Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Dave_Richardson
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Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by Dave_Richardson »

Just got the 149 Squadron ORB for 1942 from Kew. Wish I'd known about the digitalisation of Air 27 before I ordered it! I'm researching my uncle's time with the squadron and I've noticed that although he was posted to the squadron on 22 June 1942 his first mission appears to have been on 2 July. Would that have been a usual amount of time between posting and 1st mission. Interestingly on that mission there's no forward gunner listed in the crew.

I've also noticed that later on, for two consecutive nights, the aircraft was flown by two completely different crews from my uncle's. I always thought that crews tended to fly in the same aircraft or am I being a bit dense?

Finally there's mention of 'Nickelling' on some of the missions. Does this refer to leaflet drops?

Thanks as always in anticipation of your help

Dave

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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by ME453 »

Hello Dave,
As ever during the war you could never say there was a norm about anything that happened to crews or the aircraft that they flew. On some occasions pilots arriving on station were told that they were on a second dickie flight that night, but I think whenever possible new crews to a squadron were given some time to settle in and do a bit of further training, which by the way was pretty much continuous for all crews no matter how experienced they may be. So that period isn't unusual at all. New crews were rarely allocated their own aircraft, they normally flew whatever was available (those belonging to crews on leave for example) and it seems almost by chance came to have their "own" plane. Regarding the front gunner, this duty was allocated to the bomb-aimer as one of the standard crew of seven in the heavies. And yes, nickelling is leaflet drops - sometimes used as an early operation when with the squadron (along with the damned dangerous "gardening" (laying mines) or at OTU.
Hope this helps a bit
Regards
Max
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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by Dave_Richardson »

Hi Max

Many thanks for that. Why were 'gardening' missions so dangerous? Was it the height you had to fly at?

Dave

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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by smudgersmith218 »

Dave_Richardson wrote:Hi Max

Many thanks for that. Why were 'gardening' missions so dangerous? Was it the height you had to fly at?

Dave
Dave,

Firstly I have copied the Movement Card for you. !! ;)

There was always an adherent risk associated with mining. In the early days crews were dispatched either singularly or in small numbers to specific garden areas. ( This applies to No.3 Group ). These crews were often "sprog" crews dispatched to gain operational experience. Operating singularly brought its own problems for obvious reasons the constant hazard of interception by prowling night fighters and operating at low altitude. Another facture was that the operations were obviously flown over the sea giving the crews little chance if forced down especially during winter months.

Mining become the main work for the squadrons of No.3 Group from December 1943 . Due to the limitations of the Stirling in the bombing role it was "relegated" to mining, in this role it excelled devloping a number of technics. It was not uncommon for the group to dispatch 40 - 60 Stirling's on anyone night. These raids were often flown as diversions, drawing off potentioal interception from night fighters while the rest of the Command was attacking targets in Germany.

With the arrival of G-H and new improved parachute mines, the atitude of release increased, 218 were dropping mines ( 4-6 usually carried ) from 12-14,000ft on G-H.

In June 1944 No.149 (East India ) & 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron alone planted 35% of all mines laid by Bomber Comand, 218 planted 351 mines out of 355 carried aloft, a maginicent achievemnent. The role of Bomber Command in the mining campaiagn and the impact it had on the Kriegsmarine is all too often overlooked.
No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron 1918-1945
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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by K4KittyCrew »

Hi Dave,

From my own fathers experience .............. as told by his Flight Engineer, Harry Parkins, from Lincolnshire.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dropping Mines in Kiel Bay

This was an operation from RAF East Kirkby, 630 Squadron, with Joe Lennon and crew.

630 Squadron were often called upon to carry out special missions, pin-point bombing (what today is called precision bombing). On our 9th operation on the 21 May 1944 we were told at briefing that we were going to a very special target, and that three Lancasters would not carry any bombs.

This surprised us (no bombs!), whatever was going on, it sounded crazy!

We were then informed that instead of bombs, we would carry 9,000 lbs of mines, to be dropped into the sea at Kiel Bay.

Information had been received from our spies that a large convoy of ships was being loaded with armaments and soldiers, and was almost ready to set sail to sea. Therefore, if at least one, and ideally all three, Lancasters could fly in low under the cover of darkness, without being spotted, drop their deadly cargo of mines, the ships would sail into them and be destroyed.

The three Lancasters were selected for the job, and ours was one of selected crew.

We were to fly out under the diversionary cover of the main bomber fleet, who would continue on to their designated targets, then at at a specified navigation point, we were to break away, and if possible, below radar, without being spotted, head off towards Kiel Bay. We then had to rely on the skill of our navigator, bomb aimer and pilot to pinpoint the exact spot in Kiel Bay without any markers or flares to guide us in. A very difficult task.

We managed to drop our mines without incident, then headed straight back home.

Back at East Kirkby we were debriefed. Not that we had a lot to report. The Squadron Leader then informed us that our Lancaster was the only one of the three that made it to the target. One Lancaster had technical problems and had to return home. The other Lancaster was shot down before getting anywhere the target, which saddened us all to learn this news. It meant though, that our Lancaster was the only one that succeeded in reaching the target.

About a month later we were summoned to the Group Captain's office. Very worrying. For what, why? It was very rare, almost unknown, for a crew to receive a summons to the Station Commander's office.

The Duty WAAF showed us in and the Group Caption told us to 'stand at ease', then sit down. He then proceeded to tell us that the intelligence agents had just got through to London informing them that the mines we dropped had caused a considerable amount of damage to the ships and prevented them from sailing.

The Group Captain said he was very proud of us, shook our hands and asked us to keep up the good work.

Word soon got around the camp and we didn't have to buy our own beer for a week.

Our crew for this missions was

Joe Lennon - Pilot
Harry Parkins - Flight Engineer
Jimmy Hurman - Bomb Aimer
Bruce Reece - Navigator
Jimmy Marriot - Wireless Operator
Joe Malloy - Mid Upper Gunner
Joe Pollard - Rear Gunner
On all our bombing trips we were given chewing gum, Horlicks tablets and chocolate, to stave off hunger. If we had any left over when we got safely home, these would be given to girlfriends and WAAFs, especially to WAAFs who packed our parachutes, as like with our dedicated ground crew, we quite literally, placed our trust in their hands.

Many years later, when the war was over, and people learnt that you had served in an operational bombing squadron, they quite naturally asked you about their relatives, asked if you knew their brother, nephew, father or grandfather, who was in the same squadron. This was always a sad time and a very difficult question to answer, because all the crews were so knitted together with their own crew members, that it was very rare that they knew anyone on the base, or any other crews, other than their own dedicated ground crews, and the WAAFs who looked after and packed their parachutes.

As a crew of seven, you lived together in the same hut, went out together, played together, got drunk together and when not on operations, did training together, for example, air-to-sea firing, night and day cross country training and three-engine landings.

Then, if you were lucky enough to finish a tour of operations, sadly you were separated, posted to all parts of the country to serve as instructors to new crews on conversion units. You lost contact with each other because you did not know where each of you were going. Some overseas personal were lucky and were sent back home.

Many, many years later, when several of these stories were posted on the BBC website, I was contacted by John Pollard, son of Joe Pollard, one of our Australian crew. Whilst I was very happy to hear from him, he brought with him the sad news that his father Joe Pollard had died the year before. About a year later, I was contacted by Greg Pollard, another of Joe's sons. We have been in regular contact ever since.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

........ so my take on this Dave, is that height can play a big factor but also ............... a very small group of aircraft do not have the protection of a mass group. ( Bomber Stream )
Regards,
John
K for Kitty Crew - Winthorpe, 1661 HCU's - stirlingaircraftsoc.raf38group.org/
630 Squadron - East Kirkby
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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by ME453 »

An additional danger for those Gardening in the North Sea and Baltic was the close proximity of Nachtjagd airfields at Grove and Leeuwarden.
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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by Dave_Richardson »

Steve, John and Max

Thanks chaps. That insight has helped me understand a lot more what my uncle went through. I've now had chance to examine the ORB in greater detail. Some parts were a bit difficult to read, were typewriter ribbons on ration? It looks like Uncle Lawrence managed to survive ten missions. But on a positive side I've recently found out that a memorial to the crew of R9329 is to be put up at the crash site and there is a memorial service planned for next year.

Another query on the ORB details. I don't understand the logic of using a code on the mine laying ops, "planting vegetables etc" and gardening code names for the drop areas and on the next mission refering to the city they bombed by name and quoting the target and the number and type of bombs dropped, or is it just me?

Steve, If it's easier you could attach the movement card to a post on the forum and I can extract it from here.

Cheers

Dave
Last edited by Dave_Richardson on Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by ME453 »

I think it was RAF slang more than codes Dave.
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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by Oggie2620 »

Hi reference the gardening names used for the mining we still in the RAF use a similar system. In the case of the RAF Regiment they use names for areas that they will know are those areas so that if anyone else (ie the enemy) wouldnt know where they are talking about and they dont have to talk about it in "clear".
I think they used to use the typewriter ribbons twice. Once one way then in the other direction. Will have to ask my friend and veteran Ron Brown cos he was a typewriter mech for the RAF before he became aircrew.
I went to the unveiling of a memorial in Holland in November. I may not have been a member of the family but I found it a very uplifting and awesome experience. I am sure that the people organising the one for your Stirlings Crew will do the same. Look forward to hearing more about it.

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Re: Stirling R9329 149 Sqdn ORB

Post by smudgersmith218 »

Hello mate,

So sorry for the delay.

Steve
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No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron 1918-1945
The Nomads

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