Tag Archives: RNZAF

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

 

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A Rear Gunner’s poem

I’m wandering slightly off topic now, but one of the items I found in my grandfather’s collection of wartime material was the following poem.

I know he didn’t write it, as it is the story of a Rear Gunner in heavies with Bomber Command. At any rate, rather than languishing in a box in Somerset, I felt it should be shared.

Please do feel free to reproduce the text or share this post (but please credit as appropriate). Maybe someone out there will recognise it as a poem their ancestor wrote.

A word of warning – this poem will transfer you back to a cramped rear-gunner’s turret in a heavy bomber some 70 years ago!

Another Op

Bumping down the runway
With the turret on the beam,
Flashing past well-wishers
Lit by the drem’s dull gleam.

The pulling of the stomach
As we slowly climb on track
Setting course to eastward –
How many will come back?

The clipped command to alter course
As we cross the Anglian shore,
Then extinguish navigation lights
As the engines increase their roar.

The throbbing of the engines
Disturbs the fading light
As onward, ever onward
We fly into the night.

Routine settles to a rhythm,
And those ‘up front’ dictate
The course, the speed, the height
And the passage of our fate.

Searching ever searching,
The turret turns to and fro,
Looking, always looking
For our enemy and foe.

The sound of throbbing engines
Envelopes our immediate night,
And the clammy taste of oxygen
As I adjust the dull ring sight.

A quiet statement from the Nav –
‘Enemy coast a head’,
The blood flows quicker thro’ the veins –
Our training stifles the dread.

Searching ever searching,
For that darker smudge of black.
Looking for the fighter
That could stop us getting back

The Nav again is heard to say
‘Target. Dead ahead’.
The tightening of the stomach
Is the only sign of dread

As a lonely, cold rear gunner
I always face the rear
And never see the target.
Till the aircraft’s there.

Flying ever closer, closer
To that awful scene.
Every nerve is strung so tight
You stifle the need to scream

The observer now takes full control
And by his directed call
Keeps the tingling nerves on edge
Till he lets the bomb load fall

With the sudden upward lift
We all expect the worst,
But heave a sigh of intense ‘relief
As the aircraft changes course.

Nose well down and increased speed
To escape from that dreadful sight.
We race across the crimson sky
To the safety of the night

As those up front now search the sky
For the fighter that lurks in the dark
While I at last see the target fires
Where we have left our mark.

 


RAF Zeals – 1944 Aerial Photograph found

On 04/v/44, 488(NZ) Squadron moved from RAF Bradwell Bay to RAF Zeals.

This move was covered in earlier posts, but I have just found an aerial photo of RAF Zeals dating from March 1944, only weeks before 488(NZ) Squadron arrived.

As a reminder, RAF Zeals is at Grid Reference ST 78018 32945, between the villages of Stourton and Mere, just off the A303. The photograph below shows how the airfield looked on 24/iv/44.

You can see the issues that 488(NZ) Squadron faced with the airfield – no proper runway, just a grass track. In his account of his D Day Patrol, Broody described the state of the airfield at Zeals:

“Zeals was a not too satisfactory grass airfield, close to Mere. One of its less attractive features was a roadway running across the main “runway” (i.e. the path outlined in the grass by runway lighting) which was showing a tendency to break up and throw pieces of debris at the tails of the aircraft. On taking off in a westerly direction, it was necessary to climb fairly hard to clear a ridge, which was succeeded by a valley, notorious for down-draughts, before another and higher ridge”

Aerial photograph of Zeals airfield looking south east, the control tower, technical site and blister hangars are at the top, 24 March 1944. Photograph taken by No. 544 Squadron, sortie number RAF/NLA/80. English Heritage (RAF Photography).

Aerial photograph of Zeals airfield looking south east, the control tower, technical site and blister hangars are at the top, 24 March 1944. Photograph taken by No. 544 Squadron, sortie number RAF/NLA/80. (Image Source – IWM / English Heritage – Original image at – http://www.americanairmuseum.com/media/6185)

Not much remains of the airfield today – it has returned to agricultural use – apart from the old control tower which has been converted into a private residence.

The site of RAF Zeals as it looks today. (Image from Google Earth)

The site of RAF Zeals as it looks today. (Image from Google Earth)

Please note that as the 1944 image was taken from an almost southerly aspect, I have also rotated the Google Earth image for better comparison.


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.


New Biographies Added

2 new Aircrew Biographies are now available to see on this site. Both were made possible by individuals who stumbled across the site and made contact. The first contact was from the nephew of George Carcasson, a Navigator with the Squadron between September 1944 and March 1945. The original email contact said:

“Hello, I have just discovered your blog. George Carcasson was my uncle. I have his log book and it has been fun matching up the dates with the ones you have posted here.”

George’s nephew was in possession of lots of resources including his logbook and many photographs. The logbook was of particular interest, as George had recorded the aircraft he flew in by the Tail Code, and not the Serial Number.

I have seen a few pages of the logbook, and hope to see more when my contact has some spare time on his hands, but already I have been able to identify some new Tail Codes which have been added to the Squadron Aircraft page. This is of huge benefit to everyone with an interest in the history of the Squadron.

George was obviously a very intelligent man, and came to the Squadron with a number of patents relating to aircraft navigation to his name. He served as Navigation Officer for the squadron during his time with 488(NZ) Squadron. You can read George’s biography here.

The second contact was from a nephew of Jim Affleck, one of the early casualties of Broody’s tour. The initial contact was via a comment on the post recording the loss of Affleck and his pilot James Gunn. My contact and his brother were kind enough to provide a wealth of information relating to Jim, including some fantastic photos and his Service History.

They were also able to provide a copy of the Combat Report relating to the Heinkel III that Gunn and Affleck destroyed shortly before they crashed. This was interesting and sobering as, rather than having been completed and signed by the pilot and his navigator, it was written and signed by the Squadron’s Intelligence Officer, Leslie Hunt.

Jim was another interesting character who had already flown with 29 and 409 Squadrons before he arrived at 488(NZ) in July 1942. Throughout his RAFVR career, he flew many flights with S/Ldr Richard Macklow Trousdale. These included Operations that resulted in the destruction of 2 enemy aircraft and 1 locomotive, and one further enemy aircraft claimed as damaged. You can read Jim’s biography here.

I am delighted that relatives of these airmen have got in touch and have been able and willing to provide information that has allowed me to publish biographies of these men.

I would urge anyone else with information relating to airmen of 488(NZ) Squadron to get in touch so  that further biographies can be added to serve both as useful historical research tools and of course lasting tributes to these brave men. It does not matter how much or how little information you have – I am more than happy to dig deeper if I get an interesting lead.


Aircrew Biographies

I have made a start on adding some Aircrew biographies to the site. They include service histories and photographs not previously seen. This has only been possible with the help of relatives of these airmen, and I am grateful to them for their help.

You can see the biographies added to date here or by navigating through the 488(NZ) Squadron Research link at the top of the page.

If you have any information about an Airman of this Squadron, and would like to see a biography included, please get in touch using the Contact page.


06/vii/44 – Trip to Thorney Island

6th July 15:15
Airspeed Oxford II X7293
Pilot: S/Ldr Watts
2nd Pilot: F/Lt Thorpe
Navigator: Self
Navigator: F/O Graham
BASE ~ SAILSBURY ~ THORNEY ISLAND
Bumpy & hot – excellent visibility. TO take F/Lt Thorpe home.
0:35

16:40
THORNEY ISLAND ~ WINCHESTER ~ SAILSBURY ~ BASE
(Less F/Lt Thorpe)
Pilot navigating home
0:50


05/vi/44 – Visit from New Zealand Dignitaries

5th June 16:05
DH Mosquito XIII HK534 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT & CINE-GUN
Crew just a trifle inebriated after a lunch for Mrs Fraser (Wife of NZ Prime Minister), with Miss Jordan (daughter of NZ High Commissioner) & A/Cdre Olson (AOC RNZAF in England). Our own A/C at Exeter, getting a new starboard engine.
0:55

How times have changed! A boozy lunch with New Zealand dignitaries followed by flying while still under the influence to some extent only a few hours later!

Air Commodore Edward George Olson DSO had a distinguished career in the RNZAF. He joined up in 1925, and went on to serve as the Commanding Officer of 75(NZ) Squadron in 1942. The citation for his DSO, awarded only a month before he visited 488(NZ) Squadron read:

“Group Captain Olson is a most experienced pilot who has completed nearly 4,000 flying hours. Until August 1942, he was in command of a squadron where he frequently took part in operations. Since then his wide knowledge of flying and firm but tactful handling of men have displayed most efficiently and effectively in command of a Bomber station. By his efforts he has raised [its] operational standard to a high level”

The ORB records that ME-E was forced to land at Exeter during a patrol by F/O Longley and W/O Whewell of “B” Flight during a patrol on the night of 04/vi/44.


01/vi/44 – Low level flying on one engine

1st June 17:05
DH Mosquito XIII MM558 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
NFT & A/C TEST
Quick A/I & R/T check, with cloud at 3,000ft. Then feathering each motor in turn, causing some consternation on the ground by flying over at 50ft on one motor! A/C just out from a 40hr inspection – OK.
0:15


22/v/44 – A/I Test with F/L Cook (RNZAF)

22nd May 14:55
DH Mosquito XIII MM558 ME-E (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/L Cook
Navigator (R): Self
A/I TEST & CINE-GUN
A/I Excellent. Cine on Dakotas towing Waco gliders
0:35

The WACO Glider was a USAF aircraft that could carry either: up to 13 troops, a 1⁄4 ton truck, a 75 mm howitzer, or a 1⁄4 ton trailer, which were loaded through the hinged nose section. The tow line was 350ft long – a potential hazard for other aircraft in the area if they weren’t paying attention!

USAF Waco Glider (Image Source - Wikipedia)

USAF Waco Glider
(Image Source – Wikipedia)