – Escape and Evasion Lecture

Although Broody did not fly today, there is an entry in the ORB that I thought I would share.

“…In the afternoon, F/Lt Ricketts, Interrogation Officer from Middle Wallop gave a very interesting and amusing lecture to the Aircrew. He made clear how to behave in the event of anybody falling into enemy hands. F/Lt Ricketts also brought with him two knives of German make, which had come from Aircraft destroyed by the Squadron on the night of 14th May. These souvenirs were much appreciated by the Squadron and particularly by the recipients, the successful pilots of that evening F/Lt JAS Hall DFC and F/O Jeffs.”

As a boy, stories of POW camps, escape and evasion were my thing. In Broody’s collection are a few items that would have been used by Aircrew who found themselves behind enemy lines.

These include: 3 notes of “Invasion Currency”, a set of fly button compasses, a small brass button compass, a seam compass and a shirt stud compass. All to be used to assist in attempts to evade the enemy or escape and return to Allied territory.

Invasion Currency - Issued to Personnel of the Allied Expeditionary Force in 1944

Invasion Currency – Issued to Personnel of the Allied Expeditionary Force in 1944

Brass button compass

Brass button compass

Fly button compass. One button (L) has luminous paint indicating North & South, The other (R) has a small spike that the first compass sits on to allow it to swing freely.

Fly-button compass. One button (L) has luminous paint indicating North & South. The other (R) has a small spike that the first compass sits on to allow it to swing freely.

Fly-button compass in use

Fly-button compass in use

A seam compass which would be hidden in the seams of clothing. When suspended from a thread, it would swing to indicate North.

A seam compass which would be hidden in the seams of clothing. When suspended from a thread, it would swing to indicate North.

A shirt stud compass. Originally, the glass would have been painted over, and only scratched off to reveal the compass needle when needed.

A shirt stud compass. Originally, the glass would have been painted over, and only scratched off to reveal the compass needle when needed.


Stanley Alfred Isham – 463 (RAAF) Squadron

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

DATE AC SERIAL CODE TARGET TIME UP TIME DOWN
05&06/01/44 DV274 JO-R STETTIN 00:11 09:05
14&15/01/44 JA973 JO-O BRUNSWICK 17:09 22:50
15&16/02/44 LL790 JO-O BERLIN 17:35 00:43
19&20/02/44 DV280 JO-S LEIPZIG 00:01 07:14
20&21/02/44 DV280 JO-S STUTTGART 00:03 06:55
24&25/02/44 LL790 JO-O SCHWEINFURT 20:40 04:26
25&26/02/44 DV274 JO-R AUSBERG 18:45 DNR

The crew of DV274 on 26/02/44, were as follows:

RANK NAME ROLE SERVICE #
PO Kevin Harold McKnight (Pilot) 415347
FO Stanley Alfred Isham (Navigator) 151994
FO Clifford James Johnson (Bomb Aimer) 418425
Flt Sgt Stanley James Nelson (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) 410710
Sgt Leslie William Roberts (Flight Engineer) 1603695
Sgt Thomas Winn (Air Gunner) 938040
Sgt Kenneth Linford (Air Gunner) 1477129

 

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.

Stan Isham (2nd from right) and his crew-mates in front of aircraft DV274 (JO-R) of 463(RAAF) Squadron.


21/v/44 – Patrol and Canopy Exercise.

21/v/44
21st May 15:00
DH Mosquito XIII MM558 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT, CINE-GUN & A/I PRACTICE
Landed at Colerne to collect Squash balls.
0:40

16:10
COLERNE ~ BASE
0:20

22:25
PATROL – Exminster. CANOPY EXERCISE – Portland
Stooge patrol – one run as target.
13 runs over canopy – quite efficient once awake.
Generator & Lucero U/S on the way home
3:00

Also on this day, it was announced that Sqn Ldr Edward Bunting and Flt Lt Phil Reed had been awarded a Bar to their DFCs; and that Flt Lt Johnny Hall and Plt Off Jock Cairns had been awarded a DFC.


Summary for April 1944

SUMMARY for APRIL

TOTAL BEAUFIGHTER DAY 00H45M
TOTAL MOSQUITO DAY 16H40M
TOTAL OXFORD DAY 2H35M
TOTAL DAY FLYING 20H00M
TOTAL MOSQUITO NIGHT 26H40M
TOTAL NIGHT OPERATIONS 26H40M

Another busy month for Broody, with 4 more Operational hours flown than in March.

The ORB summary for the month states:

“A quiet month with very little enemy activity in our Sector. The destruction of two Huns on the only night of a large scale raid reflect great credit on the Squadron, and the first success of an all New Zealand aircrew acted as a tonic to the Squadron.

Practices in formation flying have resulted in a high standard and the exercise ‘London’ proved our ability to cope in this unaccustomed role”

The victories referred to were a JU.88 apiece on 18/iv/44 for Johnny Hall (his 4th victory to date, putting him at the top of the Squadron’s leader board at the end of the month), and the all Kiwi crew of WO Rod Bourke and Fg Off Irwin Skudder. (See entries 17 & 18 on the Squadron Victories page)

Other interesting snippets from the ORB for the month include:

“The Squadron aircrew plus the Adjutant and M.O moved into tents today. Quite a Boy Scout air and a good deal of ‘scrounging’ apparent” (08/iv/44)

“B Flight visited Westcliffe Baths for a Dinghy Drill and a good time was had by all” (21/iv/44)

“We maintained a continuous patrol over a Walrus which was taxying in with an overload of rescued American aircrew” (22/iv/44)

The overloading of the Supermarine Walrus, a  single-engine amphibious biplane does not appear to be an unusual occurrence. An article from the Alton Evening Telegraph from 26/iv/44 tells this particular story.

“An RAF Walrus seaplane rescued eight survivors of a Flying Fortress which crashed in the North Sea but the Walrus was so overloaded it had to taxi 70 miles home — an all-night job in stormy waters which threatened to sink the plane—it was disclosed today. At the start of the long journey — just off an enemy-occupied coast – the British craft was under attack by a German Ju-88, but a couple of fighters from a Germany-bound air armada swooped down and drove the big Nazi plane away. The Fortress itself had been on a mercy trip scanning choppy seas for another crew reported forced down. Flames enveloped the cockpit of the big bomber, which crashed into a wave and quickly settled. Two gunners went down with the ship, but the pilot and 7 crewmen clambered into a dingy. For 12 hours the airmen wallowed in the seas, vainly signalling with flares to the planes rumbling overhead. It was almost dusk when the Walrus spotted the American airmen. The British plane came down and picked up all eight and began the long wet trip home. The men bailed with hats, boots and bare hands through the night to keep the plane from sinking. At dawn a British patrol boat came alongside and took the Americans aboard. They were treated for exposure and sunburn and sent back to their base.”


30/iv/44 – Advance trip to RAF Zeals

30th April 11:25
Airspeed Oxford II T1018
Pilot: F/O Scott
2nd Pilot: F/O Robinson
Navigator: Self
Passenger: F/L Westcott MBE
BASE ~ CROYDON ~ SOUTHAMPTON ~ ZEALS
Compass U/S
1:15

14:40
Pilot: F/O Robinson
Navigator: Self
Passenger: Lt Doyle USAF
Passenger: F/O Ashwood
ZEALS LOCAL

0:15
Pilot: F/O Scott
2nd Pilot: F/O Robinson
Navigator: Self
Passenger: F/L Westcott MBE
ZEALS ~ CROYDON ~ BASE
1:05

Although the Squadron’s ORB does not record the order to move to RAF Zeals until 01/iv/44, it is likely that the move was known about, hence today’s advance trip to Zeals and a very quick local flight around the airfield.


Summary for March 1944

SUMMARY for MARCH

TOTAL BEAUFIGHTER DAY 3H40M
TOTAL MOSQUITO DAY 12H55M
TOTAL OXFORD DAY 4H10M
TOTAL TIGER MOTH DAY 1H30M
TOTAL DAY FLYING 22H15M
TOTAL MOSQUITO NIGHT 22H00M
TOTAL NIGHT OPERATIONS 22H15M

March 1944 was Broody’s busiest month to date. By comparison, during January and February, he only flew a combined total of  14 hours and 50 minutes of Night Operations. Indeed, March was a good month for the Squadron as a whole. The ORB summarises the month thus:

“This has been the most successful month in the Squadron’s history – 6 enemy aircraft destroyed – 3 by S/L E.N.Bunting, DFC, 2 by F/Sgt Vlotman. C.J and one by F/L J.A.S.Hall – ‘B’ Flight in each instance.

This makes 16 destroyed, 1 Probable & 1 Damaged since our arrival at Bradwell Bay, a very satisfactory score indeed.

We had two unfortunate losses, the crash of F/Sgt Anderson and the unexplained loss of the F/O’s Wilson.

The Squadron spirit remains high and the many congratulatory messages show that our efforts are appreciated in high places.”


Summary for January 1944

SUMMARY for JANUARY

TOTAL MOSQUITO DAY 10H45M
TOTAL MOSQUITO NIGHT 6H30M
TOTAL NIGHT OPERATIONS 6H25M
TOTAL DAY OPERATIONS     35 M

January 1944 was a quiet month for Broody with only 7 hours of operational flying. The ORB records a generally quiet month for the whole squadron, but there are a few points of note.

On 2/1/44, W/Cdr R C Haine DFC took over command of the Squadron after W/Cdr Hamley left following a promotion to take command of 62 OTU.

On the same day, F/O Bergman & F/O Bishop intercepted and destroyed a Me 410. Bergman ended up having to land his aircraft (HK461) at Marston after several more chases following engine failure due to enemy action.

On 21/1/44, F/Lt Johnny Hall and his Navigator F/O Jock Cairns, flying aircraft HK380, scored the Squadron’s first “double” when they destroyed a Do 217 and a Ju88 on the same Patrol. As a result of this, they were ordered by “the Air Mashall Commanding Air Defence of Great Britain” to “proceed to the Air Ministry for Public Relations purposes“, where they were interviewed by the BBC and newspaper journalists.

Much to their embarrassment, the duo were photographed and described in a Sunday newspaper as “The Flying Tigers”. Leslie Hunt recalls in his book that much ribbing ensued, including being served plates of raw meat in the mess! Both men took this banter in good humour, with Jock “growling ferociously as he took our leg-pulling in good part.”

Johnny Cairns was broadcast on the nine o’clock news talking about night-fighting, which lead to more ribbing. Hunt recalls Hall’s retorts (which only served to increase the ferocity of the banter) which included “We don’t listen to the news – we make it!” and “Actually we could have got more than 2 Huns, but we knew our suppers were getting cold”