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626 Squadron and RAF wickenby    - The Groundcrews

626 Squadron Lost Aircraft

 

 

During RAF Wickenby's short active service 1080 lives were lost from the base. This sacrifice is commemorated by a memorial with the form of Icarus on an obelisk at the entrance to the airfield. Today the site is a private airfield used as an aviation school and is home to The RAF Wickenby Memorial Museum.It was the home of 12 Squadron and 626 Squadron of No 1 Group, RAF Bomber Command.

During hostilities, over 300 operations were flown from the airfield with 166 bombers reported missing, all but six being Lancasters. Another 30 aircraft were lost in operational crashes.

626 Squadron was formed in November 1943 with two flights of eight aircraft. 'A' Flight was originally 12 Squadron's 'C' Flight and 'B' Flight was made up from Lancasters arriving from factories and other units.Its first operation was to bomb the Western entrance to the Montcenis tunnel in the French Alps on the 10th of November 1943.

In total the number of sorties flown by 626 Squadron were 2728. Aircraft lost on operations 49 and non-operational losses 11. It bombed 187 targets and laid mines in 18 areas.

Operations Board
Sgt Tom Bint & HK539
Wickenby Archives
Wartime Friesland Islands
Wickenby Airfield Plan
Bomber Command Photos
Wickenby Groundcrew
Tony Winser - 626 Ace Gunner
Some of 626 Sqdn's Crews
 

   

High praise, indeed, is due to the members of Bomber Command's ground staff whose faithful service on the operational airfields and with training and supply units contributed much to the success of the offensive. Most of their duties were exceedingly dull and they had none of the thrills of action. There was, for example, precious little excitement to be derived from working in the open, in rain, wind or snow, in daylight and through darkness, twenty feet up in the air on the aircraft engines and air- frames, at all the many and intricate tasks that had to be undertaken to keep the bombers serviceable.

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Ground crew from RAF Wickenby

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Three Cheers For The Man On The Ground  by Flight Mechanic E Sykes (1942).

Wherever you walk, you will hear people talk,

of the men who go up in the air,

of the daredevil way, they go into the fray;

Facing death without turning a hair.

 

They'll raise a big cheer and buy lots of beer,

for the pilot who's come home on leave,

but they don't give a jigger, for a flight mech or rigger,

with nothing but "props" on his sleeve.

 

They just say "Nice day" - and then turn away,

with never a mention of praise,

for the poor bloody erk, who does all the work,

and just orders his own beer - and pays !

 

They've never been told, of the hours in the cold,

that he spends sealing Germany's fate,

how he works on a kite, till all hours of the night,

and then turns up next morning at eight.

 

He gets no rake-off, for working 'til take-off,

or helping the aircrew prepare,

but whenever there's trouble - it's "Quick at the double",

the man on the ground must be there.

 

Each flying crew, could confirm it as true,

that they know what this man's really worth,

they know that he's part of the RAF's heart,

even though he stays close to the earth.

 

He doesn't want glory, but please tell his story,

spread a little of his fame around,

He's just one of a few - so give him his due,

and "Three Cheers for the man on the ground

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Ray Cutler has helped me to start this page by sending these two photographs of his father LAC R.H Cutler (left) who was part of 626 squadron's ground crew. If he reads this I would like him to make contact again as his given email address does not appear to be working.










My mom's wedding dress was made from a parachute.




Wickenby Airmen's mess Christmas 1944





Wickenby 1945. Wing Commander Mike Stockdale, CO of 12 Squadron, awards Lancaster ME758 PH-N a DSO and a DFC on the completion of its 106th operation. Posing with groundcrew is S/Ldr Peter Huggins (centre with arms folded) and S/Ldr K W (Pop) Hinds (4th left). The aircraft finished the War having completed 108 operations.





12 Squadron Lancaster W4380 PH-E with ground crew in June 1943





RAF Wickenby February 1944




Mary Omerod, Wireless & Jock Green, Flight Control, photograph taken in the Watch Office at Wickenby in 1944




Today its a museum.  Some ground crew in July 1944 with PA990 R2 - 626 Squadron - Jock, Norm and Bert.






626 Squadron Groundcrew




 

Wickenby's leafy dispersal





Refuelling  12 Squadron's ME786 PH-R at dispersal

 



626 Squadron groundcrew working on a Merlin from PB 260 'E2' in the summer of 1944





626 Squadron's LL918 UM-C2 groundcrew checking the rudder





(1) Unidentified groundcrew from 626 Sqdn

(2) Left to right F Nelson, E Stewart, B Bishop, B Morton, B Haswan, from Hut 19

(3) 626 Sqdn WAAF driver Mickey Green

 

 

Armourers from Wickenby

 

 

AC1 1614345 Lawrence Rex Frank Brown aged 22. The records tell us nothing about the incident except to say that he died on 21st June 1944 of multiple injuries at RAF Wickenby Sick Quarters. Buried at St. Pancras cemetery, he was the son of Rex and Lily Brown of Kentish Town, London.

Does anyone have more information?

 

Tom, I am writing a book about aircraft incidents occurring in Lincolnshire 1930 – 1945 and during my investigations I picked up this from the Air Historical Branch. You have got the gist but I thought that I would send you the formal info anyway.

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1614343 Aircraftman 1st Class Lawrence Rex Frank Brown RAFVR was employed as an Armourer with No. 626 Squadron, RAF Wickenby (Lincolnshire), No. 1 Group, Bomber Command. He died of injuries in an accident at RAF Station Wickenby on 21st June 1944, and his body was taken to the Mortuary at Station Sick Quarters, Wickenby.

Tony Glover                  anthony.glover@ntlworld.com

 

 

Another incident from the RAF Wickenby ORB:

13th January 1945 - 1808 hrs – An explosion was heard from the direction of the bomb dump. Investigations proved that a fusing shed in the bomb dump had blown up unfortunately killing four of the armoury personnel. Long delay 500lb bombs had been dispersed by the explosion and the Bomb Disposal authorities had been informed accordingly. 

Ambulance requested by flying control to proceed to Station Bomb Dump where there had been an explosion. On arrival it was ordered back to SSQ. The area being unsafe.

 

The next day the bodies of armourers Sgt John Alexander (25) from Liverpool, Sgt Sidney Bertie Kerley from Carlton, Nottinghamshire, and LAC Cyril Ronald Smith (30) from Chobham, Surrey, were recovered from the Bomb Dump and placed in Station Sick Quarters Mortuary. Death was due to multiple injuries.

Thank you for some excellent info on Groundcrew at RAF Wickenby. I note the extract from the ORB on the incident at the Bomb Dump on 13 Jan. 1945. The report states that 4 personnel were killed but only 3 names are listed. The 4th casualty was my uncle LAC Francis Traynor (38) from Glasgow. His body was never recovered. Anne Law at Wickenby has kindly included his name in the Roll of Honour. My regret is that I never obtained a photo of him. I think my father destroyed any he had and he would not discuss his young brother’s death. He was most unhappy to see me in uniform. Hope this is of interest to you.    Gerry Traynor  

Francis Traynor was the son of Patrick and Catherine Traynor of Glasgow and husband of Elizabeth Traynor. He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

 


12 Squadron at Wickenby 1943



Groundcrew at Wickenby 1943

 

 

WAAFs from 12 Squadron MT (Motor Transport) Section September 1945

 

 

 

Flying Officer Denis Thorpe with groundcrew at 626 Squadron dispersal in 1944

 

 

Hello Tom. I am trying to find some information about my fathers service and exploits during his time in the RAF in WW2.

His name was Donald Hirst born 27th January 1912. He served as an AC or LAC for a period at RAF Wickenby but I have no info as to dates or service number. His home town was Huddersfield and he was married with one son, me, b.1942.

I have attached a copy of the only action photo I have (including the note written on the back), in the hope it was taken at Wickenby, and that maybe it will help to unearth some information. My father is on the right. Can you or any of your colleagues help or can you point me in the direction of someone who can.

I would be most grateful for any help, I would like to visit the base at some time soon. Best Regards

David Hirst.     dnshirst@gmail.com

 

Thanks for making contact David. First of all I have no records of groundcrew personnel for RAF Wickenby. I recommend you contact the helpful folk at RAF Wickenby's museum. Email wickenbymuseum@outlook.com 

Also, it will cost £30, but you can obtain his service record from the MOD at

https://www.gov.uk/requests-for-personal-data-and-service-records#how-to-apply-for-service-personnel-records

Now, I believe I can be more helpful with the photograph.

It is almost certainly of Lancaster JB406 PH-D, one of two 12 Squadron aircraft lost during the early hours of Saturday October 9th 1943, (the other was ED995 PH-X).

They were part of a force of 504 aircraft taking part on a bombing raid over Hanover in Germany in which 27 were lost. Its skipper was 23 year old Warrant Officer Francis Richard Troy from Poplar in Middlesex.

JB406 crashed in a thickly wooded area at Essel near Schwarmstedt and all the crew of seven were killed. They are buried in a communal grave at Hanover War Cemetery. The aircraft is believed to have fallen victim to Luftwaffe ace Hauptmann Paul Semrau of Stab III./NJG2.

As ex RAF groundcrew myself, but serving 12 years later, I guess from the marks and holes on your father's overalls, usually as a result of handling the aircraft's batteries, that he was probably in the electrical trade.

 

 

 

 

With acknowledgements to the Wickenby Museum site for some of the photographs

 

tom.bint2@gmail.com