THE TILLER

APRIL 2007

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

CRASH SITE WILL BE MARKED

For those of you coming to the May reunion you may wish to incorporate a visit to the Coveney crash site where KO-R (LL877) and A4-J (LL867) crashed on the night of April 19 1944, shot down by intruder German night fighters.

Added info

Lancaster Mk II LL667 KO-R

+ Pilot Officer John Birnie, Pilot, 20, 173326, RAFVR
+ Sergeant Jack Ferguson, Flight Engineer, 19, 1501340, RAFVR
+ Flight Sergeant David Lloyd Jones, Navigator, 30, RAFVR
+ Sergeant Ernest Kerwin, Wireless Operator, 30, 1540856, RAFVR
+ Pilot Officer Arnold Lepine Feldman, Bomb Aimer, 27, J92605, RCAF
+ Sergeant William James MacMillan, Mid Upper Gunner, 19, R209012, RCAF
+ Sergeant George Edward Bailey, Rear Gunner, 23, 1868473, RAFVR

Lancaster MkI LL867 A4-J

+ Flight Lieutenant Charlie Eddy MBE, Pilot, 29, 39003, RNZAF
+ Sergeant William Leslie Murphy, Flight Engineer, 2206546, RAFVR
+ Flying Officer Albert Smith, Navigator, RAFVR
+ Flight Sergeant Peter John E. Maddox, Wireless Operator, 22, 1334594, RAFVR
+ Flight Sergeant Harold George Pugh, Bomb Aimer, 658462, RAF
+ Sergeant Alfred Frank Langridge, Mid Upper Gunner, 32, 18127110, RAFVR
+ Warrant Officer 11 Henry Bennis, Rear Gunner, 22, R178351, RCAF

The church will be open on Saturday afternoon May 5 for anyone wishing to see the memorial tablet for Flt.Lt. Eddy and P/O Birnie and their crews. Morning service on the Sunday at St. Peter ad Vincula will be mass from 9.15am to 10.15am.

The field of the crash site is now owned by Mr. Tom Leigh, and is currently planted with wheat. The site will be marked with a white flag on a pole easily seen from the Ely-Coveney road.

Sqdn Ldr. N.G.Mumford (retired), chairman of Coveney Council, helped Keith Sparrow to have the memorial tablet placed in Coveney church; as had been wanted by Keith's parents, who owned the field where the Lancasters crashed.
It was unveiled and dedicated at a service in the church on September 3, 2006. Nick has approached the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to see if they wish to list the tablet in their archives.

POST-WAR REFLECTIONS

Stanley Holloway writes from Chichester saying how much he enjoys The Tiller, and he is delighted to read 'so many WW2 crew members are still around.' He says he didn't belong to that period as his service with the Squadron was not until the 1950s, during the time of the 829 Washingtons and Canberras.

"It was not a period that would encourage Hollywood to feature in a blockbuster film but 115 still trained to become one of the elite bombing squadrons in the RAF; the efficiency and reliability of the aircrews and all- too-often-unmentioned ground crews was legendary.

"I am somewhat surprised," he adds, "we do not hear from servicemen who were with the Squadron after 1945 as I know there are many interesting stories to tell. It was a difficult time for all involved not least because many people didn't want to be in the service, national service that is. but I am certain it was little different for wartime servicemen who would far sooner preferred to have been at home with their families.

"What I am trying to say is: Thank you WW2 crews and ground crew for keeping the memory of 115 Squadron alive." On behalf of everyone: Thank you. Stanley".

GET YOUR FLYING BOOTS OUT

Project Propellor is with us again - this year its destination is Bruntingthorpe, home of the Avro Vulcan. on Saturday June 30. It's a super scheme, unfortunately only for 'old' aircrew, which will cost you a tenner to take part. Ring Dennis Ray on 01933 391171 between 09.00 hrs and 21.00 hrs and tell him you want to sign up. He’ll ask you one or two details of when you served and what your role was, and ask you to name a nearby aerodrome or airfield - and then arrange for a pilot, using his own aircraft, to take you to Brungtingthorpe, and bring you back. FREE. Jim McGillivray tells me it's a great day out and a number of 115ers get involved. No Mr. Gregory, you don't get extra flying pay!

By they way. Dennis is raising funds for a specially-built quad bike for wheelchair-bound people. It's going to cost £4,OOO, so any donations will be most welcome. He plans to give the special bike to Hinwick Hall College of Education, an establishment looking after severely handicapped young adults. AII being well the bike wilt be on display at Brungtingthorpe.

TALKING OF FLYING PAY . . . .

Whilst on the subject of flying pay Chalky White has been on the 'phone from his residential home in north Devon. He was a little miffed when his doctor told him a long car journey to Ely was out of the question. Herbert Walker had planned to nip across from Dartmouth and bring Chalky to the reunion. I discovered that Chalky's family had 'grounded' him from driving at the spritely age of 91!

But that doesn't stop a true 115-er! Chalky is dropping down to Exeter and flying to Norwich. From there he will come to Witchford with his son behind the wheel. Fantastic!

CARD FROM I-O-M

John Wilson has sent a postcard from Onchan in the Isle of Man thanking us for some copies of The Tiller. He is delighted to be in touch again.

HUNTING COCKBILL

It's a slim chance but Phil Racher of Horsham is trying to find a Dennis Cockbill. Phil was mooching around the internet when he came across some de-brief records of five crews from 195 Squadron on March 19, 1945. They had been posted by a Dennis Cockbill. On further research Phil discovered the de-brief sheets are not registered at Hendon or in the PRO. So any clues for him please? Phil may be contacted at 2 Heron Way, Horsham RH13 6DG.

Phil also sent a photocopy of a picture showing special equipment installed in a Lanc. It came from a set-of pictures he was allowed to scan by Peter Brown of Pocklington, since RTB.

RE-UNION

Delighted with ticket applications for the re-union. Dinner will be at 20.00 hrs and the bar opens just after 19.00 hrs. Please don't get there at 17.00 hrs as the bar will not be open!

A POET IN OUR MIDST

Received a telephone call from a Roy Meaby of Laleham in Middlesex. He had served in the RAF as an engine fitter from 1942 to the Spring of 1946. He did a spelt at Witchford in AIB (Accident Investigation Branch), mainly making sure when we patched up or re-built damaged aircraft they were “fit for purpose.' It was some job in those days. In one two-month period at 54MU they put about 60 aircraft back in the skies. He particularly remembered one Lancaster where a bomb from 'friendly' aircraft above dropped through the fuselage.

Roy rang me because he has a commemorative set of RAF figurines depicting aircrew , ground crew and WAAFs, and beneath them is a poem, an excerpt from The Immortal Erk by W/O Philip Nicholson, 115 Squadron, Witchford, 1944. Roy was looking for Nicholson. So out of the archives I found the old address list of over 800 members who have been on the 'list' for years. Lucky for Roy I found Nicholson, who is still going strong and was delighted to have a chat and very surprised to learn part of his poem had reached such a grand status.

This the excerpt quoted on the base:

"Those who flew ere not alone
Behind them stood the friends unknown
The fitters working day and night
Their chief reward an A 1 kite
The riggers working hard to heal
The damage done by flying steel
The armourers who handled tons of bombs, and laboured on the guns
WAAFs who drove the transport round
AII the tellers on the ground
Bowser drivers, cookhouse bods
A thousand willing 'odds-and- sods'
Supporting by their skill and care
Operations in the air".

THIS IS A REALLY LONG-SHOT

I've received a letter from Desmond Hollis, secretary to 578 Squadron Burn Association. It concerns his search for a photograph of David Marwood-Elton DFC, an award received whilst serving with 115 in 1940, his DFC being gazetted on October 22 1944. (°22 August 1911).

The London Gazette, 9 September 1941 - 5219
Marwood-Elton

Nigel William David Marwood-Elton was a Sqdn. Ldr when he was with us but was later station commander at Burn when 578 was based there. He was a Group Captain by then and in March 1944 went on an operation to Frankfurt. The Halifax was flown by P/O Atkins and the crew was on its last sortie of a tour.

After briefing, at which the Group Captain sat in, Dickie Atkins took his crew to a hangar and made them practice escape routines (to impress the Group Captain?), and had them jumping in and out of a drill aircraft. They were not to know how useful this would be that night. The aircraft was shot down by a German night fighter, but all survived, including Marwood-Elton, successfully abandoning the aircraft and ending up 'in the bag'.

NWD Marwood-Elton became quite a thorn in the side of his captors and his escapades whilst POW are listed in "Footprints in the sands of time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock. Our Wimpey men may be hard pushed to remember Marwood-Elton, but to come up with a photograph would be amazing. We've put 578 in touch with the archivist at Marham.