THE TILLER

October 2012

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

WE ARE THERE

Mervin Ingmire dropped a line to say he too attended the Memorial Ceremony in Hyde Park but with the thousands milling around he was unable to link up with President Frank leatherdale or any other 115-ers. He did, however, have to make contact with the St. John Ambulance contingent who took great care of him when the hot weather got to him.

In his letter he picks up on the reference to August 27 1941 (August Tiller) which he describes as an extremely strange coincidence with our mention of Wellington JW5710 which was lost at Cromer on the above date. The aircraft had been on a bombing raid to Manheim and Mervin was involved on the same operation, his first ever, 'which' he says 'became memorable to me for an incident which remains with me for the rest of my life.'

He explained how once the raid was completed 'we crossed the east of England coast, firing Verey pistol colours of the hour.' After about 60 seconds, as he was in the rear turret he saw another similar set of recognition colours fired off, and thought to himself "another crew home safely". They flew on to Marham, carried out all their landing drilIs, touched down on the flare path, and taxied to ladywood and their allocated bay.

Suddenly all hell was let loose as lights flashed and bomb blasts ripped in to the strip they had just left. 'We had been tailed by an intruder whose copycat lights I had seen earlier!' It was a Junkers 88. A narrow squeak for Mervin.

Fifty-nine operations later he was with 83 Squadron PFF, and the end of his second tour in December 1944. It was just a few days before Christmas and they were returning from Mariburg, a synthetic fuel target on the Baltic coast.

They ran in to thick fog and were diverted to RAF Metheringham from Coningsby and crashed on FIDO. "I was the only survivor of the 8-man crew and I found out a few years later that we had run out of fuel! I started in Bomber Command in dramatic fashion - and left in tragic circumstances." Mervin had plenty to reflect on as he sat in the blazing Hyde Park sun, remembering colleagues who hadn't made it.

Cyril Bridges wrote in about his experience on the great day. He found himself just one seat away from Ken Dodwell, a Squadron Leader navigator who served at Marham on Wellingtons, and later on Stirlings and Lancasters, from November 1941 to July 1942 (Brian Slade was his pilot) and came through 38 operations before the end of the war. According to Cyril he 'later received a delightful piece called "The navigator" from the Dodwells.

BUNGAY REMEMBERED

I can always rely on Harry Rossiter to come up with some interesting titbits. He picked up on President Frank Leatherdale's mention of Flixton Aviation Museum near Bungay. Harry recalls he was posted to signals staff at RAF Beccles which was an air sea rescue station where 280 and 281 Squadrons were flying Vickers Warwick aircraft carrying lifeboats which could be dropped on three parachutes to downed bomber crews.

Bungay airfield was close by and housed a USAAF bomber squadron of the 44th Bombardment Group flying mainly Liberators. There was also a USAAF fighter base nearby flying PS1 Mustangs.

He then went on to add more light on the Bonn raid also mentioned in our August edition. Harry was on that raid and it was a daylight take-off at about 8.30am. 'We had fighter escort,' he recalls ' and it seems that U uncle was just unlucky to be shot down before the escort arrived. 'I remember it was the only Squadron casualty that day and officially recorded as 'Lost without trace.'

ARMISTICE SUNDAY

Our usual church service and gathering at our Squadron Memorial will be held on Armistice Sunday. It is our tradition for anybody to attend without any invitations and we are always supported by the Squadron and the local ATC unit. The Witchford sports club provides sandwiches and refreshment in their clubhouse. to sustain us on our way home. The village church is in the high street and the service starts at 10.30am