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Thread: 997181 Vincent Mckernan-Wellington lost May 1942

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    Default 997181 Vincent Mckernan-Wellington lost May 1942

    Gentlemen,

    I have recently come across your site whilst researching The Long March and would be very grateful if any of your members could point me in the right direction. My uncle Vincent David McKernan 997181 who is now deceased is mentioned in your POW section. From what my father and I rember from stories in the pub Vin was on the Long March in the winter of 44/45 ? . I remember him telling a story about being straifed by a squadron of Typhoons which resulted in quite a few casualties. As a result all the POWs were told to wear their flying jackets (those that still had them) inside out to help recognition.

    I am reasonably sure he was on Wellingtons when he was posted as missing in May 1942 on what was probably one of the first 1000 bomber raids. Im not sure what rank he was when he took off but I know he was a WO when he was repatriated.

    The information I am looking for is Aircraft/Crew members/ Squadron/ Raid/ Date and would be most grateful for any other relevant information that your members may have or be able to point me in the right direction.

    Many thanks
    KOSGOG
    Last edited by KOSGOG; 24th September 2010 at 23:16. Reason: spelling

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    Hi KOSGOG & welcome,

    From RAF Bomber Command Losses 1942 by W R Chorley
    Wellington II W5358 NF-T from 158 Sqdn took off 2212 from Driffield on op to Essen on night of 12/13 April 1942. Hit by flak while flying at 8,000 ft and crashed near Köln.
    Five crew listed onboard all pow.
    PO F D McMillan RNZAF
    PO WHJ Griffiths RNZAF
    Sgt M F Mulvey
    Sgt S F G Clayton
    Sgt V D McKernan

    From Footprints on the Sands of Time by Oliver Clutton-Brock
    POW number for V D McKernan given as 170 and camps he was in L3, L6 & 357 but there are questionmarks over the L3 & L6.

    Someone else might care to comment further on the fact that there is only a crew of 5 listed for this Wellington, my understanding is they generally flew with 6.

    Hopefully that will get you started for gathering further info.

    Regards
    Linzee (not a gentleman ;-) )

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    The New Zealanders were:

    NZ404811 Flt Lt (final rank) Peter Duncan McMillan
    Born Methven 17 Aug 42
    RNZAF 1 Dec 40 to 9 Nov 45
    Pilot
    shot down on his 17th sortie
    PoW # 123
    Safe UK 7 May 45
    Died Rangiora, New Zealand, 28 Apr 77

    NZ401760 (70051 from 1949) Flt Lt (final rank) William Hugh Joseph Griffith (note: not Griffiths)
    Born Warwick, Queensland, Australia 15 Feb 14
    RNZAF 2 Jul 40 to 20 Apr 51
    Air Observer
    shot down on his 19th sortie
    PoW # 627
    Safe UK 10 May 45
    Died Tauranga, New Zealand, Feb 2000

    Errol

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    Hi Linzee

    Wellingtons generally had five crew members i.e. pilot, navigator (observer), bomb aimer, wireless operator / AG and rear gunner. There may have been instances when the crew numbered six but five was the usual number.

    Regards

    Douglas

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    Linzee/Douglas,

    In early 1942 Bomber Command introduced a dramatic change as to the crew composition of its heavy bombers. The 2nd pilot was dispensed with while other members adopted more specialised roles. Thus the observer became a dedicated navigator (previously he had also been bomb aimer and, if required, an air gunner), while the front gunner, after a short course, took on additional responsibility as bomb aimer (or air bomber as he was officially designated). By May 1942 the standard Wellington bomber crew had been reduced from six to five, although it could increase temporarily to six again when taking along a ‘freshman’ pilot for operational experience.

    Errol

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    104 Sqdn RAF Wellingtons, based at Foggia Main, Italy usually had five crew -in the first half of 1944.

    My pilot cousin's 466 Sqdn RAAF Wellington LN288 had 5 crew -3 Flt/Sgts ,1 WOp Airgunner & 1 Airgunner .Shot down over Belgium July 1943 on their 5th mission .Based at Leconfield,Yorks. A month earlier my cousin had flown in a 6 man crew, as second pilot. Presumably to gain experience ?

    Regards
    Anne
    Last edited by aestorm; 26th September 2010 at 10:02.

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    Linzee, From 75 Sqn records in 1940, the five/six man crew arises out of whether a dedicated front gunner was carried. If no front gunner, the five man crew was pilot, second pilot, nav/obs, W/T operator, rear gunner. There was not a second set of controls so if there was to be a change of pilot it required one to vacate his seat for the other. Therefore the second pilot was almost "redundant", and after reading Maurice McGreal's book "A Noble Chance" it seems apparent that the second pilot is someone attempting to gain experience by observing a couple of missions prior to commanding his own crew.
    Regards, Terry

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    Ladies (sorry Lindzee) and Gentlemen

    I apologise for my late reply but I have been away for a week and no were near a pootah!! Thats my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

    Thank you all very much for the info on Vin however Linzee your answer and Errol's have posed more questions.

    The order you posted the crew I assume was as recorded in the Squadron Form 540
    ie
    Pilot/Captain
    Nav/Obs
    Bomb Aimer/Front Gunner
    Mid Upper
    Tail Gunner

    I know Vin went through what I would now Call EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) at Dumfrees as a Pilot/Navigator/Bomb Aimer and he graduated with pilots wings. I am fairly certain he flew Boulton Paul Defiants for a while with Sgt Mike Mulvey who you also mention on the crew. I know Vin and Mike both have two Caterpillar Badges each, one with a red tail which I assume is for the Wellington. The other I suspect is for jumping out of a Defiant in UK. I the futher suspect he may well have been taken off Pilot duties because he lost an aircraft due to pilot error. My father gave me all the information he could recall about his basic training but is recalls that when the telagram arrived informing the family he was a POW it went along the lines of Sgt McKernan Wop/AG.

    In any of your reserches have you come across Pilots being reassigned to other aircrew duties?

    Once again Many Thanks.

    KOSGOG

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