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6 September 2018
Crew 15, Pilot Peter Hamilton Finley – 462 Squadron RAAF

Crew 15 of 462 Squadron, Robert Thomson Craig, Richard Henry Gee, Mervyn John Coleman, R J Constable, Roger John Evans, Pilot Peter Hamilton Finley, Kenneth John Brown, all previously 466 Squadron.
From the 466-462 Squadrons Association, Sydney

W/OP Robert Thomas CRAIG may also be seen in one photo of the Jackson Crew, as he also flew with that crew at 466 Squadron.
There were substitutions for some members of the Finley crew on several Ops at 462 Squadron.

 

Crew 15, 462 Squadron, Driffield, Yorkshire, outside the Respirator Workshop, the usual location for Crew photos.

This crew had been posted TO 462 Squadron Driffield, FROM 466 Squadron, Driffield in August 1944. This photo was also published in "Brave and True" page 136, with the following caption (as Crew 128 of 466 Squadron) ......

Photo at left:
Back, left to right: W/O R T Craig, W/O R H Gee, F/Sgt M J Coleman, F/Sgt R J Constable;
Front, left to right: P/O R J Evans, F/Lt P H Finley (captain), F/O K J Brown.

On posting to 462 Squadron, the crew was made up as follows .....
Pilot: Peter Hamilton FINLEY
Bomb Aimer: Roger John EVANS
Navigator: Kenneth John BROWN
Wireless Operator: Robert Thomson CRAIG
Mid-Upper Gunner: Mervyn John COLEMAN
Rear Gunner: Richard Henry GEE
Flight Engineer: R J CONSTABLE

Links to additional Crew information; Crew Ops at 466 Squadron;
Crew Ops at 462 Squadron; details of DFC for Finley, and Evans.

Reference sources – Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; The National Archives of Australia (462 Squadron Operational Record Book, A705 Casualty Files, A9300 Service Files); The London Gazette; Commonwealth War Graves Commission; Books "Brave and True" and "To See The Dawn Again"; MJ Coleman Archives from Harold Dummer; John Dann.

 

Peter Hamilton Finley 412294 RAAF, later Pilot of Crew 15 at 462 Squadron.Peter Hamilton Finley 412294 RAAF, later Pilot of Crew 15 at 462 Squadron, Driffield and Foulsham.
Photos from the National Archives of Australia: A9300, 412294

 

Pilot

Name: Peter Hamilton FINLEY
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 412294
Date of Birth: 06 December 1919
Place of Birth: Temora, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 22 June 1941
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, NSW
Next of Kin: Cecil FINLEY
Date of Discharge: 18 September 1945
Rank at Discharge: Flight Lieutenant
Posting at Discharge: 1 Air Support Unit
Honours and Gallantry: Distinguished Flying Cross
Prisoner of War: No

Left: two photos of Peter Hamilton Finley 412294 RAAF, on 30 June 1941, soon after enlistment, at rank of Aircraftman 2 (AC2).
Finley may also be seen in a photo of Officers, December 1944 at Driffield.
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Bomb Aimer

Name: Roger John EVANS
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 410202
Date of Birth: 13 October 1910
Place of Birth: Northcote, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 05 December 1941
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Vic
Next of Kin: Robert EVANS
Date of Discharge: 21 February 1946
Rank at Discharge: Flight Lieutenant
Posting at Discharge: 1 Personnel Depot (Staff)
Honours and Gallantry: Distinguished Flying Cross
Prisoner of War: No

Evans may also be seen in a photo of Officers, December 1944 at Driffield.
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Navigator

Name: Kenneth John BROWN
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 410302
Date of Birth: 15 October 1916
Place of Birth: Rochester, Vic
Date of Enlistment: 06 December 1941
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Vic
Next of Kin: Katherine BROWN
Date of Discharge: 13 May 1948
Rank at Discharge: Flight Lieutenant
Posting at Discharge: RAAF Station, Laverton
Honours and Gallantry: .....
Prisoner of War: No

Brown may also be seen in the Navigators' Group photo at Foulsham, February/March 1945; front row, 5th from left.
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Wireless Operator

Name: Robert Thomson CRAIG
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 410632
Date of Birth: 18 August 1912
Place of Birth: Chiltern, Vic
Date of Enlistment: 31 January 1942
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Vic
Next of Kin: J CRAIG
Date of Discharge: 18 October 1945
Rank at Discharge: Flying Officer
Posting at Discharge: 1668 Communications Unit
Honours and Gallantry: .....
Prisoner of War: No
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Mid-Upper Gunner

Name: Mervyn John COLEMAN
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 436070
Date of Birth: 04 June 1924
Place of Birth: Kalgoorlie, Western Australia
Date of Enlistment: 07 November 1942
Place of Enlistment: Perth, WA
Next of Kin: John COLEMAN
Date of Discharge: 11 December 1945
Rank at Discharge: Flying Officer
Posting at Discharge: 74 Base
Honours and Gallantry: .....
Prisoner of War: No
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Mervyn John Coleman 436070 RAAF at enlistment, November 1942, later Mid-Upper Gunner, 462 Squadron.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9300, 436070

Mervyn John Coleman 436070 RAAF at enlistment, November 1942, later Mid-Upper Gunner, 462 Squadron.

 

F/Sgt Mervyn John Coleman 436070 RAAF at 10 Squadron, later Mid-Upper Gunner 462 Squadron.
Photo from the M J Coleman Archives, via Harold Dummer

F/Sgt Mervyn John Coleman 436070 RAAF at 10 Squadron, later Mid-Upper Gunner 462 Squadron.

 

F/Sgt Mervyn John Coleman, 436070 RAAF, Gunner in Leitch Crew at 10 Squadron, later Mid-Upper Gunner 462 Squadron.
Photo from the M J Coleman Archives, via Harold Dummer

Above: Crew at 10 Squadron, with the following names as advised by Harold Dummer
Back, L to R: Sgt R A Crawford, Sgt C R B Lewington, MU/AG Sgt C A R Dummer, R/AG F/Sgt M J Coleman;
Front, L to R: Sgt R F Pearce, Captain P/O N C C Leitch, F/Sgt W J McCarroll.
(See later section for information on Coleman and this crew at 10 Squadron.)

 

F/Sgt Mervyn John Coleman, 436070 RAAF, in Cameron Crew 39 at 466 Squadron, later Mid-Upper Gunner 462 Squadron.
From the 466-462 Squadrons' Association, Sydney

Above: Crew 39 at 466 Squadron, also published in "Brave and True", page 106, with the following names:
Back, L to R: WOP/AG Sgt C P Marshall, R/AG W/O M J Coleman,
MU/AG Sgt R P Hunter, F/Eng Sgt R Blair;
Front, L to R: B/A F/Lt N Olsberg, Captain S/Ldr J H Cameron DFC, Nav F/Lt R H Maury.

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Rear Gunner

Name: Richard Henry GEE
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 408220
Date of Birth: 10 November 1921
Place of Birth: Launceston, Tasmania
Date of Enlistment: 22 May 1941
Place of Enlistment: Hobart, Tasmania
Next of Kin: Richard GEE
Date of Discharge: 11 August 1945
Rank at Discharge: Pilot Officer
Posting at Discharge: School of Administration
Honours and Gallantry: .....
Prisoner of War: No
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Flight Engineer

Name: R J CONSTABLE
Service: Royal Air Force (VR ?)
Service Number: 1279880
Date and Place of Birth: ......
Date and Place of Enlistment: ..... **
Next of Kin: .....
Date of, Rank and Posting at Discharge: .....
Honours and Gallantry: .....
Prisoner of War: No
(** Sce No 1279880 in the series 1250001 to 1299800 allocated from May 1940
at Uxbridge, Gloucester and Penarth,
Refer website http://www.ab-ix.co.uk/rfc_raf.pdf)

Flight Sergeant Constable may be seen in the Flight Engineers' Group photo November 1944 at Driffield, front row, 3rd from left; and
Warrant Officer Constable in Flight Engineers' Group photo about June 1945 at Foulsham, front row, 2nd from right.
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Additional Crew information – sourced from 462 Squadron ORB, "Brave and True", P H Finley's A9300 RAAF Service File at the NAA, London Gazette. More information will be added.

Finley's first crew at 466 Squadron was Bomb aimer R J Evans, Navigator L Abbott, Wireless Operator G J Mitchell, Rear Gunner K M Tranent, Mid-Upper Gunner J P T Finn, and Flight Engineer T W Wild.

After the incident on 18 July 1944 when flying from 466 Squadron, Driffield, Finley and Evans had to re-crew.
This new crew was made up of Finley, B/A Evans, Nav K J Brown, W/OP R T Craig, R/AG R H Gee, MU/AG M J Coleman, and F/E R J Constable. This is the group shown in the crew photo at the beginning of this crew page.
Following is information for Crew 128, Pilot Finley, 466 Squadron, from "Brave and True" page 138.

Finley Crew 128 at 466 Squadron, from "Brave & True" page 138, later posted to 462 Squadron.

The names highlighted made up the crew which was posted FROM 466 Squadron TO 462 Squadron, as Crew 15.

The members of crew were posted FROM 462 Squadron as follows .......

Roger John Evans - November 1944; last Op 12 September 1944
Robert Thomson Craig - not recorded in ORB; last Op 25 October 1944

Peter Hamilton Finley - January 1945; last Op 21 December 1944; Air Party to 462 Squadron, Foulsham 29 December 1944
Richard Henry Gee - January 1945; last Op 21 December 1944; Air Party to 462 Squadron, Foulsham 29 December 1944
Mervyn John Coleman - not recorded in ORB; last Op 21 December 1944; Air Party to 462 Squadron, Foulsham 29 Dec 1944

R J Constable - August 1945; last Op 08 April 1945; Air Party to 462 Squadron, Foulsham 29 December 1944
Kenneth John Brown - September 1945; last Op 24 April 1945; Air Party to 462 Squadron, Foulsham 29 December 1944
Constable and Brown each flew with several different crews after Finley's departure.
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Peter Hamilton FINLEY, Pilot – Information from 462 Squadron ORB, "Brave and True", A9300 RAAF Service File (NAA).
Summary as of 06 August 2018, extra details will be added for later updates.

22 June 1941 – Enlisted in the RAAF, at 2 Recruiting Centre, Sydney.

Trained in Australia, embarked for Canada, trained in Canada, embarked for the UK, trained in the UK at multiple units. Details to be added.
27 March 1942 – Graduated from Flying Training and Awarded Pilot's Wings, Canada
27 March 1942 – Granted a Commission, appointed as Pilot Officer, Canada
27 Sept 1942 – Promoted to Flying Officer

15 March 1944 – Posted to 22 Operational Training Unit, where crews of six were usually formed, to train in Wellington Bombers.
27 March 1944 – Promoted to Flight Lieutenant
28 April 1944 – Posted to 41 Base, 1652 HCU, Marston Moor, where the Flight Engineer would usually join the crew.

09 June 1944 – Posted to 466 Squadron, pilot of Crew 128.

18 July 1944 – Incident over France during daylight bombing. Five of the Finley crew had baled out over France as ordered by Finley (2 PoWs, 3 Evaders). Pilot Finley and Bomb Aimer Evans managed to bring the aircraft back to England and baled out just before it exploded. Finley was slightly injured, parachuting to Manor Farm, near Lympne, Kent. Finley and Evans then re-crewed, and carried out four more Ops at 466 Squadron.
21 July 1944 – 10 Days Leave

20 August 1944 – Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield, with 2nd crew, designated as Crew 15. The crew names are highlighted in the information from "Brave and True", shown above.

29 December 1944 – Finley and Crew 15 transferred with 462 Squadron from Driffield (4 Group) to Foulsham (100 Group), in the Air Party, flying in Halifax MZ429 Z5-F

20 December 1944 – (possibly an error for 20 January 1945 ?) – Posted TO 43 Base; Service File information differs from Squadron ORB, in which Pilot Finley was posted FROM the Squadron in January 1945. Presumably he had completed his first Tour. Finley was most likely carrying out an Instructional Role at 43 Base.

24 Jan 1945 – Posted to 11 PDRC, Brighton for repatriation to Australia.

18 September 1945 – Appointment terminated, on demobilisation, to take up civil employment, at the same establishment in which he was employed as a Clerk before enlistment in the RAAF.
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Mervyn John COLEMAN, Mid-Upper Gunner – Information from 462 Squadron ORB, "Brave and True", M J Coleman's A705 RAAF Casualty File and A9300 RAAF Service File at the NAA, M J Coleman Archives as supplied by Harold Dummer. Summary as of 06 August 2018, extra details will be added for later updates.

07 November 1942 – Enlisted in the RAAF, at 4 Recruiting Centre, Perth, Western Australia

24 June 1943 – Awarded Air Gunners Badge; Promoted to Sergeant

24 December 1943 – Promoted to Flight Sergeant

04 June 1944 – Posted to 10 Squadron, Melbourne, Yorkshire, Rear Gunner for P/O N C C Leitch.

16/17 June 1944 – Sole survivor of Halifax LV825 / G from 10 Squadron, Melbourne, Yorks. Take-off was at 00:20 on 17 June, and after flying a "radius of action" prior to setting course (due at 00:42), and under 1500ft cloud height, the starboard outer engine caught fire from unknown cause. The aircraft crash-landed at 00:50 at Pastures Farm, near Rawcliffe, about 4 miles west of Goole, Yorks. After exiting the rear turret, and receiving no response to his shouts to the crew, Coleman ran from the aircraft and fell into a ditch, before the Halifax exploded. The bomb load was 18 x 500 lb bombs. Coleman was only slightly injured, suffering from shock and bruises. Six of the crew were killed including the Pilot/Captain P/O N C C Leitch 427001 RAAF. Mid-Upper Gunner Sgt C A R Dummer and Pilot N C C Leitch are buried side-by-side at Harrogate (Stonefall) Cemetery, Knaresborough, Yorks. Sgt C A R Dummer was the older brother of Harold Dummer who has been researching this crew for many years. The photos of the Leitch crew at 10 Squadron, and of F/Sgt MJ Coleman (both shown in a previous section) were from a book that Harold is preparing on the crew. Thank you Harold for sharing your research on this crew.
17 June 1944 – Admission to Station Sick Quarters, 10 Squadron, discharged 27 June 1944

29 July 1944 – Posted to 466 Squadron, Rear Gunner for Crew 39, Pilot/Captain Squadron Leader J H Cameron. This was "Jock" Cameron's second Operational Tour at 466 Squadron, for his first Tour he was a F/Sgt Pilot. A photo of the Cameron crew including Coleman, was shown in a previous section.
Coleman's rank was listed as Warrant Officer for Cameron's crew photo, and also in the crew details, however his promotion was not until 24 December 1944. For the Finley Crew photo taken at Driffield, Coleman was correctly listed as F/Sgt.
Following is information for Cameron's (2nd Tour) Crew 39 at 466 Squadron, from "Brave and True" page 108.

Cameron Crew 39 at 466 Squadron, from "Brave True" page 108; incdding F/Sgt M J Coleman 436070 RAAF, later in 462 Squadron.

18 July 1944 – Sometime after this date, Coleman transferred to Crew 128, Pilot Finley, at 466 Squadron. Five of the Finley crew had baled out over France as ordered by Finley. Pilot Finley and Bomb Aimer Evans managed to bring the aircraft back to England and baled out just before it exploded. They then re-crewed, with Coleman taking on the role as Mid-Upper Gunner. This new Finley crew flew four more Ops at 466 Squadron.

20 August 1944 – Coleman and Finley crew posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield, designated as Crew 15. Coleman carried out the role of Mid-Upper Gunner.

24 December 1944 – Promoted to the rank of Warrant Officer.
29 December 1944 – Coleman and Finley Crew 15 transferred with 462 Squadron from Driffield (4 Group) to Foulsham (100 Group), in the Air Party, flying in Halifax MZ429 Z5-F.

Dec 1944 / Jan 1945 – Posted FROM 462 Squadron TO 74 Base Marston Moor, dated variously as 27 or 28 December 1944 in RAAF Service File, but not recorded in the 462 Squadron ORB for December 1944 or January 1945. Pilot Finley and R/AG Gee were both posted FROM the Squadron in January 1945 as per the ORB. Presumably Finley, Gee and Coleman had all completed their first Tours. Coleman was most likely carrying out an Instructional Role at Marston Moor, the home of 1652 HCU.

27 Feb 1945 – Coleman Posted FROM 74 Base TO 466 Squadron

28 April 1945 – Granted a Commission, appointed as Pilot Officer.

04 June 1945 – Posted to 11 PDRC, Brighton, for repatriation to Australia.

28 October 1945 – Promoted to Flying Officer

11 Dec 1945 – Appointment terminated, on Demobilisation. Returned to civilian life, and was employed as a brick-layer.

Mervyn John Coleman died in his 50s as the result of cancer, as advised by Harold Dummer.

Mervyn John Coleman (Leitch Crew, Cameron Crew, Finley Crew),
and Neville Owen Reed (Friend Crew 36, Cookson Crew 23, Astill Crew 52), and
Maxwell James Hibberd (Ball Crew 59) were all Rear Gunners who survived an aircraft crash when their crews did not. This proves that the Rear Gunner was not always the first to die.
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Crew Ops at 466 Squadron – to be added

Crew Ops at 462 Squadron – to be added

Gallantry Award of DFC for Finley, and DFC for Evans – to be added from The London Gazette, Issue 36713 of Tuesday 19 September 1944, Fourth Supplement dated Friday 22 September 1944, page 4391.

Each received their Distinguished Flying Cross for their actions on 18 July 1944 Citation details to be added.
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