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Thread: Sgt(A/G)Ronald Edgar Tootell 2220183 of 149 Sqn

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    Default Sgt(A/G)Ronald Edgar Tootell 2220183 of 149 Sqn

    Hello,

    I am researching the above airman (rear gunner?) who was KIA over Hohenbudberg on the night of 8/9th February 1945 in a Lancaster? of 149 Sqn some of his crew were:- O.A.K Jones - A.L Lovett & Arthur Grey. I would be grateful if anyone give me more information on this incident. There is a memorial plaque at 'The National Memorial Arboretum, Alrewas, Derbyshire.

    Could it have been Lancaster NF976 'OJ-O' mentioned by John Johnson in his book '149 Squadron'.

    Regards,
    Rol

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    Rol

    I can't find any Bomber Command loss cards for 149 Squadron that night, so it is possible that the aircraft returned with injured or dead personnel on board (or the loss card is missing!).

    Have you looked at the ORB for that night to see if it provides any details?

    Regards

    Pete

    Regards

    Pete
    Main areas of research:

    - CA Butler and the loss of Lancaster ME334 (http://rafww2butler.wordpress.com/ )
    - Aircrew Training (Basic / Trade / Operational / Continuation / Conversion)
    - The History of No. 35 Squadron (1916 - 1982) (https://35squadron.wordpress.com/)

    [Always looking for copies of original documents / photographs etc relating to these subjects]

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    Default Sgt Tootell

    I believe this to be the incident where the mid-upper gunner's baulk ring failed and he shot the rear gunner. I will check.

    Alan Fraser
    149 Sqn Historian.

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    Hi Roundhead. I have the following, mainly from John Johnston.

    Aircraft Lancaster I, NF 970 OJ-O. Raid on Hehenbudberg, near Krefeld, 8/9th Feb 1945. Took off Methwold 03.36, landed at 08.06. Involved in two combats with fighters, possibly Me Bf 109s, after leaving the target area. In the first attack the rear gunner, Sgt Tootell was seriously wounded, which shortly afterwards proved fatal. The Mid-upper gunner claimed a Bf 109 fighter as 'probably destroyed' in the second attack. This was the end of a busy night for the Nachjagd and none of the second raid attacking aircraft were lost to night fighters (!). Two aircraft attacked a '3 group Lancaster' at 06.27hrs when west of Duisberg, presumably units of the Tagdjagd (Day Fighters), (which would explain why Bf 109s were used?)
    As to the mid-upper interrupter gear. The mid-upper turret could quite easily have shot at his own fins and rudders or even towards the cockpit. As I understand it the interrupter (?) gear was like two arms with little rollers at the end under the guns that ran on the fuselage and limited the depression of the guns in the line of the aircraft, keeping the guns from doing that. The front and rear turrets would fill in the voids. I’m going from memory here so I really ought to look it up. It must have another name as it doesn’t interrupt it displaces.
    When that Lanc returned the scuttlebutt immediately went around that the interrupter gear had failed and the rear gunner was killed accidentally by the mid upper gunner. The aircraft was isolated for days as I mentioned to you, the assumption being that there'd be a court of enquiry. But when I talked to Al Lovett, a bomb aimer at one of the reunions he was adamant that the rear gunner had been killed by a German fighter

    So we have two possibilities. that Al is right which makes it very difficult to explain how the story began that went around the base immediately after the aircraft returned.. If he had been killed in combat that would have been accepted as what happens, and give no cause to the story.

    Or the story that he was killed in combat was given out to spare the mid-upper gunner and other air crew in the squadron, as it could have been terribly demoralizing. You choose.

    Me again. There is a good illustration at http://www.lancaster-archive.com/lan...per_turret.htm. It shows the system well.

    Alan
    Last edited by 149Nut; 28th July 2015 at 15:10.

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    Hello,

    Many thanks to Peter & Alan for the information. Does anyone have a crew list for Lancaster I NF970 for that night?

    Kind regards,
    Rol

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    F/O OAK Jones, Sgt Halford CA, Sgt Lovett AH, Sgt WIlkinson JD, Sgt Grey AH, Sgt Tootell RH, Sgt Walsh TC.

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    Does anyone know whether, with that fairing around the turret, the M/U guns could have been depressed sufficiently to allow bullets to hit the rear fuselage, even if the little roller-arm thingies were defective or missing? Easy enough to hit the fins and rudders, but the rear fuselage and gunner? I guess it depends on how the M/U guns pivot and what angle the fairing alone would allow them to depress to when facing rearwards.

    Anyone got any pics from Just Jane's M/U turret? Or maybe someone connected with the BBMF could take a squint and give us their opinion?

    Ian

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    Default Sgt Tootell

    I have never thought of that, Ian. Good thinking!

    The BBMF aircraft may reveal the answer. You can see the idea from the link previously, but the mechanics are (to me) unknown. A quick look at a side view of the Lanc shows that the fuselage would probably get in the way of any direct shots, so you may well be right. The 'quarantine' this aircraft went through was fairly common with aircraft which brought back dying or dead crewmen, certainly at Methwold, where I have details of similar situations. This could mean that the 'scuttlebutt' was wrong - as it so often was. The MO's report is also a likelihood, although I cannot trace it. The ORBs and Station ORBs are inconclusive, although stating that Sgt Tootell was injured in the first of two attacks. Probably the Mid-Upper gunner would not have claimed the Me bf 109 that he claimed if he had accidentally shot another crew member? The weight of evidence (for me) comes down on the side of Enemy Action.

    Alan F

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