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Thread: Choosing up your crewmates

  1. #1
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    Default Choosing up your crewmates

    I am calling on the experience of the group to help me with a recent discovery - two of my boys of Malvern Collegiate were in the same air crew and I have just found that two more fellows from the neighborhood were also in the crew. One was RAF (the Flt. Eng.), the rest were RCAF. It's highly likely, I would think, that they knew each other (or at least decided to choose each other once they found out they were neighbors).

    My question is, how easy was it and how frequently did it happen that friends could stick together and be in the same crew? I know that as the war progressed and more all-Canadian crews were formed, it was more possible but still, what were the chances?

    The crew in question were from 408 Squadron and were lost on 29 Jan 1945 over Stuttgart. I have the op details from the Group 6 site and have found all the names and roles for the crew.

    F/O C. Johnson RCAF and crew, flying Halifax VII NP-743 coded EQ-K, failed to return from this operation.

    Sgt T. Chandler RAF (Flt. Eng.)
    F/O N. Baily RCAF (Nav.)
    F/O J. O’Brien RCAF (Air Bomber)
    P/O J. Mortley RCAF (W/Op-AG)
    P/O F. Henry RCAF (AG)
    P/O B. House RCAF (AG)
    David

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    Hi David,

    recently I am reseraching a pilot starting 2nd tour with 429 Sq and when looking for info about OTU I found and also was informed by members of this forum that new airmen who come to the OTU were got together into the hangar and told - make crews.

    Anway in this late years the crews were quite stable but from my own experiences with 311 Czechoslovak Sq in 1941-42 there were a lot of changes owing to leaves, illness etc. One of the reason was also that someone does not want to fly with someone else or vice versa someone wants to fly with someone else so in most cases they swap places with others.

    And also sometimes the crews were changed by the "higher authorities" - COs and in some case by fate.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    I saw the same thing described in the excellent DVD put out by the Canadian War Amps, titled The Boys of Kelvin High. It has excellent footage of the recruits' passage through training in Canada. I suppose they could have chosen each other at the OTU but what were the chances of four lads from the same "hood" being in the same OTU? I am thinking they got together earlier than that. Would that have been possible?
    David

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    Default Choosing up your crewmates

    I'm not sure how possible it would be given the length of training courses for different members of the crew. Not to mention the schools were spread out across Canada.

    I can imagine perhaps the two air gunners sticking together all the way through. I'd have to say that while these men may have all knew each other at home they more than likely all came together as originally suggested: OTU

    And thanks for reminding me about The Boys of Kelvin High DVD. What a great job Cliff Chadderton did with that whole project.

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    Thanks for that. I checked another source, possibly taken from Chorley, that noted the following:

    "This was a scratch crew with a wide variety of operational experience ranging from none in the case of P/O Mortley [W/Op A/G] to 27 operations apiece in respect of F/O Baily [Nav.] and F/O O'Brien [Bomber]."

    Unfortunately, it doesn't mention how long the two Malvern boys had flown - Crawford the pilot and Henry, an A/G. Mortley was from the neighborhood but didn't go to the same school. So, I guess it was all just coincidence. I suppose the CO put the crew together in a case like this, did he?
    David

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