Jagan (31st March 2019)
At 10 pm 26 Dec 1942, Wellington LA970 was one of 10 Wellingtons that departed Gibraltar. The crew consisted of Sgt WA Rollings (pilot, RCAF), Sgt J Richards (pilot, RCAF), Sgt JG Wyatt (nav, RAFVR), Sgt FA deGruchy (WAG, RCAF), Sgt CB Hodges (WAG, RCAF) & Sgt JOM Lebel (WAG, RCAF). Review of pers files indicates that none of the RCAF crew members had been assigned to an operational sqn. From review of various pers files, this crew was being posted from RAF Station Limavady to Middle East Command (MEC).
The crew was "Lost at Sea." Never seen or heard from again. From review of pers files, none of the other Wellington crews witnessed the loss of LA970.
Also, from review of pers files, there is some apparent inconsistency in destination of LA970. In one letter, LA970 was en route for Malta or a North African aerodrome. In another letter, LA970 was going to "Aden, Arabia."
Is there a way to determine LA970's planned destination?
Was a crew of 2 pilots, 1 nav & 3 WAG's a standard crew for a Wellington?
Would the crew of LA970 have known which sqn they were posted to when they left Gibraltar or would they have been assigned to a sqn on reaching MEC?
My understanding is that MEC flew a variety of operations including bombing, anti-shipping & anti-submarine. If LA970 had reached Malta or a North African aerodrome or Aden, Arabia what type of operation would it have flown?
Was it normal that there was so little precision/exactness in the destination of a flight of 10 Wellingtons?
Really appreciate everybody's patience & assistance.
Jagan (31st March 2019)
John, I appreciate that a few years have passed since you originally posted this query. I have been researching the Wellingtons and Beauforts lost in transit from the U.K. (mainly R.A.F. Portreath) to Gibraltar and the Middle East. With this crew, I have been through all their personnel files, and like you, I have determined the composition of the crew. RICHARDS appears to have been the First Pilot and Captain, with ROLLINGS as the Second Pilot. RICHARDS was born on 4 January 1917, so he was 26 years, and ROLLINGS was born on 24 August 1915 in Edinburgh, so he was 28 years, not 35 as per the CWGC entry. The crew is a standard Coastal Command composition, and my best assessment is that they were en-route to join No. 8 Squadron at Aden. Although not part of Coastal Command, it was deployed on anti-submarine duties in the Indian Ocean. Your thoughts?
Plus, the initial destination of LA.970 was El Adem in Cyrenaica. This was presumably to refuel before continuing on to Aden.