Finding Information on Family Member That Served - John McGill, RAAF

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by lewigginton, Jun 24, 2011.

  1. lewigginton

    lewigginton Junior Member

    Good Afternoon,
    I came across your post after I did a search about my Great Uncle John McGill, do you have any other information on him? Thank you so much!
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery Patron

    welcome to the forum
    I have sent a message to Spidge,he may have more info for you
  3. spidge


    Hi Laura,

    I do not have any personal information on your great Uncle apart from the crash report similar to that posted by "Nicks" and that two of the crew did survive. Bethel (POW) and Pritchard evaded.


    AWM 237 (65) NAA : A705, 166/7/522 Micro Film No 463 OAFH,
    Commonwealth War Graves records W R Chorley :RAF Bomber Command Losses of
    the Second World War, Page 269, Volume 1944.
    Aircraft Type: Lancaster
    Serial number: ND 764
    Radio call sign: OF – B
    Unit: ATTD 97 SQN RAF
    Lancaster ND764 took off from RAF Coningsby at 2154 hours on the night of 9/10th June
    1944 to bomb the rail junction at Etampes, France.. Nothing was heard from the aircraft
    after take off and it failed to return to base.
    RAAF 416949 PO Giddings, B W Captain (Pilot)
    RAF Sgt A Pritchard, (Flight Engineer)
    RAAF 413052 WO W B Webb, (Navigator)
    RAAF 410193 Flt Sgt C Clement, (Air Bomber)
    RAAF 412746 WO R E Bethel, (Wireless Air Gunner)
    RAAF 429340 FO McGill, J A D (Mid Upper Gunner)
    RAAF 422725 Flt Sgt W J Seale, (Rear Gunner)
    The aircraft exploded between Boissy-Sous-St Yon (Essonne) and Breux-Jouy-St-Yon,
    two small villages 7kms south west of Arpajon, France. Five of the crew were killed and
    WO Bethel was a POW and Sgt Pritchard evaded capture.
    PO Giddings is buried in the Breux Communal Cemetery, Locality Essonne, France.
    Breux is a village and commune 28kms south east of Versailles and 6kms south west of
    Arpajon. WO Webb is buried in the Boissy-Sous-St-Yon Communal Cemetery, Locality
    Essonne, France. Boissy-Sous-St-Yon is a village 28kms SSE of Versailles and 7kms
    SSW of Arpajon.
    Flt Sgt Clement, FO McGill and Flt Sgt Seale are buried in the Souzy-La-Briche
    Communal Cemetery, Locality Essonne, France. Souzy-La-Briche a village and
    commune is 31kms south of Versailles and 10kms north of Etampes.
    WO Bethel later reported “the aircraft was just turning to make a third run over the target
    to drop flares, when it was hit under the mid upper turret. The crew were ordered to put
    on chutes and this was acknowledged. After dropping flares the aircraft was again hit in
    both port motors and possibly elsewhere. The inter-com and lights were U/S. I went
    forward but could see no one in the aircraft. The escape hatch was open and the A/c full
    of black oily smoke. I tried to call out to the two gunners but the I/C would not work and
    the fire was burning fiercely. I know that Giddings, Webb and Pritchard all baled out
    safely and almost certain the two gunners had baled out as they were at the rear door
    early. I baled out at 6000 feet with the aircraft badly on fire but it seemed to be flying
    level. I think it crashed in the target area.”

    Souzy-La-Briche CC 4.jpg



    Attached Files:

  4. spidge


    John Alexander Douglas McGill (RAAF)

    His records are digitised as you may already know.

    National Archives of Australia - Session has ended

    As he was a medical student he is also on the Roll of Honour plaque in the foyer of the Forgen-Smith building, University of Queensland, St Lucia campus in Brisbane.
  5. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member


    Welcome to the forum.

    If you post as much information as possible the members here can help you with your research - in fact some of it may have already be done and we can point you to results.

    If you go to the National Archives of Australia, you may find your uncles service records, which you can order a copy for at quite a reasonable price, about $AU16.50 for an online downloadable digital copy, or $AU25 for a hard copy.

    I have just found that his records have already been prepared at the National Archives and are available here:

    dbf likes this.
  6. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    OK BFBSM - I'm officially impressed. How do you go from a request for help offering no traceable details to being able to provide a link to the Great Uncle's service record??

    Am I missing a step here?

    Assuming the one in 11,000 chance of you guessing the details correctly, here is what we know so far -

    429340 McGILL, John Alexander Douglas - (Flying Officer)

    Lancaster ND764 / Place - between Boissy-Sous-St Yon (Essonne) and Breux-Jouy-St-Yon, two small villages 7kms south west of Arpajon, France
  7. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member


    I checked out lewigginton's other post where his name was mentioned in another thread.


  8. spidge


    He just cheated Dave.:lol:

    I had already answered it.



    Should be moved here as it was on the back of another thread.
  9. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    :D, didn't find your post Spidge, until I had already posted. Not that it matters - the answer is the important thing.

  10. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  11. BFBSM

    BFBSM Very Senior Member

    Pretty it is, dbf.
  12. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Cheers Spidge - I thought that one of the forum members had perfected mind reading. Buggered if I could find the original question providing the member's details......

    Oh well, gave me an opportunity to tidy up the information I had. There was a RAAF casualty in the same aircraft prior to this incident where the aircraft made it back to base with some damage. I couldn't work out why the dates were out of whack for the different casualties.
  13. lewigginton

    lewigginton Junior Member

    Thank you all so much, this has been really fantastic!!
  14. lewigginton

    lewigginton Junior Member

    My grandfather's name was Robert Elmer Wigginton, he was in the Navy.
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

  16. lajets

    lajets Junior Member

    Hi Laura

    I have been researching your Great Uncle JAD Mcgill since 2002
    I have been in contact with all members of the crews family and have been hoping to finally contact with a close relate to Upper Gunner McGill.

    We knew that his sister married a US serviceman and moved to US. So if interested please reply.

    Therese Webb
  17. lewigginton

    lewigginton Junior Member

    Hello Therese!
    I believe we may have been in contact since this post so long ago. Did we? I just wanted to follow up. Am I allowed to give you my email?
  18. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    You are allowed to leave email address's but on a public forum site best to leave it as this way the bots etc that roam these sites wont pick it up - hopefully you can edit it

  19. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    You may remember the circumstances of the 11th May 1944 incident, the rest of his crew mates were lost on NE174 9/10 June 1944
    Found out that son's father in law had a brother who was killed by flak burst on his first Op with 97 Pathfinder Squadron with most of this crew (McLaren replaced him as mid upper gunner). The pilot is William Mollison Walton, DFC, not W W Walton. They were on ND764
    ORB report reads:-
    Lancaster Mk III. ND764 (E) F/L W.M. Walton, F/Sgt L.C.G. Mayhew, F/Sgt W. Williams, P/O E. Rees, P/O F.D. Roberts, F/O H.T. Ward, F/Sgt J.D. Hadlington.
    Up 2202 Down 0142. 6 x 7” clusters, 1 x 4000lb HC, 8 x 500lb MC, 3 x 4.5” reco flares. Weather clear over Lille, smoke haze. Target identified on H2S. First marker, soon after original illumination, was seen obscured, and bombing was stopped while further flares were dropped to aid re-marking. After we had dropped our reco flares, we orbited until instructions were clearly understood to bomb. There was considerable interference on VHF making communications exceedingly difficult. Bombing round second markers appeared very good. No apparent scatter.

    At position 51.09N 02.45E at 0023 hours at 9,000 ft on homeward run, predicted heavy flak damaged mid upper turret, blew off left hand gun, damaged hydraulics, rear of fuselage, tail unit, DR compass, navigation light, intercom; all u/s as a result. Mid upper gunner found to be hit and was removed from turret. Reasonable landing made without intercom. Flying Officer Ward’s injuries fatal.
    Henry (Harry) Thomas Ward was born 23 April 1921 and enlisted on 17 December 1941 just after Pearl Harbor. He completed 13 raids whilst with 57 Squadron before joining 97 Squadron in late April 1944. I think Walton was his pilot, his DFC citation mentions that he had been on 8 raids to Berlin, on at least one occasion returning with an engine out.
    The crew lists a H Ross for the 11 May trip, but I feel that was an error for E Rees, who features in all the other crew lists with Walton etc...
    Harry had just paid £16 for a tailored uniform having just been promoted to Flying Officer and there is correspondence in his file regarding that with a Mrs E Miles who the family had much airgram correspondence with.
    At present we don't know how Harry knew Mrs Miles, 49 Sunray Avenue Bromley, as that doesn't seem to tie in with any RAF connection. Best guess is that perhaps he was walking out with her daughter.
    ND764 was repaired and returned to 97 Sqdn, only to be lost on 9/10 June 1944. The only survivors were Pritchard and Bethel.
    Leonard Mayhew is the only CWGC burial in Marles sur Canche and there is a commemoration plaque regarding the crash there.
    Should any of the relatives of the crew read this, please get in touch. I haven't traced any Birth Marriage or Death for William Mollison Walton on Ancestry, perhaps he was from Scotland, as such an unusual middle name ought to be traceable.
    We had help from Geoff (Spidge) but ran out of time before being able to meet up. The plan is for the family to put together a presentation for Ron for Christmas and have his brother Ken fly down from Brisbane with the memorabilia he has to put the entire story of Harry's service life so he will continue to be remembered.

    Len Mayhew's family provided this information:
    Mum started her research around 1990 and her efforts centred around trying to discover or contact any of his remaining crew members from 97 squadron, find out what happened the night Len died, and hopefully speak with anyone who knew and remembered him. Unfortunately she wasn't able to make any contact with the rest of the crew. The 97 squadron didn't seem to have much in the way of people around to help or reunions etc. at the time, so many of the contacts she found were through the 44 squadron reunions which she attended for many years.
    One letter mum received in her research was from someone who remembered flying as a spare with Len in 44 squadron and being attacked by a night fighter. He described him as 'remarkably cool... he gave everyone such confidence'. He also said that on a night out he & Len, with some of their crews used to go to the theatre at Lincoln, and they used to go in the box. One night the comedian came on with a song on screen and a ball bouncing on top of each word, with audience participation. The song he remembered was a tongue-twister:
    Sarah, Sarah sitting in a shoe shine shop
    And when she shines she sits
    And when she sits she shines
    And every time she sits she shines
    Sitting in a shoe shine shop
    The comedian then said 'and now to the boys in blue' and the spotlight switched to their box and they had to sing it for the benefit of the audience, he said Len had them in stitches and they were the 'Joke' of Lincoln for a few weeks!
    If as you say, Harry had a similar nature then I imagine they were both very good company.

    There's a uncanny instance of "lightning striking twice" reading Bethels account of the loss:
    WO Bethel later reported “the aircraft was just turning to make a third run over the target
    to drop flares, when it was hit under the mid upper turret.

    From Len's family, we know that harry and Len had a close bond, having been in training together before posting to 97 Squadron
    "It's a shame we don't have any more letters about Harry or the rest of the crew, but I would imagine Len and Harry must have had a close bond and trust, for Len to say 'he was one of the best' and to sit with him and say the Lord's prayer when he passed"

    We'll always be grateful Harry had a chum with him when he died...

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