Tag Archives: Royal New Zealand Air Force

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

 


Squadron Aircrew List updated

I have just published an update to the Squadron Aircrew list. A few new Christian Names and Service Numbers have been added.

The page can be found here or by navigating through the 488(NZ) Squadron Research tab at the top of the page.

As always, if anyone has any corrections or additions to this list, I would be delighted to hear from you via the contacts page.


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.


The End

Although Broody remained with 488(NZ) Squadron until a posting out to No.1 Radio School at RAF Cranwell on 05/x/44, no more operational or readiness flights were flown, and so this story has come to an end.

It would be near on impossible to summarise in this post what has been quite a year in the life of a young man who joined the RAF straight from Cambridge University in 1942. Fortunately, the ever meticulous Broody can provide a summary of the tour himself as recorded in his journal.

Summary of First Operational Tour 4-ix-43 to 11-X-44

Summary of First Operational Tour
4-ix-43 to 11-X-44

Recorded in Broody’s Flying Log is his end of tour “Proficiency Assessment” from the Squadron’s CO, W/Cdr Haine. The assessment was “above Average”, with the CO commenting:

“Very keen and intelligent”

Broody's End of Tour Proficiency Assessment

Broody’s End of Tour Proficiency Assessment

Broody remained in the RAF until 1946, gaining a regular commission in 1945 and eventually reaching the rank of Flight Lieutenant. I do not have as much information on his later roles as I do for this tour, but maybe one day I will tell the next part of the story.

I am the proud custodian of Broody’s wartime medals. By the time hostilities ceased, Broody had been awarded 3 medals and one clasp.

The war medals of Andrew John Broodbank - RAAF

The war medals of Andrew John Broodbank – RAF

From left to right, the medals are:

1) 1939-45 Star (Awarded for 2 months operational service as aircrew between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945)

2) Air Crew Europe Star (Awarded for 2 months operational flying over Europe, from UK bases between 3 September 1939 and 5 June 1944 – The qualifying period started after receipt of the 1939-45 Star)

3) France & Germany clasp on Air Crew Europe Star (Awarded for a minimum of 1 day’s operational service in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Germany from 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 – Rules dictated that the France and Germany Star would not be awarded to those already in receipt of the Air Crew Europe Star, only a clasp was to be worn)

4) War Medal 1939–1945 (Awarded to those who had served in the Armed Forces or Merchant Navy full-time for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945)

There is just one more part of this story to tell – and for me, perhaps the most important as it is the reason I am here today. While at RAF Cranwell, Broody met a young WAAF officer, S/O Margaret Jean Weeks who was a Meteorological Officer.

SO Margaret Jean Weeks (WAAF)

S/O Margaret Jean Weeks (WAAF)

In her latter years, my grandmother took time to record some of her wartime experiences. Amongst these was the story of how she first met the man who was to become her future husband.

“One evening I went with several others from our Mess to a party at another Mess (Signals). This became somewhat drunken. I remember one game where you held a poker on the floor and ran round and round it. One soon became very giddy and could fall into the nearest lap available.

I still drank hardly at all, so I was sober and beginning to think how stupid everyone else appeared, when someone suggested a dance and someone else said, ‘Broody can play the piano’. Broody was dragged out of his room (having just returned from the cinema in a nearby town) and he played the piano.

Not long afterwards, we WAAF Officers left to return to our own Mess. Next day, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. Cycling to the met Office, I saw someone outside the Parachute Section who seemed to be looking at me. Not wearing my glasses, of course, I couldn’t see who it was, but called out ‘Good morning,’ as I passed.

This bod turned out to be John (‘Broody’) and he followed me to see where I went. Well, air crew were always coming into the Met Office to ask for forecasts etc, and they knew they might also get a cup of tea there as well (or rather, a mug). So that, really, is how we met.”

On 17th March 1945 (her 22nd birthday), my grandmother recorded in her diary:

“Birthday. Glorious, every one so kind. Cycle to wood in pm & John proposes. Dinner in mess afterwards and have a drink with it. Phone home.”

Just over a week later on 25th, she wrote:

“Home. John & I fly home in 42 mins. Tell Mother, Dad & Geoff of our engagement. They are so sweet & kind. Awful journey back.”

Of course, Broody can add to this part of the story with his record of the flight in his journal.

25th March 1945 10:05
AIRSPEED OXFORD II LB425
Pilot: F/O Swaby
2nd Pilot: Lt. Edmundson
Navigator: Self
Passenger: S/O Weeks
BASE ~ RINGWAY
To arrange an engagement! Flying at 2-3,000ft above & through cloud & a cold front which had shown every promise of stopping the trip – cloud being at 200ft at Ringway at time of take off from Cranwell. Excellent Pilot.
0:42

He has even included the weather forecast for the trip, prepared by my grandmother!

Weather forecast by S/O Weeks for the "Engagement Flight" from Cranwell to Ridgeway.

Weather forecast by S/O Weeks for the “Engagement Flight” from Cranwell to Ridgeway.

Broody & Jean were married in at St. Mary’s church in Cheadle on 6th April 1946 and went on to live a long and happy life together. They had 2 daughters, 4 grandchildren, and 8 great-grandchildren.

Just Married - 6th April 1946

The newly married Mr & Mrs Broodbank on the steps of St Mary’s Church, Cheadle
6th April 1946

Jean & John Broodbank

In the garden of their home in Surbiton in the 1990s

I hope that you have enjoyed following Broody’s tour in “real time” as much as I have enjoyed researching and writing about his experiences. I have learned a lot, not only about my Grandfather’s role in the war, but about 488(NZ) Squadron, his aircrew colleagues – many of whom I now feel that I know personally, and the role of Night Fighters during the war.

But above all, as each part of the story has unfolded, I have felt hugely proud of the part Broody played in the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Of course, we must not forget the 21 men of 488(NZ) Squadron who were killed during Broody’s tour. Broody never spoke to me of these losses. These names, and links to Commonwealth War Graves Commission pages for them are all recorded on the Roll of Honour Page of this blog, but the final page in the journal, and therefore the best place for this story to end lists all these men in Broody’s meticulous hand.

I wonder how he felt as he wrote down the names of colleagues and friends who made the ultimate sacrifice? I ask you to think about that as you once again read the names of these few men, who amongst thousands of others, gave up their lives for our futures.

The casualties of 488(NZ) Squadron between September 1943 and October 1944. ~Their Name Liveth For Evermore~

The casualties of 488(NZ) Squadron between September 1943 and October 1944.
~Their Name Liveth For Evermore~

And there we are – the rest, as they say, is history.


15/viii/44 – 50th kill for the Squadron

Just after midnight on 15/vii/44, F/Lt Johnny Hall DFC and F/Lt Jock Cairns DFC were on a Patrol in the Caen area of Northern France under the control of CGI station 15083 (Radox). Contact was briefly made on a JU188, which despite coming under 3 short bursts of fire from the Mosquito’s 20mm cannon, evaded destruction.

Shortly afterwards, Cairns picked up a freelance contact, and the crew homed in on and destroyed a JU88. Two 2 second bursts of cannon fire destroyed the enemy aircraft, which spun and crashed to the ground in flames, but not before the JU88’s dorsal gunner managed to return fire (ineffectively) on the Mosquito.

This kill chalked up the 50th victory for 488(NZ) Squadron.

“A “Fiftieth” victory party was held. A bounty of Fifty pounds had been offered to the ground crew of the aircraft that achieved the fiftieth kill for the squadron and Hall and Cairns were pleased to be able to win it for their support crew and the pair of them no doubt played a big part in the celebrations.”
(Graham Clayton – “Gone the Dark Night”)

The 15th also saw F/Lt Jamie Jameson leave the Squadron for repatriation to New Zealand. From the ORB:

“He is our most successful pilot, and is now being repatriated to New Zealand having completed two tours of operations. We are indeed sorry to lose such a gallant comrade and wish him ‘Kai Ora’ in his new sphere.”


06/viii/44 – Avranches patrol

6th August 03:20
DH Mosquito XIII MM622 (A/I Mk.VIII)
Pilot: F/O Scott
Navigator (R): Self
PATROL – GCI 15081 (Tailcoat)
At 8,000 ft East & West in Avranches area. No activity whatsoever.
3:10
(1 Do217 destroyed by F/Lt PFL Hall & F/O Rd’A Marriott
1 Do217 destroyed }
1 Do217 damaged } by F/S TA MacLean & F/O BC Grant)

This morning’s victories for the squadron came off the back of 9 kills already recorded for the month, and overtook the Squadron’s previous “monthly best” a mere 6 days into the month. Peter Hall’s victory was his eighth since joining the Squadron, and MacLean’s was his first.

The Do217 damaged by MacLean was a “freelance” attack after they lost contact with the GCI station following their earlier kill.


30/vii/44 – 4 kills for F/Lt Jameson & F/O Crookes

The loss of Bunting and Spedding no doubt overshadowed the jubilation that was felt back at base after the return of F/Lt George “Jamie” Jameson DFC and his Nav/Rad F/O Norman Crookes DFC, who had claimed 3 enemy aircraft destroyed and one probably destroyed during one 4 hour patrol.

Jameson’s “Personal Combat Report” makes for fascinating reading.

“I proceeded on the vector of 100 degrees at Angels 5 and the controller asked me to make my Turkey Gobble and told me that he could not give me much assistance. I saw light anti-aircraft fire 2 miles ahead and almost immediately a contact was obtained ie 05:02 hours range 2 miles 10 o’clock height 5,000 ft head on.

I obtained a visual on a Ju88 range 1 mile against the dawn still approaching head on and at the same height. My navigator using Ross night-glasses confirmed the identification. Meanwhile I turned hard to port after the enemy aircraft following it by means of A.I as the enemy aircraft skimmed through the cloud tops.

I closed in to 300 yards range at full throttle as the enemy aircraft was then doing 260 ASI. Meanwhile I saw a series of explosions on the ground caused I believe by the enemy aircraft dropping its bombs. Visual was obtained in a clear spot (with no cloud) and I closed in and gave the enemy aircraft 2 short bursts from dead astern.

Strikes were seen on the fuselage causing a fire in the fuselage and port engine. The enemy aircraft went down through the clouds vertically and well alight and about 20 seconds later hit the ground with a terrific explosion. I reported the kill to Tailcoat and gave him a fix. The enemy aircraft was destroyed 5 to 6 miles S of Caen at 05:05.

When I was doing a port orbit over the scene of the kill much window was seen and a contact almost immediately obtained ie 05:06 range 2 miles 11 o’clock height 5,000 ft. A visual was obtained very quickly on an enemy aircraft flying slightly above cloud. This aircraft was also skimming the cloud tops.

I gave chase at full throttle to overtake. His speed was approximately 280 ASI. While giving chase another Ju88 came up through the cloud dead ahead one mile range and flying in the same direction as the former aircraft. I closed in rapidly to 400 yards range and confirmed the identity of the aircraft as that of a Ju88.

The enemy appeared to see me and turned very hard to port diving towards a thick cloud layer. I followed on the turn and closed in to 350 – 400 yards when I opened fire from dead astern. Strikes were observed which caused a large fire in the starboard engine. The enemy aircraft was well alight and disappeared vertically through the cloud.

At this moment I saw two aircraft approaching me through cloud and as I was satisfied that the former combat had ended in a kill and that the Ju88 would inevitably hit the ground I did not follow but turned towards the two aircraft whom I suspected to be customers. I closed in on both of them and I identified them as Mosquitos.

Sub/Lt Richardson a navigator of 410 squadron (Bungle 33) confirms my first kill having seen the E/A well alight and hit the ground and he saw the second E/A well alight. I reported the second combat to Tailcoat. The combat took place 5/6 miles south of Caen

Almost immediately after identifying the Mosquitos referred to above, I obtained a freelance visual on an aircraft 4000’ range same height 5000’ crossing starboard to port. I closed to 2000’ dead astern and identified the aircraft as a Ju88 which identity was confirmed by my Navigator. When I was about 300 yards behind the E/A it dived steeply to port towards cloud.

I followed and gave two short bursts and I observed strikes from one of the bursts on the fuselage. The E/A took advantage of the cloud cover and I followed with the use of A/I though it was taking violent evasive action and dropping large quantities of window. When we were almost at treetop height visual was regained range 4000ft dead astern. The enemy had ceased evasive action.

I closed in to 250 yards dead astern and gave it a short burst from which strikes were observed. The E/A pulled up almost immediately and turned to port with debris falling and sparks issuing from it. The enemy stalled and dived into a 4 acre field and exploded. The kill took place 5 miles S of Lisieux.

I climbed to 5000 ft called Tailcoat and reported the kill and at my request was given a north westerly vector back to the scene of enemy activity. I once again saw A.A fire ahead above cloud and I headed towards it and at 05:22 hours contact was obtained on two aircraft and much window. (a) at a range of 4 miles 10 o’clock (b) 2 miles 10 o’clock.

I decided to intercept the nearer of the two and obtained a visual dead astern at a range of 4000 on a Do217. The E/A must have seen me for almost immediately it dived into cloud and took very evasive action and threw out large quantities of window for several minutes in cloud. I followed through cloud using A/I and the E/A eventually straightened up at cloud base.

Visual was regained at a range of 2000’ dead astern and below. I closed to 300 yards and fired a short burst. Strikes were seen on the fuselage which began to burn furiously. The E/A turned gently to starboard, pulled his nose up and the dorsal gunner opened fire a wild burst which headed in the wrong direction. The E/A dived into the ground in flames and exploded.

Claim: 2 Ju88’s destroyed. 1 Ju88 probably destroyed. 1 Do217 destroyed.

Ammunition: PI 89. PO 90. SI 94. SO 91.”

(PI = Port Inner, PO = Port Outer etc. For a photo of the Hispano cannon arrangement, see this post)

Location of Jameson & Crookes' 4 kills (Image from Google Earth)

Location of Jameson & Crookes’ 4 kills
(Image from Google Earth)

Information later provided by the 410 Squadron navigator, Sub/Lt Richardson enabled the “probable” to be confirmed as a kill. By strange coincidence, this was the very same Sub/Lt Murray Richardson who, along with 5 colleagues from the Fleet Air Arm, had been seconded to 488(NZ) Squadron earlier in the year!

I think Jameson & Crookes’ successes tonight may be one of the greatest (but least well known) stories of the air war. In 30 minutes, and with the expenditure of only 90 rounds per cannon, 4 enemy aircraft were identified, tracked through cloud using A/I and destroyed. F/Lt George “Jamie” Jameson returned to his native New Zealand in August 1944 with a total of 11 enemy aircraft destroyed, 1 probably destroyed and 1 damaged, leaving him as the leading New Zealand night fighter ace of World War Two!

In addition, the aircraft in which they flew, MM466 ME-R holds the honour of being the Top Scoring Mosquito fighter during the war, also with a total of 11 enemy aircraft destroyed. 6 of these were while she was with 488!

Norman Crookes (L) and "Jamie" Jameson (R) standing in front of ME-R. (Image source, http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

Norman Crookes (L) and “Jamie” Jameson (R) standing in front of ME-R.
(Image source, http://www.telegraph.co.uk)