RAF Rear Gunner

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by ozzy16, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Evening Dave,
    thanks for having a look. We know through your efforts the date and time of this event.(29/1/1944 at 07-50).
    We have accounted for 3 members of the crew.Still need to find out what happened to the rest of the crew.We know they survived,might still be alive??

  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Post prepared as others were posting.

    From the detail posted above, R.L Ludlow RAF was on No 433 Squadron No 6 Group RCAF.ie RAF aircrew crewed up with a Canadian squadron which was not uncommon.

    It looks as if the squadron lost 3 Halifaxes on this Berlin raid.Bill Chorley notes that the microfilmed squadron records were so poor that apart from the pilots of HX265 (F/O J M Gray) and HX 285 (F/S W A Stiles),their crews could not be identified.

    (F/O Gray was was on his first op and received an immediate award of the DFC for his immaculate ditching of his Halifax to enable his crew to get safely into dinghies for rescue by ASR.)

    No 6 Group utilisation was such that around the date of 28/29 January 1944,Canadian squadrons had operations detailed to Berlin on 3 of 4 consecutive nights.

    As regards the crash site,Bill Chorley cites that HX 285 crashed into trees at Brandsburton ( which is immediately south west of Catfoss Grange on the A165 and edged on to RAF Catfoss. )

    An added note, F/S, promoted to W/O, J E Mitchell was on the Berlin raids as skipper of HX 288, as late as 24 March 1944 which the last of the raids in the disastrous operations of the Battle of Berlin.His crew consisted of 4 of his crew from that crewed on the 28/29 January 1944 operation.
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  3. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Attached Files:

  4. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    What can I say, you've hit the jackpot mate.Absolute top draw.
    This information needs to be passed on to Chorley's to update their vol 5.(they only show the pilot,crew not known.) and you should take the credit for it.
    For me this thread has almost run its course now.Pictures of the crew's grave's would be great,and then I will have some typing to do.
    "Oh I forgot his service records are due Nov sometime" Once I have these I can type up a full report for his family.

    an excellent piece of work Dave.

    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
  5. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Thanks for your kind words, Graham. But it was Alan Clark who opened the door on this one.

    Bill Chorley's books are currently updated online, although I've read that updated versions of the 1939-40 and 1941 volumes are in print.

    I had a look at some of the chaps listed in the Stiles crew. Boissevain was killed, Schnobb evaded, as did Camenzuli when Halifax HX291 from No. 433 Sqn failed to return 22/23 April 1944.

  6. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Should you be tempted to build a model Halifax, the aircraft Squadron Code was BM@E according to Daily Operations

    STILES, WILLIAM ALFRED. Service Number R/121112. Warrant Officer Class II (Pilot).
    Died 29/01/1944. Aged 26. 433 Sqdn. Royal Canadian Air Force
    Son of George Edgar and Jennie May Stiles, of Innisfail, Alberta, Canada.
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Sec. C. Row J. Grave 15. HARROGATE (STONEFALL) CEMETERY.
    and note
    BUCKHAM, JOHN ALEXANDER. Service Number J/90464. Pilot Officer (Wireless Op./Air Gunner)
    Died 05/07/1944. 424 Sqdn. Royal Canadian Air Force
    Son of Thomas Robson Buckham and Margaret Grace Buckham; nephew of Mrs. J. M. Stiles, of Innisfail, Alberta, Canada.
    Cemetery/memorial reference: Coll. grave 2. BOISSY-SOUS-ST. YON COMMUNAL CEMETERY

    No. 433 Squadron was formed as a heavy-bomber unit of No. 6 (RCAF) Group at Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, on 25th September 1943, but did not begin operations until January 1944. It was to be based at Skipton-on-Swale throughout its wartime existence of nearly two years. The squadron operated with Halifax IIIs until mid-January 1945.

    Some recommended books on 6 Group etc No. 433 'Porcupine' Squadron (RCAF) during the Second World War

    With regard to the Stirling Ludlow, could that have been his brother, and perhaps family lore has combined bits of both mens' service and resulted in this confusion?
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2017
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  7. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Kevin, I will try and find out ref; the brother in the photo.

    I will contact Alan Clark and e.mail him the details of your findings.(he may be following this thread in the background)
    Reading the reports of this crash,i have noted the pilot W.A. Stiles f/sgt ordered the crew to prepare for a crash landing.i can therefore only assume that all crew were onboard when the aircraft crashed.And that none of the crew did bailed out as first thought.

    We now know the full crew. HX285 Hanley Page Halifax B.MK.111 RCAF.crashed 29/1/1944 at 07-50

    W.A. Stiles F/Sgt Pilot Killed
    A.W Norris P/O Survived (later pow)
    P. A Schnobb P/O Survived (later evd)
    R. L. Ludlow Sgt Survived (later survived the war)
    J.G. Cumming Sgt Survived (later K.I.A.)
    H.G Boissevain Sgt Survived (later K.I.A)
    A.M.P. Camenzulli Sgt Survived (later pow)

    Please feel to correct me if I have made a mistake above.

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  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Can I add here - good job all - my only confusion is that the thread and title mentions him as rear gunner, yet the documents supplied by alieneyes shows him as 'M U Gunner' which I assume would be mid upper gunner? and not rear

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  9. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Hi TD,

    Yes I noticed that also.All I can say is, from the storys and experiences I have read whilst running this thread.All air gunner's were trained to do each other's job in the event of attack/emergency.
    Other member's may have a different perspective.

  10. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    His Service Record, when received, may clear up many questions.
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  11. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As regards incorrect recording of names from official records however caused, F/O J W Guy recorded in post #38 would be F/O J M Gray.

    Interesting point on the final op in the Battle for Berlin on 24/25 March 1944.in addition to W/O Wright flying with 4 aircrew that flew with him on 28/29 January 1944,F/O W L Canter RCAF appears to have replaced F/S W A Stiles and had F/O A Norris,Sgt H G Boissevain and Sgt A M Carmenzuli as part of his crew.

    F/O W L Canter was the skipper of HX 291 when it FTR homebound from Dusseldorf with the loss of 3 of his crew....Sgt J C Cumming,W.O.2 H.G.Boissevain and Sgt H C. Seedhouse.

    Interrogation of accident Form 765 submitted by Dave reveals a deal of technical information.

    Halifax HX 285 appears to have been allocated new to the squadron from 21 October 1943...squadron had the Mark111s officially on charge from 3 November 1943......the 4 engines having low equal running hours.

    Following the crash a RAF technical inspection team would ascertain the aircraft wreckage and in this case came to to the following decisions.

    .....airframe declared to be Category E2 ......... disposal as scrap.
    .....engines declared to be Category B.............repairs not possible at unit level....engines repair off site (most likely by Bristols)

    Catfoss recorded as having Drem runway lighting Mark 11 plus Sandra. Sandra..... a number,normally 3, of low output searchlights which were used to penetrate low cloud at times of poor viability to indicate the location of an airfield....fitted on Bomber Command airfields. Catfoss was a Flying Training Command unit as the Central Gunnery School airfield but also had Sandra availability.

    Catfoss had the standard 3 runway system but not to Class A standard but looking at the configuration of the runways.I think that F/S Stiles was using the (roughly) North/South runway which at the South end was close to Brandesburton. As I see it,owing to bad visibility the pilot appears to have overshot the runway while attempting to land using the south heading.Before he could execute a turn to go round again,the engines cut out and losing height,the aircraft crashed into the trees at Brandesburton.

    The recommendation at operate at a height of 3-4000 feet in low fuel circumstances to give the crew the opportunity to abandon the aircraft..... pilots would tend to stay with their aircraft to enable a crew to exit the aircraft safely but at the same time were concious of the danger to those on the ground when over home territory.....staying with the aircraft to land at a diversion airfield or searching for a suitable location to make emergency landing was always an option.

    Air Gunners...I think the public's perception of an Air Gunner has always been associated with an aircraft's rear defensive station....other Air Gunners such as Mid Uppers and Front Gunners tend not to receive the same public awareness and publicity.
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  12. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Evening Harry,
    Your post tallies up with the reports Dave posted,with regards to HX285 and the cause of it's demise.Throughout this thread I've tried to stay focused on one aircraft, and one personnel in particular.Any misrepresentations can easily be rectified/corrected.
    BTW,thanks for your input throughout this thread.
    On the question of rear gunners,i totally agree with you.People always do refer to rear gunners getting all the praise.My take on this is, being anywhere on an aircraft during the conflict,was very,dangerous.What could be more terrifying, being in an aircraft and hearing those words in your headphones "prepare for crash landing"
    Total respect for all those guys.

    Cheer's ...........Graham.
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  13. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    We have come so far in this thread,with just a name to go on.Alan Clark's vital e.mail opened the door's which in turn allowed Dave (alieneyes) to step through, and retrieve those vital reports.Not forgetting all the support from our other members, big thanks to all.
    There is just a few things to tidy up.????
    1, Did A.M.P. Camenzulli, and A.W. Norris, both POW'S survive the war.?
    2, P.A. Schnobb...........evaded capture, did he survive the war. Bet there's a good story there.

    Has anyone got any information relating to the above crew members.

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  14. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: A W Norris
    Rank: Flying Officer
    Army Number: J20921
    Regiment: Royal Canadian Air Force : Officers & Other Ranks
    POW Number: 5154
    Camp Type: Stalag Luft 3
    Camp Number: L3
    Camp Location: Sagan and Belaria, Poland
    Section: Royal Canadian Air Force : Officers & Other Ranks

    So he made it at least to late 1944 - need to check Canadian records for more.

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  15. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    All three survived the war. P/O Norris passed in 2013:

    NORRIS, Arnold Willy - McInnis & Holloway Funeral Homes & Cremation Services | Calgary Alberta

    Haven't found what P/O Peter Aldege Schnobb's final fate was. From the Ottawa Journal, 26 September, 1945:

    Belgian Seeks News of Flyer He Once Hid Anxious to obtain news of Flt. - Lt. Peter A. Schnobb's whereabouts, Isidor Schmltz, of Runxt, Belgium, who hid the Ottawa R.C.A.F. officer for three months in the Summer of 1944, wrote to Mrs. C. Schnobb, of 476 Booth Street, this week. The Belgian patriot, who was a game warden for a titled gentleman's huge estate, protected the Ottawa flyer from the Germans after his plane was shot down following a raid on Dusseldorf. "If he will write to me, I will send him all his R.C.A.F. documents which I hid in jars in our garden and other souvenirs, which he cherished".

    Tony Camenzuli was Maltese. He shows up on the POW lists yet there is an evasion report as well, which I do not have. In the 1950s, there were more Maltese living in Toronto than in Malta. Not sure if this is the right man but posted here, in case:

    Anthony "Tony" Camenzuli - Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

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  16. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Reference: WO 208/3351/2094
    Flying Officer P A Schnobb (service number J12895).
    Service: RCAF [Royal Canadian Air Force].
    This individual’s report has not survived. Possible information on this individual (including duplicate or other appendices) may be present in WO208/5405-5436.
    Date: 1945
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Language: English
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

    Reference: WO 373/102/169
    Name Schnobb, P A
    Rank: Flight Lieutenant
    Service No: J12895
    Regiment: Royal Canadian Air Force
    Theatre of Combat or Operation: Royal Air Force
    Award: Military Cross
    Date of announcement in London Gazette: 25 June 1946
    Date: 1946
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: 68/Gen/7276
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description

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  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Anthony M P Camenzuli

    LIB 3331

    Liberation questionnaire number - 752 W/O Anthony M P Camenzuli 433 Sqn Halifax HX291 FTR Dusseldorf Apr 44 Antwerp Aug 44 - with others

  18. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    TD, well done mate,great infofmation, and intresting website.stored it in my favourites. thankyou.

    Dave,....Pleased to see all three survived. Excellent post once again.

    You could write a book on these guys, THE CREW OF HX285.

    many thanks,.......Graham.
  19. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Took these photos today.The crucifix simply reads " HX285-433 Sq "
    R.I.P. Richard.

    Graham. rip3.JPG rip2.JPG
  20. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Cheers guys its been great working with you all. Might have to give you another shout when his service record arrives.In the meantime I,m off to N.W.Europe to try and pick up the trail of my fathers unit.(RASC)

    Thanks again .....Graham.

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