August 2005

Newsletter of 115 Squadron Association

Secretary Ian Lucas


A letter from New Zealand journalist David Dickens seeks information on Sgt. James Highet, (later Flt Lt.) a WOP/AG who served with us from July 1941 to mid-1942. He was awarded a DFM at the end of his tour. (1050125, Royal Air Force)


James Highet

After his tour he went to 20 OUT before flying with 83 Sqdn. In 1943 and 635 Sqdn. In 1944. He was awarded a DFC at the end of his tour with 635.


James Highet medals More info

David says Highet served in the RAF after the war and as his name does not appear on the 1980 retired list presumes he may have died. Any information you can let David have write to The Maples, Manaia Road, Masterton, New Zealand.


Bruce Johnston seeks information on his father, Bruce Johnston, who completed a tour with us in 1944. Apparently dad left a diary from the year 1944 and was at Witchford from just after D-day until the end of September. Son Bruce has found three of the crew

Murray Henderson (nav) who lives in Whitby, Ontario,
Frank Marsden (WOP) in Liverpool,
and John Peardon (AG) in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

He's still trying to find

Ted Hughes (FE) (Isle of Wight or Channel Islands?),
Bob Livingston (BA) (Edmonton, Alberta)
and Dave Taylor (AG) from London.

Bruce asks if there are any anecdotes or other veterans from the summer of 1944 he would like to hear from them. His brothers are transcribing father's diary and there are anecdotes and mentions for about 50 pilots, aircrew and base officers. Bruce says he will be happy to share stories and anecdotes with anyone who wishes to make contact.

Contact address is 33 Empress Avenue, 1509. Toronto, M2N 6Y7, Canada. Or you might like to get your grandchildren to contact.

The document, with appendices, Bruce tells me, is approaching 400 pages. Of these 180 are transcribed diary and the rest descriptions, lists of who's who, and other supporting information on technical aspects like H2S, GEE and Paddle props.

The WWII Diary of Lancaster Pilot Bruce Johnston on line


Aubrey Chard Little, World War II pilot. - Bill Bayly, Newquay - Ronald Strafford Stewart, Norwich (4 May 2005)

Ronald Straffort StewartDistinguished Flying Cross.

Graham David Smith, Chelmsford (15 September 2004)


From Mr. M. Brown of King's Lynn comes the following odd-ode descriptive:

Was back in the year of 51
Being almost eighteen, keen and young,
Joined the Air Force, the world to see,
Training over, then, Marham for me.

The Yanks were there, at that time,
With them al! we got on real fine.
And in King's Lynn, on a Saturday night,
We would all end up getting tight.

Those were the years of the B29s.
Now looking back, damned good times,
Whilst at Marham I served with pride,
Being on that great Squadron - 115.

The B29 Washington was sleek and clean,
A real, fine-looking, silver flying machine,
Now sadly gone, that wonderful sight
Of B29 Washingtons in formation flight.

Each aircraft had its very own crew,
In WF446 it was that I first flew,
On 115 I had arrived in the November, to good times
Ill always remember


Mrs. A. M. Brown wrote in June thanking us for sending The Tiller to her youngest son, Michael. Her husband, Gordon. had a heart operation a couple of years ago and it has not proved 100% successful

Gordon met his wife in January 1946 when she was a nurse in London and he was stationed at Morton Vallence near Gloucester. She had been home during time off from hospital and they met on the train to London (GWR- God's Wonderful Railway).

They have quite a few photographs of people with 115. Gordon had a close friend, Norman Bentley, a gunner, who lived in Tring where his mother had a hotel.

Skipper was Bill Franks. They also have photographs of Harry Hardaker and Sgt. Johnnie Toomer.

Mrs Brown asks if there is anybody living near them (7 Redwing Road, Milborne Port, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 5DB) to share a chin-wag?


Heather Wakefield writes from 15 Gulpher Road, Felixstowe IP11 9DN seeking information on her mother's cousin, Sgt Frederick Ernest Tingley (919073). She enclosed an extract from W. R. Chorley's book "RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War 1941" which records details of the crash in Debach near Woodbridge, Suffolk on June 24 1941 in which Freddie was injured. He died-next day.

Wellington MkIII PRU - Mission Cologne - The crew was,

P/O Douglas Sharpe, Pilot - was killed on his next mission -
Sgt Frederick Ernest Tingley, second Pilot - 23 years - RAFVR - 919073 (+25/06/1941)

Sgt R F "Chan" Chandler, rear gunner

We had one or two bits about Debach in earlier copes of the Tiller (1999), so I have sent these on to Heather.


Robert D. Bearman writes from 6 Keswick Close, Tilehurst, Reading RG30 4SD explaining he has been talking to Hurry Hooper and would like contact with any 115 Squadron second world war aircrew. He is seeking photographs taken in uniform. He has over 1200 so far. All he needs is copies of these pictures and would like them to be signed. You can send him originals if you like for him to photocopy but a telephone call to 0118 941 1743 will probably make like a lot easier.

DECEMBER 16/17 1943

Richard Knott of North House, Skipwith Road, Escrick, York Y019 6JT is currently researching event surrounding a raid on Berlin on the night of December 16/17 1943, and is endeavouring to write book with that focus. He says: "There is, I am aware, an excellent account by Jennie Gray of the night so far as 97 Squadron (my father-in-law's squadron) is concerned, but I am keen to tell the wider story," and this involves 115 Squadron.

Richard says he is particularly interested in circumstances leading up to a series of crashes across eastern and northern England as crews attempted to return to base. We lost one crew that night, P/O Norman Newton DFC, but he was shot down with the total loss of crew. One point I find intriguing is our records state they took of from Newmarket at 17.12 hrs. The aircraft Lanc Mk II DS835 KO-K only had four hours flying time on the clock!

Crew of Lancaster DS835 KO-K + 16 /12/1943 (Source CWGC)

P/O Norman Thomas Newton, Pilot age 23 - RNZAF - 416526 - DFC
P/O Ernest John Hamlin Downs, Nav age 21 - RAFVR - 162544
Fl/Sgt Islwyn Lewis, W.Op./Air Gnr age 21 - RAFVR - 1314450
Sgt Alfred George Robert Cowdrey, Air Gnr age 22 - RAF - 643825
Sgt Ronald Hawkins, Air Gnr age 19 - RAFVR - 1585262
Sgt Geoffrey Arthur William Ray, Air Bomber age 21 - RAFVR - 1323244
Sgt Marcus Seatter, Flt. Engr age 28 - RAFVR - 1461723

Off you go to your log books and see if there is anything to jog your memory to help Mr. Knott.


Things are moving, but beggars can 't be choosers as it seems that is prepared to help us promote a special page for 115, not only 1939-45, but for all stations until disbandment. Their latest letter warns that an update of the site is in process so conclusion is a few months off because of the volume of work involved.


Pierre Babin writes from 10 Rue De Villemoisan, Becon-les-Granits, France. He is an historian researching British aircraft shot down/crashed in the departement de Maine-et-Loire in western France during the war.

He is looking at two 115 aircraft: Mk II DS668 KO-R. According to our records F/O D. F. P. Brown and crew were on a mine laying exercise in the Gironde area. Homeward-bound they were shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Ingrandes- sur-Loire, 34 km East of Angers. (19/20 June 1943.)

F/O Derek Frank Paston Brown, Pilot age 23 - RAFVR - 124415
baled out but landed in the river and drowned. Of his crew

Sgt C Trott, FE
Sgt A Sheppard, WOP were not captured and escaped to England.

P/O Charles Neville Pitchford, NAV - RAFVR - 137108 - POW 1664 Luft 3
Sgt Alexander Suttie Davidson, BA - RAF - 617634 - POW 222587 Stalag 4B
Sgt R Gould, MUG - RAFVR - 1520035 - POW - 263585 Stalag 4B
and Sgt Leonard Francis King, RG - 928308 - POW, went in the bag.

The second aircraft was Sgt Fred Whitehead's Mk II CDS 663 KO-C which was also on mine laying when shot down, with the loss of all the crew.
(26th of June 1943 - Oblt Erich GOLLASCH - II/NJG5.)

Monsieur Babin seeks any information, any pictures.

Crew of Lancaster DS663 KO-C (Source CWGC)

Sgt Frederick Alan Whitehead, Pilot age 21 - RAFVR - 1317727 - POW 1664 Luft 3
Sgt Leslie Frederick Price, Flt. Engr - RAFVR - 1454385
Sgt Patrick Edward Glover, Nav age 20 - RAFVR - 1321791
F/O Frederick Parry, Air Bomber - RAFVR - 131560
Sgt Eric Ryder Richardson, W.Op./Air Gnr age 20 - RAFVR - 1387194
Sgt Edward Gordon Baker, Air Gnr age 26 - RAFVR - 1177976
Sgt William McIlwee McGowan, Air Gnr age 21 - RAFVR - 1551754


    village of Grez-Neuville


Dennis Hardy, who served with 115 at Gravely in the latter days of his service is trying to get his hands on a picture of a York in flight: Any help! Dennis started life as an airman (1603382) and ended up as FIt Lt (173745) and did pilot training in Southern Rhodesia.


Dennis Sawden has completed his research of the life of Douglas Drew, prompted by people from Newton Stewart trying to find out about the lives of those listed on two war memorials in the village. I must say I think the write-up on Drew is excellent, and there's a picture of Drew in his uniform. I am passing the piece on to Barry at the museum.

Dennis made contact with RAF Marham, who were very helpful, and Chantler's crew, Drew was the nav, had a bumpy introduction to operations - crash-landing two miles short of Witchford on their first trip, and four months later running short of fuel after a raid on Berlin and having to land at Tangmere.

F/O. Douglas MacMillan Drew, B.A. (Oxon) F/O - Navigator (145376) 115 Squadron, RAFVR. Age 35. Born 1909 in Penninghame.
Killed in action 23 April 1944 and buried in Reichswald War Cemetery, Germany. Also listed on the Minnigaff Parish War Memorial. Dougals's Lancaster was shot down near Dusseldorf.
Son of James Lawson Drew and of Mary Walker (MacMillan) Drew of Newton Stewart.
source: The Scottish War Memorials Project.

Crew of Lancaster ND753 KO-K

P/O Robert Edward Chantler, Pilot age 22 - RAFVR - 172981
P/O John Burns Tweedie, Fl Eng age 34 - RAFVR - 175327
F/O Douglas Drew, Nav age 35 - RAFVR - 145376
W/O Cl II Robert Lewis Francis, Air Bomber age 25 - RCAF - R/162649
Sgt Ronald Percy Nash, Wireless Operator (Air) age 22 - RAFVR - 1575026
Sgt Kenneth Farmer, Air Gnr age 24 - RAF - 636504
P/O William Norman Waldron Brown, Air Gnr age 32 - RAAF - AUS/17786

More info + photo


Latest missive from Mac McLean in South Africa tells us he raised his glass to 'Absent friends" on the day of our May reunion. "My absent friends included the WAAFs, the Lancasters, my old crew and the crew lads under Chippy Wood, our great ground crew" he writes.

As usual Mac had lots to say about many things, and I note the tale about the memorial cross outside his town which has had its brass/copper cross sawn off "and has disappeared' . Mac himself is back to nearly normal after his left hip re placement "Doc allows me to drive now and l only use one stick, " he says. "I expect to be fit for my young son 's wedding, with relatives joining him from St Andrew 's "so I won 't feel a spare-whatever-it-is" at a wedding !