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6 November 2017
Crew 47, Pilot Leo Britt – 462 Squadron RAAF
 

Leo Britt and crew with Halifax NR239 Z5-D, 462 Squadron, Foulsham in March 1945; Austin James Bruce Cruickshank, Raphael John Merkel, Archibald Hay Creswick, John Philip Bowley Chaplin, Errol Dallas Tisdell, John Timothy Spillane. (Original)Leo Britt and crew with Halifax NR239 Z5-D, 462 Squadron, Foulsham in March 1945; Austin James Bruce Cruickshank, Raphael John Merkel, Archibald Hay Creswick, John Philip Bowley Chaplin, Errol Dallas Tisdell, John Timothy Spillane. (Restored)
Photos from the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives,
supplied by and used the permission of Doug Cruickshank.
Above, left: image scanned from the original photo,
which had been annotated with names by Nav Cruickshank.
Above, right: Restored version of photo, as supplied.

Reference sources – Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; The National Archives of Australia (Service Files, 462 Squadron Operational Record Book); TNA UK; London Gazette; various books as noted in the text,: and the Cruickshank family.

Crew 47 beside Halifax NR239 Z5-D
The "D" is clearly visible on the wheel-arch behind the crew.
"15 March 1945 on return from a mission over Munster"

Photos at left ......
Standing, from left to right:-
"Self" – Flight Sergeant Austin James Bruce CRUICKSHANK 430276 RAAF, Navigator;
"Johnny" – Flight Sergeant Raphael John MERKEL 433288 RAAF, Mid-Upper Gunner;
"Arch" – Warrant Officer Archibald Hay CRESWICK 418524 RAAF, Bomb Aimer;
"Leo" – Flying Officer Leo BRITT 427373 RAAF, Pilot/Captain;
"Chook" – Flight Sergeant John Philip Bowley CHAPLIN 432754 RAAF, Wireless Operator.

Front, left to right:-
"Happy" –  Flight Sergeant  Errol Dallas TISDELL 432388 RAAF;
"Timmy" – Flight Sergeant John Timothy SPILLANE 435002 RAAF Rear Gunner.

In other publications E D Tisdell was referred to by the name "Happy". Photos of him match the "Happy" in this photo of the Britt crew, as well as that in his Service File from the NAA.

Links to Britt, Cruickshank, Creswick, Chaplin, Spillane, Merkel, various Flight Engineers, and Special Duties including Tisdell; additional crew information with documents and Pay Book from Nav Cruickshank; Crew Ops, and Air Combat Report; Charge Sheet for five Air Crew members of 462 Squadron, including 3 from the Britt crew.

 

Leo Britt and crew with Halifax NR239 Z5-D, 462 Squadron, Foulsham in March 1945; John Laurence Lakin, Austin James Bruce Cruickshank, Raphael John Merkel, Archibald Hay Creswick, John Philip Bowley Chaplin, John Timothy Spillane.
From the 466-462 Squadrons Association, Sydney

Close-up of Leo Britt and crew with Halifax NR239 Z5-D, 462 Squadron, Foulsham in March 1945; John Laurence Lakin, Austin James Bruce Cruickshank, Raphael John Merkel, Archibald Hay Creswick, John Philip Bowley Chaplin, John Timothy Spillane.

 

Crew 47 beside Halifax NR239 Z5-D

Note the name "Dorothy" painted on the front of the engine, as well as the "D" on the wheel-arch.

The image at left was a previously unidentified photo in a 466 Squadron file received from the 466-462 Squadron's Association, via John McManus.
This has now been identified as the Britt crew of 462 Squadron.
A cropped version of this same photo was published between pages 57 and 58 in the book "Phoenix" by A G Batten. The photo was most likely taken at the same time and place as that shown above (Britt Crew with Tisdell), with six of the crew in the same positions, with a similar stance and facial expressions in both photos.
For Batten's photo, the crew identification has the same names, with however, Tisdell missing from the front; and Flight Engineer John Lakin standing on the left, as shown here.
Perhaps Tisdell & Lakin swapped places to take the photos.

The second image has been cropped from the original, and enlarged to better identify faces.

Standing, from left to right:-
Sgt John Laurence LAKIN 2221256 RAFVR, Flight Engineer;
F/Sgt Austin James Bruce CRUICKSHANK 430276 RAAF, Navigator;
F/Sgt Raphael John MERKEL 433288 RAAF, Mid-Upper Gunner;
W/O Archibald Hay CRESWICK 418524 RAAF, Bomb Aimer;
F/O Leo BRITT 427373 RAAF, Pilot/Captain;
F/Sgt John Philip Bowley CHAPLIN 432754 RAAF, Wireless Operator.

Seated, front, right:-
F/Sgt John Timothy SPILLANE 435002 RAAF Rear Gunner.

Sgt Lakin has been compared with the June 1945 photo of Flight Engineers of 462 Squadron Foulsham. Recently promoted P/O John Laurence Lakin 198307 RAFVR is seated, front row, 3rd from the right.
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Leo Britt O5844 RAAF, 19 October 1951; previously 427373, 462 Squadron (NAA).
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A12372, O5844.

 

Pilot

Name: Leo BRITT
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 427373 (later O5844)
Date of Birth: 23 August 1921
Place of Birth: West Melbourne, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 6 July 1942
Place of Enlistment: Perth
Next of Kin: Eileen BRITT
Date of Retirement: 23 August 1971
Rank at Discharge: Wing Commander
Posting at Discharge: Staffcoll
Prisoner of War: No

Leo BRITT had previously enlisted in the Australian Army on 3 October 1941 at Brighton, Victoria, Service No. V210027; Next-of-kin then was Alicia BRITT; he was discharged from Sigs 3 Corps at rank of Signalman on 5 July 1942 to join the RAAF.
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Leo Britt O5844 RAAF, post-WW2; previously 427373 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A12372, O5844.

Above: Leo Britt O5844 RAAF post-War, previously 427373.

Leo Britt O5844 RAAF, 13 June 1961; previously 427373 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A12372, O5844.

Above: Leo Britt O5844 RAAF, previously 427373, on 13 June 1961.

 

Navigator

Name: Austin James Bruce CRUICKSHANK
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 430276
Date of Birth: 28 April 1924
Place of Birth: Melbourne, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 1 January 1943
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: James CRUICKSHANK
Date of Discharge: 15 February 1946
Rank at Discharge: Flying Officer
Posting at Discharge: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
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Bomb Aimer

Name: Archibald Hay CRESWICK
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 418524
Date of Birth: 17 May 1923
Place of Birth: Malvern, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 23 May 1942
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: Alice CRESWICK
Date of Discharge: 14 February 1946
Rank at Discharge: Warrant Officer
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit (9 ACHU)
Prisoner of War: No
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Wireless Operator

Name: John Philip Bowley CHAPLIN
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 432754 (later O23443)
Date of Birth: 3 November 1924
Place of Birth: Cronulla, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 30 January 1943
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, NSW
Next of Kin: John CHAPLIN
Date of Discharge: 5 February 1946
Rank at Discharge: Pilot Officer
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit (9 ACHU)
Prisoner of War: No
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Rear Gunner

Name: John Timothy SPILLANE
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 435002 (later A211647)
Date of Birth: 24 January 1925
Place of Birth: Casino, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 25 February 1943
Place of Enlistment: Brisbane, Queensland
Next of Kin: Phillip SPILLANE
Date of Discharge: 12 February 1946
Rank at Discharge: T/ Warrant Officer
Posting at Discharge: Gamston (9 ACHU)
Prisoner of War: No
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Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF, on 2  March 1943, later 462 Squadron.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9301, 433288.

Above: Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF at enlistment on 2 March 1943.

 

Sgt Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF, later 462 Squadron.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9301, 433288.

Above: Sgt Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF Air Gunner, 6 January 1944.

 

 

Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF, on 11 April 1943, later 462 Squadron.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9301, 433288.

Above: Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF at 2 ITS on 11 April 1943.

 

Mid-Upper Gunner

Name: Raphael John MERKEL
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 433288
Date of Birth: 8 November 1924
Place of Birth: St Kilda, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 2 March 1943
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, NSW
Next of Kin: Solomon MERKEL
Date of Discharge: 4 February 1946
Rank at Discharge: Warrant Officer
Posting at Discharge: 9 ACHU
Prisoner of War: No

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Flight Engineers

Those names with (?) may have errors in their initials, Service Numbers or Air Force (RAF OR RAFVR). All of this crew's Flight Engineers were either RAF or RAFVR.

1. R T BUNTING 1796238 RAF (?)
2. Reginald George Weston RICHARDS 155392 RAFVR
3. John TYLER 54867 RAF
4. R C COLEMAN 3005236 RAF (?)
5. R K DAUGHTERS 1895166 RAF (?)
6. William Folger READHEAD 50956 RAF
7. John Laurence LAKIN 2221256 RAFVR
8. John LORD 1517126 (195715) RAFVR
Also possibly
9. J S HOLGATE 2216235 RAF (?) (F/Eng from Drinkwater crew; listed in error as SD (W/OP) for Britt crew on 18 April 1945)

Richards, Readhead, Lakin, Lord and Holgate may be seen in the photo of Flight Engineers 462 Squadron, Foulsham, March 1945.

John Laurence Lakin 2221256 RAFVR was Commissioned from the rank of Sergeant; promoted to Pilot Officer, effective 18 May 1945; and issued with new RAFVR Service No. 198307 (London Gazette, 17 July 1945, Issue 37179, page 3667). His usual role was Flight Engineer with Scharer and Crew 54.
According to the 462 Squadron ORB, Lakin flew on 3 Ops with the Britt Crew in 1945 – 13 March as Special Duties WINDOW Dispenser; 14 April as substitute Flight Engineer, and 15 April also as substitute Flight Engineer, all 3 Ops in NA147 Z5-G.
Lakin flew as F/Eng in NR239 Z5-D on 14 March with Scharer and his usual crew. Please refer also to the later section with information on Tisdell and comments on possible un-recorded crew substitutions.
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Special Duties
Driffield – not applicable.

Foulsham – S D dispensing WINDOW


1. Jack WILLIAMS 54458 RAF (previously 520510 RAF; usual role Bomb Aimer, various crews).
2. Errol Dallas TISDELL 432388 RAAF (**) later KIA
3. James Wallis KIMBER 436523 RAAF (**)
4. John Laurence LAKIN 2221256 RAFVR (usual role F/Eng, Scharer crew)
5. Donald Henry McLEAN 441359 RAAF (usual role R/AG, O'Sullivan Crew)
6. Maurice Kevin MOORE 432059 RAAF (**)
7. Stanley Ernest TILLS 17596 RAAF (**)
8. Victor William CHAFFER 433195 RAAF (**)
Also possibly
9. Kenneth Allan SAXBY 424824 RAAF (usual role W/Op for various crews; and also role of SD/W for several crews; position listed in error for Britt crew on 18 April 1945.)

(**) from a group of 12 Wireless Operators posted to 462 Squadron in January 1945 for Special Duties (WINDOW).

Foulsham – S D operating Special Equipment
(Protective Patrol – Radio Counter Measures)

1. O C CLEYN J.94117 RCAF (also recorded as O C CLYEN J.199620; and C C CLYN J.94117; and D L CLEYN J.94117).
Link to Special Duties RCM page
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Additional Crew Information (Sourced from RAAF Service Files for Britt, Merkel, and Tisdell; the RAAF Service Files for Cruickshank, Creswick, Chaplin and Spillane had not yet been digitised as of 6 September 2015; and RAF or RAFVR files are not accessible. Part of Cruickshank's RAAF file was made available in September 2017, and his information updated for 6 October 2017. Difficulties have been encountered due to the frequent errors in the crew member's names, initials, and service numbers in the Squadron ORBs).

The original crew of six would have formed at an Operational Training Unit (OTU). Both Cruickshank's and Merkel's files state that they were posted to 27 OTU, but Britt was posted to 21 OTU. However the record in Britt's file was from a 1974 typed-transcription of the handwritten original, so 21 OTU may have been transcribed in error for 27 OTU. The time and place of the original Crew formation is therefore not known. This may be made clear if Service Files for the other crew members become available.

Britt, Cruickshank and Merkel were later posted to Acaster Malbis, and then on to 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit (1652 HCU), Marston Moor, Yorkshire for conversion to Halifax Bombers. Flight Engineer Bunting would have joined them at 1652 HCU to make a crew of seven.

The crew was posted from 1652 HCU, Marston Moor to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 17 November 1944.

November 1944 ORB Form 540, Posting To 462 Squadron:-
Britt, Cruikshank (sic, error for Cruickshank), Creswick, Chaplin, Spillane, Mirkel (sic, error for Merkel) and F/Eng Bunting.

The crew relocated with 462 Squadron from 4 Group Driffield, in Yorkshire, to 100 Group Foulsham in Norfolk on 29 December 1944.

The six Australians in this crew were posted from 462 Squadron Foulsham to 9 Air Crew Holding Unit (9 ACHU), RAF Gamston on 17 September 1945.

September 1945 ORB Form 540, Posting From 462 Squadron:-
Britt, Cruikshank (sic, error for Cruickshank), Creswick, Chaplin, Spillane, Merkel.
Bunting's departure has not been located in the ORB.
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Leo Britt 427373 RAAF, Pilot/Captain – No errors for his name of Service Number in the ORB.
After the War, Britt remained in the RAAF, and was allocated the Service Number O5844 (capital letter O, not zero).
Information from his two RAAF Service Files follows ......

3 December 1941 – Army service at 3rd Aust Signals Corps, as Signaller, Service No V210027, to 5 July 1942.

6 July 1942 – Enlisted in RAAF at 4 Recruiting Centre (4 RC), Busselton, West Aus; previous occupation Clerk; mustered as Air Crew V, rank Aircraftsman 2 (AC2)
17 July 1942 – Posted to HQ Pearce, Western Australia
6 December 1942 – Recruit Drill Course P171 (to 27 July 1942) at 4 RD
13 December 1942 – Posted to 4 Initial Training School (4 ITS), Victor Harbour, South Australia.

25 January 1943 – Re-mustered to Air Crew V (P)
27 Feb 1943 – Re-mustered to Air Crew II (P); promoted to Leading Aircraftsman (LAC)
4 March 1943 – Posted to 11 Elementary Flying Training School (11 EFTS), Benalla, Victoria
5 June 1943 – Posted to 7 Service Flying Training School (7 SFTS), Deniliquin, NSW; No 35 (P) Course, to 22 September 1943.

22 September 1943 – Awarded Flying Badge at 7 SFTS; Granted a Commission.
23 September 1943 – Promoted to Rank of Pilot Officer
24 September 1943 – Posted to 1 Embarkation Depot (1 ED), Melbourne, Victoria
2 October 1943 – Posted to 2 ED, Bradfield Park, Sydney

13 October 1943 – Embarked from Sydney for the UK
21 November 1943 – Disembarked in UK, posted to 11 Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre (11 PDRC), Brighton
20 December 1943 – Posted to Air Crew Officers School (ACOS), Sidmouth, East Devon, UK
23 March 1944 – Promoted to Flying Officer

18 April 1944 – Posted to 15 (P) Advanced Flying Unit (15 (P) AFU), Babdown Farm, Gloucestershire, UK
30 May 1944 – No 1 Beam Approach School, Watchfield, Wiltshire, UK

4 July 1944 – Posted to 21 Operational Training Unit (21 OTU, Moreton-in-Marsh, may be in error for 27 OTU Lichfield?)
29 September 1944 – Posted to 41 Base, Acaster Malbis, Yorkshire, UK
6 October 1944 – Posted to 74 Base, 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit (1652 HCU) Marston Moor, Yorkshire, UK

17 November 1944 – Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield, 4 Group, Yorkshire, UK (presumably with all members of this crew, same date as recorded in Service Files for Cruickshank and Merkel)
28 December 1944 – Transferred with 462 Squadron to 100 Group, Foulsham, Norfolk, UK, in "Main Party" by Rail.

16 April 1945 – Promoted to Acting Flight Lieutenant
19 September 1945 – Posted to 9 Air Crew Holding Unit (9 ACHU), Gamston, Nottinghamshire, UK
23 September 1945 – Promoted to Flight Lieutenant
5 October 1945 – Posted to 11 PDRC
28 October 1945 – Embarked for Australia from UK on "Aquitania"

28 November 1945 – Disembarked in Sydney; posted to 2 Personnel Depot (2 PD), ex overseas
30 January 1946 – Posted to RAAF HQ

11 February 1946 – Britt volunteered and was accepted for Service in the RAAF Interim Force for two years. From early 1946 and throughout the 1950s, and 1960s, he remained in the RAAF. He had various postings around Australia, and overseas to the Malayan Conflict (mid 1950s), and Vietnam (briefly in 1965).
1 July 1952 – Promoted to Squadron Leader
1 January 1961 – Promoted to Wing Commander
23 August 1971 – Retired from the RAAF at Laverton, at the Rank of Wing Commander, after 29 years service. At retirement, he was granted the Honorary Rank of Group Captain.
He was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross for actions during his service with No 1 Bomber Squadron in Malaya from September 1955 to November 1956, during which conflict he completed 73 Operational sorties (announced in London Gazette 23 July 1957, Comm. of Aus Gazette 25 July 1957).

Leo Britt passed away late in the evening of 11 April 2016, at the age of 94½. Thanks are extended to his grandson Christopher Britt for this advice.
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Warrant Officer Archibald Hay Creswick 418524 RAAF, Bomb Aimer – known as Arch.
In the ORB, he was also incorrectly recorded as A A Creswick, and by incorrect service numbers 418425 and 429346 (this last number is that for Bomb Aimer A E Perkes of Smith's crew 51).
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F/Sgt John Philip Bowley Chaplin 432754 RAAF, Wireless Operator – known as Chook.
In the ORB, he was also incorrectly recorded as J D R Chaplin, J P Chaplin, J T Chaplin, J F Chaplin, and A P Cheplin; and and by incorrect service numbers 423754 and 332754 and 430276 (this last number is that for Nav Cruickshank).
After the War, Chaplin remained in the RAAF, and was allocated the Service Number O23443 (capital letter O, not zero).
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John Timothy Spillane 435002 RAAF Rear Gunner – referred to by Cruickshank as Timmy.
In the ORB, he was also incorrectly recorded as T Spillane, and by the incorrect Service Number 534002.
According to Bruce Cruickshank (as advised to this author by Cruickshank's family), Timmy was a "legendary good shot and a complete natural". Bruce used to relate to his family that "Timmy could shoot rabbits from the hip with a handgun". He had also said that Timmy had "two confirmed fighter kills", an extraordinary feat for a bomber gunner to shoot down a fighter plane at all, let alone two, especially in a relatively short period of time. Cruickshank's family asked .... "Could these claims be confirmed? Were they recorded anywhere?" Please see later section for discussion on this crew's Air Combat (one confirmed as an actual event and one fictional).
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Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF, Mid-Upper Gunner – known as Johnny. Author of a "part-fictional story of an Op" written in 1963, and published in the book "Brave & True" (2nd Edition published December 2007, pages 309 to 311 inclusive). Please see later Ops section for details from this story.
In the ORB, he was also incorrectly recorded as R J Mirkell and R K Merkel. Information from his RAAF Service File follows ......

27 July 1942 – Application for Air Training Corps; accepted as ATC Cadet No 12483, 29 Squadron, until 2 March 1943
2 March 1943 – Enlistment as Aircrew in RAAF, at No 2 Recruiting Centre, Sydney; Mustered as Aircrew V, Guard, rank AC2
2 March 1943 – Posted to 2 RD Tocumwal, NSW
12 April 1943 – Posted to 2 ITS, No. 41 Course, Aircrew (G), Bradfield Park, Sydney

17 July 1943 – Promoted to LAC
20 July 1943 – Posted to 3 WAGS, Maryborough, Queensland
7 October 1943 – Posted to 1 BAGS, Evans Head, NSW
11 December 1943 – Posted to AGS, West Sale, Vic, to No. 40 Air Gunnery Course

6 January 1944 – Awarded Air Gunner's Badge; Re-mustered as Air Gunner;
6 January 1944 – Promoted to Sergeant (T)
7 January 1944 – Posted to 2 ED, Bradfield Park, Sydney
27 January 1944 – Embarked Sydney for the UK

12 March 1944 – Disembarked UK
12 March 1944 – Posted to 11 PDRC, Brighton, UK

3 April 1944 – Posted to 27 OTU, Lichfield, UK
9 June 1944 – Posted to 41 Base, Acaster Malbis, UK
6 July 1944 – Promoted to Flight Sergeant (T)
19 August 1944 – Attached to ACRS, until 12 September 1944
7 November 1944 – Posted to 74 Base, 1652 HCU, Marston Moor, UK

17 November 1944 – Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield
29 December 1944 – Transferred with 462 Squadron to 100 Group, Foulsham, Norfolk, UK, in "Main Party" by Rail.
Crew Ops at Driffield and Foulsham are recorded in later section.

6 July 1945 – Promoted to Warrant Officer (T)
17 September 1945 – Posted from 462 Sqdn Foulsham to 9 ACHU, Gamston, UK
24 September 1945 – Posted to 11 PDRC, Brighton, UK
24 October 1945 – Embarked from UK
28 November 1945 – Disembarked Sydney, Posted to 2 PD, Sydney

4 February 1946 – Discharged from RAAF on Demobilization.
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R T Bunting 1796238 RAF, Flight Engineer (initials and Service Number and Force not verified, may be RAFVR) – In the book "Brave & True", this F/Eng is referred to as Paddy Bunting, so he may be of Irish descent. After posting to 462 Squadron with Britt's crew in November 1944, he flew 8 Ops with them, the first on 5 December 1944, and the last on 7 Feb 1945. No further mention is found of him in the ORBs with any other crew, and he is not listed in "Postings From" 462 Squadron.
There were eight later Flight Engineers with Britt's crew after Bunting stopped flying with them.
What happened to Bunting? If you know, or can confirm his name and Service details, please make contact.
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Errol Dallas Tisdell 432388 RAAF Wireless Operator in Role of Special Duties dispensing WINDOW – known as "Happy".
Information from his RAAF Service File follows .......

9 December 1942 – Enlisted at 2 RC Sydney, Birth date 28 October 1924; previous occupation Munitions Worker
9 December 1942 – Mustered as Aircrew V, Guard, rank AC2
12 January 1943 – Posted to 2 TG Hqrs (?)
15 March 1943 – Posted to 2 ITS, Bradfield Park, No. 30 Course, Aircrew
17 May 1943 – Re-mustered as Aircrew V, (G) at 2 ITS

25 May 1943 – Posted to 3 WAGS, Maryborough, Qld, promoted to LAC at 3 WAGS
11 October 1943 – Re-mustered as Aircrew II (G) at 3 WAGS

15 November 1943 – Posted to 1 BAGS, Evans Head, NSW, No. 39 Air Gunnery Course (to 8 December 1943)
9 December 1943 – Awarded Air Gunner's Badge; re-mustered as WOAG (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) at 1 BAGS;
9 December 1943 – promoted to Sergeant (T) at 1 BAGS;
9 December 1943 – Posted to 2 ED, Bradfield Park, Sydney
27 January 1944 – Embarked from Sydney for the UK

12 March 1944 – Disembarked in UK; Posted to 11 PDRC, Brighton, UK; re-mustered as Wireless Operator (Air)
3 May 1944 – Attached to Air Crew NCO School, Whitley Bay, Northumberland, UK (to 31 May 1944)
9 June 1944 – Promoted to Flight Sergeant (T) at 11 PDRC
11 July 1944 – Attached to 14 (P) AFU (to 18 August 1944)
11 October 1944 – Attached to OSHQ (to 26 November 1944)
3 January 1945 – Attached to RAF Station, Husbands Bosworth, Leicestershire, UK (to 13 January 45)

15 January 1945 – Posted to 462 Squadron, Foulsham, UK

Tisdell was posted to 462 Squadron, Foulsham in January 1945 with a group of 12 Wireless Operators (all NCOs), who were to fly with various crews for Special Duties, i.e. dispensing WINDOW. They were not permanently assigned to any one crew, but some flew on several Ops with the same crew.

According to the Squadron ORB – from 1 Feb 1945 (his first Op) until 16 April 1945 (his last Op), Tisdell carried out a total of 22 Ops with ten different crews. In all of his Ops he was in the role of Special Duties dispensing WINDOW. These were (but not in order of date):-
6 Ops with Bailey crew 46;
5 Ops with Britt crew 47;
3 Ops with Lodder crew 44;
2 Ops with McGindle crew 19;
1 Op each with Langworthy crew 34; Paltridge crew 58; Scharer crew 54; Sharp crew 41; Sullivan crew 61; Whatling crew 42.

The 5 Ops with Britt's crew were on 1st, 3rd, 4th, 7th February 1945, and 27th March 1945.
Note: none of these Op dates align with the date of the crew photo which includes Tisdell. It had been marked on the reverse as "15 March 1945 on return from a mission over Munster". From the 462 Squadron ORB, Britt was one of eight crews on Ops to Munster and Hagen on 15 March 1945 (Special Duties SPOOF, dropping WINDOW, Target Indicators, and Incendiaries), with Britt's Halifax recorded as NR239 Z5-D, thus matching the photo. However Tisdell was not recorded as being on Ops with Britt or any other crew on the 15 March, and the SD for Britt's crew on that date was recorded as D H McLean, and the F/Eng as R K Daughters. In reference to the similar crew photo in Batten's book which included F/Eng Lakin (photo also now included on this web page), a careful search of the ORB has not located Tisdell and F/Eng Lakin being on the same Op with Britt's crew. The date, the aircraft, and the Op details match, but not the crew names. So – did F/Eng Lakin and S/D Tisdell swap at the last minute with F/Eng Daughters and S/D McLean for the Op on 15 March 1945?

Errol Dallas Tisdell was killed on the night of the 16/17 April 1945, on an Op to Augsburg, in Halifax MZ467 Z5-C, flying with Lodder and Crew 44. Please visit that page for further details, and to view photos of Tisdell and the headstone on his grave.

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Austin James Bruce Cruickshank 430276 RAAF, Navigator – known as Bruce. In the book Brave & True, the Nav is referred to as Blue Cruickshank. Cruickshank's family have advised that he did have red hair, and tat he also had the nickname Bluey.
In the ORB, he was also incorrectly recorded as A J Cruikshank, A J Crookshank, and by incorrect service number 430376.
In September 2017, details were received of his RAAF service, which had been transcribed to a "Certificate of Service and Discharge" dated 17 May 1945. The time line recorded was from the date of his enlistment, to the receipt of a Commission, as below. Transcription errors may have occurred with some of the entries on the Certificate. Copies of official letters to Cruickshank are included at the end of his RAAF service details, as well as pages from his RAAF Pay Book (all reduced in size from originals).

01 January 1943 – Enlisted for Active Service in the RAAF (Citizen Force) at 1 Recruiting Centre (1 RC), for the duration of the war and 12 months thereafter; aged 18 years and 248 days; birth date 24 April 1924; no prior service in Armed Forces; previous civil occupation Student; Presbyterian; single; height 5 ft 10¼ inches; blue eyes, fresh complexion, auburn hair (hence the nicknames Blue or Bluey); several scars listed in detail; next of kin James Douglas CRUICKSHANK (father), of Warrong Homestead, c/o P.O. Warrong, via Koroit, Victoria.
01 January 1943 – Posted to 2 Initial Training Centre (2 ITS), Bradfield Park, NSW; mustered as Aircrew V, classified as Air Craftsman 2.

22 February 1943 – Remustered as Aircrew V (P) at 2 ITS (Pilot training); commenced No. 36 Aircrew (P) Course.
26 March 1943 – Pass, No. 36 Aircrew (P) Course at 2 ITS.
27 March 1943 – Remustered as Aircrew II (P), at 10 Elementary Flying Training School (10 EFTS), Temora, NSW
27 March 1943 – Promoted to Leading Aircraftsman (LAC), at 10 EFTS
31 March 1943 – Posted to 10 EFTS (effective date)

13 July 1943 – Remustered as Aircrew II (N) at 10 EFTS (transferred from Pilot training to Navigation training)
13 July 1943 – Posted to 2 Air Observers School (2 AOS), Mt. Gambier, South Australia; commenced No. 40 (Nav) Course.
13 October 1943 – Pass, No. 40 (Nav) Course at 2 AOS.

18 October 1943 – Posted to 3 Bombing and Gunnery School (3 BAGS), commenced No. 40 (Nav B) Course. Pay Book entry for this same date was also at 3 BAGS.
09 December 1943 – Pass, No. 40 (Nav B) Course at 1 AGS
09 December 1943 – Awarded Air Observer's Badge, at 1 AGS.
(3 BAGS was in Maryborough, Qld; 1 AGS was in West Sale, Victoria; did he commence bombing training at 3 BAGS, then finish at 1 AGS? No posting TO 1 AGS was recorded. Alternately 1 BAGS was at Evans Head, NSW. )

09 December 1943 – Posted to 1 Air Observer School (1 AOS) at Cootamundra, NSW.
06 January 1944 – Pass, No. 40 (Nav) Course at 1 AOS.
06 January 1944 – Remustered as Navigator (B) at 1 AOS.
06 January 1944 – Promoted to Sergeant (T) at 1 AOS.

07 January 1944 – Posted to 1 ED, Melbourne, Vic.
29 Jan 1944 – Embarked from Australia

12 March 1944 – Disembarked UK
13 March 1944 – Posted to 11 PDRC, UK

02 May 1944 – Posted to 6 (O) AFU, UK; Pay Book entry on 15 May 1944 at Staverton (Gloucestershire).

23 May 1944 – Posted to 27 OTU, Lichfield (crews were usually formed at an OTU)

06 July 1944 – Promoted to Flight Sergeant (T) at 27 OTU

11 August 1944 – Posted to 74 Base, Acaster Malbis, then on to 1652 HCU Marston Moor. Pay book entry on 18 August 1944 at Acaster; pay book entries from 01 September 1944 to 09 November 1944 at Marston Moor.

17 November 1944 – Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield, same date as Pilot Britt and MU/AG Merkel.

29 December 1944 – Transferred with 462 Squadron to 100 Group, Foulsham, Norfolk, UK, in "Main Party" by Rail.
Crew Ops at Driffield and Foulsham are recorded in later section.

Character and Trade Proficiency –
Character recorded as V.G.;
Proficiency as Nav B recorded as Satisfactory on 31 Dec 1944 (on relocation with 462 Squadron from Driffield to Foulsham);
Proficiency as Nav B recorded as Superior on 17 May 1945, Foulsham.

17 May 1945 – Discharged on being granted a Temporary Commission; an Officer's Service file would have been created (A9300), but is not available for viewing.

07 June 1945 – Recommended for Appointment to Commissioned Rank (7.6.45 may have been a recording error for 6.7.45).
06 July 1945 – Due date for Promotion to Warrant Officer, after 12 months at rank of Flight Sergeant.

10 July 1945 – Promotion to Rank of Pilot Officer (from the rank of Flight Sergeant, bypassing the rank of Warrant Officer).

17 September 1945 – posted to 9 Air Crew Holding Unit (9 ACHU), RAF Gamston.

10 January 1946 – Promotion to Rank of Flying Officer (presumed, after the usual 6 months at rank of Pilot Officer).

15 February 1946 – Discharged from the RAAF at the rank of Flying Officer (presumably on demobilisation).

21 March 1946 – Letter of Appreciation to AJB Cruickshank from Air Commodore, RAAF; also envelope (copies below, reduced in size form originals).

22 April 1949 – Awarded Campaign Stars and War Medals, with letter from Secretary Department of Air, and Notes with protocol for wearing medals (copy below, reduced in size form original).

1929-45 Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45

 

Envelope for Letter of Appreciation to Austin James Bruce Cruickshank 430276 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

Above: Envelope for Letter of Appreciation addressed to Austin J B Cruichank (sic), Son of and c/o J D Cruickshank, of Warrong, delivery under Safe Custody No. 519.

Right: Letter of Appreciation to Cruickshank, dated 21 March 1946, from Air Commodore, Air Member for Personnel, Air Board, Air Force Head-Quarters, Albert Park Barracks. Transcription as follows .....

"On the cessation of your service with the Royal Australian Air Force, I desire to express the appreciation of the Air Board for the valuable services you have performed since you joined the Air Force.

May I take this opportunity to extend the best wishes of the Air Board and myself for the future and express the hope that your return to civilian life meets with the success that your long and loyal service to your country so richly deserves."

 

Letter of Appreciation to Austin James Bruce Cruickshank 430276 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

 

 

 

 

Letter of Award of Medals to Austin James Bruce Cruickshank 430276 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

 

 

Left: Letter of Award of Medals to Austin James Bruce Cruickshank

Dated 22 April 1949, and from the Secretary, Department of Air, Melbourne, with transcription as follows .......

Number 430276 ... Rank F/O .... Name CRUICKSHANK, A J B

For your services with the Armed Forces during the Second World War 1939/45 you have been awarded the undermentioned Decorations, Campaign Stars and War Medals.
DECORATIONS: ....

CAMPAIGN STARS:
1939-45 Star
France & Germany Star

WAR MEDALS:
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45

Also received was a document ..
NOTES for GUIDANCE in the WEARING of CAMPAIGN STARS, DEFENCE MEDALS and WAR MEDALS on CIVILIAN CLOTHES.

Link to view this protocol document (opens in new window).

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book cover (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – front cover.

 

 

Left: Cover of Pay Book for Austin James Bruce Cruickshank 430276 RAAF; Pay Book No. 148784; later cancelled, and details transferred to continuation Pay Book No. C248400 (not available).

Identity Card No. 175.JW issued 20 July 1943 – stamped inside front cover, below left.
Personal details – page 1 below.
Postings and Attachments – page 1 below, continued on page 25.

Next of Kin – page 22.
Vaccinations, inoculations, blood group, X-rays – page 24.

Ration Book no. N.15438 issued 14 January 1943; and
Ration Book No. N.216045 issued 10 June 1943 – page 25.

Pages below are paired as facing pages as per the original book, and are reduced in size from the original.
Pages 2 & 3, 8 & 9, 10 & 11 are not yet available.

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - inside cover (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – inside cover

Identity Card No. 175.JW issued 20 July 1943.
Also noted is the issue of an item F.667B from Equipment Section, RAF Stn, Brighton on 28 March 1944, 2 weeks after his posting to 10 PDRC Brighton. (Please contact if you know what this item was.)

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 1 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 1

Originally issued at enlistment on 01 January 1943, at 2 ITS.
Later postings noted are TO 10 EFTS on 01 April 1943
TO 2 AOS on 11 July 1943
TO 3 BAGS on 18 October 1943
TO 1 AOS on 09 December 1943

 

   

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 4 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 4

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 5 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 5

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 6 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 6

From enlistment on 01 January 1943 at 2 ITS, Bradfield Park, NSW, until 13 May 1943 at 10 EFTS, Temora, NSW.

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 7 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 7

Pay rate at 2 ITS at 6s/6d per day, Aircraftsman 2;
Arrears paid on 14 April 1943 after reclassification to LAC, higher rate of 10s/6d per day, for LAC.

 

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 12 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 12

January 1943 – 1 AOS, Cootamundra, NSW, then 1 ED, Melbourne, Vic, prior to embarkation for the UK.
Change from Australian currency to Sterling currency (UK)
08 February 1944 – at sea between
16 February 1944 – at Durban, South Africa
2 March 1944 – at sea

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 13 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 13

Rate of pay 16s/- (Australian currency) per day, at rank of Sergeant.
Rate of pay 13s/22d (Sterling currency) per day, at rank of Sergeant.

 

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 14 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 14

March to May 1944 – 10 PDRC Brighton, UK
May 1944 – 6 (O) AFU, Staverton, UK
June & July 1944 – 27 OTU, Lichfield, UK

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 15 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 15

Rate of pay 13s/22d (Sterling currency) per day, at rank of Sergeant.
Arrears paid on 14 July 1944 after reclassification to Flight Sergeant. higher rate of 14s/10d per day for F/Sgt.

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 16 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 16

July & August 1944 – 27 OTU, Lichfield
18 August 1944 – Acaster Malbis
September, October, November 1944 – 1652 HCU, Marston Moor

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 17 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 17

Rate of pay 14s/10d per day, at rank of Flight Sergeant.

 

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 18 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 18

November & December 1944 – 462 Squadron, Driffield, Yorkshire
January, February, March 1945 – 462 Squadron, Foulsham, Norfolk

Recognizable signatures authorising payments are on
22 Dec 1944 Driffield – W/O Kenneth Bell (? K J Bell, Crew 137, 466 Squadron);
15 March 1945 – M Stafford (R/AG Jackson Crew 14); and
29 March 1945 – P/O Bruce Bell (W/OP Anderson Crew 45).

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 19 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 19

Rate of pay 14s/10d per day, at rank of Flight Sergeant.

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 20 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 20

Recognizable signatures authorising payments are
26 April 1945 – P/O D Robinson (Pilot Crew 63)
24 May 1945 – Jack Roy Smith (Pilot Crew 51)
05 July 1946 – F/O K W Cahill (O'Malley Crew)

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 21 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 21

Rate of pay 14s/10d per day, at rank of Flight Sergeant.
Last payment from 07 July 1945 to 20 July 1945.
10 July 1945 – Promotion to Rank of Pilot Officer, no further entries; new Pay Book No. C248400, and a higher rate of pay.


 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 22 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 22

Next of Kin – AJB's father – James Douglas Cruickshank, of Warrong Homestead, Warrong, via Koroit, Victoria.

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 23 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 23

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 24 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 24

Medical records ....
04 & 14 January & 17 February 1943 – Vaccinations, at 2 ITS, Bradfield Park
12 October 1943 – Inoculation at 2 AOS, Mt. Gambier, SA
26 January 1944 – Inoculation at 1 ED, just prior to embarkation
16 February 1945- Inoculation at 462 Squadron, Foulsham
Blood Group – Type O
13 October 1942 – X-Rays taken at 1 Recruiting Centre, Melbourne, possibly when making his Application for Air Crew.

 

 

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book - page 25 (462 Squadron)
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

AJB Cruickshank 430276 RAAF Pay Book – page 25

Continuation of Postings from page 1 ....
06 January 1944 – 1 ED Melbourne
11 PDRC, Brighton, on arrival in the UK (March 1944)

Ration Book No. N.15438 issued 14 January 1943
Ration Book No. N.216045 issued 10 June 1943

 

Return to top of page

 

Crew Ops

At Driffield, Britt's Op 1 was as 2nd Pilot for Rate Crew 13 on 21 November 1944.
Britt and his permanent crew then flew 3 Ops, their first combined Op on 5 December, then on 12 and 18 December.

At Foulsham, Britt and crew flew a further 17 Ops together, with their last on 2 May 1945.

Britt total 21 Ops.
Cruickshank 20 Ops with Britt;
Creswick 20 with Britt, plus 1 as B/Aimer with O'Sullivan Crew 43;
Chaplin 20 with Britt, plus 1 as S D with O'Sullivan Crew 43;
Spillane 20 with Britt;
Merkel 20 with Britt, plus 1 as S D with O'Sullivan Crew 43;
Bunting 8 with Britt.
Eight other flight Engineers as listed previously, filled in for later Ops.
Eight Special Duties (WINDOW) as listed previously, (including Tisdell), for 16 Ops at Foulsham.
One Special Duties (PROTECTIVE PATROL – CARPET JAMMING with WINDOW Force) on 1 Op at Foulsham, on 2 May 1945.

For reasons unknown, several of this crew's names and their usual roles were incorrectly transposed in two Ops in the ORB (16 January and 18 April 1945). The name and role of the 8th man (WINDOW) was also muddled with those of the usual or substitute crew members on those two occasions.

The following Table lists Ops for Britt and his crew, as recorded in the Squadron ORB.

Aircraft Code numbers Z5- and Serial Numbers have been cross-referenced with ORB and available log books from other 462 Squadron veterans. (There is a discrepancy in the ORB, with Halifax MZ431 on 13 February 1945 recorded for use by both Britt and Hancock crews. Britt frequently flew in MZ431-J, but not in MZ341 on any other Op. Hancock frequently flew in MZ341-P, but not in MZ431. Therefore it was probable that on that night, Britt was in MZ431-J and Hancock was in MZ341-P.)
Times up and down in black are day flights, and times in red are night flights – all 21 of Britt's Ops were night flights.
Target "Essen x 11" means 11 aircraft tasked from 462 Squadron to the target of Essen, with Britt's crew being one of those 11 (and so on for the other dates). "Hamburg x 10 (of 12)" means this crew was in one of ten aircraft to that Target, but a total of 12 Squadron aircraft were on Ops that night, with 2 to a different target (and similarly for later dates). There is some variation in the spelling of Target names in the original ORB, with the names recorded below as per the ORB.
Code for Op Type – B Bombs; SD Special Duties; SP Spoof; W WINDOW; F Flares; TI Target Indicators; I Incendiaries; PP Protective Patrol

 

Date Op No A/C Serial Code Z5- Up Down Target Op Type Comments
21/11/1944 1 MZ429 F 1712 2323 Sterkrade x 15 B Britt as 2nd Pilot for Allan John Rate (Crew 13)
05/12/1944 2 LL598 A 1757 0004 Soest x 14 B 1st Op for Britt & his usual crew; Z5-A landed away at Horsham St. Faith (Norfolk)
12/12/1944 3 LL598 A 1618 2235 Essen x 11 B  
18/12/1944 4 LL598 A 0226 0916 Duisburg x 16 B Z5-A landed away at Gaydon (Warwickshire)
16/01/1945 5 MZ429 F 1824 2300 Sylt x 9 SD SP W 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Jack Williams
(Note: the usual crew's positions are recorded erroneously, and Williams (not of this crew) was most likely the S/D.)
01/02/1945 6 Not listed ? 1637 2301 Mannheim x 13 SD SP W B 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Errol Dallas Tisdell
03/02/1945 7 MZ431 J 1651 2138 Mainz x 9 SD SP W B 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Errol Dallas Tisdell
04/02/1945 8 MZ431 J 1745 2230 Ruhr x 10 SD SP W 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Errol Dallas Tisdell
07/02/1945 9 MZ431 J 2126 0220 Bonn x 11 SD SP W B I 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Errol Dallas Tisdell
13/02/1945 10 MZ431 (or MZ341?) ? 1858 2359 Ruhr x 9 SD SP W I 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, James Wallis Kimber.
MZ431 was also listed for the Hancock crew on the same Op – Hancock's crew was most likely in MZ341 Z5-P
28/02/1945 11 MZ306 K 2003 0233 Frieburg x 7 SD SP W (sic, ? Freiburg) 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, James Wallis Kimber
13/03/1945 12 NA147 G 1748 2350 Frankfurt x 11 SD SP W TI I 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, J L Lakin
15/03/1945 13 NR239 D 1743 0122 Munster & Hagen x 8 SD SP W TI I (sic, Münster) 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Donald Henry McLean.
Combat
with German fighter aircraft (details in next section), see also photo of crew with this aircraft
18/03/1945 14 MZ431 J 0121 0731 Kassal x 6 SD S W (sic, Kassel) 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, James Wallis Kimber
27/03/1945 15 NA147 G 1901 2355 Bremerhaven x 9 SD SP W TI I 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Errol Dallas Tisdell
30/03/1945 16 NR239 D 1918 2358 Stade x 6 SD SP W TI I 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, James Wallis Kimber
13/04/1945 17 NA147 G 2016 0131 Hamburg x 10 (of 12) SD SP W F I 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Maurice Kevin Moore
14/04/1945 18 NA147 G 1824 0250 Neuruppin x 4 (of 12) SD SP W B I 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Stanley Ernest Tills
15/04/1945 19 NA147 G 1901 0127 Lechfelb x 7 SD SP W F I (sic, ? Lechfeld) 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Victor William Chaffer
18/04/1945 20 PN450 L 0013 0703 Munich x 4 SD SP W 8th crew member to dispense WINDOW, Kenneth Allan Saxby
02/05/1945 21 PN423 I 2046 0156 Flensburg x 4 (of 10) SD PP B PROTECTIVE PATROL on a CARPET JAMMING Mission with the WINDOW Force. Bombs were dropped in the target area. German-speaking 8th crew member for Special Duties to operate the Special Equipment – P/O O C Clyn J.94117 RCAF (this is the only Op in the ORB for Clyn)
Not listed   Not listed       Over Europe   Cook's Tours, transfer of Experts, equipment post-mortems
29/05/1945   Not listed       Schleswig, Germany   1 passenger from Air Ministry and 1 from No. 91 Group

 

Halifax LL598 Z5-A crashed soon after take-off the 14 January 1945, Pilot Astill, with six of the crew killed, and 2 safe in UK.
Halifax MZ370 Z5-L was lost on 8 March 1945, Pilot Frank Herbert James, all eight of the crew taken as PoW.

Photos of Halifax MZ341 Z5-P, and MZ431 Z5-J, and NA147 Z5-G may be seen on the Halifax page.

According to Britt's Service File, this crew also participated in "Cook's Tours" over Europe after the cessation of hostilities, however crew names are not listed in the ORB for these flights, and Pilots and/or Aircraft Serial's are only rarely listed. Britt's Service File also specifies that they "flew Radar Experts to Northern Germany and Denmark, and took part in the post-mortem of German radar equipment." Britt was on loan from 462 Squadron in August 1945 to the "Combined Intelligence Objective Sub-Committee" and "Power Jets Pty. Ltd." to fly their representatives to the "Rocket and Jet Plant" in Germany.

Only one post-war flight was listed in the ORB for Britt and crew .....

29 May 1945, F/Lt Britt, names of his crew not listed; aircraft Serial and Code not listed; flight to Schleswig in northern Germany, carrying one passenger from Air Ministry, and one from No. 91 Group (passengers not named). No other details.

The log books for Britt (or any of his crew) would make interesting reading. Please make contact if you can assist with scans of same.

Return to top of page

Air Combat

1. Actual Combat Report for 15 March 1945.

This was one of only three such combat Reports in 462 Squadron ORBs Appendices B.1, B.2 and B.3, located in files held at The National Archives at Kew (AIR/27/1915).
Reports were to be filled in for (a) All "Attacks" (b) All "Combats" when claims of Enemy Aircraft destroyed, probably destroyed, and damaged were made.
Appendix B.1 – Combat 10 March 1945, Halifax MZ467 Z5-C, Scharer Crew 54, No Claim for Fighter Damage; and
Appendix B.2 – Combat 15 March 1945, Halifax NR239 Z5-D, Britt Crew 47, No Claim for Fighter Damage
Appendix B.3 – Combat 24 March 1945, Halifax MZ308 Z5-S Ball Crew 59, Fighter Claimed as Damaged by Rear Gunner Hibberd.

ORB Form 541, Page 300, 15 March 1945
Halifax III NR239 Captain Britt, Bomb Aimer Creswick, Nav Cruikshank (sic), W/OP Chaplin, R/AG Spillane, MU/AG Merkel, F/Eng Daughters, SD (Window) McLean. Up at 1743, return to Base 0122 on 16 March. Special duty flight to the MUNSTER and HAGEN areas, on a SPOOF raid. WINDOW was released, T.I.s and INCENDIARIES dropped in these areas. Loading:- 4 x No. 4 Mk.1 T.I.s, 2 x No. 15 Incdy clusters, 3 x No. 14 Incdy Clusters.

Note that the crew photo was originally captioned as "15 March 1945 on return from a mission over Munster". However, based on the amount of ambient light present, it may have taken prior to their departure at 1743, not after their return at 0122. Refer also to previous comments regarding the possibility of last minute unrecorded crew substitution (? F/Eng Lakin replacing F/E Daughters; and ? S/D Tisdell replacing S/D McLean).

ORB Form 540, Page 59, 15 March 1945
(Quote) ...... "A maximum effort was again required, but only EIGHT aircraft were serviceable, these were airborne by 17.00 hours, and with the exception of ONE aircraft, completed a long and successful sortie. The duration of the flight was SEVEN and half hours, and TWO separate targets were attacked, namely:- MUNSTER and HAGEN. Aircraft MZ.467 "C"/462 (Captain – W/O SIMMS, B.A.) completed half a sortie, successfully attacking MUNSTER, then owing to HYDRAULIC failure returned to Base. This aircraft was attacked by Enemy Fighter." (sic)

This record of an Enemy Fighter attacking MZ.467 was incorrect. No such attack is mentioned in the Form 541 Op detail for the Simms crew, and no Combat Report was made. The ORB should refer to Halifax NR239 Z5-D Britt Crew 47, according to the following Combat Report.

Appendix B.2 Combat Report 15 March 1945 (comments in italics, not in original document)

1. 15/3/45; target HAGEN, 100 Group, 462 Sqdn RAAF
2. Halifax III NR239/D
3. Special Equipment "FISHPOND" serviceable and in use at time of combat, with trained Operator
4. Time of combat 2240 hours, height 10,000 ft, heading 235°T, Lat 5050N Long 0510E
5. Target area, on track
6. No cloud, no moon, visibility of fighter position 400 yards from bomber
7. No searchlights, light from target
8. First warning from Special Equipment
9. Warned by "Fishpond", immediate corkscrew starboard
10. Later warning not applicable
11. First visual at range of 300 yards, starboard quarter, below, against light sky; Visual almost immediately after equipment early warning
12. First Visual by Rear Gunner
13. Type of Enemy Aircraft Unidentified; one only; only light from Enemy Aircraft was from gun flashes
14. Direction of Attack from Starboard Quarter down
15. Direction of breakaway by Enemy Aircraft Down Astern, at range 100 yards
16. Combat manoeuvre Corkscrew starboard
17. Fighter fired at opening range 350 yards, closing range 150 yards
18. Fighter opened fire first
19. Rear Gunner F/S Merkel (? error for name) ....
300 rounds fired, opening range 300 yards, closing range 150 yards, 3 stoppages in No. 2; Trained at 1 AGS Australia; 27 OTU, 1652 HCU
Mid-Upper Gunner F/S Spillane (? error for name) .... no combat
(Note: Rear Gunner Spillane & Mid-Upper Gunner Merkel were listed in the ORB for this Op, in their usual role and crew position. Is this transposition of names just a recording error in the Combat Report Pro-Forma? or did the Gunners swap their usual positions?)

20. Gun stoppages not able to be cleared
21. Flight Engineer was searching sky away from the attack, no other aircraft seen
22. Lost 1000 feet in height during the attack
23. No previous defects or damage affecting combat
24. No damage to Bomber
25. No crew casualties
26. Damage to Fighter not known
27. No Claim for Fighter damage

 

NARRATIVE
(quote) ...

On the night of 15/16th March, 1945, Halifax NR.239/D of
No. 462 (RAAF) squadron was detailed to attack Hagen. While leaving
the target area, at position 50°50'N. 05°10'E. a contact was received on
Fishpond at close range in the S. Q. Almost immediately a combat was
observed in that direction. A few seconds later an unidentified
Twin Engined aircraft made an attack from the S. Q. down. The fighter
opened fire at approx. 400 yards and immediately the gunner ordered
corkscrew starboard and returned fire. The Mid-Upper did not get a
visual on the fighter. The unidentified aircraft closed to 150 yards and
broke away below astern. The Rear Gunner ordered resume course and no
further contact was made. No damage was sustained by the bomber and the
Rear Gunner makes no claim as to damaging the fighter.

Sgd A. Rudd F/LT.,
Gunnery Leader,
No. 462 (RAAF) Squadron.

 

2. Part-fictional Combat Report.

Some details of the following "part-fictional story" appear to have been taken from the actual recorded Combat Report (see 1. above).

In the book "Brave & True" (2nd Edition published December 2007, pages 309 to 311 inclusive), in what was described as a "part-fictional story of an Op" written in 1963, MU/AG Merkel describes an Op in Halifax J-Jig to Essen, flying from and returning to Marston Moor, and dated as 20 October 1944. The authors of Brave & True added a comment that the Op date was actually the night of 12/13 December 1944. The crew in the story was the usual group made up by Skipper Britt, Bomb Aimer Archie Creswick, Rear Gunner Timmy Spillane, Mid-upper Gunner Johnny Merkel, Navigator Blue Cruickshank, Flight Engineer Paddy Bunting, and Chook Chaplin as Wireless Operator. In the "part-fictional story", their Halifax was attacked by a Ju88, and R/AG Spillane and MU/AG Merkel both returned fire. The Fighter was hit, and spiraled out of control. A second flash, thought initially by Paddy Bunting to be a second fighter aircraft on fire, was actually a flare that had been "hung up" in their own bomb-bay, but dislodged during the air combat.

In "Pimpernel Squadron" (page 71, author Edward McGindle), the same story had been summarised and included, but it was not noted as being "part-fictional" so may mistakenly be read as factual.

In "To See the Dawn Again" (page 316, authors Mark Lax and Leon Kane-Maguire), the combat for Britt's Crew on 15 March 1945 was incorrectly reported as being with a Ju88. It had been listed as a Ju88 in the part-fictional story. However in the actual Combat Report for that date, the Enemy Aircraft was not identified.

Other points to note regarding the story .....

Marston Moor was the home of 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit for training crews in Halifaxes.
462 Squadron was not ever based at Marston Moor.
On 20 October 1944 the Britt crew were training at Acaster Malbis, then in early November were posted to 1652 HCU Marston Moor, so not flying long-distance bombing missions over Germany. Their Operational Posting was later to 462 Squadron at Driffield.
462 Squadron was not detailed for Ops on the 20 October 1944.
Sixteen Aircraft & crews from 462 Squadron were tasked with bombing Target Essen on 23 October 1944, prior to the Posting In of Britt and crew. The Squadron again targeted Essen with 17 Aircraft & crews on 29 November 1944, but the Britt crew was not yet on Ops (crew Posted In 17 November 1944; Britt's 1st Op as 2nd Pilot on 21 November; Britt and his usual crew's 1st Op on 5 December 1944).
The 462 Squadron ORB lists the Britt crew as one of 11 crews and aircraft on a Bombing raid to Essen on the night of 12/13 December 1944. All crews attacked and returned safely.
However on that Op, Britt and crew were flying in Halifax LL598 Z5-A, not J-Jig as in the part-fictional story. No aircraft from 462 Squadron with the Code Z5-J were on Ops the night of 12 December 1944. Halifax MZ400 Z5-J had previously been lost on 9 October 1944 (Coleman crew all KIA).
The Britt crew did fly several Ops in Halifax MZ431 Z5-J but those were all in February and March of 1945.
On 12/13 December 1944, Britt's aircraft carried bombs but not flares. According to the 452 Squadron ORB, the Britt crew first carried Target Indicators in the bomb load on 13 March 1945, and again on the 15 March, and 27 and 30 March. The 462 Squadron aircraft did not start loading Flares until 13 April 1945, with Britt crew's first load of Flares on 14 April 1945, and another on 15 April.
In the part-fictional story, the Enemy Aircraft was a JU88, but in the real Combat, the Enemy Aircraft was unidentified.
In the part-fictional story, both Gunners participated, but in the real Combat, only the R/AG was involved.

The ORB Form 540 Summary 12 December does not mention any combats, and the Form 541 Operations for 12 December 1944 states (quote) .....
..... "only one JU88 was sighted in T/A and one FW190 at last turning point into target. No combats and no A/C was damaged".

There is no matching Combat Report in the 462 Squadron ORB Appendices for 20 October 1944, nor for 12/13 December 1944.

It would appear then that Merkel has written his thrilling and action-packed "part-fictional story of an Op" using a mix of locations, dates, aircraft, and events that related to the Britt crew. Over time, this story may have been misinterpreted, magnified, modified, and subsequently but incorrectly treated as fact.
To any of the Author's mentioned – No Offence is intended or implied. My interest in 462 Squadron is to seek information, correct errors, and record facts. If you have further information regarding the above events, including copies of either Gunner's log book, please make contact.

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Charge Sheet as shown below left, was supplied by and used the permission of Doug Cruickshank, son of Nav Cruickshank. It appears to be an official document (image reduced in size from the original "foolscap"). A full transcription is included below right. Following is a Google image of the Foulsham and Foxley area, and an image of the Public House Sign. Further information is included below the images.

 

Charge Sheet for Raphael John Merkel, John Timothy Spillane, Alexander Gordon Taylor, LLewellyn George Edwards and Austin James Bruce Cruickshank, all of 462 Squadron, Foulsham.
From the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives.

 

 

Left: Form 2 Summons, stamped – "Correspondence regarding this Summons should be addressed to the Clerk to the Justices, Reepham, Norfolk."

In the County of Norfolk
PETTY SESSIONAL DIVISION OF EYNSFORD
To
No. AUS. 433288. F/Sergt. Raphael JOHN MERKEL
No. AUS. 435002. F/Sergt. JOHN TIMOTHY SPILLANE
No. AUS. 423491. W/O. ALEXANDER GORDON TAYLOR
No. AUS. 419117. F/Sergt. LLEWELLYN GEORGE EDWARDS
No. AUS. 430276. F/Sergt. AUSTIN JAMES BRUCE CRUICKSHANK
all of R.A.F. Station, Foulsham, in the County of Norfolk.

Information has been laid this day by
JOSEPH HEARN of REEPHAM
in the County OF NORFOLK, POLICE INSPECTOR charging you
with the following offence:–

STATEMENT OF OFFENCE
JOINT CHARGE OF LARCENY

Contrary to SECTION 2 OF LARCENY ACT, 1916.

PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE
On the Twenty-fourth day of May 1945, at
the Parish of Foxley in
the County of Norfolk you feloniously did steal from The "Chequers"
Public House, a framed photograph, two pint glass mugs and one
electric light bulb, of the total value of 15/0, the property of
Gerald Reynolds, "Chequers", P.H., Foxley, Licensed Victualler.

You are therefore hereby summoned to appear before the Court of
Summary Jurisdiction sitting at THE COURT HOUSE, REEPHAM
in the County of Norfolk, on MONDAY, the TWENTY-FIFTH
day of JUNE 1945 at the hour of 10.30. o'clock
in the forenoon, to answer to the said Information.

Dated the Eighth day of June 1945
(Signed) George F. Faircloth
Justice of the Peace for the County of Norfolk.

Foxley, and Foulsham, Norfolk, showing location of RAF Station and Air Field at Foulsham, home of 462 Squadron, 1945.
Image from Google Maps, Satellite Image.

Chequers Public House was located in Foxley, 2.6 miles (4.2 km) from Foulsham, Norfolk, as marked above. The old RAF airfield is still visible centre, top, and Guestwick is marked in the top right.

Chequers Public House Sign, Foxley, Norfolk.
Image from Google Maps, street view.

 

The old Chequers Sign is still visible at the front of the former Chequers Public House, now a private residence, in Foxley, Norfolk.

 

There must have been a "good story" behind the event, however the Cruickshank family does not have any background details.
Chequers Public House was in close proximity to Foulsham, and about 3.7 mile (6 km) from the old RAF Station and Air Field – a 10-12 minute drive, or a 15-20 minute bicycle ride, or a walk of about an hour & 10 minutes – therefore easily accessible by young and fit airmen.
The Five were all NCOs, with those of the Britt crew most likely sharing a Nissen Hut. The Five would all have frequented the Station Sergeants' Mess, and perhaps went on leave together. Certainly they were at Chequers together.

24 May 1945 – date of the Offence. Did the date have any particular significance?

All of the five had carried out their last Op on the night of 2 May 1945 – Merkel, Spillane and Cruickshank in the Britt crew; and Edwards (W/OP) and Taylor (Special Duties, WINDOW Dispenser) in the Whatling Crew (Taylor's 2nd SD/W Op with this crew).
On 02 May 1945 – Edwards' 29th Op; Taylor's 25th Op; Cruickshank's 20th Op; Merkel's 21st Op, Spillane's 20th Op.
Were they celebrating surviving the War?

21st Birthdays – Cruickshank was 21 on 28 April; Edwards on 23 March, and Taylor on 21 Feb 1945.
Was the Pub visit on 24 May a late celebration for those three 21st Birthdays?

17 May 1945 – Cruickshank was "discharged" from the RAAF as an NCO Airman, and granted a Commission, with promotion to rank of Pilot Officer effective 10 July 1945. Had this been a cause for Celebration on the 24 May?

24 May 1945 – From the ORB, Form 540, Part I Operational, page 79 – "Four aircraft were airborne on training flights. Pilot's carried out BEAM Training in the Station Oxford Aircraft". Crews were not named, so it is not known if any of the The Five were on flying duties that day.
24 May 1945 – From the ORB, Form 540, Part II Administration, page 82 – "Flight Lieutenant RATTEN of Headquarters Bomber Command visited the Squadron, and explained the Repatriation Scheme to all Australian Personnel." The Five (all RAAF) would have attended the talk.
Was this a cause for celebration, in anticipation of "going home"? However The Five charged were not posted FROM 462 Squadron until September 1945.

24 May 1945 – Cruickshank's Pay Book shows a cash payment of £10 10s. He was certainly flush with funds. Was he buying the drinks?

May 1945 – From the ORB, Form 540, Part III Personnel, pages 83 & 84 – During the month, four members of the Whatling Crew (Pilot Whatling, Bomb Aimer Harris, Mid-Upper Gunner Whitworth, Rear Gunner Whyte, all RAFVR) were posted FROM 462 Squadron, leaving behind F/Eng Coleman (RAFVR), and Nav Young and W/OP Edwards, both RAAF.
Was this a cause for commiserations, with Edwards now without a crew?

The sequence of the five names is not alphabetical, not grouped by rank, not arranged by crew, and not numerical by Service Number.
Is the order of names of any significance?

It is not known who (or what) the subject of the "framed photograph" was, that made it worth taking.
The "two pint glass mugs" (only 2, not 1 for each airman) would have had obvious use back at their Nissen Hut, or in the Sergeants' Mess.
The "one electric light bulb" was most likely to replace a blown bulb at their Nissen Hut.
The value of all purloined items had a total value of 15 shillings, so resale value would not have been an issue.
Who took which item? Were they on a "Dare"? or was it just high spirits, literally and figuratively?

What was the final outcome?
Did they go to Court? or did they return the items and make reparations before then, with the Charges withdrawn?
If they went to Court, would the verdict have been "Guilty"? And if so, what would the punishment have been?
A monetary fine? Or other?

A search of the 462 Squadron ORB has not located any mention of the Summons, nor any formal reprimand.
Complete Service Files for The Five named are not yet digitized, so their General Conduct Sheets and Service Conduct Sheets are not available to see if this Civil Offence was listed for any of them.
One also wonders how many times similar small items of property were "souvenired" from Public Houses near RAF Stations during the War. Were these five just unlucky that they were caught?

Whatever happened after the Summons was issued, it seems that it did not affect their subsequent RAAF service, or promotions.
F/Sgt Cruickshank received his Commission, and was promoted to Pilot Officer on 10 July 1945, and was later promoted to Flying Officer.
F/Sgt Spillane, F/Sgt Merkel and F/Sgt Edwards were each later promoted to Warrant Officer.

What a pity the "Story" has been lost. .............. Return to top of page

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