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6 September 2017
Flight Sergeant John William Harris 1337631 RAFVR

John William Harris, 1337631 RAFVR, later posted to 462 Squadron.

Flight Sergeant John William Harris, 1337631 RAFVR, was Bomb Aimer / Observer, who also sometimes acted as Navigator in the Crew piloted by W/O (later P/O) Peter F. Whatling, 1389305 (195182) RAFVR, in 462 Squadron. This Crew was initially based at Driffield, Yorkshire, and later at Foulsham, Norfolk.

The photo of John William Harris, at left, is undated but was probably taken soon after he volunteered for the RAFVR.

Links to Photos of John Harris, and other members of Pilot Peter Whatling's Crew; Crew information;
Log book details (as recorded by John Harris);
Crew Operations from Log Book (more ORB information will be added to this section at a later date)
Post WWII life of John Harris
WW2 connections with Crew of NA240 (F/O A.D.J. Ball, F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd and others).

Photos on this page are from the John William Harris Collection, or from the Tony R. Foster Collection, Copyright 2008.

(Editorial comments on this page are bracketed in italics.)

 

John William Harris 1337631 RAFVR, with fellow Air Crew trainees at Initial Training Wing (John was later posted to 462 Squadron).

This photo, labelled as Initial Training Wing (ITW), is undated but possibly taken of the new training group soon after they volunteered.
John William Harris is in the middle row, far left. This photo and the one of John above may have been taken at about the same time.

 

John William Harris, 1337631 RAFVR, with a Group of Air Craftmen trainees (John was later posted to 462 Squadron).

 

 

 

This photo was labelled "Team 2", but otherwise has no detail of time and place. It is most likely early in training as all of the men (except for the Corporal in the middle of the 2nd row from the front) are in new-looking uniforms, and all still have the light-coloured band on their caps denoting rank of Air Craftman. All badges that are visible on the upper sleeves of the jackets appear to be RAFVR.

John William Harris is in the front row, 2nd from left.

 

John William Harris and fellow Air Crew trainees at No. 68 Air Observer's Course, Mountain View, Ontario, Canada (John was later posted to 462 Squadron).

 

This photo was labelled
"No. 68 Air Observer's Course – Class E
RCAF Station Mountain View". (sic)
The date marked on the photo is 23-11-42, which according to John's log book was the date of his arrival at No. 6 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mountain View, Ontario, Canada. He was posted there until 26 January 1943. From the date it would appear that this is a photo of Leading Aircraftmen newly arrived to commence training.

John William Harris is in the back row, 4th from left.

 

 

 Rear Gunner Jock Whyte, Flight Engineer Dennis Claude Coleman (Ron), Wireless Operator Lew Edwards, Mid-Upper Gunner Jim Whitworth, Bomb Aimer John William Harris, Pilot Peter Whatling, Navigator Warwick Young - all posted to 462 Squadron - Driffield and Foulsham.

 

 

 

Back row, left to right: Rear Gunner Sgt 'Jock' Whyte; Flight Engineer Sgt Dennis Claude Coleman (Ron); W/Op F/Sgt Llewellyn George Edwards (Lew), M/UG Sgt James Sunderland Whitworth (Jim).

Front row, left to right: Bomb Aimer F/Sgt John William Harris, Pilot W/O Peter Freston Whatling, F/Sgt Navigator Warwick Denis Young.

Based on the background in similar photos of other Crews, this photo was most likely taken at Foulsham, Norfolk.

Information on individual members of this Crew is included in a later section. They are identified as "Crew 42" in Batten's book "Phoenix". This photo is also included in "Phoenix" but with John identified as Jack Harris – he may have been known as Jack during his time in the RAFVR, or while posted to 462 Squadron.

 

John William Harris 1337631 RAFVR, dressed in flying gear (posted to 462 Squadron)

 

 

John William Harris in flying gear, date not known (estimated as being early 1945).

 

 

Warrant Officer John William Harris 1337631 RAFVR, previously posted to 462 Squadron (Driffield and Foulsham) and 199 Squadron, North Creake.

 

Warrant Officer John William Harris, undated but most likely after the end of the War, as his Medal Ribbon Bar is visible. In a document dated May 1946 he was a Warrant Officer at RAF Station West Kirby, Merseyside.

This photo was taken from the Service Sheet printed for John's Memorial Service on 22 November 2010.

 

John William Harris and his wife Marie (during WWII John was 1337631 RAFVR posted to 462 Squadron)

 

John and Marie Harris.

This photo was also taken from the Service Sheet printed for John's Memorial Service on 22 November 2010.

 

John William Harris standing at the Navigator's station in Halifax LV907 at Elvington Air Museum on 1 May 2008 (during WWII John was 1337631 RAFVR of 462 Squadron)

 

Inside Halifax LV907 at the Elvington Air Museum, York on 1st May 2008.

John Harris is standing at the Navigator's work station, with the Bomb Aimer's position behind him in the nose of the Halifax.

 

John William Harris seated at the Navigator's station in Halifax LV907 at Elvington Air Museum on 1 May 2008 (during WWII John was 1337631 RAFVR of 462 Squadron)

 

 

 

Inside Halifax LV907 at the Elvington Air Museum, York on 1st May 2008.

John Harris is seated at the Navigator's station, with the Wireless Operator's station to his left, and the Pilot's cockpit above the W/Ops station.

 

John William Harris and his wife Marie beside Halifax LV907 at Elvington Air Museum on 1 May 2008 (during WWII John was 1337631 RAFVR of 462 Squadron)

 

John and Marie Harris beside Halifax LV907, NP-F "Friday the 13th" at the Elvington Air Museum, York, on 1st May 2008.

 

John William Harris in front of Halifax LV907 at the Elvington Air Museum on 1 May 2008 (during WWII John was 1337631 RAFVR of 462 Squadron)

 

John Harris in front of Halifax LV907, NP-F "Friday the 13th" at the Elvington Air Museum, York on 1st May 2008.

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Crew information has been sourced from the photos of John Harris, books on 462 Squadron (Phoenix by Batten; Pimpernel Squadron by McGindle; and "...Dawn..." by Lax & Kane-Maguire – see Acknowledgements page for details), but mainly from the 462 Squadron ORB. Variations occur between the books in listings of actual crew members, spelling of their names, their initials, their rank, and their Service Number. Information on the two RAAF members of the Crew (Young and Edwards) was verified by checking the Australian WW2 Nominal Roll, cross-referenced with the National Archives of Australia. Some pages of the digital version of the ORBs are difficult to interpret. I welcome verification or correction of information on the RAF crew members, via the Contact page.

In the Group photos on the 462 Squadron page, John Harris has been identified as being in the Bomb Aimer's photo, March 1945, back row, 3rd from left; and also in the Squadron photo, March 1945, front row, 13th from left (as advised by his Widow, and by his neighbour).
Other members of this crew have not yet been identified in any of the 462 Squadron group photos.

From John Harris's log book, his first flight with Pilot, Flight Sergeant Watling (sic Whatling) was 2 June 1944 at 10 O.T.U. in 'A' Flight. From 6 June 1944 until 19 April 1945, during postings to 1658 H.C.U. 'B' Flight, and later to 462 Squadron 'A' Flight at Driffield and Foulsham, Pilot Whatling (sic) is listed as Warrant Officer (W/O). From 23 April 1945 to 28 May 1945 Whatling is listed as Pilot Officer (P/O). In the London Gazette, Issue 37046, dated 20 April 1945, Supplement 24 April 1945, Peter Freston Whatling is listed in the RAFVR Appointments to Commission, W/O to P/O as of 11 March 1945, old service Number 1389305, new Service Number 195582.

The crew probably formed in early June 1944 at 10 O.T.U., Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and trained in Anson and Whitley aircraft. The Flight Engineer would have joined the Crew at 1658 H.C.U. Riccall, Yorkshire, for training in Halifax II aircraft. During their posting to 462 Squadron, they flew Halifax III aircraft.

 

PILOT
Name: WHATLING, Peter Freston (known as Peter)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1389305 (195582) (1389305 allocated from August 1940 from Euston; new Service No. after Commissioned.)
Date of Birth: Not known
Place of Birth: Not known
Date of Enlistment: From August 1940
Place of Enlistment: Euston, UK
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known
Rank: Warrant Officer, Pilot Officer (1945, during conflict)
Posting at Discharge: Unknown (ex 462 Squadron)
Prisoner of War: No

WIRELESS OPERATOR
Name: EDWARDS, Llewellyn George (known as Lew)
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 419117
Date of Birth: 23 March 1924
Place of Birth: Ballarat, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 14 July 1942
Locality on Enlistment: Thornbury
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: EDWARDS, Arthur
Date of Discharge: 11 March 1946
Rank: Warrant Officer (F/Sgt during conflict 1945)
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit
Prisoner of War: No

BOMB AIMER / Observer
Name: HARRIS, John William (known as Jack at 462 Sqdn)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1337631 (allocated from November 1940 from Uxbridge and Weston-super-Mare)
Date of Birth: 2 April 1923
Place of Birth: Kent, UK
Date of Enlistment: From November 1940
Place of Enlistment: Uxbridge or Weston-super-Mare
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known (after May 1946)
Rank: Warrant Officer (F/Sgt during conflict 1945)
Posting at Discharge: Not known (possibly West Kirby)
Prisoner of War: No


NAVIGATOR

Name: YOUNG, Warwick Denis (known as Warwick)
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 430297
Date of Birth: 23 December 1924
Place of Birth: North Melbourne, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 1 January 1943
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: YOUNG, W
Date of Discharge: 12 April 1946
Rank: Warrant Officer (F/Sgt during conflict 1945)
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit
Prisoner of War: No

 

REAR GUNNER
Name: WHYTE, J. (known as Jock)
Service: Royal Air Force (?)
Service Number: 3020584 (allocated from May 1943 to ATC Cadets Edinburgh)
Date of Birth: Not known
Place of Birth: Not known
Date of Enlistment: from May 1943 (?)
Place of Enlistment: Edinburgh as ATC Cadet (?)
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known
Rank: Sergeant, F/Sgt (1945, during conflict)
Posting at Discharge: Not known (ex 462 Squadron)
Prisoner of War: No

MID-UPPER GUNNER
Name: WHITWORTH, James Sunderland (known as Jim)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1582513 (allocated from June 1941 from Birmingham)
Date of Birth: Not known
Place of Birth: Not known
Date of Enlistment: From June 1941 (?)
Place of Enlistment: Birmingham (?)
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known
Rank: Sergeant (1945, during conflict)
Posting at Discharge: Not known (ex 462 Squadron)
Prisoner of War: No

FLIGHT ENGINEER
Name: COLEMAN, Dennis Claude (known as Ron)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 3005236 (allocated from May 1943 to ATC Cadets Cardington)
Date of Birth: 24 May 1926
Place of Birth: Chelsea, London
Date of Enlistment: May 1943
Place of Enlistment: RAF Recruiting Centre, Lords Cricket Ground, London
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: January 1948
Posting at Discharge: RAF Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, UK
Rank: Sergeant (1944-1945, during conflict); F/Sgt when
posted from 462 Squadron in September 1945
Prisoner of War: No
(Date and place of birth, place of enlistment, and date and posting at Discharge – details provided by the family of Dennis Coleman.)

 

RFC and RAF Service Numbers from website .... http://www.ab-ix.co.uk/rfc_raf.pdf
(Copy and paste, not a clickable link)

Series 1330001 to 1340000 were allocated from November 1940 from Uxbridge and Weston-super-Mare (i.e. J.W. Harris)
Series 1375001 to 1400000 were allocated from August 1940 from Euston (i.e. P. F. Whatling)
Series 1575001 to 1585000 were allocated from June 1941 from Birmingham (i.e. J. S. Whitworth)
Series 3000000 to 3010000 were allocated from May 1943 to ATC Cadets Cardington (i.e. D.C. Coleman)
Series 3020001 to 3025000 were allocated from May 1943 to ATC Cadets Edinburgh (i.e. J. Whyte)

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Log book details as recorded by F/Sgt John William Harris.

John's blue-cover log book was issued in Canada and is marked "Royal Canadian Air Force FLYING LOG BOOK for Aircrew other than Pilot".
There are some variation in dates between log book pages and end-of-log-book summaries, however the information has been transcribed from the log book as recorded by John. There are a total of 71 log book pages, completed by John in great detail, as well as information recorded inside the rear cover.

Certificates of Qualification (certificates pasted into log book)

1. 26 January 1943, LAC J. Harris qualified as Air Bomber Air Gunner; signed by S/LDR, Officer Commanding Ground Instruction School, No. 6 B. & G. School, Mountain View, Ontario, Canada. Gunnery Course in Bolingbroke aircraft, exam results 75.7% – Pass; Bombing Course in Anson aircraft, exam results 79% – Pass. (B. & G. Bombing and Gunnery.)

2. 20 April 1943, LAC J. Harris qualified as Navigator; signed by W/C, No. 8 A.O.S. Ancienne Lorette, Quebec, Canada. (A.O.S. – Air Observer School).

3. 17 September 1943, LAC J. Harris qualified as Air Bomber Armament; signed by W/C, No. 1 B. & G. School, Jarvis, Ontario, Canada. Gunnery Course in Bolingbroke aircraft, exam results 79.8% – Pass; Bombing Course in Anson aircraft, exam results also 79.8% – Pass.

4. 29 October 1943, Sgt J. Harris qualified as Air Bomber; signed by F/L, No. 33 A.N.S., Mt. Hope, Ontario, Canada. (A.N.S. – Air Navigation School.)

Summary of training – Canada and UK

No. 6 B. & G. Mountain View, Ontario, Canada.
11 Dec 1942 to 27 Dec 1942 – 11 training flights, day, in Anson & Bolingbroke aircraft, bombing and gunnery exercises.
05 Jan 1943 to 26 Jan 1943 – 20 training flights, day and night, in Anson & Bolingbroke aircraft, bombing and gunnery exercises.
(Certificate 1 as above.)

No. 8 A.O.S. Ancienne Lorette, Quebec, Canada.
10 Feb 43 to 18 Aug 1943 – 37 training flights, day and night, in Anson aircraft, navigation and air photography exercises.
(Certificate 2 as above.)

No. 1 B. & G., Jarvis, Ontario, Canada.
27 Aug 1943 to 12 Sept 1043 – 15 training flights, day and night, in Anson & Bolingbroke aircraft, bombing and gunnery exercises.
(Certificate 3 as above.)

No 33 A.N.S., UK.
24 Sep 1943 to 31 Oct – 17 training flights, day and night, in Anson aircraft, map reading and Cam/Obs exercises.
(Certificate 4 as above.)

No 2 (O) A.F.U., Millom, Cumbria, UK. ((O) A.F.U. – Observers Advanced Flying Unit.)
27 Feb 1944 to 27 April 1944 – 16 training flights, day and night, in Anson aircraft, map reading and group bombing exercises.

No. 10 O.T.U., RAF Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK. (O.T.U. – Operational Training Unit.)
17 April 1944 to 28 July 1944 – 40 training flights, day and night, in Anson and Whitley aircraft, Bomb Aimer, map reading, 1st Nav.

No. 1658 H.C.U. Riccall, Yorkshire, UK. (H.C.U. – Heavy Conversion Unit.)
10 Sept 1944 to 26 Oct 1944 – 29 training flights, day and night, in Halifax II aircraft, Bomb Aimer.

Summary of Operational and non-operational flights – UK.

462 Squadron, 'A' Flight, Driffield, Yorkshire.
3 Nov 1944 to 29 Dec 1944 – 12 non-operational flights day and night, including relocation from Driffield to Foulsham; 7 Ops, day and night, in Halifax III aircraft, Bomb Aimer.

462 Squadron, 'A' Flight, Foulsham, Norfolk.
2 Jan 1945 to 28 May 1945 – 12 non-operational day flights as Navigator, including Ruhr Cook's Tour in late May 1945; 20 night Ops, in Halifax III aircraft, Bomb Aimer or Radar Op.
Log book for May 1945 and completion of 1st Tour signed off by Squadron Leader L. G. Scharer, 462 Sqdn Foulsham on 28 May 1945.

199 Squadron, 'B' Flight, North Creake, Norfolk.
2 May 1945 to 28 May 1945 – 3 non-operational day flights in Halifax III aircraft, as 2nd Pilot.
Log book for June and July 1945 signed off by the Officer Commanding 'B' Flight, on 17 July 1945 at 199 Squadron.

Total 27 OPs in Tour
Day flying time – 323 hours 50 minutes
Night flying time – 248 hours 20 minutes
Total flying time – 572 hours 10 minutes

John William Harris was based at RAF Station West Kirby on the 14 May 1946, when as Warrant Officer in the Air Publications Section he completed paperwork requesting permission to keep a privately owned motorcycle on site (Rego HKK-434; Kent licence 176/I/143). The application was approved on the same date, and signed off by F/L Wallace, Officer Commanding West Kirby RAF Station. It has not yet been determined when he was posted to RAF Station West Kirby, nor for how long he was there. The date of his demobilisation is not known precisely, but it was sometime after May 1946, from West Kirby, which is in the Wirral area, Merseyside. John remained a keen motorcyclist after the war years.

Summaries from inside the back cover of the log book are as follows:-

UNITS AT WHICH SERVED AS OBSERVER OR AIR GUNNER

Under training
No. 6 B. & G. from 23/11/42 to 26/01/43
No. 8 A.O.S. from 29/12/42 (?) to 21/08/43
No. 1 B. & G. from 23/08/43 to 17/09/43
No. 33 A.N.S. from 19/09/43 to 01/11/43
No. 2 (O) A.F.U. from 21/02/44 to 27/04/44
No. 10 O.T.U. from 28/04/44 to 31/07/44
No. 1658 H.C.U. 25/08/44 to 31/10/44

Operational
No. 462 Squadron from 01/11/44 to 29/12/44; Driffield, 4 Group
No. 462 Squadron from 29/12/44 to 29/05/45 Foulsham, 100 Group
No. 199 Squadron from 29/05/45 ...... North Creake, 100 Group

AIRCRAFT IN WHICH FLOWN

Tiger Moth
Anson Mk I, II, & IV
Bolingbroke
Whitley
V

Halifax II
Halifax III

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Crew Operations, 'A' Flight, 462 Squadron, Driffield and Foulsham.

Operations for this crew have been transcribed (as originally written) from Bomb Aimer Observer John Harris's log book, scans of which were received in August 2011, along with permission to use them on this web page. The information is included in the following table. The log book has also been compared with the 462 Squadron ORB from the same period, and any additional information has been added inside brackets. Two non-operational flights have been included – the relocation of the squadron, and a post war Ruhr Tour. The first two Ops for this Crew were day flights, recorded in black; night Ops are recorded in red, and there was one early return which appears to have been recorded as a full Op. Aircraft code numbers (Z5-letter) have been taken from the log book but aircraft serial numbers have been taken from the Squadron ORB Forms 541. However it has been noted that there are some possible mismatches of serials and codes (e.g. 22 March and 19 April 1945), as some do not agree with other published lists. This may be due to errors in records, or alternate aircraft may have been substituted but not recorded. Code numbers were also re-issued to replacement aircraft. The log book detail appears to be consistent, however there are also some minor discrepancies in times between log book and ORB. It must also be noted that some of the ORB pages are very difficult to read. An additional Crew Op, but with a substitute Bomb Aimer, has also been found in the ORB on the 15 April 1945, but it is not known why John Harris was not with his usual Crew on that flight. (Editorial comments are in italics.)

Date Hour Aircraft Pilot Duty Remarks Day Night Ser No Op
16/11/44 1200 J W/O Whatling B/A Julich, Railway Junctions, Light Flack (Jülich) 5h 20m   MZ431 1
18/11/44 1220 F W/O Whatling B/A Munster, Railway Junctions, Light Flack (Münster) 5h 25m   MZ429 2
28/11/44 0230 E W/O Whatling B/A Essen, Aircraft Damaged, Heavy Flack   6h 30m LV955 3
30/11/44 1630 D W/O Whatling B/A Duisberg, F. Landed Carneby, Heavy Flack (Duisburg; Carnaby)   6h 20m NR239 4
02/12/44 1630 A W/O Whatling B/A Hagen, Moderate Flack, Landed Woodbridge Fuel Shortage   6h 05m LL598 5
12/12/44 1630 C W/O Whatling B/A Essen, Krupp's Works Rail Installations, Moderate Flack   5h 40m MZ467 6
18/12/44 - F W/O Whatling B/A Duisberg, Heavy Flack, Force Landed Manston   6h 10m MZ429 7
29/12/44 1430 E W/O Whatling B/A Driffield – Foulsham (Relocation of 462 Squadron) 1h 10m      
02/01/45 1610 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. Coblenz, Bomber Support – Spoof (Nuremberg, S.D. Op. Sgt R. Daughters) (sic, Koblenz)   5h 15m MZ429 8
05/01/45 1621 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. Bremen Area, Bomber Support – Spoof (Heligoland, S.D. Op. Sgt J. Neale)   4h 0m MZ429 9
22/01/45 1730 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. Duisburg Area, Bomber Support, E. R. (Ruhr, S.D. Op. F/Sgt A.E. Morris; ORB Form 541 entry from 21/01/45 "Early Return, Engine Trouble")   4h 15m MZ429 10
02/02/45 - F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Mannheim, with 'Y' equipment, Bombs Dropped, Searchlights & Pr. Flack. (S.D. Op. F/Sgt Murray) (log book Op dated as 02/12/45)   4h 55m MZ429 11
03/02/45 - F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Wiesbaden, with 'Y' equipment, Bombs Dropped, Flack Neg. (Mainz, S.D. Op. F/Sgt J.W. Kimber)   5h 0m MZ429 12
09/02/45 0400 J W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Ruhr, Bomber Support (S.D. OP. F/Sgt M. K. Moore)   4h 50m MZ431 13
11/02/45 - L F/L Taylor Special Op. S.D. – Ruhr, Bomber Support ((log book Op dated as 08/02/45)   4h 0m MZ370 14
24/02/45 1715 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Neuss, Bombs & Incendiaries, Flak, & Fighters (S.D. Op. F/Sgt P. W. Hutton)   5h 0m MZ429 15
27/02/45 1715 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Roma Island, No Flack. (Sylt, S.D. Op. F/Sgt P. W. Hutton)   4h 0m MZ429 16
02/03/45 1915 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Emden, Bombs & Incendiaries Dropped. Spasmodic Flack. (S.D. Op. F/Sgt P. W. Hutton)   3h 05m MZ429 17
08/03/45 - F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Mannheim (S.D. Op. W/O Frank William Hale)   6h 05m MZ429 18
09/03/45 1745 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Munster (Ruhr, S.D. Op. W/O Frank William Hale)   5h 15m MZ429 19
15/03/45 1745 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Munster & Ruhr, Bombed M/F Markers at Hagen Predicted Flack (Münster & Hagen area, S.D. Op. F/Sgt J. F. Wall)   7h 25m MZ429 20
22/03/45 - J W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Ruhr, Bocham (Ruhr, Bochum, S.D. OP. F/Sgt M. K. Moore)   4h 50m MZ398 21
10/04/45 1900 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Dessau, Bombs & Incendiaries (Plauen, S.D. OP. F/Sgt Michael Patrick Toohey 429056 RAAF)   7h 30m MZ429 22
13/04/45 1930 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Boizenburg Rail Junction, Flack Encountered (Hamburg, S.D. OP. F/Sgt E. D. Tisdell)   5h 15m MZ429 23
17/04/45 0000 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Augsburg, Flack Encountered, Bombed Airfield (S.D. OP. F/Sgt M. K. Moore)   6h 20m MZ429 24
19/04/45 0010 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Munich (S.D. OP. W/O J. A. Newbold)   7h 05m MZ429 25
23/04/45 2120 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Lubeck (Lübeck, S.D. OP. F/Sgt S. E. Taylor)   4h 50m PN423 26
02/05/45 2048 F W/O Whatling Radar Op. S.D. – Fleneberg sic, Bombs & Incendiaries, Heavy & Light Flak (Flensburg, S.D. OP. W/O A. G. Taylor)   4h 50m MZ429 27
25/05/45 1030 F W/O Whatling Navigator Ruhr Tour (non operational) 4h 45m      

 

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Post World War II life of John Harris

John was born in Kent on 2 April 1923, and was living on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, when he volunteered for the RAFVR.

After demobilisation from the RAF sometime in the second half of 1946, John took up civilian employment as an Electrical Engineer.

John William Harris was married to Marie. There were no children of this marriage.

John was working for Pilkington Brothers (glass works) at Queenborough, Sheppey, when in May 1973, he and Marie moved to live at Crank, near St Helens, Merseyside.

He continued to work for Pilkington Brothers (glass works), at St Helens, until his retirement from working life in 1981, aged 58.

John died on 13 November 2010, aged 87 years and 7 months. His Memorial Service was 22 November 2010, with the Eulogy given by his friend and neighbour Tony Foster (Tony also contributed the photos of John and Marie Harris at Elvington Air Museum for use on this web page). The Exit Music at the Memorial Service was "My Way" by Frank Sinatra. Marie has since moved from Crank to be near her family in southern England.

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WW2 connections with Crew of NA240 (F/O A.D.J. Ball, F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd and others).

A comparison has been made of the log books of John Harris (Whatling's Crew) and Max Hibberd (Ball's Crew), also cross referencing them with the Squadron ORB. Both Crews were required for the same Op on only one occasion, the 10 April 1945.

As detailed in the pages for Halifax III NA240 and Crew, this aircraft (NA240) failed to return from it's last flight on 10 April 1945; up time 1910.

462 Squadron ORB, Form 540:
Ten Squadron aircraft were required for operations – three aircraft for Radar Counter Measures, one of which was NA240; and seven aircraft for a Feint WINDOW attack, one of which was Halifax MZ429 with Pilot W/O P. F. Whatling and Crew. The WINDOW Force proceeded ahead of, and on the same track as the Main Force, branching off just before reaching LEIPZIG which was the Target for the Main Force.

462 Squadron ORB, Form 541:
10 April 1945 Halifax III MZ429
; up at 1856, down at 0226; Special duty flight to the PLAUEM (sic Plauen) area on a SPOOF raid. WINDOW was released, BOMBS and INCENDIARIES dropped in that area. Loading:- 2 x 500lb. G. P. BOMBS, 1 x No.14 Incdy. Clusters, 2 x No.15 750 lb. Incdy. Clusters.
195582 W/O. P. F. Whatling CAPTAIN
1337631 F/S. J. W. Harris A/B.
A.430297 F/S. W. D. Young NAV.
A.419117 F/S. L. G. Edwards W/OP.
3020584 Sgt. J. Whyte R/AG.
1582513 F/S. J. S. Whitworth MU/AG.
3005236 Sgt. R. C. Coleman F/Eng.
A.429056 F/S. M. P. Toohey S.D. (W/OP).

Both Crews would have attended the pre-flight briefing, and any Aircrew trade briefings. Whatling and Crew in Halifax MZ429 departed 14 minutes earlier than Ball and Crew in NA240. As one of the Window Force aircraft, MZ429 proceeded ahead of NA240, which was flying with the Main Force to Leipzig. MZ429 would have branched off to Plauen for the Spoof Window raid, and it is not known if any of the Crew of MZ429 would have seen NA240 being hit by anti-aircraft fire. At the post flight debriefing, no doubt there was discussion regarding the missing NA240 and crew, and questions if any other crews had made any observations regarding a possible reason for it's non-return. During the next meal and over the next day or so, the surviving crews of that Op would most likely have had silent reflection on the loss of another crew and 8 empty seats and beds. John Harris was deceased before his RAFVR Service information was relayed to this website, and there is no known record of his memories of the Op of 10 April 1945.

John Harris's log book entry for the 10 April 1945 lists the Special Duty target as Dessau, which is about 50 km north of the Main Force target of Leipzig. Their actual Feint/Spoof target was Plauen which is about 100 km south of Leipzig. The reason for this discrepancy is not known, however Dessau may have been the last co-ordinate for those aircraft before they branched off to Plauen.

Whatling and Crew were seasoned veterans of 'A' Flight in 462 Squadron. They were posted from 1658 HCU Riccall to 462 Squadron Driffield in early November 1944, and moved with the Squadron from Driffield to Foulsham at the end of December 1944. They completed about 27 Ops. Ball & Crew (NA240) were relatively new to the Squadron, only arriving at Foulsham in mid-February 1945 from 1652 HCU at Marston Moor. They had one early return followed by 4 completed Ops, but failed to return from their 5th Op. All of Whatling's crew were NCOs, either W/O, F/Sgt or Sgt. (up until after 10 April 1945). It is assumed that at some time in the Sergeant's Mess, they would have met up with the five NCO's of Ball's Crew (Sgt F. Brookes, F/Sgt N. V. Evans, F/Sgt M. J. Hibberd, F/Sgt J. M. Tait & W/O R. R. Taylor).

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