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6 November 2017
Crew 42, Pilot Peter Freston Whatling – 462 Squadron RAAF

Crew 42 - Rear Gunner Jock Whyte, Flight Engineer Dennis Claude Coleman (Ron), Wireless Operator Lew Edwards, Mid-Upper Gunner Jim Whitworth, Bomb Aimer John William Harris, Pilot Peter Whatling, Navigator Warwick Young - all posted to 462 Squadron - Driffield and Foulsham.
Photo from the John W. Harris Collection.
An identical photo has also been received from David Coleman.

 

Crew 42

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

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

This crew was posted to 462 Squadron at both Driffield and Foulsham. Based on the background in similar photos of other Crews, this photo was most likely taken at Foulsham, Norfolk.

Links to Pilot Whatling, Nav Young, B/Aimer Harris, W/OP Edwards, MU/AG Whitworth, R/AG Whyte, F/Eng Coleman; and Additional Crew info.

 

Crew 42 Reunion 1998 - L to R Dennis Claude Coleman, Peter Freston Whatling, Warwick Denis Young, all previously in 462 Squadron, Driffield and Foulsham.
Photo from the Dennis Claude Coleman Collection.

Crew 42 Reunion 1998.

Left: Dennis Claude Coleman, former Flight Engineer
Centre: Peter Freston Whatling, former Pilot/Captain
Right: Warwick Denis Young, former Navigator

In the background is Parker's Piece, a well known cricket ground in Cambridge.

 

Crew 42 Reunion 1998 - L to R, Warwick Denis Young, Peter Freston Whatling, Dennis Claude Coleman, all previously in 462 Squadron, Driffield and Foulsham.
Photo from the Dennis Claude Coleman Collection.

Crew 42 Reunion 1998.

Left: Warwick Denis Young, former Navigator
Centre: Peter Freston Whatling, former Pilot/Captain
Right: Dennis Claude Coleman, former Flight Engineer

In the background is the Jack Hobbs Pavilion Restaurant, which is opposite Parker's Piece cricket ground, Cambridge.

 

The above 2 photos are of Dennis Coleman, Peter Whatling and Warwick Young when they met up in 1998. Warwick had travelled to the UK from Australia in order to meet up with his grown up children who reside there, so he also took the opportunity to reunite with his old crew mates. The three of them met in Cambridge for lunch. The photos were taken at Parker's Piece, a well known cricket ground in Cambridge, in front of the Jack Hobbs Pavilion Restaurant. Both Peter and Dennis were keen cricket players in their day. For identification purposes, former Pilot Peter is the chap in the middle of both photographs and Warwick Young is the man wearing the spectacles.
Dennis Coleman was aged 72 in May 1998, and Warwick Young was aged 74 in December 1998.

The reunion photos were kindly supplied by, and used with the permission of David Coleman, son of F/Eng Dennis Coleman.

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PILOT
Name: Peter Freston WHATLING (known as Peter)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1389305 (195582)
(1389305 allocated from August 1940 from Euston; new Service No. after Commission.)

Date of Birth: Not known
Place of Birth: Not known
Date of Enlistment: From August 1940
Place of Enlistment: Euston, UK
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known
Rank: Warrant Officer, later Pilot Officer
Posting at Discharge: Unknown (ex 462 Squadron)
Prisoner of War: No

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NAVIGATOR
Name: Warwick Denis YOUNG
(known as Blue or Bluey - common Aussie nicknames for redheads)
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 430297
Date of Birth: 23 December 1924
Place of Birth: North Melbourne, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 1 January 1943
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: YOUNG, W
Date of Discharge: 12 April 1946
Rank: F/Sgt, later Warrant Officer
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit
Prisoner of War: No
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BOMB AIMER / Observer
Name: John William HARRIS (known as Jack at 462 Sqdn)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1337631
(allocated from November 1940 from Uxbridge and Weston-super-Mare)
Date of Birth: 2 April 1923
Place of Birth: Kent, UK
Date of Enlistment: From November 1940
Place of Enlistment: Uxbridge or Weston-super-Mare
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known (after May 1946)
Rank: Sgt, later F/Sgt (Warrant Officer post-war)
Posting at Discharge: Not known (possibly West Kirby)
Prisoner of War: No
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WIRELESS OPERATOR
Name: Llewellyn George EDWARDS (known as Lew)
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 419117
Date of Birth: 23 March 1924
Place of Birth: Ballarat, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 14 July 1942
Locality on Enlistment: Thornbury
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: EDWARDS, Arthur
Date of Discharge: 11 March 1946
Rank: Warrant Officer (F/Sgt during conflict 1945)
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit
Prisoner of War: No
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MID-UPPER GUNNER
Name: James Sunderland WHITWORTH (known as Jim)
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1582513
(allocated from June 1941 from Birmingham)

Date of Birth: Not known
Place of Birth: Not known
Date of Enlistment: From June 1941 (?)
Place of Enlistment: Birmingham (?)
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known
Rank: Sergeant, later F/Sgt
Posting at Discharge: Not known (ex 462 Squadron)
Prisoner of War: No
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REAR GUNNER
Name: J. WHYTE
(known as Jock, but his correct name is not yet known)

Service: Royal Air Force (?)
Service Number: 3020584
(allocated from May 1943 to ATC Cadets Edinburgh)

Date of Birth: Not known
Place of Birth: Not known
Date of Enlistment: from May 1943 (?)
Place of Enlistment: Edinburgh as ATC Cadet (?)
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: Not known
Rank: Sergeant, later F/Sgt
Posting at Discharge: Not known (ex 462 Squadron)
Prisoner of War: No
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FLIGHT ENGINEER
Name: Dennis Claude COLEMAN
(known as Ron, after Ronald Colman, an English actor of that era)

Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 3005236
(allocated from May 1943 to ATC Cadets Cardington)

Date of Birth: 24 May 1926
Place of Birth: Chelsea, London
Date of Enlistment: May 1943
Place of Enlistment: RAF Recruiting Centre, Lords Cricket Ground, London
Next of Kin: Not known
Date of Discharge: January 1948
Posting at Discharge: RAF Aldergrove, Northern Ireland, UK
Rank: Sergeant (1944-1945, during conflict)
Rank: F/Sgt when posted from 462 Squadron in September 1945
Prisoner of War: No
(Date and place of birth, place of enlistment, and date and posting at Discharge
advised by the family of Dennis Coleman.)

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

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

 

Additional Crew information.

For a list of Crew Operations, please view the page for Bomb Aimer John William Harris, created for 6 March 2012. Information there was sourced from John's log book and the 462 Squadron Operation Record Book. Also on John's page is a section listing WW2 connections between the Whatling crew and the Crew of NA240. The Whatling crew also participated in the night Op of the 10 April 1945 when NA240 failed to return.

On the 462 Squadron photo page ... Warwick Young may also be seen in the back row of the Navigators photo (Feb/March 1945). John Harris is in the back row of the Bomb Aimer's photo (March 1945). Dennis Coleman was on leave so missed being included in the Flight Engineer's photo. Other members of this crew may also have been on leave, or may be in other group photos on that page but have not yet been identified. Whatling is not present in either of the Pilot photos.

Except for the Log Book for John Harris, no other log books have been located, and Service Files are not available, so crew information has been taken from 462 Squadron ORBs, or as supplied by family of crew members.

From service information for B/A John Harris, he was posted to No. 10 Operational Training Unit (10 OTU), RAF Abingdon, Oxfordshire, UK, from 17 April 1944 to 28 July 1944. As 'crewing up' usually occurred at an OTU, it is probable that Whatling's crew of 6 formed there.

B/A John Harris was posted to 1658 Heavy Conversion Unit (1658 HCU) Riccall, Yorkshire, UK. from 10 Sept 1944 to 26 Oct 1944, and it could be assumed that the crew was posted together, and here F/Eng Dennis Coleman would have joined as the 7th permanent member of the crew, training in Halifax aircraft.

According to the ORB, this crew was Posted To 462 Squadron Driffield in November 1944, and John Harris's information records his date of posting as 3 Nov 1944, to 'A' Flight. Pilot Whatling's first Op as a 2nd Pilot was on 6 November 1944 with the Byrom Crew. Whatling's first Op with his usual crew was on 16 November 1944. The crew relocated with 462 Squadron from Driffield to Foulsham at the end of December 1944. Their last Op at Foulsham was on 2 May 1945.

Pilot Whatling, Bomb Aimer Harris, MU/AG Whitworth and R/AG Whyte were all Posted From 462 Squadron Foulsham in May 1945, however their new postings were not recorded. Harris's information records his next posting as 199 Squadron, 'B' Flight, North Creake, Norfolk. F/Eng Coleman and the two RAAF crew members, Nav Young and WOP Edwards, all remained at Foulsham until September 1945. Coleman was then posted to RAF Bruntingthorpe, and Young and Edwards were posted to 9 Air Crew Holding Unit (9 ACHU), RAF Gamston, in preparation for repatriation to Australia. The extra few months together at Foulsham probably strengthened their bonds of friendship.

On arrival in November 1944, Whatling was a Warrant Officer, Young and Edwards were both RAAF Flight Sergeants, and the other 4 in the crew were all Sergeants. When posted out in May 1945, Whatling had already received his Commission and promotion to the rank of Pilot Officer, and Harris and Whitworth and Whyte had been promoted to Flight Sergeants. When posted out in September 1945, Coleman had also been promoted to Flight Sergeant, and Young and Edwards were both RAAF Warrant Officers.

Dennis Claude Coleman 3005236 RAFVR Flight Engineer

He was sometimes recorded in the Squadron ORBs as R C Coleman, most likely because he was nick-named 'Ron', after the 1930s/1940s English actor Ronald Colman. Dennis was also incorrectly recorded as G C Coleman, and also with incorrect Service Numbers 2005236 and 3005326.
There were two other crew men with the name Coleman posted to 462 Squadron - Pilot Gerald Coleman, September to October 1944 (KIA MZ400 Z5-J on 9 October 1944), and Mid-Upper Gunner Mervyn John Coleman of the Finley crew (August to December 1944).
Family info records advise that Dennis flew 29 ops with 462 Squadron before the end of the war, so was declared one Op short of "a tour". The ORB lists 28 of those Ops, however with the many errors in the ORB, the extra Op may yet be located. Alternately, one Op may have been a non-starter, at or before take-off, so not recorded in the ORB.

The following information has been provided by David Coleman, so is mostly as written by him. At our first contact on 17th December 2015, his father Dennis was alive, aged 89, but was very poorly. Sadly, but as expected by his family, Dennis passed away peacefully in his sleep on 19th December 2015. Three members of the crew had met up in Cambridge in 1998 (details in previous section with photos). Peter Whatling and Warwick "Bluey" Young are also now both deceased, as is John Harris.

In the words of David Coleman .........

"About a week before his death, Dennis provided me with some wonderful stories relating to crew 42 and how he affectionately referred to them as his “band of brothers”. He also gave me the whereabouts of all the documentation he collected in the last 20 years relating to his experiences with 462 Squadron during 1944 and 1945. In this collection there was an original copy of the crew photograph which you have on the website provided by the family of John Harris. Dennis had hand written all the crew names on the reverse side of his copy. He also had a copy of 462’s group photo of flight engineers taken at Foulsham. Dennis was absent from this photo because he was on leave! I have attached a photo of Halifax NA148, Z5-Z that Dennis also had in his collection. It was taken at RAF Foulsham sometime in early 1945 which I hope you can add to your website."
(See photo of NA148 on the Halifax page)
.

"I knew that in the last 20 years Dennis had travelled to Kew in London so as to access the official RAF records kept there. I have scanned copies of the documentation he collected and this too provides a fascinating insight into the flight operations of his crew. I have attached copies of this documentation to this email. I hope you will be able to use this documentation to help build up even more information about 462 Squadron’s history as well as the personnel who served in it. One attachment is the official diary taken from the squadron’s flight operations log (form 540) relating to the missions flown by Crew 42. It also summarises their formation as a crew as well as what immediately happened to Dennis when the squadron was disbanded after the war in 1945. The second attachment is someone’s recollection of the missions flown by crew 42 – I wish I had asked Dennis as to who the author was, but I can only surmise it was another crew member who had typed up the missions flown and had been in communication with Dennis long after the war had finished. I particularly like the references made to their emergency landing at RAF Manston on 12/12/44 because of fuel shortage and the subsequent enforced leave whilst their aircraft was fixed - “trying to find the fleshpots of nearby Margate”! There is also another reference made to having to land at nearby RAF Woodbridge because of thick fog at Foulsham after their op on 2/12/44. There is another hand written entry made by Dennis that refers to his last op in which he and Peter Whatling flew some top brass officials over to Flensburg in July 1945 returning with a captured Luftwaffe colonel and "pieces of booty". I wonder what the booty consisted of?"
(Documentation received and held pending identification of authors, but this has not yet been successful.)

"Dennis rarely spoke to us, his family, about the missions themselves, preferring to recount some of the good times and capers he and his mates got up to whilst on leave. Without doubt, he along with all his crew mates and squadron colleagues would have experienced real danger every time they flew their Halifax bombers on operational sorties into hostile territory, but like so many of his generation he was very reserved about discussing this with anyone other than his comrades. He did however give me an insight into the mission on 24/02/45 in which 4 of the 10 aircraft were lost. I have attached a typed communication Dennis had with a colleague about this mission. I recount that Dennis had told me that the op was a mess up from the very beginning and that the flight had ended up “in the wrong place at the wrong time” because of poor planning by high command. German night fighters subsequently set upon the flight without any protection from the Mosquitoes who had been originally tasked to provide cover. Dennis’s aircraft, MZ429 sustained some damage but remained perfectly airworthy returning to base at Foulsham. I cannot imagine how the whole Squadron must have felt with such a severe loss of life resulting from this one operation."
(Documentation received and held pending identification of second author, but this has not yet been successful. The four crews lost on 24 February 1945 were Ely and Crew 39, Rate and Crew 13, Ridgewell and Crew 37, Tootal and Crew 57.)

"I have not yet found my Dad's flying log book, if indeed he kept the original, but will continue to hunt for it. All the information I have given you about his service postings are based on my personal conversations with him before he died. After 462 Squadron was disbanded, my Dad was posted to RAF Bruntingthorpe in September 1945. Shortly after that he was posted to 107 MU based at RAF Kasfareet, Egypt where he spent two years. In late 1947, he was posted back to the UK where he served his final months at RAF Aldergrove before leaving the service in January 1948. He had responded to the big recruitment drive by the UK Government at the time for suitable ex-forces personnel to be trained as teachers. My Dad subsequently trained and then worked as a primary school teacher in Cambridge, before emigrating to Canada where he became head teacher of the the town's school in Oxbow, Saskatchewan. in 1963 he returned to the UK and spent  the rest of his teaching career working in primary schools in Warwickshire. He retired from the profession in 1986."
(MU - Maintenance Unit, Suez Canal Zone.)

"I have also attached a couple of photos of my Dad when he met up with Peter Whatling and Warwick Denis Young in 1998." (Photos and description included in the previous section).

More information and/or photos may be added in the future.
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