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Thread: F/S. W O. Gaze. 40 Squadron 13/8/43

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    Default F/S. W O. Gaze. 40 Squadron 13/8/43

    Looking for details leading to the loss of the following airman.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Regards
    Peter

    Name: GAZE, WHARTON OWEN
    Initials: W O
    Nationality: Australian
    Rank: Flight Sergeant
    Regiment/Service: Royal Australian Air Force
    Unit Text: 40 (R.A.F.) Sqdn.
    Age: 21
    Date of Death: 13/08/1943
    Service No: 409069
    Additional information: Son of William Owen and Beryl Lynne Gaze, of Gnowangerup, Western Australia.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: Coll. grave VIII. H. 11-12.
    Cemetery: SYRACUSE WAR CEMETERY, SICILY

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    Hello again Peter,

    12/13-8-43
    No.40 Sqn
    Wellington X HZ570 'U'
    Target: Messina Beaches.

    Shot down over target area. (Aircraft crashed at Faro Superiore, 7-miles north-east of Messina, Sicily, where the crew were initially buried. Later exhumed and buried as below.).

    AUS406744 W/O (Pilot/Capt.) William Roland WALTERS RAAF +
    AUS409069 F/Sgt (Nav.) Wharton Owen GAZE RAAF +
    AUS415030 F/Sgt (W.Op./Air Gnr.) John Patrick HALL RAAF +
    AUS416598 F/Sgt (Air Bomber) David Hugh MORGAN RAAF + (Unit listed as - 49 [R.A.F.] Sqdn - CWGC)
    1548321 Sgt (Air Gnr.) John Kenneth KIRK +

    All buried Syracuse War Cemetery, Sicily.

    See:
    Sweeping the Skies:A History of No.40 Squadron, RFC and RAF, 1916-56
    Gunby,David.
    Bishop Auckland:Pentland Press,1995.
    pp.238 & 371.

    See also: NAA: 166/15/18 pp.69 & 79-80 of 80
    (Gaze's A705 at the NAA, is incorrectly filed under Service Number 409067)

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 5th July 2009 at 12:30. Reason: minor correction

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    Once again Col, very many thanks for your help, it is appreciated.

    Regards
    Peter

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    Peter,

    I'm not sure what your interest is in Wharton Gaze, but l will relate the following:-

    The Father of Wharton Gaze, No.1898 2nd/Lt William Owen Gaze, served in the Australian Flying Corps in the First World War. On 8-3-1919, he crashed his aircraft (unknown type/location - but in the UK), and sustained a fractured ankle. He is believed to have been serving with the 7th Training Squadron, AFC.

    Maybe one of our Forumites can identify the aircraft/incident?

    Col.

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    Hi Peter,
    From my fathers diary quoting the situation that all the squadrons were facing at that time.
    10/8/43 37 squadron briefing impressed on us to look out for night fighters, target Messina Beaches, moon up, visibility good no trouble finding target, had to cover it for 55minutes. I was in Astro Dome for two hours keeping my eyes peeled for fighters, didn't see any.
    70 squadron on target before us had all seen fighters, a couple were attacked our squadron saw none. Apparently they had all gone down for refuelling.
    13/8/43 70 squadron shot down one fighter also lost one kite. 17/8/43 drove over to 40 squadron have been losing quite a few kites lately.
    This just shows how much timing of arrival over target and luck played in the scheme of things. All the squadrons worked together in different waves to attack the targets it would seem, timing and luck of the draw played a big part in whether you survived or not. Experience and skill didn't guarantee a safe return. Hope this helps to add a little to understand what F/S Gaze's crew faced over target when they were lost.

    Regards,
    Rob Jerram.

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    Hi Peter/Rob,

    Life was very much a gamble. Here is what happened to Gaze and his comrades on an earlier mission:-

    17/18-4-43
    No.40 Sqn.
    Wellington X BB469 'Z'
    Target: Berdj Le Beufj LG.

    Captain, Wing Commander D.R.Bagnall was detailed to fly Wellington aircraft BB469 'Z' to attack Berdj Le Beufj L.G. on the night of the 17th/18th April, 1943. The target was located at approximately 0180 hours, and AA fire was encountered during the bombing run, and shrapnel penetrated through the perspex of the front and rear turrets, wounding Sgt. Kirk in the left hand. Sgt. Kirk was admitted to No.22 ERS for treatment.

    40790 F/LT (A/W/Cmdr.) (Capt./Pilot) D R BAGNALL DFC (New Zealander)
    AUS406744 F/Sgt (2nd Pilot) W R WALTERS RAAF
    AUS409069 Sgt (Nav.) W O GAZE RAAF
    AUS415030 F/Sgt(W.Op./Air Gnr.) J P HALL RAAF
    AUS416598 Sgt (Bomb Aimer) D H MORGAN RAAF
    1548321 Sgt J K KIRK (Air Gnr.) Injured

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 5th July 2009 at 13:22. Reason: minor correction

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    Rob, Col,

    Thanks for the extra info.

    Could I ask just one more question on this subject?

    Why would the 70 Squadron Wellington be carrying two pilots (crew of six) and the 40 Squadron Wellington one (crew of five) considering it was much the same op.

    From what I can gather the Wellington in 1943 would normally carry just one pilot.
    Maybe the extra pilot would be there for operational experience?

    Any thoughts?

    Regards
    Peter

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    Peter,

    David Gunby, in his Intro to BLME1 (p.7), describes the situation thus:

    ...With the Wellingtons, until late 1942 carrying a crew of six, the two pilots are followed by the observer, wireless operator and gunners. With the belated introduction in the Middle East of the five-man Wellington crew, second pilots appear only when a newcomer to a squadron is making a 'second dickey' trip, while the bomb aimer is listed after the navigator and wireless operator but before the rear gunner.

    Col.

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    Cheers Col.

    Put so much better than I.

    Regards

    Peter.

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    Hi Peter and Col,
    Peter in 1943 it appears( 37 Squadrn ORB ) that the early months March/April it was quite common for there to be a crew of six ,Captain, 2nd Pilot, Navigator, 1st W/Op, 2nd W/Op and Air Gunner. As you correctly state there would be five member crews as well on the same operation. It would appear that because of the lack of Wellington aircraft at this time that to gain experience they sent out crews with two pilots. This changed as time went on and by late 1943/ early 1944 the crews were mainly of five in number as more aircraft became available, but again this was not a hard and fast rule. There was also a change in the training regime which as one of my fathers pilots F/S Robert Kurt Lavack explained that on his 2nd tour in Wellingtons in late 1944 ( Warsaw Airdrops ) the bombaimer was trained to fly the aircraft if the pilot became incapacitated. However in saying this pages from Robert Lavacks Log Book show that he on operations to Sarajevo still had a crew of six which comprised Pilot, Navigator, Bombaimer,W/Op and two Air Gunners. Robert Lavack also commented that by middle of 1944 pilots trained on Wellingtons were in big demand and one can only assume that those pilots coming through in the later years of the War were trained on the Heavy Bombers ie. Liberators etc. I am sure other members on the forum can add to this and correct me if my thoughts are off the mark.

    Col and Peter
    An interesting comment made by Robert Lavack confirms the "Gamble" of operations in Wellingtons. He states and I quote....
    Wellingtons (Wimpies), as you likely already know, were night bombers that operated as independent units like the Uboats did. The only time they got together was over the designated target during a five minute period, known as the 'blitz' period. This was designed to saturate the enemy defences. Getting to the target relied on a lot of team work between the navigator and the wireless operator.It was strictly DR navigation usually without good meterological information. The German night fighters were very good too as they had efficient ground radar to direct them to the bomber pack. In 1943 they equipped their night fighters with airborne radar to compliment the ground stations. Then they were deadly with aces with kills exceeding 100. So the basic DR navigation, limited meterological information, ground and air defences, it was surprising how many aircraft managed to reach their designated targets.
    I hope this is of interest to you and helps to understand the odds that were stacked against the Welligton Crews.

    Regards,
    Rob Jerram.

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