August 2012

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas


After years of waiting, argument and wrangling our patience was rewarded when, on Thursday June 28, Her Majesty The Queen unveiled the Bomber Command Memorial in London's Hyde Park, in the presence of thousands of veterans and their families from Great Britain and the Commonwealth gathered to acknowledge the 'many' who sacrificed their !ives for their country as brave members of Bomber Commando. The Squadron was well represented by Association President Frank Leatherdale, Lord George Mackie, Aubrey Howell, Jim McGilivray and Harry Rossiter.

Harry attended a reception for Bomber Boys at the Guildhall the night before the big day, and to his surprise the front half of a Lancaster cabin was displayed on the forecourt. There were no wings or engines but the cabin went back as far as the main spar and included the positions tor navigator, engineers and WOPs - complete with a Marconi radio installation.

On the big day Harry was in one of the vast compounds. There was a large screen to watch the proceedings and take part in a short service. ATC cadets kept people supplied with bottles of water.
He was interviewed by an AVM, head of the RAF's legal department (Iet's hope there was no connection with Harry's WWll behaviour at Marham !), and a Sky reporter chatted to him - which went out on later tv news bulletins. When the official proceedings were over both compounds mingled and Harry has a photograph, taken by his granddaughter Gina, standing in front of the memorial. Harry recalls how a middle-aged lady came up to him and kissed him, exclairning 'Thank you so much for all you men did!' I'll have to check if this incident was before or after his interview with the AVM!

Mr. President has also been busy on other fronts. He has been helping a local RAFA branch at FlixtonAviation Museum, near Bungay, which has an interesting collection of whole aircraft and many bits and pieces although there is no airfield there. USAAC had one nearby during the war. He also went to London Colney to the DH Mosquito Museum to join in the 70th anniversary celebration of the founding of the PFF. Then it was on to RAF Wyton for the annual PFF church service.
Afterwards he took interviews with the press to fill them in on the various activities of the PFF. 'I don't mind singing for my supper. 'As long as the food is good!' he says.

President received a letter in July from a Mr. Tim SindalI, whose father W/Co James SindalI DSO was A Flight commander with us for a short spell from June to September 1941. Anyone have any useful information? Tim has three photographs of his father with his crew (all named) alongside Wellington J W5710 which our records show did 16 ops and was abandoned near Cromer on August 27 1941 after experienclng poor visibility on returnlng from a raid on Mannheim. There were no casualties.

Jim McGilivray has also been out and about. The most prestigious visit was to Buckingham Palace in May where he was a guest at the Duke of Gloucester's table under the auspices of The Not Forgotten Association, a Tri-service charity founded in 1920. In June he was with Aces High Aviation Gallery where he does frequent autograph signing for books and other RAF bits and pieces earning contributions for the Bomber Command Memorial Fund.
Jim also went on Operation Propellor, although it was a very windy day.
The wind meant Harry, describing himself as our 'correspondent in the West', couldn't get airborne for Propellor, but was closely involved again in the Plymouth annual memorial service for 'aircrew' of the RAF and allied air forces.


You’ll love this! I had a 'phone call from Ivan Grange in Luton. His surname was changed when his mother re-married, as she had lost her husband F/O l. G. Skelton when Lancaster Mk I HK544 KO-U was 'lost without trace' after a raid on Bonn on October 18 1944.
Ivan has been searching for over 30 years to find some trace of the Lancaster's disappearance.
In a follow-up letter he wrote 'I am pleased to inform you that the fate of this aircraft is no longer a mystery as I am in possession of copies of German and Dutch documents relating to the shooting down of this aircraft near the town of Koudekerke on the Dutch island of Walcheren at 13.14 hrs on the above date.' Wow! Fantastic. Well done Ivan. And icing on the cake is the Walcheren records in a document of some 50 pages and 20 entries per page showing bodies were washed up and buried in the cemetery.

Ivan explains how his Dutch contact says no parachutes were seen as the Lanc came down, and in some respects information from the two sources, German and Dutch, does not match, especially as to the exact crash site.

Crew of KO-U was Australian pilot F/O K.V. Smith, Skelton was bomb aimer, Sgt. T. Greener the nav., Australian F/Sgt. R. R. Denholm WOP, Sgt. J. C. Constable AG, Sgt. E. T. Mason AG, and engineer Sgt. G. J. Rutson.

HK 544 came to us from 75 Squadron on April 26 1944 where it had flown 3 ops. It flew on 52 ops with 115