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Thread: Deconstructing a combat report - 50 Sqn 30 Mar 1944

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    Default Deconstructing a combat report - 50 Sqn 30 Mar 1944

    I have a combat report for one of my subjects and it appears there was a mixed crew on board for their mission to Nuremburg on the night of 30/31 March 1944 when they drove off an ME109 and put in a claim.

    The regulars (when they were lost on the night of 25 Apr 1944) were:
    Captain - F/O Lennox Durham, DFC, 156302, RAFVR
    Flt.Eng. - Sgt. Francis Patrick Brown, 1583464, RAFVR - notation after is "(4?4)" but can't read it, transfer?
    Navigator - F/S Eric Stanley Jones, 1321095, RAFVR
    A/Bomber - W/O Russell George Brock, DFC, J/85520, RCAF
    WO/AG - F/S Dennis Leonard Reynolds, 1453495, RAFVR

    The gunners:
    MU/AG - F/O Crawford No. 1 B&GS No. 29 OTU
    Rear A/G - F/S Roberts No. 3 B&GS No. 14 OTU

    Can anyone tell me why they would have two OTU gunners on this flight? Was Crawford perhaps an instructor and Roberts a trainee? (Judging by ranks?). They were not with the crew when it was lost later.

    Also, the report is signed by a F/Lt Beal...., Gunnery Leader at 50 Sqn but I can't make out his signature. Can anyone identify him?
    Last edited by dfuller52; 11th January 2011 at 10:19. Reason: spelling
    David

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    Hi David,

    It's conceivable that both OTU gunners had completed their tours and were instructors. We've all read how many BC veterans hated instructing and a F/Sgt really isn't that low on the rank structure to be a trainee.

    One thing I've noticed, and Hugh can correct me if I am mistaken, is that a lot of the "J" RCAF numbers followed by 8 or 9 were posthumous commissions. I base that point strictly on going through about 400 RCAFservice files, nowhere near the volume of guys like Hugh or Richard K. Your man Brock is a W/O with an officer's number. Hugh's database confirms my thoughts on this as he is listed as a P/O on Hugh's database:

    BROCK, P/O Robert George (J85520) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.50 Squadron (deceased) - Award effective 23 April 1944 as per London Gazette dated 21 December 1945 and AFRO 155/46 dated 15 February 1946. Home in Toronto; enlisted there 1932. Trained at No.6 ITS (graduated 26 September 1942), No.4 BGS (graduated 21 November 1942), and No.1 AOS (graduated 13 January 1943). Killed in action, 24/25 April 1944 (Lancaster ED876); wife in Toronto. Award presented to next-of-kin, 2 December 1946.

    This officer has completed as air bomber many successful operations against the enemy in the course of which he has invariably displayed high skill, fortitude and devotion to duty.

    Public Records Officer Air 2/8780 has recommendation for a DFM (he was still a Flight Sergeant; promoted to Warrant Officer 3 March 1944 with effect from 31 December 1943), dated 15 March 1944 when he had flown 20 sorties (140 hours ten minutes).

    9 Oct 43 Hanover 14 Jan 44 Brunswick
    18 Oct 43 Hanover 21 Jan 44 Magdeburg
    20 Oct 43 Leipzig 27 Jan 44 Berlin
    22 Oct 43 Kassel 28 Jan 44 Berlin
    10 Nov 43 Modane 30 Jan 44 Berlin
    18 Nov 43 Berlin 15 Feb 44 Berlin
    20 Dec 43 Frankfurt 19 Feb 44 Leipzig
    1 Jan 44 Berlin 20 Feb 44 Stuttgart
    2 Jan 44 Berlin 25 Feb 44 Augsburg
    5 Jan 44 Stettin 1 Mar 44 Stuttgart

    Flight Sergeant Brock is the bombardier in the crew captained by Pilot Officer Durham; he has now completed 20 successful operational sorties. During his tour he has obtained many photographs of target conditions and has invariably pressed home his attacks with great determination and coolness. His initiative in the air is well illustrated in an action when he found that due to an electrical failure the light in the Collimator tube would not work. By shining his torch down the Collimator tube he was able to provide the necessary light and reproduce the graticule on the reflector glass; thus he was able to use his sight accurately and make a successful attack. Flight Sergeant Brock has always been anxious and enthusiastic to carry out operational flying, and for his bravery, skill and devotion to duty he is recommended for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    I could find nothing on F/Lt Beal.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    David,
    I think i'm right in saying that these were not actually OTU gunners, it's a case of showing where the two airgunners were actually trained. I have many of these reports, and they're all worded like that.
    Will be back when i've checked the ORB.
    Last edited by AlanW; 11th January 2011 at 11:37.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanW View Post
    David,
    I think i'm right in saying that these were not actually OTU gunners, it's a case of showing where the two airgunners were actually trained. I have many of these reports, and they're all worded like that.
    Will be back when i've checked the ORB.
    David,

    I have to agree with Alan, as far as my research goes, the details list were training was undertaken prior to joining the squadron.

    Regards

    Steve
    No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron Association Historian
    No.623 squadron Research

    ~~IN TIME ~~

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    Hi,

    it became common practice in BC combat reports to identify where the gunners had trained, and it does not indicate that the gunners were with a particular OTU at the time of the combat.

    I can only make an educated guess as to why the details were included - it being a part of operational research to investigate the effectiveness of training at particular establishments based upon the results of actual combat.

    The BC combat reports went through several amendments during the war in terms of what information was to be included and how it was to be presented , all with an aim of aiding operational research. An obvious example was the commencement of pro forma combat reports in 1942 - writing up combat reports of sightings of enemy aircraft where no combat necessarily occurred.

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Re the Gunnery Leader, I wonder if (spelling notwithstanding) the following is relevant - the coincidence of trade and unit is striking:

    BEALE, Alter, P/O (159002, RAFVR*) - No.50 Squadron - Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 21 April 1944. Born 1908 in Liverpool. Commissioned 1943. Citation from Air Ministry Bulletin 13588.

    "An outstanding gunner, Pilot Officer Beale has participated in many sorties against important and strongly defended German targets. A qualified gunnery leader, he has been engaged in four air combats and in October 1943, when returning from an attack on Leipzig, was instrumental in shooting down an enemy aircraft. A month later, the electric circuit of his suit failed immediately after the take-off on an operational flight. Despite the intense cold, Pilot Officer Beale said nothing to his pilot ands continued with his allotted tasks. When approaching the target he sighted an enemy fighter and by his excellent directions enabled his captain to evade the attacker and complete the mission. Pilot Officer Beale was assisted out of his turret when within a few miles of the English coast, suffering from extreme cold and frost-bitten on the body. Throughout his tour this officer has set a splendid example of exemplary courage in action and outstanding devotion to duty."

    I agree that the references to training units simply lists where these men had previously trained (no idea as to why they were not in the same crew ehen it was lost - tour expired ? sick ?)
    Last edited by HughAHalliday; 11th January 2011 at 12:05. Reason: added comments

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    Hi Dave,
    Usual crew for Durham were....
    Durham.
    Brown.
    Jones.
    Reynolds.
    Crawford.
    Brock.
    Flynn.

    Roberts was a long standing member of the Heward crew.

    Flynn post away before Nuremburg, Heward did'nt fly on Nuremburg op, so guessing that Roberts took Flynns place. But after Nuremburg, Roberts does one with Heward, two with Durham, one with Beetham and then carries on again with Heward. He seems to take the place of others when Heward is'nt flying.
    Alan.

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    Many thanks as always guys. Yet again I've learned something new.

    The gunnery leader probably was Beale as I forgot to include his initial, which is indeed, "A". It was a little flourish at the end of his signature which was confusing me.

    I will add the names of the two gunners from the crew who were lost on their final flight in April when I get back to my notes at home.

    I did have Brock's citation - thanks again Hugh for that wonderful database - and thanks for supplying Beale's.
    David

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    The two gunners from the Durham crew who were lost on 25 Apr 1944 were:

    F/S Norman Jackson, 1434566, RAFVR
    F/S Joseph Noe Gustave Robert Casaubon, R/180956, RCAF

    And I forgot to say thanks Alan for the ORB lookups, which are much appreciated.
    Last edited by dfuller52; 11th January 2011 at 16:38.
    David

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    Hi,
    I am researching my relation F/O Lennox Durham, DFC, 156302, RAFVR and after downloading the combat report I came across this forum, I am hoping to find out any further information including his DFC recorded in the London Gazette Issue 365550 published on the 2 June 1944, page 2 of 4.,
    thanks for any help,
    Sharon

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