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626 Squadron and RAF wickenby

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A Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial

I am part of a new project to raise funds for a new memorial to Bomber Command which is to be built on Canwick Hill in Lincoln. As “Bomber county” and with so many of the crew being based in Lincolnshire we feel it is tremendously important to make sure that their work and sacrifice is commemorated in the county. The official launch of the project will be on the 16th May 2013 on the anniversary of the Dambusters Raid at RAF Scampton as part of their celebrations. Our aim is to then get the memorial built and ready for the dedication for the 70th anniversary of the end of the war in 2015.

As part of the process we are set to fully launch the new web site www.lincsbombercommandmemorial.com in a couple of days and the newsletter which will being sent to 350 key contacts will also launch the “Your Memories” section on the web site. It is hoped that we can gather together sufficient stories and photographs about the command to be able to publish a commemorative progamme to help raise funds for the project as well as encourage a higher visitor rate to the site.

It would be great to see if there is anything that we could do together to ensure the memorial to the Command is built.

 Nicky Barr  Director Essence Event Solutions Ltd 13 Cherry Holt Road, Bourne, Lincolnshire PE10 9LAphone 01778 421420 07789 790457 email nicky@essenceevents.co.uk August 23rd 2012

 

I have a web site dedicated to my father who flew with 12 & 463 squadrons with Bomber Command.

Back in the 1980s I read 'Lancaster Target' and realised that Jack Currie was flying on the same ops as my dad!

This set me off into tracing my dad's RAF history.Two years ago my daughter brought me a domain name for a web site to put all my research onto.

 http://www.raf-bombercommand.co.uk 

My fathers Mid Upper Gunner Brian Heath flew his second tour with 626. A picture of him and his crew is on the site.

I spoke to Jack Currie several times and have a letter from him he was a really nice guy.

I hope you get as much joy out of your web site as I do from mine and if I can help in any way please let me know.

Andy Smith December 1st 2010

 

see Jack Currie's crew on our 'crews' page.

 

 

So that will explain it then ...

In the mid 1990's during the time we lived in north Germany we had to make a trip to a village half-way along the Bremen-Hamburg autobahn. This was so that my father-in-law - F/Lt James Cassidy DFC* RAAF (626 & 550 Sqdns) - could stop by a village (Elsdorf) which he reckoned according to his log-book was approximately where they had to do dump their bomb-load before heading for home. 

We literally took a tour of the village graveyard but found no evidence of a sudden cluster of graves on or around the date in August 43. 

Needless to say we did not stop by the local pub to enquire if anyone remembered anything! Probably the worst that happened was that a few cows were dispatched.

We never met Jack Currie but we spoke to him a couple of times on the phone when he called to talk to Jim when he was staying with us. 

We have a copy of Lancaster Target inscribed to my wife and myself and signed by Jack. Jim of course has one signed "To Jim, who will always be the friend of Jack Currie" (this is in addition to 40+ copies he has owned over the years and given away to friends and acquaintances).

Jim is still alive and well and living in Co. Antrim.

I printed off the web-page to post to my father-in-law - he'll be chuffed to see it.

And Charlie Lanham, in the picture with Jim, will be 95 on 12 July - we got an invite to a party (although as it is in Perth WA we wont be able to pop over for it!)      Peter Coulter 30th June 2011

 

 

Lancaster LM113

 

Hi Tom,   I’ve just been on the 626 squadron site and was surprised to see a photo of my late father in one of the photos.  The photo in question is the 4 crew members standing in snow in front of the Lancaster.  My father was Robert Philip Owens and is second from the left in the photo. He was a tail gun charlie and came to 626 from 101 in September 1944.  I think one of the officers is F/O Benoit.  I have a squadron photograph from February 1945 which I had restored and donated one copy to the museum at Wickenby.

Regards,    Adrian Owens

 

 

ED424 F/Sgt Baker's crew.

 

My great uncle Frederick (Freddy) Charles Kimber flew with 626 Sqn as a flight engineer and was downed and killed on the 25th April 1944 (I believe it was 626 Sqn's last operational sortie!) while trying to bomb Baden-Baden. It would be great to hear from anyone who has a relation who flew with my great uncle in Lancaster ED424 UM-E2.

Paul Trickett, Scotland.    

 

 

ME589 F/Sgt Matheson's Crew - Lost 20th February 1944

 

Sgt Thomas Joseph Pullman (22) was the son of Mr. and Mrs. C. Pullman, of Thornaby, Yorkshire.

Tom Pullman lived in York Street, Thornaby on Tees before he joined up [a few doors down from my gran] .  I still have all her love letters from him. Quite moving really. I've been following his history in the RAF and now know what came of him. Have also been in touch with Malcolm Latham whose uncle was on the same aircraft when it went down. Seems there is just one more image needed to complete the crew picture now – Henry Dunn.

Terry Brown   September 2011

 

 

ME589 (above)

Dear Tom

Since 1965 I'm researching affairs and incidents of the WW2-aircombat history, in connection to the Mid-north of the Netherlands, in particular to the Province of Friesland and the Frisian isles (like Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog).

Results: names, records, facts and memories of hundreds of young men, airmen of the RAF, RAAF, RCAF etc. etc., killed and buried over here, MIA over the North Sea, the Wadden and the IJsselmeer, or made POW in that times, sent to Germany or Poland (Stalag Luft.....?), or who simply (!) escaped with or without the help of the Dutch resistance.

In this way recently I bought a book named " De oorlog in beeld - Schiermonnikoog 1940-1945 ", by Bauke Henstra & Eddy van der Noord (2010, june); there are many photographs in it (also from German soldiers etc. etc.) but the pictures on the pages 150 to 153 are very interesting, especially for you I think, cause this is about grave no. 108 (Vreden-hof cemetery), in which is buried maybe one of the crew of Lancaster ME589 (?). Therefore I send you some " scans " (JPG-files) of that photo's now...... and many thanks for photo's of Sgt. G.H. Bodycot, Sgt. M. Latham, Sgt. Cook etc. etc., via www.626-squadron.

Greetings, 

Willem de Jong (in Britain you should name me William Young)

Strânljip 6

9035 DK Dronryp (Frl.) The Netherlands mail-adress: w.jong1@chello.nl September 2011

 


LM599 Lost 12/13th August 1944

 

Hello Tom. 

Enjoyed looking at your wartime photos but I noticed that your date for the squadron photo at Wickenby was given as December 1943. My father, James P.Slattery, is in this photo but did not arrive there until 5/2/1944.

He flew some ops. with Brian Heath . Jim Slattery

Denis        (see photo of Brian Heath's crew in Crews page and Andy Smith's message at the top of this page- Tom)

 

 

Came across your web site and was interested in photos and references to Jim Slattery including info from his son Dennis. Attached are some photos which may be of interest. They belonged to my late mother, and some of them appear to have been taken at the same time as the photo on page 6 of your crews pages. My mum was in the WAAF from 1941 and served with 106 squadron based at RAF Metheringham. Not quite sure how she met Jim and his crew given the bases seem quite far apart, but believe she corresponded with Jim's wife whilst he was a PoW. My parents maintained friendship with the Slattery family for many years afterwards.

If you have e-mail address for Dennis, please feel free to forward this (and my e-mail address) to him as I have a couple more photos of his Mum and Dad which he may like to see if he doesn't already have them and will gladly send copies to him if he wants to get in touch.

Regards

Sandy Johnstone   Little Neston   Cheshire  3rd February 2012

PS -  also have some more RAF related photos of people and places most of which are a mystery to me - if you are interested in seeing them or have any contacts who might be able to help identify them, please let me know and I'll happily share them.

 

 

 

ME576 UM-A2  F/Sgt Elkington's Crew - Lost 14/15th January 1944. Crashed at Halberstadt.

 

I was delighted to find your website this evening.  My great Uncle was RC (Charlie) McLaren who was part of 626 squadron.  His plane was shot down on the Brunswick run on 14th January 1944.  I have his log book, some photographs and the cigarette case, found on his body, and used to identify him after the war.  He was my grandfathers only sibling and something of a hero in our family... I had the great privilege of travelling with my grandfather a few years ago to visit his grave in Berling, and have been back myself since.  My next objective is to visit Wickenby.  I would so love to find someone who knew Charlie when he was at Wickenby ...
Sincerely     
Ruth McKeown      04/11/2011  

 

From: J. Chris Grande, Canada 22-11-2011

Subject: 626 Squadron - NE163 UM-T2

I came across your marvellous website while searching for some information about my Uncle F/O Thurston Culshaw. My mother, Ruth, Aunt Isabel Culshaw Wright, and Uncle James Culshaw ( Thurston’s surviving sisters and brother) are excited to see the website and learn about the place Thurston flew from and about his fellow 626 Squadron members that flew along with him.

They wish to extend their thanks and deepest appreciation for the work you and others are doing to keep their memories and service to their countries alive.

I have attached picture of Thurston and 4 of his crewmates that must have been taken at Wickenby in 1944. I have not identified the others in the picture but I’m sure you will be able to do so and I hope this will be of some help toward your collection. Chris

 * See - Crews Page 9.

 

From Leigh Nethercot 20th of January 2012 ME589

To Willem in Holland

Hello Willem

I read with great interest your report on www.626-squadron.co.uk about the fate of ME589.

My grandfather was Sgt Gordon Bodycot who is buried on Schiermonnikoog.

We have visited his grave on the Island and met with Wyb Jan Groendij and his family.

It is good to see the history you have researched regarding the losses during the WW2.

I am happy that my grandmother Sadie (Whitcraft) Bodycot is still alive and is 93 years old on February 14th 2012 nearly 68 years after her husband died. I know she still thinks of him regularly.

I am lucky also that she has given me his war medals (see picture) so that she knows they are safe when she is no longer here.

My mother has Sgt Bodycot's flight records and RAF information too.

Thank you again for research and for sharing it on the website.

Best Regards Leigh Nethercot

 

 A coincidence but both these emails arrived the same day

My father was a Bomb Aimer with the 626 Squadron during the war. He has dementia and cannot remember a lot of recent things but he remembers his squadron and some of the details. I looked through the site and was wondering if you had any records with his name in them.

His name is Harry Albert Clarke and he was in the RCAF, he mentioned the 427 Squadron as well. I have seen his log books which have since been misplaced. He also has his Navigators log books as well. Can’t recall his name but I am hoping to locate them.

 I am extremely proud of my Dad’s service and wish he had starting talking about his life during the war. It’s not been until recently that he started talking about it. I was wondering if he might be I that large photo on the main part of the site. Anyway Thanks for putting all that work into the site. David Clarke

 

Hi Tom, my Dad was a bomb aimer and was with the 626 Squadron. He is 87 now and today he gave me the names of the crew he flew with. Is this of any use to you? Skipper: Pete Trembly RCAF, Navigator: Miles Nicholson RCAF, Bomb Aimer : Harry Clarke ( my Dad), Wireless Air Gunner: Ron May RAF, Flight Engineer : George Pagan RAF, Mid Upper Gunner : Stan Clydesdale RCAF and Tail Gunner: Bill Craig RCAF.

My Dad receives newsletters called the Wickenby Register so that is the only reason I knew about this at all. He never spoke about the missions and his time in the UK until recently so I have written down everything I have heard from him. He often wonders about his crewmates and I too wonder who is left from his crew.

Thanks for putting together such a fabulous website. I will be sure to show my Dad the photos.

Sincerely, Debbi Moore        23rd January 2012

 

 

W O George Pearce RCAF and NE118

 

My name is Terry Pearce and I live Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

My father WO George Arthur Pearce R-128117 RCAF was a member of the Wickenby Register and served with the 626 Squadron.  I have some information on his service, missions etc. but am ever more curious about his history. 

Dad passed away in 1996 and my mother in 2011 and that is when I found some documents that have me curious as to dad’s history.  He went over to the UK in 1941, but all I can find out is a small bit about his operations with 626 in March and April of 1944.  I found out that his crew, with a new navigator, was shot down on May 22, 1944 over Holland.  His pilot was Eric Grisdale, who I met as a child when we were over in Wales. (Aircraft NE118 UM-U2)

Any information or direction on where I can find out more would be greatly appreciated.   We are now planning trip to the UK in 2013, when I am retired, to do as much digging as we can.

Thank you in advance.    Terry Pearce    13th February 2012  

 

 

Paddy Waters and DV190 UM-B2 Sgt Berry's crew - Lost on Duisberg raid January 2nd 1944

Firstly can I say how impressed and grateful I am for all of your efforts in keeping the memories of 626 squadron alive. I am a descendant of John Waters (he was my grand-uncle).

John died on the 2nd Jan 1944 on a raid over Berlin and I am so glad and proud to see that he is mentioned in your website. John came from a large family in Co. Clare in Ireland, however very was or is known about his time in the RAF so your website really is a link to the past.

I apologise for the direct email but I was wondering where the information about the crew of DV190 came from. I see that there is a picture of my grand uncle on the site, in fact my family has only ever had a single picture of John so to now have another is truly a blessing.

I would like to know if it is possible to make contact with whoever donated the material on DV190? Your website states that one of the crew survived the crash (Sgt. J.P. Edwards), I was wondering if it is possible to find out if he is still alive today?

Once again thank you for compiling the website and I am sure the John would also be thankful to you for providing his ancestors with a glimpse of his life and heroism in 626.

Regards, Des Waters 19th February 2012

 

 

W/O Peter Richard Chambers DFM & DFC 166 Sqdn & 626 Sqdn

In the course of my research into any military headstone related to Pembrokeshire currently covering the years of 1722 to 2008, with some 3,000 photo's of worldwide Pembroke related headstones I have come across 3 references to 626 Sqdn.  

Ernest George Lewis, Whom I presume you have the full details and photo's from Dave Stapleton so will not repeat.

Sgt (Air Gnr) William Arla George, see attached for the memorial to him put up by his parents at Llangwm, Pembrokeshire.

W/O Peter Richard Chambers. This is the most interesting at present London Gazette 25 Sept 1945 shows his award of the D.F.C. as a member of 626 Sqdn, is this correct. 

My understanding is that he was awarded the D.F.C. flying fighters when he shot down one enemy fighter and drove off another enemy fighter thus saving the crew and a/c of a Lancaster of 626 Sqdn. 

Was Richard in fact an Air Gunner aboard the Lancaster which he helped save?? 

Richard was invested with the award at Buck House in 1945. After the war he farmed at Whitland, Carmarthenshire and died at Singleton Hospital in 2004.

I tried to teach my wife to drive at Wickenby back in the late 1960's when I was stationed at RAF Digby and living on the old airfield at Skellingthorpe. Happy days...

Regards Owen Vaughan benfrobmw@hotmail.co.uk  Pembrokeshire Military Headstones 1722 to 2008

26th February 2012

 

 

Warrant Officer Frederick Maurice (Darkie) Child

I have very recently started to research my parents' RAF service. I haven't even started the process necessary to obtain copies of their service records yet. I do, however, have my late Father's flying log book and it would appear that he was posted to 626 Sqdn at Wickenby from 22/1/44 to 15/10/44 and completed a tour of thirty missions having previously been with 156 Pathfinder Sqdn at Warboys. I've started my research by having a look at the web sites in relation to 156 and 626 Squadrons

I would be grateful for any advice regarding how I should carry out my research and particularly how I can obtain copies of squadron records. His log book simply doesn't provide enough information to satisfy my curiosity about the missions he took part in. I would also like to hear from anyone who may have known my Father. He was WO II, 627640, Frederick Maurice Child, a Rear Gunner. I recall that he told me that his nickname was "Darkie" due to his black hair and swarthy complexion. He was from Chesham in Buckinghamshire and served in the RAF from 24/11/38 to 22/7/46.

Thank you for pointing me in the direction of the keepers of the 626 Sqdn. archives. I'll contact them for information and will, of course, be happy to share anything I have with them, especially a crew photograph. I'm particularly keen to find out what happened to my Dad's plane and crew on 29/8/44 as the entry in respect of that date states "Lancaster C2. Flying Officer Lofthouse. Rear Gunner. Ops Stettin. Crashed on take off. D.N.C.O." He never mentioned crashing so maybe it was insignificant but I'd have thought any crash with a full bomb load and full load of petrol would have been somewhat hazardous.

Another matter I'm keen to resolve is my Dad's posting history. He was proud to have been with the Pathfinder Force and the plaque of 156 Sqdn. hung on the wall in our living room for as long as I can remember. 

His flying log book shows that he was only with 156 Sqdn. for three weeks before he moved, with his skipper, to 626 Sqdn. I was sure that he was with the Pathfinders for longer so I'm hopeful that his service record, once I get it, and records for 156 Sqdn. and 626 Sqdn. will shed some light on this. It appears to be the case that he completed a tour of thirty operations with 626 though.

  Regards,     Stephen Child  24th April 2012      kschild@yahoo.co.uk 

 

My Dad flew with 12 Squadron May-October 1943, and was lucky enough to complete his tour against the odds.

A couple of coincidences:

The M/U in Dad’s crew was Brian Heath. He completed a second tour with 626 Squadron in 1944 so flew 50 ops out of Wickenby.

Sgt Bob Edgeworth joined my Dad’s crew as W/O for the last 3 ops and F/O Peter Young stood in for my Dad as B/A on three occasions. By an awful coincidence both these guys were in the same 626 crew that was shot down at Marsal after the Schweinfurt raid on 25/2/44. 

I am touch with Brian Binder, son of Hector Binder, who was in the same crew. If you want further info or a photo of the Marsal burial site etc.   Jim Tattersall  6th July 2012  

 

 

 

I was the sound recordist on a  TV documentary with Michael Bentine many years ago and we filmed at Hemswell and he recorded his memories of the Polish Bomber crews.

In  his book  “The Long Banana Skin “, and “Lancaster Target” by Jack Currie there  are  references to a  mid upper or tail gunner Roy/Rory from a theatrical back ground  who was awarded the DFM. and wound stripe. He was described as gay, and was on his second tour in Jan. 1944 but did not survive the war. 

I have spent some time on the web trying to track down this very brave man, do you have any further information please?   Graham Bedwell     11 October 2012

He does not appear on 626 Squadron crew logs for January 1944. My guess is that he was from 12 Squadron who shared the same Officers' Mess.    Tom

 

 

 

LM137  UM-G2    12th/13th September 1944 

Hi Tom.  We conversed some time ago when I sent in some material you put online about 626 pilot Jack Currie and his RAAF Navigator Jim Cassidy (my father-in-law).

I have had a request for contact information for relatives of a 626 pilot (P/O Thorpe last known address Sheffield, but he died Sept 2012). The crew of LM1237 are to be remembered by a memorial due to be unveiled in September this year in France. Patrick Baumann is trying to trace relatives so that they can be invited to the ceremony.  (I was chasing up 550 stuff, and Patrick was able to inform me about two memorials to 550 crews planned to be unveiled in 2014, and this also came up.) LM137  UM-G2    12th/13th September 1944        http://www.626-squadron.co.uk/lost.htm

I think P/O Thorpe may have been the only survivor (PoW), and Baumann was in contact with him until late last year.

I have tried the RAF Wickenby web-site <rafwmm@hotmail.com>) – but they have no details (and had in any case already been contacted by Patrick Bauman).

I don’t know if perhaps you have any contacts who could help trace relatives – or perhaps put a notice on the 626 web site?   Thanks in advance for any assistance you can give.

Peter Coulter   peter@coulterfamily.org.uk         28 January 2013

I cannot help with those relatives but perhaps someone reading this may know more - If anyone can assist we do have the story of LM137's loss on our Crews pages - Crews page 5           Tom

From the crew of eight from LM137, five lost their lives. The three buried at Durnbach War Cemetery are -.

J26382 Flying Officer GEORGE THOMAS BOLDERSTON, 2nd Pilot, age 22. Son of Alfred Rampley Bolderston and Rose Bolderston, of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

1414503 Sergeant FRANCIS CHARLES FOSTER, Flight Engineer, age 23. Son of Francis and Ellen Elizabeth Foster, of Wednesfield, Wolverhampton.

1395778 Flight Sergeant STANLEY EDWARD DUNNETT, Bomb Aimer age 28. Son of Samuel and Annie Dunnett; husband of Alice Mary Batsford of 5 Brewery Street, Stratford on Avon. Married Stratford on Avon in 1942. He is also commemorated on the Grundisburgh, Suffolk, War Memorial.

Two crew members have no known grave and are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial a few miles from Windsor Castle. They were -

182638 Pilot Officer ARTHUR CROMWELL LLEWELLYN COX, Pilot, age 33. Son of Walter George and Sarah Ann Cox and husband of Emily Winstanley Cox, of South Shore, Blackpool, Lancashire. Married 1934, Fylde district, Lancashire to Emily Winstanley Jones, of South Shore, Blackpool, Lancashire; (one daughter?).

1852569 Flight Sergeant LEONARD FRANK BEATTIE, age 19 RUNNYMEDE MEMORIAL Son of Reginald George and Elizabeth Harriett Beattie, of Brighton, Sussex.

Sergeant J. Peart , F/Sergeant R.H. Cross , and F/Lt Dennis Thorpe were all made prisoners of war.

 

 

Berchtesgaden, 25 Apr 45.

One of the four 626 Sqn Lancasters on this raid was piloted by Fg Off Bert Rainey. His crew was Sgt Ken Candy (Flt Eng), Sgt Bert Craig (Nav), Plt Off Nobby Clark (Bomb Aimer), Sgt Maurice Cox (WOp), Sgt Joe Atkinson (Mid-upper) and Sgt Al Carver (Rear Gunner). The bomb load was 7,000lbs, the target was the SS Barracks and the flight time was 8 Hrs 25 Mins. They were flying PD864, Nanny Two, their regular Lancaster.My father, Nobby Clark, died in 1997 but as he tells it Nanny Two was in the van of the main bomber stream in visual contact with the Pathfinder Lancasters ahead of them. As they approached the final turn into the valley leading to Berchtesgaden the Nav, supported by my father was trying to persuade the skipper that the Pathfinders had missed the final turning point and he should ignore them and turn up the next valley. As the conversation progressed the Pathfinders realised their error and threw a 180. In consequence you had the Pathfinders trailing exhaust fumes as their Flt Eng's held the throttles open, whilst Nanny Two and those other Lanc's in the van tried to hang on their prop's. The Pathfinders just made the turn before the van arrived.

My father accounts for the very light flak the van received by assuming the German gunners thought the raid was going on to another target and had reduce their awareness. Apparently the intensity of flak increased as the raid progressed. His load went right through a barrack block.

Many years later my father, a member of the Knutsford Branch of the ACA met a new member sporting a Pathfinder badge. It was quickly established that he had been on the Berchtesgaden raid and admitted their error; it cost him a pint.

I have a photograph of the crew standing in front of Nanny Two. I also have a large painting by Chris Golds of Whisky Two, with the same crew, on the bomb run into Hanover just as they received Flak in their port inner engine. An Me 261 is attacking the Lancaster astern of them and the Mustang fighter cover is diving on the tail of the Me 261; to no effect! This was a day light raid on 25 Mar 45. The painting is entitled "Wickenby, Hanover Return. / 5 March 1945".

I can provide a copy of the photograph and a photograph of the painting (My son has professional camera equipment.) Regards, Andrew M Clark. Flt Lt 8022630.

 

 

Denis Thorpe & Johny Peart

Just found the info on 626 squadron, my dad was the Johnny Peart who was shot down over Germany with the pilot Dennis Thorpe.

I have his flight log book, letters from him to my mum when he was in the prison camp, and a notebook with a sort of diary that he kept when the Germans made them march from the camp as the Russian soldiers were about to liberate them.

I would also if possible like to get in touch with Dennis Thorpe's nephew Alistair. Or even Dennis himself.

Sadly my dad was killed in a tractor accident when I was very young so he could not tell me about his RAF days.

I would love to be able to speak to anyone who knew him back then.     

Kind regards   Christine Bell   cronkley@aol.com           23 February 2015

 

 

 

Hi Tom,Peter Baskerville's profile photo

I came across your website and thought you might be interested in the work I have been doing in capturing my dad's stories about his time as a Lancaster pilot on 460 squadron.  http://bombercommand.wordpress.com

I have also been curating Internet content relevant to 460 squadron and Bomber Command for a few years here -          http://www.scoop.it/t/460-squadron.

These links may be of interest to your readers.  Warm regards  Peter Baskerville

 

 

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