Transfer into 78 Squadron from 'Holme'?

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by RE864CoyPaul, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Hi all, I'm researching my great uncles war history, who was a gunner on a Halifax in 78 Squadron (shot down in May '44 in LV905-W - one of its props is a memorial at RAF Brighton).
    I've pieced together his sortie history from ops records but the query I have is that he transferred into 78 from 'Holme' in April '44 - I know RAF Holme was home to 76 squadron at that time, but after checking their ops records and summaries in march and April '44, there's no evidence of my great uncle flying ops for 76 or even showing transfer out of 76 at that time.
    Can anyone shed any light onto what else could explain 'holme' please?

    I've noticed in the 78 ops that he replaced another gunner in an existing crew and that gunner was transferred the other way (eg from 78 sqn to 'Holme'), and I know after 30 sorties they were rotated out for a few months (usually to train), so could Holme be something training related which would explain not showing up on 76 records?

    I'm awaiting my great uncles service records to arrive which will obviously shed light and may provide more info, but I just wondered if anyone could help in the meantime?
    Many thanks!
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  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  3. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
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  4. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    If he was a gunner as "Paul" says, then it's either the MU/G Butler or rear gunner LeBlanc

    At least their remains have been recovered (from TD's Real Aircraft link)
    " In 2003 a group of Dutch aviation archaeologists with the assistance of the municipality of Werkendam, established the Salvage Halifax 1944 Foundation with the intention of salvaging the surviving wreckage and laying to rest the remains of the crew.
    The crew of LV905 were subsequently reunited and buried in Jonkerbos War Cemetery, Nijmegen. They are:
    Pilot P/O E.B. Wilson,
    Flight Engineer Sgt W.J. White,
    Navigator F/O S.C. Peterson RCAF,
    Bomb Aimer F/O N.A. Marston DFC,
    Wireless Operator F/Sgt J. Henderson,
    Mid Upper Gunner Sgt G.H. Butler,
    Rear Gunner Sgt J.T.L. Leblanc RCAF.
  5. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Thanks guys, yep hes G Butler (or uncle George to me).
    Their aircraft was excavated about 15 or so years ago (it crashed outside Hank in Holland), and they have a prop as a memorial there and an engine at Breighton.
    I knew the details of his crash from a Dutch website all about lv905, so I've worked back from that date via ops records and found he did 10 sorties once transferred from Holme, but I'm just curious what that was and if he did any sorties before that, but the only way to check us rithervia his records (which I'm waiting for) or buying more ops records/visiting NA on the offchsnce I find something.

    So George was my maternal Great Uncle, and coincidentally my paternal grandads cousin was also in 78sqd at the same time, but sadly he flew only 6 sorties before being shot down. From his records I can see he transferred into 78 from '41 base', which I know is the main base for 4 bombing group and where they received training in heavy bombers, so I'm fairly certain he only flew the 6 sorties, however for George, until I can figure out what is meant by the 'Holme' entry, I guess there'll be some doubt over whether he flew the 10 sorties I've got documented, or anymore before those.
    I know he was a member of the caterpillar club and none of those 10 sorties culminated in successfully parachuting out, so that I guess either means he did during training, or he did fly other sorties and bailed out if one of them.
    My aunt has all of George's papers (so far) and so she's checking for any dates/evidence of his awarding of the club membership as that might give me more to go on. (Sadly when my nan died, the actual gold pin badge was lost during clearing her home).

    I know his service records will probably solve the Holme mystery and others, I'm just eager/inpatient and trying to see what I can dig up before his records arrive lol.

    Thanks again for everyone's help!
  6. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Story Butler (1).jpg
    His story above is entitled 'A trip to Berlin' which is intriguing as all 10 sorties so far, weren't to Berlin. Those sorties were in April and May 1944 and I may be wrong, but I think the bombing campaign entitled with Berlin was before those dates? So that might add some weight to the idea he possibly may have flown before the ten I know of? Or he may not have been allowed to title it with the exact target location I guess.
  7. Tony H

    Tony H Junior Member

    Give me a few days to check the 76 and 78 ORB's & I will get back to you . . .

    It's great to hear from a relative of a crew member of W-Willie. I visited the actual crash site at Hank in 20111 and was involved in the collection of the SI prop blade from the aircraft

    I also have multiple images of the various memorials to the crew and of the 95th Anniversary markings where cab carried LV905 markings albeit for a very short time. For info when the memorial was dedicated, we were unable to trace any surviving relative of Sgt Butler . . .

    Apologies despite best efforts, unable to load images here - but will keep trying!

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
  8. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Thanks Tony!
    I've got some other updates - my aunt (George's niece) got back to me with a partial service record - it's solved the 'Holme' mystery at least - he was sent there 'sick' from 78sqdn, at the end of February '44 and wasn't posted back until 6/4/44. No idea what the sickness was though. I thought maybe it might be linked to his caterpillar club membership, but looking at ops records, that doesn't marry up -

    He was posted to 78 originally at the end of January 44, had one sortie on 15/2 and then transferred sick on 24/2. There was a crash landing in the squadron on 20/2/44 but it wasn't him.

    So now I'm looking at his training record to see if I can figure out when he bailed out. So far I've checked 1652 HCU and 10 OTU between the dates he was with them, but no sign of him connected to any crashes or accidents I can find through googling.

    I'll see if I can upload his record to see if anyone else has any ideas? I also have a pic of a letter from the 78 Sqdn officer who posted his caterpillar club badge to George's mum in August 1944.

    We were in contact with the family of George's crewman (LeBlanc) and Dutch people connected to the LV905 foundation over in Hank, and I had plans to attend a memorial over there with my nan (George's sister in law) many moons ago, but her health declined and she couldn't travel. My aunt has been to George's grave in the past few years though
  9. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

  10. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    I've got a total of 12 sorties now, including one in Feb and one I missed in May (11/5/44) whereby the typist erroneously labelled George as the flight engineer and the flight engineer as a gunner.
    The 12 marries up with a document my aunt has that says there were 12, but that document mentions one was aborted, however none of the 12 are aborted according to the operation records.
  11. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Unless by 'aborted' they mean the final sortie that they didn't return from?
  12. Tony H

    Tony H Junior Member

    Image of one of the memorial plaques
  13. Tony H

    Tony H Junior Member

    Close up of the detail on the Hank memorial

    Hank 2.JPG
  14. snailer

    snailer Country Member

    The 1652CU Operational Record Book notes an accident on 27/12/1943.

    "Halifax JB788 whilst awaiting fighter affiliation detail had propeller trouble, one blade coming off. The pupil pilot considered it necessary to instruct the crew to bail out and this was successfully done. He then made an excellent crash landing at Hunsworth, no casualties. The aircraft caught fire after landing and was categorised ā€˜Eā€™ burnt. The Commanding Officer recommended that the pilot, Aus.415360 F/Sgt. Scotland T.E. be commended for his excellent presence of mind and cool captaincy."

    Bomber Command Losses Vol 8 by Bill Chorley lists the crew as:

    F/Sgt T.E. Scotland RAAF
    Sgt R Lewis
    Sgt D Hopper
    Sgt E Riley
    Sgt W Weekes
    Sgt W Smith
    Sgt W Butler

    It may be that the initial of Sgt Butler is incorrect and it would be worthwhile contacting the RAF Museum at Hendon and asking if they could provide you with a copy of the Accident Record Card Form 1180 to see whether the initial is correct, or if there is a service number for Sgt Butler.

    Googling Halifax JB788 will give some more details on this accident.
  15. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    It may not be much comfort, but the RAF Loss Cards (available free online) show that at least the pilot had 11 Ops with one Squadron and 10 with another (you may know which way round is which).
    Also, small comfort, but it also shows that 3 crew were known to be dead, George, Peterson and Leblanc (also marked "P" (parachuted?) and that George specifically is mentioned as "Identified". Their aircraft was fitted with "Fishpond" and H2S in a ventral dome.
    They carried 7 x 1,000 lb and 8 x 500 lb bomb load. It records they were shot down by night fighter and the location, and that the aircraft burst into flames and was 99% destroyed, and would appear at first glance to indicate it crashed on land, rather than a lake, but 75 years ago, that's what was reported. Also it's Le Blanc, not LeBlanc in CWGC records, my apologies. RCAF uniforms were of a darker material, but I can't see George in the 7 man photo, but the pilot does have a very smart tailored uniform.
  16. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Thanks for the pics Tony!

    Snailer, that's really intriguing so I'm going to contact Hendon to see if I can get a copy - I found more info online with service numbers for every crew mber apart from the Butler - he was a gunner though!

    Kevin, is there any way you can point me in the direction of that card online please? I've googled RAF loss cards but not coming up with anything, although that may be because it's before 5am (I have to be up at this crazy hour for work) lol. Id love to be able to look at the 7 man photo to sees if I can see George - we only have that one photo of him that I posted above! Thanks!
  17. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    You're forgiven 5 am bleariness!
    RAF Loss Cards are on this website, much hard work by a terrific chap in Canada.

    Each year is shown, so click on 1944, each month is shown, click on May and several "books" are shown. You want the 7th one starting 24 May (the 6th does extend to some of the 24th, but not the one you want). Then scroll through to the page required - you'll spot it- and copy and paste. Don't forget to scroll one page further for the reverse. There may be computer software that could sharpen up the image.

    The 7 man photo is already on this thread, posted by alieneyes, (Post #3) and by comparing with the photo of George, I couldn't see anyone resembling him in the 7 man crew. You may know him better.
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  18. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Thank you again Kevin! I've located the card for lv905 and one from April '44 when my paternal grandfathers cousin was shot down too. I plan on looking at them in detail after work (but couldn't resist a sneak peak earlier when I downloaded them)

    Thank you for pointing out the pic (and thank you alieneyes for posting it!), I'd somehow missed that!. George isn't on there but I think one or two other members of his crew might be, alongside Peterson. I'll cross-ref with the pics on the Dutch site tonight to find out.
    The Dutch site is here : Stichting Berging Halifax 1944

    And can be translated via Google etc. They used to have an English version but that links dead now. It has info about the Luftwaffe pilot who shot them down too, who was an ace and was shot down himself a few months later.
    I've got eye witness testimonies from Dutch locals who saw her crash too, which were written up in the 90s when my nan (George's sister in law) was in Comms with various people about it, who sent it to her.

    Thanks again Snailer for hcu info -ive gone through the 1652 HCU records for the time he was there, and there were 13 accidents that I can fundonlinef, mostly minor but two that resulted in losses of life and only that one that had crew bailing out, so I want to call Hendon as soon as I can to see if I can get a copy of the accident card. They're only opno for research during the week so I may recruit my parents or aunt/uncle to go there if we need to obtain it ourselves lol.

    Thank you all! I'll keep you updated on everything
  19. Tony H

    Tony H Junior Member

    Can I just check that you already have all the F540 (ORB) entries for George's Ops? I have the entire ORB for 78 Sqn - 76 and 77 (as sister sqn's) but if you do have all the info to hand it will prevent duplication of effort

    I met one of the eye-witnesses at the crash site. The story he provided was that the aircraft was seen coming to earth on fire. It broke in two on impact and the front half entered the Masse (Peat Bog) where it remained until recovery. Over the years, small pieces of wreckage kept came to the surface, which is why the local farmer eventually decided he wanted the aircraft (and more importantly the missing five crew) recovered

    Two bodies were thrown clear when the aircraft crashed. Both were buried shortly afterwards by the German Authorities. One was identified, one wasn't. On subsequent recovery of the remains of the five crew, by default the body unidentified at time of loss could now be given an identity

    More info/images to follow ASAP

  20. RE864CoyPaul

    RE864CoyPaul Active Member

    Hi Tony, yes I have the 78 ORBs and the summaries for January - May 1944 (I had the may one for s while, then when more information came to light, I've been picking up the others).
    I've got a photo of the letters my nan received with the eyewitness accounts info on it somewhere, so I'll dig it out and upload it (my aunt has thevorigibth papers) when I get a chance.
    George was one of the guys thrown from the aircraft and was identified straight away and the theory was he was in the crash position in the middle of the aircraft along with the other gunner and when it broke up, they were thrown from it.

    Thank you for all of your help! And everyone who has had an input so far!

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