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6 June 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)
Photo from the the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives,
supplied by and used the permission of Doug Cruickshank.
This image was scanned from the original photo,
which had been annotated with names by Cruickshank.

 

 

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"

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.

Links to Britt, Cruickshank, Creswick, Chaplin, Spillane, Merkel, various Flight Engineers, and Special Duties including Tisdell; additional crew information; and Crew Ops, and Air Combat Report.

Reference sources – Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; The National Archives of Australia (Service Files, 462 Squadron Operational Record Book); TNA UK; books.

 

 

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)
Photo from the the Austin James Bruce Cruickshank Archives,
supplied by and used the permission of Doug Cruickshank.
Restored version of photo.

 

 

Crew 47 beside Halifax NR239 Z5-D
"15 March 1945 on return from a mission over Munster"

The same image as above, however this one had been restored before being offered for use on this website.

Standing, from left to right:-
F/Sgt Austin James Bruce Cruickshank 430276 RAAF, Navigator;
F/Sgt Raphael John Merkel 433288 RAAF, Mid-Upper Gunner;
Warrant Officer Archibald Hay Creswick 418524 RAAF, Bomb Aimer ;
Flying Officer Leo Britt 427373 RAAF, Pilot/Captain;
F/Sgt John Philip Bowley Chaplin 432754 RAAF, Wireless Operator.

Front, left to right:-
F/Sgt Errol Dallas Tisdell 432388 RAAF;
F/Sgt 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.

An almost identical photo between pages 57 and 58 in the book "Phoenix" by A G Batten, was most likely taken at the same time and place. The crew in that photo have the same names, are in the same positions, with similar stance and facial expressions. However in that photo, Tisdell is missing from the front, and Flight Engineer John Lakin is standing to the left of Cruickshank. Perhaps, they swapped over to take the photos. Sgt J L Lakin Flight Engineer 2221256 RAF or RAFVR.
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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.


 

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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).
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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. 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 OTU. Merkel's file states that he was posted to 27 OTU, but Britt was posted to 21 OTU. The time and place of the original Crew formation is therefore not known. This would be made clear if other Service Files become available.
Both Britt 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 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.

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 RC, Busselton, West Aus; previous occupation Clerk, mustered as Air Crew V, rank AC2
17 July 1942 – Posted to HQ Pearce, West Aus
6 December 1942 – Recruit Drill Course P171 (to 27 jul 42) at 4 RD
13 December 1942 – Posted to 4 Initial Training School (4 ITS), Victor Harbour, South Aus

25 January 1943 – Re-mustered to Air Crew V (P)
27 Feb 1943 – Re-mustered to Air Crew II (P); promoted to 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 – Rank of Pilot Officer
24 September 1943 – Posted to 1 ED, Melbourne, Vic
2 October 1943 – Posted to 2 ED, Bradfield Park, Sydney

13 October 1943 – Embarked Sydney for UK
21 November 1943 – Disembarked UK, posted to 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, UK
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
28 December 1944 – Transferred with 462 Squadron to 100 Group, Foulsham, Norfolk, UK

16 April 1945 – Promoted to Acting F/Lt
19 September 1945 – Posted to 9 ACHU, Gamston, Nottinghamshire, UK
23 September 1945 – Promoted to F/Lt
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 PD, ex overseas
30 January 1946 – Posted to RAAF HQ

On 11 Feb 46, Britt volunteered and was accepted for Service in the RAAF Interim Force for two years. From early 1946 and throughout the 1950s, and 1960s, remained in the RAAF and had various postings around Australia, and overseas to the Malayan Conflict (mid 1950s), and Vietnam (briefly in 1965). He was promoted to Squadron Leader on 1 July 1952, and to Wing Commander on 1 January 1961. He retired from the RAAF at Laverton on 23 August 1971, after 29 years service, and at the Rank of Wing Commander. 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 55 to November 56, 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.

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 also the nickname Bluey.
In the ORB, he was also incorrectly recorded as A J Cruikshank, A J Crookshank, and by incorrect service number 430376.

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).

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).

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).

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; Promoted to T/Sgt
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 T/F/Sgt
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 (relocating with the Squadron to Foulsham on 29 December 1944)

6 July 1945 – Promoted to T/ Warrant Officer
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.

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. 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.

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 and re-mustered as WOAG (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) at 1 BAGS; promoted to T/Sgt
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 T/ F/Sgt 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 Lakin, 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 a night Op to Augsburg, Halifax MZ467 Z5-C, Lodder 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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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.

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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 spiralled 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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