the 70th Anniversary of the formation of 619 Squadron
taking place just a few days before this years' Association Reunion at
the Petwood Hotel, that tranquil Lincolnshire location seems a good
place to start with the first pieces of news for this edition of the
By Howard Heeley
The turnout at
the Petwood Hotel
was one of the highest the Association has managed in recent years with
just under 70 people attending the meal. Other ME846 family members
present were Paul and Gill Stevenson.
visiting their usual locations such as the William
Farr School, Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre etc. the Association members
had a good visit to the BBMF at Coningsby on Friday afternoon. They
also benefited from several Lancaster flypasts as the BBMF were
undertaking their final practice session for the 2013 display
evening two paintings were presented; one from the 619 Squadron
Association to the Petwood and a second from Roger Olden to Joe Dutton.
lots of stories were told, memories shared, with acquaintances made and
renewed. There was also talk about a possible Association trip to
Austria in 2015 in connection with a possible new memorial to another
619 Squadron crew - more details about that will follow when we receive
them from Joe Dutton.
is pleasing to
note that the Association seems to be flourishing despite the
inevitable dwindling in the number of squadron veterans still able to
participate. We Will remember Them!
W4232 - 5 LFS, RAF Syerston
the January newsletter there was a small item about Jim Humphreys. You
may recall that Jim was Australian Ambassador to the OECD in Paris and
has served as Australian Ambassador to Denmark and later, Ambassador
(High Commissioner) to Canada.
Last summer Jim and his wife
Madelien visited Nottinghamshire and the Newark Air Museum. Jim's
brother, Bruce had trained with 1661 HCU at RAF Winthorpe in 1944, but
was sadly lost with his crew on 17th April, 1944 whilst flying out of
RAF Syerston, Notts with No.5 Lancaster Finishing School (LFS).
visit was arranged for Jim to RAF Syerston so he could see where his
brother had taken off from. Through various local contacts we have
helped Jim to find out a little more about what happened to his brother
P/O B L Humphreys RAAF was the pilot
I, W4232 RC-Y which took off from Syerston at 1601 hours for general
flying training. Shortly after take-off eyewitnesses saw the aircraft
stall and as it fell the port main-plane and starboard wing tip were
reported to have come off the aircraft.
Nottinghamshire Jim was even able to meet a local resident who while
working as a Land Girl had witnessed the crash; fittingly this meeting
took place on the same day that the Bomber Command Memorial was
unveiled in London.
Jim is now looking for
with relatives of the other RAF crew members lost on 17th April, 1944
Sgt A Townsley
F/S A H
Sgt N H
Sgt R J Brown
Sgt J A Davies
A D Bale
is especially hoping to obtain a copy of any existing photograph(s) of
the crew as a whole or, indeed, any photographs of some or all of them
during their Lancaster days. Any leads or feedback would be greatly
In The Shadow Of Death|
This is the
name of a
new book that is being published by Chris Keltie and it has strong
connections to the ME846 Family.
Of Death, tells the story of Lancaster bomber pilot Bill North, who
with his crew trained at 1661 HCU at RAF Winthorpe before moving on to
Ops with 61 Squadron at nearby RAF Skellingthorpe. This crew was
training at Winthorpe (pictured below) at the same time as our ME846
crew and bonds between Peter Knox and George Moggridge and Bill North's
crew feature in the book. |
some additional background details about the connections to the crew
featured in Chris Keltie's book.
of the most
important aspect of the ME846 link, concerns Norm Jarvis standing
behind Peter Knox on the far left of the photograph below.
best man and he was with him in the Bomb Aimers photograph at Penrhos,
Royal Australian Air Force -
115 A stationed at Penrhos Wales 1943.
Peter Knox, P/O
Keith Steinbeck, P/O Lyle Bowes, Sgt. Joe Millmot,
Sgt. Pierre Burge.
row: left to right: Sgt. Charlie
Norm Jarvis, P/O Bert Tyne,Sgt. Stan Black, Sgt. Norm Page
Knox appears often in Norm Jarvis's diaries and they were great
friends. The other exciting news here is that his daughter Pam
Livingstone will be coming over from Australia with her husband Rob,
for Chris Keltie's book launch.
provided Chris with all her father's log and diaries and has
contributed greatly to his book. The Moggridge story was also
Newark Air Museum on Sunday 16th June, as part of Cockpit-Fest 2013 the
museum will be hosting a book signing event and talk by Chris Keltie.
This will be the third in a short series of launch events for the new
Riding In The Shadow Of Death review by
is the amazing true life story of Lancaster Bomber Pilot Bill North,
who served as a pilot with RAF Bomber Command's 61 Squadron during
World War Two. His story is told by Chris Keltie, who as a 7 year old
boy met Bill and his family after moving into the house next door in
London, March 1970.
completing many successful bombing missions on military targets, Bill
and his crew were shot down on a night raid in Northern France. Bill
could have saved himself by bailing out, but one of his crew members
was without a parachute. Though wounded, Bill had to make an amazing,
virtually blind crash landing in order to save his crew. In Bill's
words: "I have still yet to meet a Lancaster Pilot who survived a night
time crash landing in occupied territory."
was taken prisoner by a German Luftwaffe Officer and ended up at Barth
Stalag Luft 1 on the Baltic coast. The rest of the crew ended up deeper
into Germany in Stalag Luft 7.
the face of adversity, the bond between crew members serving in the RAF
was phenomenal. The same was so for Bill and his crew who survived 17
missions out of the normal tour of duty which was 30. All crew members
stated that there was no pilot better than Bill North, and no one that
they would rather have flown with and put their trust in.
book weaves together a fascinating mixture of historical, political,
social and cultural events from the turbulent 20th Century. A story of
survival and comradeship, it will not fail to move and touch your soul."
The Story of Lancaster ND389
Neil is looking for photos of the
contact with relatives and he tells the story of the crew of Lancaster
connection is slim, although I have spent many years researching the
crew but I would like to add this in remembrance of the crew. my father
knew one of the Air gunners. I have managed to find two photos of crew
members and have a strong link to a relative of the Pilot - Victor
McConnell. After some years of research I managed to put together the
following account. I even found a witness to the crash, and
kind gentleman in Belgium is putting flowers on the crew's graves every
P/O V. McConnell
first mention of the crew I have found is 13 October 1943 where they
were identified as having been at 1660 Conversion unit at RAF
Swinderby. Here they were learning to fly four engined bombers, having
first been together as a crew on two engined aircraft, most probably a
Wellington but possibly a Whitley.
13/10/43 they left
Swinderby to join 61 Squadron who were based at RAF Skellingthorpe
outside of Lincoln. This squadron was part of 5 Group. They flew their
first Operation 03/11/43 to Dusseldorf. They remained with the squadron
until 30/04/44 and flew Operations to Modan, flew on operations to
Berlin 5 times, plus Frankfurt, Stettin and Brunswick - so they were
very much a part of what came to be known as 'The Battle of Berlin'.
they had stayed with 61 Squadron and completed 30 Operations then they
would have completed a 'tour', however during this period Bomber
Command was experiencing very heavy losses and the chances of a crew
completing their tour was very slim - and all crews were all volunteers.
some point whilst they were with 61 Squadron they must have volunteered
to join a Pathfinder Squadron, this would have meant even more
operations before they were considered to have completed their tour and
as such the chance of survival became even less. They would probably
have been considered as an 'above average' crew in terms of competence.
On the 3st if January 1944 they went to Pathfinder Force Navigation
training unit to spend 2 weeks learning the role of a
joined 83 Squadron in mid February 1944 who were part of 8 Group, and
were based at RAF Wyton. As well as some familiarisation exercises at
the airfield they flew a number of Operations - Leipzig, Stuttgart,
Frankfurt, Essen, Lille and another 2 Operations to Berlin. I believe
that during late March/Early April 1944 they may have had some leave.
the 11th of April 1944 they were down for an Operation and took off at
20:46 from Wyton, flying Lancaster ND389 OL-A as part of a 341 strong
Lancaster force aiming to Bomb Aachen. At approximately 22:08 a German
Nightfighter Pilot took off from St Trond Airfield in his BF110, he was
with Luftwaffe Nightfighter unit 4/NJG 1, his name was Heinz-Wolfgang
Schnaufer, he was a highly decorated Pilot and eventually finished the
war having shot down over 120 RAF Bombers.
climbed to 5000 metres and at 23:05 the German Radar Operator got a
signal, which turned out to be Lancaster ND389, the aircraft moved
closer, behind and probably slightly under the aircraft where it could
not be seen and at 23:15 opened fire on the Lancaster. It appears that
it was a very successful attack and took the crew by complete surprise
(it was possible that Schnaufer was using up ward slanted guns known as
'Schrage Musik'). The aircraft caught fire immediately and according to
my eyewitness started to burn quite fiercely. As it was on its way 'in'
it would have been still carrying a heavy load of fuel and bombs.
it appears that at some point the crew all bailed out the aircraft but
were too low for their parachutes to open, the Lancaster apparently
blew up 100 metres above the ground (but that must have been hard to
judge). The aircraft crashed north of Beerse in Belgium at a place
called Boensberg. After about 15 minutes after the crash, a car was
heard to be approaching, initially it was thought that this would be
Germans but was apparently the Chief of Police from Turnhout, a
religious father and a nurse. They asked where the crew were, who were
apparently were sadly already dead by this point. The father apparently
administered the 'last rites' and about 1 hour later apparently the
Germans arrived and placed barriers around the plane to ensure no one
approached it (although the aircraft had broken up in the explosion.)
The crew were initially buried near a German Airfield and then taken
Schoonselhof Cemetery in Antwerp where they now lie. The final note in
the Operational Record Book for the Squadron on this crew notes that
'the crew were well liked and very promising'
"When you go home, tell them of us and say: for your
tomorrow we gave our today."
name is David Greenley. Whilst researching my family history I found
out that my namesake and first cousin, 1 x removed, David Greenley lost
his life during a mission with 619 Squadron over Germany in 1944.He
was based at RAF Dunholme Lodge in Lincolnshire and his crew was:S/L
L.G.Evans RCAF KIAI got in
Dutton via his son in law, Simon Wootton and he was kind enough to send
me more details about LM209 and the missions flown.At
first I had no idea of what he looked like but eventually found another
family researcher and relation, who was able to furnish me with a
photograph of David.In tribute
fellow crew members and Squadron 619, I would like to dedicate this to
all of those brave men who served in the Armed Forces.Actually,
it would be nice to have photos of the other crew members and so would
appreciate it anyone can furnish me with any so that I can include them
in the video.
Update from Goudriaan
April newsletter for crew photos for the display board in the memory of
a crew of Avro Lancaster Bomber, ND956 AS-1 at Gourdriaan in the
Netherlands, was ultimately successful. This enabled the display board
to be completed and this was unveiled on May 4th.
Jerome Knox singing at Service
nephew of Jacky Moffatt.
family was represented at the ceremony and we have included a few
photographs from that commemoration. A full report will be included in
the next edition of the newsletter.
to right; Jerome & mother,
Phil Knox (3rd left).