Robert Farquharson was a pilot (RCAF) in the Burma
Theatre and is presently writing a book about the Burma war sequentially
from the beginning, but all through the eyes of Canadians who were there.
Bob wants input and can be reached at:
1003-55 Prince Arthur Ave., Toronto, Ont. M5R
I sent Bob a copy of the Commemorative Issue Short
Bursts 1983 - 1993 and his comments are in part: ". . . it speaks of the
particular pride and camaraderie that holds AG's together. I think AG's
are like goalies in a hockey game - all alone at the end of the rink and,
when the final shot comes, the whole win-or-lose of the game depends on
them. They are a race apart." If you can help Bob, drop him a line.
Gregory Kopchuk email@example.com has
developed a web site on 429 Squadron
Greg has dedicated this site, in particular, to
his uncle, F/Sgt. John Kopchuk R1322169 Nav., from Melville, Sask. who
was KIA 22 June 1943 while returning from Krefeld, Germany. Greg would
like input from those who flew with 429 Squadron to add to his site.
The crew of John Kopchuk's Wellington were:
F/Sgt EA Star (Pilot) who has no known grave
Major Kurt Holler reported downing a Wellington bomber
at 0118 hrs on the 22nd of June 1943. The bodies of John Kopchuk and two
others washed ashore. Major Holler was also killed at 01.41 hrs the
F/Sgt J. Kopchuk (Navigator)
F/Sgt WG Parkinson (Air gunner Who has no known grave
F/Sgt JP o'Reilly (Bomb Aimer)
F/Sgt CF Orlinski (Wireless operator/Air Gunner)
Bomber Command's Summary of
the raid on Krefeld Germany 21/22 June 1943
705 aircraft participated - 262 Lancasters, 209
Halifaxes, 117 Sterlings, 105 Wellingtons, 12 Mosquitos. 44
aircraft were lost - 9 Lancasters, 17 Halifaxes, 9 Sterlings, 9 Wellingtons
- 6.2% of the force.
The raid was carried out before the moon period was
over and the heavy casualties were mostly caused by night fighters. 12
of the aircraft lost were from the Pathfinders: 35 Squadron lost 6 of its
19 Halifaxes taking part in the raid.
The raid took place in good visibility and the Pathfinders
produced an almost perfect marking effort, ground markers dropped by the
Oboe Mosquitos being well backed up by the Pathfinder heavies. 619 aircraft
bombed these markers more than three quarters of them achieving bombing
photographs within 3 miles of the center of Krefeld. 2,306 tons of bombs
were dropped. A large area of fire became established and this raged, out
of control, for several hours. The whole center of the city - approximately
47% of the built-up area, was burnt out. The total of
5,517 houses were destroyed, according to the Krefeld records, was the
largest figure so far in the war. 1,056 people were killed and 4,550 injured.
72,000 people lost their homes; 20,000 of these were billeted upon families
in the suburbs, 30,000 moved in with relatives or friends and 20,000 were
evacuated to other towns.
Ron Bramley, Editor of THE TURRET
In the February Page we featured an article where Ron
obtained the Air Crew Europe Medal, posthumously) for the late Roy Murfin
RAAF. Well, "Bram" has donned his armor, mounted his white steed, and again
sallied forth. He writes:
"..my next Crusade is for Brass Bullet Air Gunners
who continued on Ops without getting their Stripes after May 1940. In fact,
the person who started it off was Robert J. G. Cooper, Box 182 Barons,
AB TOL OGO who you may know. He was one of those when in the ME and the
OC was AVM Longmore, who said they must carry on with their ground duties
when they weren't flying, but if they were shot down they would be buried
as Sergeants, and that didn't happen either! Quite incredible reading.
Bob Cooper, when he went to Canada and joined the RCAF he still was not
promoted, and when he finished his time, he applied to joint the Canadian
Air Crew Association, but was first refused because he never had a brevet!
He later got in, because a friend showed Bob's Log Book to them! He hopes
we will both live long enough to see it put right, and so far I have the
AGA behind me, and a retired Air Commodore who knew Longmore. So wish me
luck (and time). Hope to come to Canada this year (October) for the Burma
Bombers Association Reunion in Comox...."
Bob Middlemass received the following via Mike Garbett,
Author of Lanc.1,2,3, books:
In early 1943, the principle offensive actions which
the Luftwaffe were producing against Britain were the 'hit-and-run' boys.
A pair of 190's or 109's each with a pair of bombs underneath would attack
anywhere along the South Cost with reasonable chance of striking a built
To cope with these we had to keep up a standing patrol
anywhere between The Isle of Wight and Beachy Head. Other squadrons covered
other stretches of the coast. It was in pursuit of this policy that a section
of two Typhoons took off from Tangmere one morning. Flying lead was Ron
Fitzgibbon with Norman Preston his No.2. It could easily have been the
other way around. These two had joined up together, trained together, flown
together as often as they could talk the flight commander into it. Several
months later they were to die within ten days of each other.
We had made habit of these sections of two taking off
in tight formation. It was spectacular and did a lot of good to the moral
of the ground staff. This time it was a mistake.
Just before they reached the un-stick speed, Fitz's
starboard tire burst and he slewed across the runway towards Norm's take-off
line. There was only one thing to do and Norm did it. He hauled back hard
on the stick, managed to get off the ground and hold it up there while
Fritz swept past below him. But, having done that, he paid the price of
having insufficient flying speed to stay up. His aircraft cart-wheeled
two or three times before ending up in a crumpled heap many yards further
on. Norm was unhurt.
Fitz, meantime, was having his problems too. He was
on the grass, which was quite serviceable, proceeding on a line about 30
degrees away from the runway. He was trying desperately to coax his aircraft
into the air, retract the undercarriage, and come in for a belly-flop with
minimal damage. But the shredded tire, dragging against the ground, resisted
all attempts to accelerate. Perforce, he closed everything down and prepared
for an almighty smash. It was obvious to him that he wasn't going to stop
within the perimeter.
On the far side of the perimeter track was a patch
of fairly rough ground - which would at least be softish. However, just
slightly to the right of his path, just inside the perimeter, stood a Lancaster.
It had landed badly shot up some weeks ago. The maintenance team who had
been working on it had rung the Lanc. Squadron the night before to come
and pick up their baby.
Fitz, who had no control of the direction he was heading,
swept past the visitor on its port side and his starboard wing-tip neatly
removed the Lanc's port tail unit. Meantime, the Typhoon proceeded, still
at fairly high speed, under the big fella's port wing. Which was far enough
off the ground for it to go through. Not the prop thought, it was still
rotating, though slowly. And it was, of course, going forward at the same
time. It therefore, during its under-wing passage cut a quadrant shaped
hole in the Lanc wing, starting just forward of the trailing edge and ending
just aft of the edge. In the process, it severed the main spar.
Fitz carried on into the rough ground, bumped his way
through it, though it at least helped to decelerate him. He finally came
to rest in the corner of a blister hangar which contained a Spitfire. It
had, but a few seconds previous, contained the ground crew who'd been working
on the Spit. They made a hurried exit when they saw Fitz approaching.
One of the ground crew had, on arrival at work, propped
his bike against the corner of the hangar where Fitz ended up. That bicycle
was yet another casualty. Also the hangar itself, not having been designed
to withstand charging Typhoons. After all, it was only a blister hangar,
so it promptly collapsed over both aircraft and Fitz. Doing both aircraft
considerable damage, but doing Fitz no damage at all.
So, in about 45 seconds of improbable action, the total
score was:- Two Typhoons, one Lancaster, one Spitfire, one Blister hangar,
and one bicycle.
"S" Squadron - Halifax 1V's at Marston Moor,
Yorkshire. Never heard of them? Read on....
THE TOP SECRET TRUTH OF THE HALIFAX
Based upon the writing and memoirs of Mr. Harry
Thomas Esq. (RAF Retd.)
~ Edited by Chief Technician David Curry RAF ~
During October 1995, I researched the loss of a 102
Squadron Halifax 111 heavy bomber, based at Pocklington. My investigations
revealed that the particular aircraft and its crew were shot down by flax
while attacking Koblenz, the seven man crew were lost. While obtaining
information from the Public Archives Office relating to this bomber, I
came across a previous top secret classified document detailing the formation
of a specialist and highly unusual Halifax bomber squadron in Yorkshire.
The document revealed that from mid 1943 a special high altitude
day bomber force of 20 Halifax 1V's were operating from Marston Moor airfield.
The unit was not assigned a squadron number, but was merely identifies
as S (Special) Squadron, and was administratively controlled by 4 Group
HQ of RAF Bomber Command. The document said that the Halifax 1V had been
designed to fly at high speed, extreme altitudes, and was fitted with very
special engines. Similarly, they contained the latest in blind bombing
aids, namely H2X, and were fitted with the high altitude tachometer bombsight.
Upon checking I found that the only entry I could find
describing the Halifax 1V was, and I quote, "Halifax 1V - Experimental
aircraft built for the purpose of testing new engine mountings". This seemed
rather odd as I had read archives saying that they were conducting operations
to Germany from 1943 to the end of the war. I next approached the Air Research
Branch in London and gained access to previously classified government
papers relating to a meeting, held in 1942, of a committee
set up to discuss the design of a new type of
bomber. Shortly afterwards I was introduced, through the 4566 Sqn. association,
to a Mr. Harry Thomas, who, as a young man, had served with 466 Sqn., 35
Sqn., and then S Sqdn. The story he told me regarding the introduction
to service of the Halifax 1V must surely be one of the strangest to be
uncovered from World War Two.
Prior to joining the RAF in 1940, Harry Thomas was
a trainee Fireman/Stoker working on the foot plate of the LNER. At the
outbreak of the war he joined up hoping to become a pilot, but after selection
ended up as a flight engineer destined for Bomber Command. After completion
of his training in Canada, Harry Thomas commenced his flying career on
Hampdens and then on Wellington bombers. His Squadron then re-equipped
with the new four-engined "heavy" Halifax 1, and the entire Squadron underwent
HCU (heavy conversion unit). He did not realize at the time but his pre-war
and wartime training would introduce him to one of the best kept secrets
of the war. The advent of the four-engined heavy bombers meant that more
and more 100 octane fuel was needed, and this while our convoys were still
suffering terrible losses carrying fuel from the USA. Invetiably, something
had to give. Just as petroleum and oil would prove to be the Achilles heel
of Germany towards the end of the war, it was also causing concern within
Bomber Command.. A solution was sought at the highest level of government
and many scientist and learned bodies were approached. Eventually, a Junior
Minister of Fuel and Production, named Stephenson, suggested we utilize
our most abundnt fuel supply, namely, coal. The Germans were producing
thousands of tons of aviation spirit every month from coal, but it ws a
very inefficient method and only viable because of the vast European stocks
on hand. Unfortunately, the German fuel was low octane, and while the enemy's
engines were designed to run on low grade petrol, our engines were not
and would suffer irrepairable damage. Similarly, the conversion of so many
of our refineries to the method would cause too much disruption to our
already hard pressed fuel output.
Experts from the Air Ministry and Industry joined forces
and came up with the surprising solution by re-designing the already proven
and tested Sentinal Super-heated steam engine. After much experimenting
it was found that two Sentinal engines could, via the use of drive shafts
and adapted gear boxes drive four propellers. One engine would be located
within the inner ort and starboard nacelle of the heavy bomber and, drive
shafts running through the central wing spar, would drive the two outer
gear boxes and propellers. The vertical boiler driving the two engines
was located behind the main spar inside the fuselage and, although heavy,
was surprisingly compact and able to be fed coal from the top by a single
stoker. The water required to produce the steam could be stored in the
redundant petrol tanks to the capacity of 2000 gallons, and coal could
be positioned within the fuselage and wing roots. A novel feature of the
aircraft was that pipes of super heated steam were routed through the leading
wing edges to prevent icing. The auxiliary equipment, turrets, bomb doors,
undercarriage, etc. all previously powered by hydraulics, would now operate
under steam pressure. Electrical circuits were fed from a generator located
along side the port engine. While the Avro Lancaster was ultimately to
become the most famous of the heavies, the Halifax was by far the stronger
aeroplane and more flexible. It became the obvious test bed for the hybrid
bomber. So was born the Halifax 1V with its revolutionary engines, strengthened
fuselage, and increased wing span to assist in its high altitude role.
Initially only two Halifax 1V's were built to specification but, after
testing, the Air Ministry realized they had a heavy bomber capable of hitting
German targets almost with impunity. The climb rate was relatively slow
due to the weight, but it could cruise comfortably at 40,000 feet and had
an absolute ceiling of 42,000 feet, loaded. Its speed was even more remarkable
at 450 mph cruising and just over 500 mph flat out. 20 aircraft were ordered
from Handley Page. Recruitment/training of crews began by late 1942. Flight
Engineer Sgt. Thomas was posted to Marston Moor airfield, near York in
November 1942. The Engineering Officer, Sqn. Ldr. "Steamer" Gargill, welcomed
Harry and others to Marston Moor and briefed them on their new and highly
aircraft. It proved to be an eye-opener as the Haliflax1V
looked so normal, except it had "large wings, the inboard engine nacelles
were bigger than the outboard ones, there appeared to be only two exhaust
ports, and in place of the upper turret, there was a small circular funnel.
As the Flight Engineer/Stoker, Harry was now issued a new brevet inscribed
Flying training began almost at once in order to familiarize
the crews with their new aircraft. For most, the conversion to the Halifax
1V was straight forward and not that difficult; however, they all marveled
at the aircraft's performance when carrying its 8000 lbs. bomb load. The
crews were taught to replenish water stocks by flying through clouds where,
with their steam cooling radiators fully open, thus killing
two birds with one stone so to say, the radiator, acting as a condenser,
with the cold thick cloud taking the heat out of the steam and the cloud
then turning into distilled water, they could top up their tanks.
The only draw back of the aircraft was that it left
a vapor trail at all altitudes and was clearly visible to all. For training
sorties they burned normal coal which left a dark smoke trail, but for
operations they loaded up with 5 tons of smoke-less coal which was produced
from the nearby Coalite works at Wetherby. Fully loaded, the Halifax
1V had endurance, at cruising speed/altitude, of almost 6 hours. This was
more than enough to attack the most distant German targets.
(to be continued)
When the Ex-Air Gunner's web page is updated April
1, 2001, we will inform our readers of the many occasions S Sqn.
Carried out raids into western Europe. Imagine, cruising at 40,000 feet
wearing shorts and shirt sleeves! Stay tuned.
RODGER HOLTON firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodger has his late father's WW11 memorabilia
and he is looking for a collector who might be interested. Rodger advises
that his Dad obtained his AG Brevet June 1940, Observer Radio
July 1941, Navigator Radio Nov. 1942. He joined 141 Sqn. August 1940 and
went on to fly with 89 Sqn., 1943, then 176 Sqn. And finished operations
on 552 Sqn.
The items consist of:
1. Two log books starting in European
theatre and also covering
Rodger will be making a donation to the CATP Museum in
2. ...operations in India and the far Eastern theatre.
3. Pictures from a scrap book of other aircrew and
photos of aircraft taken on the ground and from the air. One picture signed
by Jock Laurence DFM who was KIA in North Africa 1942. Jock was Rodgers
4. Menu, Sgt's Mess 176 Sqn. Christmas 1943, India,
with 16 signatures on it.
5. Navigator's "Douglas" combined protractor
& Parallel Rule - Stores Ref No. 6/B47.
Sidney Butler - 53 Poplar Ave., St. John's NF.
A1B 1C7 - Ph. (709)726-8569
Sid is very active with 150 RCAF (North Atlantic) Wing
having been Past President, Sec. Treas., and is now on Planning and Policy
Committee. Sid is the first new member recruited through the web.
From Your Editor
To make this Web Page a success we need material
from Members so the Page can be up-dated each month. Lets give the chaps
something to look forward to. Send pictures and copy to John Moyles - address
and Email is on this page.
Member Ray Stoy from Florida is sending some photos
of his WW11 a/c paintings. It is hoped that we can get more pictures on
the Page as we become expert in this new medium.
Until April, keep well. Cheers, John Moyles