THE TILLER

July 2003

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas

THE WORLD IS GETTING SMALLER

Paul Hawksworth has written in from Howden (East Yorkshire) saying how much he enjoyed the reunion. He said he realises that The Tiller will only continue if the stories come rolling in. So he has rolled one in! Whilst researching the history of his great uncle, Sgt. Frank Hawksworth, and crewmates of Lancaster II LL622 KO-J, he has been able to trace all but one of the families concerned. Unfortunately, after many enquiries through various means he has drawn a blank with the Taylor family of Patrick, Glasgow. However, he has quite a lot of information on Robert Findlay Taylor, taken from service records.

Like Frank, Robert's first mission with 115 was on the night of March 18 1944, to Frankfurt. He flew as F/E to P/O Gibson in Lanc Mk II LL652. While filling in some details to the story that Paul is writing he recalled that in The Tiller October 2002 edition there was a request from Malcolm Gibson asking for information with regard to his father who had served with the squadron in 1944. "As he lives in Australia I thought the quickest way to make contact with Malcolm would be via email," explains Paul. "So I wrote to a friend in Australia via his email address asking if he would kindly get in touch with Malcolm for me and if possible get me an email address to write to.

"After only three days I had contact with Malcolm via his works email. After I explained to him the connection with regard to my research and his father, he offered to post his father's logbook records for me to read. He also told me of a great uncle who fought in the first World War and died at Ypres in Belgium.

"As it happened Julie Gavin and I were going to Belgium at Easter to pay our respects to the crew of LL622 at Evere cemetery in Brussels. And while over there we planned to visit Ypres and the Menin Gate, in particular to watch the Last Post.

"So I offered to take a wreath and lay it at the Menim Gate on behalf of the Gibson family in Australia. In a nut shell it would seem that The Tiller has become a great source of information to me, and I also feel a sense of worth that I can do my bit in helping other people with their research and wishes."

Well done, Paul. He asks if there are aircrew who may have flown on March 30/31 1944, he would like to have a copy of log entries. Write to Paul at 4 The Meadows, Howden, East Yorkshire DN14 7DX.

Information forthcoming

A request from Phil Racher of 2 Heron Way, Horsham, West Sussex RH 13 6DG regarding navigational activities and F/Sgt. Brookes of 195 Squadron stemmed from a pile of wartime documents Phil bought at Shoreham aero jumble in 2001. I passed the request to our President Frank Leatherdale, who as you would expect provided a lot of interesting information (did you know navs coded their entries?), as well as suggesting Phil contacted Bill Farquharson. Bill not only remembered Brookes but is still in touch with P/O Alan Hopkins in Australia, the pilot referred to in the navigation logs for 29 trips.

Phil seems to dabble in anything and everything. At the moment he is restoring an H2S transmitter which he found in Cheltenham, and there's quite a list of electronic wizardry he's dabbling in. If you are technically minded and would like to compare technical notes telephone Phil on 01403 260795. I am sure many of you will understand Phil's proud comment to me: "I've just finished the first-ever 'head-up display.' It sounds brilliant. Phil I know what 'bottoms up' means . . .

WELCOME ARCHIE DICK

It was a delight to welcome former Wing Commander Archie Dick to the reunion. He dropped me a line giving information on his service. He arrived with his crew at Witchford in December 1944, out of the Lanc finishing school at Feltwell. As well as his two second-dickey trips he took part in 13 ops, mostly over the Ruhr.

"The most memorable/notable/notorious of these was the first night raid on Dresden on February 13 1945," he writes. "I believe we were the only crew casualty of the squadron that night in that we picked up some flak over the target and came back on three as far as re-occupied France.

"There we carried out a tactical dive supposedly to fool German radar, but this caused our feathered engine (S1) to unfeather and catch fire which we could not extinguish. So we baled out. Sadly, our mid-upper Geordie Preston was killed." At the end of the war the crew took part in Manna, dropping food to the Dutch.

Archie's crew was P/O Doug Copland (nav), F/O Bob Wilson (RCAF)(BA), F/S Cyril 'Ricky' Rickard (FE), Sgt. Stan Berwick (W/Op) , Sgt. Geordie Preston (MU) and Sgt. Roland 'Rolly" Whittle (RGH).

Later replacements were F/O Gordon Goddard (BA) and F/O Peter Watson (MU).

THE LADY FROM THE MET.

A letter has come in from Carol Holt who worked in the Met. Office from 1944- 45. She'd love to hear from any of you who remember her (why not write anyway!). Carol lives at 61 Marshals Drive, St. Albans, Herts AL1 4RD. Tel 01727 858017.

CRASHED ON ICE

Andrew Pearce writes from 35 Balmain Close, Ealing W5 5BY, seeking any information about his brother Kenneth David Pearce navigator with Sgt. Pirie, who served with 115 in 1943. The crew was lost on December 23/24 Lanc DS773 KO-T having been hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashing on a frozen lake at Rauchfangswerder, where it later sank. His body was recovered before the aircraft sank and he was buried at Niederlehme cemetery. 15 miles south east of Berlin. He was later re-interred at the British Military Cemetery Heerstrasse.

The crew was P/O. Pirie (he had been promoted). P/O Pearce was the nav., Sgt. Hardwick WOP/AG, Sgt. Davidson BA, Sgt. Southwell MU, Sgt. Calvert RG, and Sgt. Heal FE. According to information from the RAF Historical Society 17 aircraft were detailed (4 from A flight, 8 from B Flight and 5 from C Flight) but four were later withdrawn.

RTB

R. J. Ball - A. Hammond - T. B. Moir

INFORMATION ON SGT. KILSBY REQUIRED

Gordon Hall, ex National Service RAFP, writes from 16 Prospect Close, Wollaston, Northants NN29 7SP (tel: 01933 664695) seeking information on F/Sgt Kilsby, shot down in Lanc. HK579 A4-B in an attack on Le Havre on the night of September 8 1944. He is buried in Ste. Marie Cemetery, Le Havre.

Gordon says that in Wollaston they have a small museum, and he and a colleague are preparing a 'Roll of Honour' of all those named on the village war memorial, and when completed it will be presented to and remain in, that museum. Those who fell in both world wars will be in the Roll.

Gordon has visited Kilsby's grave and taken photographs, and has traced his son who, because his mother refused to talk about his father did not know where or how he died - not even that he had a grave. He only discovered his father had a grave when his son was playing on the computer earlier this year. As you can imagine Gordon is after as much information as possible, so if you have anything that will help his museum project or be of interest to Kilsby's son . . . pick up the telephone or your pen!

JACKY RECENSE LES TOMBES DES ALLIES

Jacky Emery, 15 rue des Lilas, 72650 La Chapelle Saint Aubin, France Tel: 33 (0)243 476571 writes seeking information on S/Ldr J. R. Watson's crew shot down in Lanc Mk II DS684 KO-M during an attack on Turin on the night of August 16 1943, with crewmates F/Sgt Crawshaw (Nav), Sgt W. Pettet (W/Op), Sgt. C. Brook (BA), Sgt S. Eastwood (MU), Sgt R. Clifford (RG) and F/E Sgt A. Heyes.

He also seeks info on P/O S..S. Atkins crew shot down on May 20 1944 in an attack on Le Mans in Lanc I HK547 A4-F. Crew was F/O J. Haywood (second dickie), P/O K. Mather (Nav), P/O R. W. Jones (BA), F/Sgt R. Giles (W/Op) P/O L. E. Mehden (RG), Sgt J. Rafferty (MU) and Sgt. I. Plumb (FE).

In seeking more information Mr Emery says "I would like to pay homage to these courageous soldiers but I do not even know at which place their plane was cut down. I would wish also to contact the families.

'My motivation is to pay homage to all those who helped France to find freedom. We will never forget their sacrifice.'

WE WILL SURVIVE

Another request for information on the reunion came from a Benson man. Mr. M. Daniell writes from 35 Westfield Road, Benson X10 6NJ. He served from 1985 to 1993. I publish his name and address, because you never Know . . . from little acorns!

John A Lyne writes from 14 Buckhurst Close, Eastbourne BH20 9EF, and he'd like contact with people who may remember him.

There won't be anybody who doesn't remember reunion stalwart George RusselI. You may like to drop him a line at Hope Nursing Home, Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge CB2 2BQ.

INFORMATION SOUGHT FROM 1940s

Christopher Lee Morris writes from 9 Alexandra Place, Rhymney, Gwent NP2 5HR asking for information on Wellington T2520 KO-A which crashed December 8/9 1940.
The aircraft had been on a bombing raid on Bordeaux, successfully carrying out their mission only to get lost in bad weather on their return leg. They crashed on Cefn yr Ystrad, near Rhymney and Tredegar.
Mr. Morris believes that they were the only aircraft lost that night.
The crew was F/O Albert TindalI (pilot), Sgt. David Mills (2nd dicky), Sgt Hylton Ellis (nav), Sgt Stanley Howard (WOP/AG), Sgt David Wallace (A/G) and Sgt. Reg Brown (A/G).

DS734 KO-Y

This aircraft is the centre of the exciting work being done in Belgium to build a local memorial. There has been regular contact with Jan Terlouw, and latterly Filip Doms.

Ron Stewart has been in touch with Filip Doms, and you know we have plenty from Jan in The Tiller.

All being well Filip Doms and friends were due to meet up with Ron Stewart at Duxford Air show

Jan in the meantime has sent a batch of photographs of the temporary museum in the local police station, and also a photograph and information on F/O Peter Bickford's crew (LNC. B III ND913 A4-M) which was shot down by German flack on September 16 1944 near Strijden on the islands south of Rotterdam.