April 2009

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas


A recent letter from President Frank Leatherdale brings important news for the binge drinkers among you. You may have heard of Shepherd Neame's Spitfire" ale, but have you heard of Thwaite's "Lancaster Bomber" ale? It is sold in 500 ml bottles, with a strength of 4.4%. Frank says he knows Tesco stock it at about 1.59. "It's described as full-flavoured with a hop aroma, and it tastes quite good and is worthy of its name."

Frank has heard from Frank Rutter in Australia, slowly recovering from an operation on his leg. He can get around with two sticks or a three-wheeled shopping trolley. The recent bush fires were about 30 minutes drive from his house, and although the fire menace has receded it is still very hot and dry. A little rain arrived to damp down the fires. Over 1,000 fire fighters from New Zealand joined the teams fighting the conflagrations.

According to Frank (Rutter) the Victoria Old Comrades Association still thrives and although they seem to get a continual RTB 'there are still old chaps joining for the first time.'


Interesting letter has come in from Phil McCarthy who was stationed at Benson when we were there. He asks what has happened to the contents of the History Room, run by Flt. Lt. Derek Ransom. Phil worked in the photographic section and did a lot of copying for Derek - mainly old pictures from Association members. The trail is a little thin but according to letters from the RAF Museum the Association should have received much of the historical material (we didn't), the rest going to RAF Quedgely. However, Quedgely was closed down and the various property boxes went to RAF Stafford. The mess silver is at the RAF Club in Piccadilly, I believe. There is al so material at RAF Marham, Honours Boards and ORBs.

Anyway, Phil is trying to find information on Sgt. Reginald William Yarwood 755730 who flew with 115 and was KIA on December 29 1940.
Our RoII of Honour shows Wellington IC T2465 KO-O was shot down in a raid on Hamm, having taken off from Marham at 17.17hrs.
The crew was

+ P/O Peter Gordon Hedley Salmon (aged 22) (pilot) 41071
+ Sgt. Clifford Ernest Rich Yard (second pilot) RAFVR 754799
+ P/O Reginald Thomas Hewer (observer) RAFVR 86424
+ Sgt Bertie Sheldrick (WOP/AG) 639947
+ Sgt Reginald William Yarwood (WOP/AG) (26) RAFVR 755730
+ Sgt. John Stainton Beattie (AG) (19) RAFVR 910397

It's a long-shot!


Mrs. Lavinia Flint - Leonard Ing - Andrew Jackson

Sqdn. Ldr. Andrew Jackson (DFC, AE, MID.) died in Western General Hospital, Edinburgh on January 31. His daughter, Jacqueline Jackson, wrote to us explaining how her father was active up until he passed away, aged 91.

At the same time a letter arrived from Erick Wilkin in Blairgowrie explaining how he first met Andrew at Witchford in the late 80s. He was wandering from group to group seeking out any familiar faces. He drew blank, but sat with Eric at dinner. From the conversation Eric learned how he had come down to Witchford on the off-chance to see if he could catch up with any of the Wimpey era.

They exchanged Christmas cards and short de-briefing notes on the previous year, and on one occasion Andrew went up to Perth with a friend for a round of golf with Eric.

Andrew was an Observer and did a tour on Wellingtons - 'at a time when it was a real performance to do a 'tour", comments Eric.

Leonard Ing died on January 26. A regular attender of reunions, Leonard was a stickier for facts, and some of you will recall 'corrections' I published in The Tiller under his guidance. In fact, I received a letter from Leonard, written in his immaculate handwriting on January 10. This was him from top to toe: " Dear Ian - January Newsletter 2009. "Your recent Newsletter contained several accounts of particular interest about which I venture to comment as follows: Harry Rossiter's description of his experience when looking straight into the open bomb bay of a Lancaster directly above him, vividly recalls my own memories of such an incident which occurred on December 31 1944 while attacking the marshalling yard at Vohwinkel in the Ruhr. While I, as a bomb aimer, was instructing my pilot, Red Sherwood, to maintain a straight and level course, our mid-upper gunner, Alan Lennox, interrupted urgently to warn Red that another Lancaster was immediately above us with its bomb doors open and obviously about the shed its load.

"In his book "Flying 40 missions with Red" our skipper describes the violent evasive action he took, but one of the bombs - a 250 pounder - did strike our starboard fin, but did not explode. On our return to Witchford, Red took a photograph of Bill Hole (rear gunner) and Alan Lennox (who had provided the commentary as the bombs fell) as they surveyed the damage. This daylight operation occurred during the command of the Squadron by W/CO R.H. Shaw, who is mentioned later in your newsletter. (Photocopy of the picture was enclosed)

"Under the heading 'Personnel Records' you mention that these records have 'not' moved from Innsworth. They have. So I am wondering if the word 'not' should read 'now'. Wishing you a successful year - Len Ing." He was absolutely right - of course, and wonderfully diplomatic! Great memories.


Peter Simoens writes from Joos Griettenstraat 11 - B-8900 leper, seeking information on Wellington Mk IC Z8788 KO-H that crashed in Snaaskerke (Belgium) on July 21 1941.
He has recently acquired the Memorial cross (?) of the co-pilot R/56091 RCAF. His letter was dated February 24 and he says that in the 'past few weeks' he has found: Written testimonial of the crash by an eye witness. Pictures taken immediately after the crash. Copies of the service records of Johnston (Canadian archives). Copies of Operational Records. Mourning card of the civil victim (a resident of Snaaskerke]. Recent pictures of the graves of the crew (QT Koksijde Military Cemetery).

Anything anybody can help with? Roll of Honour shows target was Mannheim.

Sgt Norman Johnston was pilot
second pilot Sgt Frank Stubbington
observer Sgt Richard Stanley
WOP/AG Howard Tucker
Front gunner Hubert Vernon
RG Sgt Bernard O'Hara.


F/O James Perry was pilot of Lancaster Mk I ME692 A4-G

F/O James Perry, pilot 24 years - RAFVR - 183588
Squadron Leader Franklin Robert Harcourt, (2nd pilot), 28 years - RAF - 41009
Sgt Harold William Clarke, flight engineer, 32 years - RAFVR - 940365
F/S Edmund Bennett, nav 24 years - RAFVR - 1602216
Sgt John Patrick Lynch, WOP 20 years - RAFVR - 1832292
F/S Edwin Ernest Wood, BA 23 years - RAFVR - 1576342 - Mentioned in Despatches
Sgt. Norman Elvish, (MU) 28 years - RAFVR - 543937
Sgt. Norman Arthur Atkins, (RG) 20 years - RAFVR - 1895451
'MISSING WITHOUT TRACE' Runnymede Memorial.

Norman Elvish's daughter, Marlene Jones. writes from 7 Chester Close. New Inn, Pontypool NP4 OLT saying she was only 10 months old at the time and would like any information anybody may have.


Nice letter from Mike Brown in King's Lynn who served on the Squadron at Marham from November 1951 until July 1953. A real Washington man. Little did the editor know they were serving alongside. Mike was an airframe fitter and the editor an AG on KO-H 495. Do you remember Line Chief Bill Butt? Bill is Cornwall-based continuing as a loyal subscriber to The Tiller.


Douglas Cameron has written in again. You may remember he has been involved trying to piece together the shooting down of Lancaster Mk I LL880 KO-O on October 6, 1944. AII the crew were KIA and Doug has been adding bits and pieces to the background.
His latest information - and you can add this to the entry on page 81 of your Roll of Honour - the aircraft came down on the arterial road near Oberhausen-Sterekrade, Germany.
Should you be in the Stockton area this summer take time to drop in to see Douglas at Douglas Cameron Motor Services, The Armoury Old Airfield, Thornaby, Teeside.

Mission Dortmund Germany.
Bodies were recovered from:
W/O William Erickson, Pilot - RAFVR - 655068
Sgt George Frederick Burgess,W.Op./Air Gnr. 20 years - RAFVR - 1624834
Sgt Arthur John Tippin, Air Bomber, 24 years - RAFVR - 1581522
F/Sgt Jack Lee, Nav./Bomber - 23 years - RAFVR - 1128432

Sgt James Truby, 20 years - RAFVR - 1595391
Sgt Michael Convy, 22 years - RAFVR - 1824996
Sgt Harry Thomson Dickson, 38 years - RAFVR - 1897116
Runnymede Memorial.


A letter from David Langford, a welfare/caseworker of Tilleague, Killasser, Swinford. Co. Maya [00353719181958] has written asking for any information available on Rear gunner Sgt. Thomas Ryan, KIA April 13 1942. One of his clients is seeking information. If you can add anything his telephone number is above.

Our Roll of Honour shows Wellington Mk III X3596 KO-B (arrived at the Squadron 'new' on February 26, did 10 ops.) took off from Marham at 22.57 hrs, target Essen. Shot down by single night fighter and crashed 0100 hrs in the IJsselmeer, east of the island of Urk. The crew was buried at Amsterdam (New Eastern) General Cemetery.

Sgt Albert Ernest (Jim) Holder, Pilot, aged 27 - RAFVR - 1376202 (grave 85 D 12)
Sgt Noel Hensley Blair, 2nd pilot, aged 24 - RNZAF - 404994 (85 D 13)
P/O Ronald William Barlow, Observer, aged 25 - RAFVR - 106537 (85 D 15)
Sgt .Kenneth John Raiswell, W.OP/AG, aged 19 - RAFVR - 1151893 (85 C 13)
Sgt. Thomas James Phillips, W.Op./Air Gnr, - RAFVR - 977631 (85 D 11)
Sgt. Thomas Ryan, rear gunner, aged 22 - RAF - 621697 (85 D 14).


On June 18 1944 Lancaster Mk I HK559 A4-H (arrived at the Squadron 'new' on June 2 1944 and did two ops) took off for Montdidier AT 01.02 hrs, but dived in to the ground at St. Just-en-Chausee, France. On June 21 this year there will be a special ceremony at Gannes Communal Cemetery at the graveside and the unveiling of a memorial stone at the crash site, about a mile to the east.

More info More info and photo's

We know a bit more about this event from Ian Duff of 4 Rhodes Park, North Berwick, EH39 5 NA, uncle of Peter Duff the WOP. Apparently, according to the station master at Gannes, the aircraft exploded and burst into flames on impact, with a further bomb explosion triggered by the fire several hours later. It is not sure whether the crash occurred on the outward flight or the return as cloud conditions at the target resulted in an instruction to return without dropping the bombs.

There have been official commemoration ceremonies in 1994 and 2004 and this year it is going to be extra special and Ian Duff hopes somebody can make the trip to represent the Squadron. The main man in France is Dominique Lecomte of Erquery (Oise).

Ian notes his thanks to an amazing spread of 'groups' - Finsbury Park Cycling Club, Harrogate Advertiser, Odd Bods UK Association, Ossett Historical Society, RAF Halton Aircraft Apprentices Association, Tottenham, Wood Green and Edmonton Journal. What an interesting collection of 'sources'.

Ian's email explains he has been over on three occasions. ln 1964 he was working in France and on a Sunday took a train from Paris to Gannes. At the station he asked a porter for directions to the cemetery. Asking me to wait, he made a telephone call and in due course a car arrived with two young men - the son of the Mayor and a friend. They took him to the Mayor's house for lunch, then to the cemetery for photography and quiet reflection, then back to the station for the Paris train. When I got back I told my father and he said he had exactly the same experience sixteen years before when he went to visit his brother's grave. It would appear the station staff have standing orders on what to do if an obvious foreigner arrives asking for the cemetery.