RAF 100 Squadron WW2: help with operations books

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by kaludah, Apr 26, 2013.

  1. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    Hello all,

    I am hoping for some help with finding out more about my grandfather Raymond Michael McDermott's time in England, where he trained as a Lancaster Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.

    I have attached the relevant page from his records, but in summary, he arrived in the UK from Sydney in January 1944 and went initially to RAF Station Whitley Bay, then Padgate and Hoylake. Between July 1944 and March 1945 he was in 8 AFU, 29 OTU and 26 OTU. On 9 March 1945 he was at 71 Base, on 16th March 72 Base, 31 March RAF Bottesford and 11th May (ie after VE Day) 100 Squadron. On 26 June 1945 he went to 9 ACHU, then 11 PDRC and home to Australia in Nov 1945.

    I have accessed the Operations and Summary Books online which for 100 Squadron frustratingly end on 11th May 1945, the day he arrived there. I haven't been able to work out what happened at 71 and 72 Bases, so any info would be greatly appreciated. I have lots of photos from his time in the RAF with his crew, and would love to know more about them and their full/real names (they are mostly tagged with nick names!). It looks as though he was in England for quite a while but didn't actually do anything!!! Can anyone help? My uncle's recollection is of his father talking of flying operationally but I'm not sure that his record supports that.

    All leads/help/information gratefully received!

    Thanks in anticipation,

    Sharon McDermott
    NSW Australia RM McDermott record.jpg
  2. PeteT

    PeteT Senior Member


    71 and 72 Base were groups of airfields used for Heavy Bomber Training (Heavy Conversion Units [HCU])

    Your grandfather would have been part of a five man crew at OTU; this five man crew would then have moved to an HCU for training on four engine heavy bombers. Here they would have been joined by a flight engineer and an additional gunner to form a seven man crew.

    71 Base consisted of a main airfield at Lindholme, with satellite airfields at Blyton, Sandtoft and Sturgate.

    72 Base consisted of a main airfield at Bottesford, with satellite airfields at Langar and Saltby.

    I hope this is a useful start point



    Source: RAF FT&SU since 1912 by Ray Sturtivant
  3. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    Warrant Officer Raymond Michael McDermott 428850 RAAF

    Hi Sharon - so far it looks like you are doing everything right. Good first post that actually gives the name of the person you are interested in plus a synopsis of what you have already done for yourself. You are already streets ahead of a lot of other family historians that come here for assistance.

    I presume that you initially went to the ww2 nominal roll to get his details (and print out a neat looking certificate of his service). From there you accessed his service file on-line at the NAA.

    From there you downloaded the relevant pages from the 100SQN RAF ORB.

    By the looks of your remaining questions what you really need is his log book - every aircrew member should have had one and it was normally one of the few things retained by veterans (along with their paybook & eventually their medals).

    Have you been able to check within the family to see if his log book (& other stuff) survives??

    His service file (and his service number) indicate that he was a direct entry aircrew late in 1942 - it seems odd that his training took nearly 3 years from there. I will have to have a better look at his file to see if I am missing something.

    It is not impossible that he flew operationally while still at an OTU / HCU - I have seen examples of aircraft from those units shot down over enemy territory. I haven't really looked into it, but I presume that those flights were either some sort of final flight before graduation or to make up the numbers in big operations (1000 bomber raids etc).

    Not an expert on some of this, so hopefully someone else might be able to clarify.

    Otherwise I would suggest scanning anything else you have and adding it to this thread. Fronts and backs of photographs if they have notes.

    Cheers & good luck

  4. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    I have asked someone I know with the entire 100 Sqn ORB to look up this chap. Will post what comes back here re: post 11 May 1945 ops.

    One of the fields which made up 71 Base (formerly 11 Base) was at Sandtoft, home field of No. 1667 Heavy Conversion Unit. I have that ORB but it is lacking in detail.

    And not to disagree with Pete as common convention did hold that the 2nd air gunner was added at HCU but I have numerous examples of crews arriving from OTU with their 2nd gunner already with them.
    More often than not when it came to "Prangtoft"


  5. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    Dear Dave, Pete and Dave,

    Thanks to all of you for your replies, which have put me much further ahead than I was yesterday!

    Unfortunately no one knows the whereabouts of the log book. I know my dad and uncle used his flying boots and jacket for dress ups as children, but otherwise it's just the photos. I'll be getting the photos from my uncle soon and will post them then but in the meantime I have added extra info from the service record (attached). Between them the photos show all the crew members, although I have a feeling some are only identified by their nicknames (Butch and Nigger are the two I can recall).

    I guess there's a chance that if I can track down descendents of other crew members they may have their log books ...... I have to live in hope!

    Thanks so much again to you all.



    Attached Files:

  6. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    Dear Dave, Pete, Dave and All,

    Here at last a photo and names of grand dad's crew:

    Raymond Michael McDERMOTT: Wireless Operator/Air Gunner
    Gordon KERR: Bomb Aimer
    "Butch" CRAVEN: Tail Gunner
    Peter WYGA: Pilot
    Ralph ROBERTSON: Navigator
    "Nigger" CRANE: Mid Upper Gunner

    I'm pretty sure I have Butch and Nigger's correct names somewhere on the back of a photo - I'll keep looking.

    Hope this helps and thanks in anticipation,

    Sharon Lancaster Crew.jpg Lancaster Crew list.JPG
  7. DaveB

    DaveB Very Senior Member

    I'm operating off a poor internet connection at the moment, should improve tomorrow.

    So only a quick brush-over -

    Most of the crew are wearing dark blue RAAF uniform, only one of them appears to be RAF (or RCAF etc).

    Might be worth checking out their NAA records to see if there are any parallels with your GF's service or more clues to lead you forward.

    Wyga is the easiest, only one bloke by that name served in the RAAF during the war. He has a war-time service number and a post-war one as well, indicating that he re-enlisted some time around 1949 onwards.

    WYGA, PETER ALAN O210931 (428945)


    ROBERTSON, RALPH CAMPBELL 428200 (only RAAF member with that name)
  8. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    Thanks Dave - that was quick! I had found Peter Wyga in the NAA records. At present it says his record is not open and needs to "be examined for possible sensitivities" so I'll make an application. It's a great name from a family history perspective too so I'll see if I can chase down any living relatives (who may have a log book!!!!). There's only one Wyga in the White Pages so here's hoping .......

    I've found the correct Ralph Robertson on there too, and his record has already been opened. His file photo matches grand dad's photo ie same face, so it's him for sure. He was born in Queensland but living in Tasmania on enlistment, and was posted to 100 Squadron on the same day as grand dad, 11th May 1945. He married an English girl in September 1945.

    Thanks again Dave and I'll keep you posted with any new info.

  9. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    PS just found Peter Allan Wyga's death notice on Ryerson Index - Oct 1986 in Qld.
  10. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    And Ralph, only in 2011 ....... damn, bugger and blast ........
  11. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson Member

    Checking AUSTRALIA @ WAR by Peter Dunn

    RAAF Training Units might provide a bit of background for you: http://www.ozatwar.com/raaf/raaf.htm

    In terms of Bomber Command, his primary interest is restricted to
    460 Squadron RAAF
    The most sorties, the highest tonnage,
    the heaviest casualties, the most decorations
    of any Squadron in Bomber Command
  12. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    Hi Dave aka alieneyes,

    Just wondering if you ever heard back from the chap who had the 100 Squadron ORB?


  13. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think that W/O McDermott RAAF would be in the category of aircrew who as the war was drawing to a close found themselves surplus to operational requirements having passed out as designated aircrew for 7 men crews.This was not unusual for aircrew returning from places such as Canada,fully trained and from the autumn of 1944, not being able to be allocated a posting on an operational squadron.....a case of matching manpower to work load and those not allocated to an operational posting being looked on as spare bods.Know of two past colleagues who returned from Canada as fully fledged navigators at this time and found themselves as spare bods....another was in course of pilot training in Canada which was curtailed and never graduated as aircrew.

    The generation of excess trained aircrew via the Empire Air Training Scheme/British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was addressed as early as February 1944 when it was agreed that training would be cut back by 40% over the forthcoming 12 months but this proved not to be enough resulting in, especially pilots and navigators who had enlisted in 1943,not experiencing wartime operational service on graduation.However wireless and gunnery training was never resourced out of Britain by the RAF.

    The other point was that some from Australia had already received their designated aircrew training before coming to Britain and had to be dovetailed into the OTU HCU training structure as would appears to be the case of W/O McDermott.Interestingly there is no mention of attendance at a LFS unit (Lancaster Finishing School established from late 1943) which became the norm for crews who would be posted to Lancaster squadrons....probably a case of training structure rundown with the end of hostilities envisaged.<

    In W/O McDermott's case the war ended before he could be posted to a front line squadron.On 11 May 1945,he was posted to No 100 Squadron Lancaster (Mk 1 and 111) which for the majority of its time was based at RAF Grimsby...last wartime op was on 25 April 1945 against Hitler's lair at Berchtesgaden. In the summer of 1945,some squadrons participated in exercises to learn more regarding German Flensburg radar system but it is not known if No 100 Squadron took part in this research out of Elsham Wold. (On 1 April 1945, No 100 Squadron was relocated to RAF Elsham Wold.In early December 1945,the squadron was posted to RAF Scampton but by this time W/O McDermott had left for Australia.)

    The crew photograph would have been taken at an OTU minus the Flight Engineer.F/Es did not attend,for some reason,the OTU course.Flight Engineers would normally be crewed at the HCU after their own dedicated training course,usually at St Athans but there were other venues depending on the numbers being trained at the main training centre.

    I would think that at this time in the war,W/O McDermott would be designated as a Wireless Operator.The designation Wop/AG was abolished in December 1943 since it was thought with two gunners on the establishment of B.C heavies there was no call to expect a Wireless Op to get involved with gunnery as part of his formal duties.A brevet "S" was issued for Wireless Operators but it took a year or so for the transformation to take place.(In the photograph I cannot see W/O McDermott's brevet to confirm if this transformation had occurred in his case.)
  14. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    That's great thanks Harry!! I've managed to find a current address for the wife of Leonard "Butch" Craven in England, so with a bit of luck she may have a log book.

  15. John wyga

    John wyga Member

    Hello. Peter wyga was my father. Just discovered this site. Regards john wyga
    kaludah likes this.
  16. John wyga

    John wyga Member

    He'll Sharon. John wyga here. We have just come across this site. Regards john wyga
    kaludah likes this.
  17. John wyga

    John wyga Member

    Yes sadly that is correct. Regards john wyga
    kaludah likes this.
  18. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    Hello John!!

    How wonderful to have found you through this fantastic forum. Not sure if you are in touch with any other descendants of the crew, but I have made contact with Butch Craven's widow in England. Butch passed away in 2012. I have lots of photos (happy to share), but precious little info about my grandfather's WW2 experience. My email address is sharonmcd@bigpond.com


    Sharon McDermott (Newcastle NSW)
  19. John wyga

    John wyga Member

    Hi Sharon, sue here john Wyga's partner. Lovely to be able to correspond with you.
    John says great news.
    Diana , Peter wyga' s wife is johns mum. She lives here on the Gold Coast in runaway bay. Peter unfortunately had a heart attack in 1986 aged 62. Way to young.
    We lived in Yeppoon until this year when we decided to come down here and look after mum. We showed here the photo of the lads that was on this page. I asked her did she recognise any of them and she said that's my Peter! She is succumbing to memory loss but only short term.long term seems ok. She remarried, moved etc. don't know what photos paperwork etc she may have, will see what she has. She is widowed again and lives alone. We are just up the road from her.
    Will be in touch Sharon
    Sue and john wyga
  20. kaludah

    kaludah Member

    Hi Sue,

    Mick died aged 54yrs in 1967, also of a heart attack. I was 2 years old. Look forward to hearing from you again - is John interested in photos?


Share This Page