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Thread: Air Bomber's duties - Bomber Support squadrons

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    Default Air Bomber's duties - Bomber Support squadrons

    Can somebody tell me what the A/B's duties were in squadrons like No. 192 and No. 214?

    I was reading how the Fortresses used by No. 214 had their bomb bays filled with "Jostle" equipment, hence the question.

    TIA

    Dave

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    Hi Dave

    For 214 (as you know, my particular interest) I understand that the A/Bmr acted as a second navigator, assisting with the navigation tasks and some of their 'black boxes'. For example I think they used to operate the H2S and its display screens, the scanner for which was in the chin radome instead of the chin guns. Not sure what other stuff they may have had responsibilities for, given the W/Op and Special Operator were back in the radio room mid-fuselage.

    Ian

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    Just as an aside, the Air Bomber was also a fully trained air gunner (although as KR&ACI pointed out, only one aircrew badge could be worn by an individual at any one time, so they normally wore the "B" badge) so he was responsible for both the air bomber's duties, as well as operation of the front turret. As pointed out by Ian above, he also functioned as the navigator's assistant, largely because he occupied the position with the best view down and ahead, so was in the best place to map read and compare the land beneath with said map. By 1944 the front gun positions in most RAF heavy bombers were considered largely redundant (which is why Halifax's completely lost this turret in favour of a clear blown streamlined nose fairing), as enemy fighter attacks tended to come from the rear quarters, but just in case some keen type might attempt a frontal attack, the front gun positions were retained on Lancasters, and the few remaining Stirlings still in front-line service.
    David D

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    Thanks for that, Ian and David.

    Ian, the reason I was curious was the loss of F/O Terrance Velleau McKee, A/B of KJ103 BU-M on 17 January, 1945.

    I now have his service file with complete crew list and investigation. It appears he was in the radio room when the accident occurred.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Quote Originally Posted by alieneyes View Post

    ... It appears he was in the radio room when the accident occurred.

    Regards,

    Dave

    Hi Dave

    I'll try to do a more detailed response later (off to work in a mo') but the story of the crash is given in some detail in Mel Rolfe's book "To Hell and Back", where the pilot Neil Scott tells the story in which he says "Everyone else had gone to their crash positions for landing behind the main spar except the navigator [Houston] and his cousin [McKee] who were in the nose. Somehow they didn't manage to get themselves out in time."

    It'd be interesting to swap notes on this. More later.

    Regards

    Ian

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    Hi Ian,

    I had a copy of "To Hell and Back" in the basement. Having now read Scott's account there are even more questions.

    Not mentioned is the tree he hit, 500 yds short of the runway, taking off 18 feet of the port wing. The CoI is also pretty clear that both Houston and McKee were in the radio room with F/Sgt Lewis, the W/Op.

    Scott himself gave no evidence as he was in hospital with memory loss. The court did find him guilty of error in judgment.

    Regards,

    Dave

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    Hi Dave

    That's most interesting! You wouldn't happen to have a copy of the CoI Report you could share, please, would you?

    And another question: I've now noticed that the crew list as set out in the ORB doesn't match Neil Scott's version in TH&B. The ORB shows Sgt C Brown instead of Sgt Chalk who Scott said was RG on that op. It's not impossible that the ORB is wrong, but on the other hand I've found mistakes in stories in books before. However if Chalk was involved prior to the crash as recounted by Scott, you wouldn't think he (Scott) got that person's identity wrong! Does the CoI Report name the crew in full?

    Kind regards

    Ian


    ps Slightly curious as to why you're looking at this crash? I thought 101 Sqn was your particular area of interest.
    Last edited by ianh; 9th July 2015 at 07:02.

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    Hi Dave

    ... And another query against TH&B. The 214 Sqn ORB says the Leuna / Merseburg op (when they were weather-diverted to Tangmere) was on 14-15 January, not the night immediately before this one when BU-M crashed (16-17th)!

    Ian

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    Quote Originally Posted by ianh View Post
    ps Slightly curious as to why you're looking at this crash? I thought 101 Sqn was your particular area of interest.
    Hi Ian,

    You can blame the late Gerhard Heilig for that:) As you know, he was on both 214 and 101 Sqns as was Sgt. Phineas Glick, come to think of it. When Gerhard passed I was filling in some notes on his bio and found the 214 Squadron page you have done a lot of work on. Saw the McKee loss and figured any questions could be answered by a look in his service file.

    Four pages sent to your email addy.

    The crew:

    152592 F/O Scott N.T. - Captain
    J37516 F/O Houston R.V. - Navigator
    1083677 F/Sgt. Lewis D.V. - W/Op
    J37716 F/O McKee T.V - Air Bomber
    1592289 F/Sgt Smith R. - Rear Gunner
    1895893 Sgt. Lunn B.H.F - Stbd Waist Gunner
    1892486 Sgt. Brown C. - Port Waist Gunner
    R213050 F/Sgt. R.J. Knickle - MUG
    Aus424832 F/O Hardman E.T. - Special Operator
    1896166 Sgt. Willing R.J. - F/Engineer

    Regards,

    Dave
    Last edited by alieneyes; 10th July 2015 at 01:22.

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    Hi Dave

    Many thanks for the email with the copy of the CoI Report. These extra documents that you come up with make fascinating reading and add so much more to what you can find in the 'basic' documents such as the ORB. It shows too that Brown (not Chalk - per TH&B!) was the RG on that flight.

    Looking at the Report though, I don't see that it shows that McKee was in the radio room at the time of the crash. It does list 4 of the crew [Houston: Nav, Lewis: W/Op, McKee: A/Bmr and Hardman: Spec Op] as 'seated' in the "W/Ops Compartment" but two of those functions, Nav and A/Bmr (sometimes elsewhere referred to as 'second navigator' or 'Nav2') were carried out from ('seated in') the nose section of a Fortress so my interpretation is that they're just using "W/Ops Compartment" as a general term to cover BOTH areas: nose section and radio room.

    Could be wrong, but reading it like that doesn't have to mean that Houston and McKee weren't in the nose section (where Neil Scott in TH&B said they were).

    Possibly?

    Kind regards and many thanks again

    Ian


    ps S.10 on P.3 of the Report refers to 'Appendices A and B'. Do you know what they were? Plans and photos maybe?

    pps You mention a couple of chaps (Heilig and Glick) who were in 101 as well as 214. I've recently done a complete listing (nearly 14,000 lines on a spreadsheet) of all the crew members on every one of 214's 1,275 Fortress sorties, including (where listed) where they came from and where they went to immediately before and after flying with 214. I'll have a look and see which others are also shown as coming from or going to 101, and we'll see how that matches with your records!

    ppps Was up at Oulton last Thursday. The museum / display at Blickling Hall is excellent. Much improved from when I was there some years ago. And the 'Buckinghamshire Arms' pub immediately next door serves a great beer (shame I can't remember its name, hahaa!)

    Have a good day. : )
    Last edited by ianh; 10th July 2015 at 07:38.

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