Friday, October 29, 2010
( click on images to enlarge) Stirling W7513 crew - Sgt. David Church on extreme left, Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter 2nd left, Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu 3rd from left, centre Sgt. Keith Halliburton (the three on the right of Sgt Halliburton most probably are Air/Bmr Sgt Thomas Scarfe , Air/Gnr SgtCharles Henry George Boxall and Air/Gnr Sgt Alexander Clunie Howell
The map shows the general area where the mine laying missions were being carried out . The area marked as ''Radishes'' was the target area for 75 Sqn ( and W7513) that night.
In the next post I will show you the letter I wrote to the Air Historical Branch , Bentley Priory , Middlesex asking for details about Sgt Sidhu and how he was located.
|Name:||SIDHU, DEVINDER SINGH|
|Regiment/Service:||Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve|
|Unit Text:||75 (R.N.Z.A.F.) Sqdn.|
|Date of Death:||28/04/1943|
|Casualty Type:||Commonwealth War Dead|
|Grave/Memorial Reference:||Panel 147.|
Sgt. Keith Halliburton Panel 199.
Son of William Francis and Susan Halliburton, of Ashburton, Canterbury, New Zealand.
Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu Panel 147
Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter Panel 199
Son of Patrick Hunter and of Helena Hunter (nee Torre), of Havelock North, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand.
Sgt. Leslie Thomas Scarfe Panel 164
Son of Edward Tevelin Scarfe and Sarah Grace Scarfe, of Hornsey, Middlesex.
Sgt. David Church Panel 145
Son of James Arnold and Alice Mary Church; husband of J. Church, of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire.
Sgt. Charles Henry George Boxall Panel 143
Sgt. Alexander Clunie Howell Panel 199
Son of William James Stanley Howell and Ella Isabell Howell, of Wairoi, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand And yes , in the next post I will tell you how I was helped by the Air Historical Branch , Kevin King,the CWGC , Air of Authority-- (a site on the net --M B Barrass) , the 75 Sqn Association--Friends of 75( New-Zealand) Sqn Association , Kelvin Youngs( Aircraft Remembrance Society) and Mike Harrison amongst others-- keep following
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
No. 75 Squadron RNZAF was formed from the RAF's World War II bomber squadron, No. 75 Squadron, which had been initially equipped by the New Zealand government and was largely manned by New Zealanders. The squadron was created when, in a unique gesture, the squadron number, colours and battle honours were transferred to the RNZAF in 1946. It had flown more sorties and suffered more casualties than any other in the European theatre.
No. 75 Squadron Royal Flying Corps (later RAF) was formed as a home defence fighter unit in World War I but disbanded at the end of the war. The squadron reformed at Driffield on 15 March 1937 as part of the RAF expansion in the mid 1930s, with transfer of pilots from No. 215 Squadron RAF, being equipped with four Vickers Virginias and seven Avro Anson for bomber training. The squadron later operated Handley Page Harrows which were replaced by Ansons in 1939, operating again in a training role alongside No 15 Operational Training Unit. Meanwhile, the New Zealand government had ordered 30 modern Vickers Wellington bombers to replace its Vickers Vildebeests. Aircrew were sent to England to train on these new aircraft before flying them back to New Zealand. They and their aircraft were attached to 15 OTU.
In August 1939, with war seeming increasingly likely, the New Zealand government offered to lend Britain both men and machines. These took over the "75" squadron number, the letters (NZ) being added in brackets afterwards.
75 was the first of the "brackets" squadrons. Ultimately, six other New Zealand units, as well as Australian, Belgian, Canadian, Czech, French, Greek, Hong Kong, Indian, Norwegian, Polish and South African squadrons were formed within the RAF, until the practice ceased in 1942. These squadrons were usually formed around aircrews from the named nation, replacement aircrew where possible coming from that nation as well, although most ground crew were British. Although often referred to, then and since, as an RNZAF unit, 75 squadron was equipped and controlled by the RAF until VJ day.W7513 was part of a batch of 150 Short s.29 Stirlings delivered by Austin Motors between Feb42 and May42. Contract No.B982939/39. It was initially delivered to No.15 Sqn on 27Mar42, following unspecified accident it was repaired in Short Belfast Works, than to No.10MU on 7Nov42, to No.149 Sqn on 2Jan43, to No.75 Sqn on 4Mar43. W7513 was one of four No.75 Sqn Stirlings lost on this operation. Airborne at 2042 on 28Apr43 from Newmarket on a mine laying detail in the Radish Region of the Fehmarn-Belt. Lost without trace. All are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial. Sgt K.Halliburton RNZAF KIA Sgt D.S.Sidhu KIA Sgt P.T.Hunter RNZAF KIA Sgt L.T.Scarfe KIA sgt D.Church KIA Sgt C.H.G.Boxall KIA Sgt A.C.Howell RNZAF KIA. Read on , the story continues------
Monday, October 25, 2010
It all started with an old sepia tinged Black and White photograph of a bomber crew posing in front of their bomber- that I came across in one of my Dads old albums , years ago . Further questions revealed that the photograph included one of his cousins who had gone to England in 1940 or so , as an apprentice with the De Havilland Company. Once the war started, he chose to join the Air Force, rather than return to India and that he had been killed in WW2--the plane and the crew had been lost without a trace . As the years went by most of the family forgot about Sgt Sidhu . The older generation slowly passed away,Sgt Sidhu's own contemporaries and cousins( my Dad included) had faded memories of him. The subsequent generation, that includes me , were all post WW2 born.Only once, sometime in 1975, did I hear talk of Sgt Sidhu from someone in the family other than my Dad.The old photograph had an aura of mystery for me .All that my Dad could tell me was that Sgt Sidhu had joined the RAF(wrong--he had joined the RAFVR) ,that he was either the pilot or the navigator(wrong--he was the Flt Engr) and that he had been in Liberators (wrong--he was with a Sqn equipped with Stirlings) , that his bomber had been been shot down either during the second great raid over Berlin or maybe on a raid over the Ruhr (wrong on both counts--it was on a mine laying mission off the coast of Denmark).Also in an old envelope, I came across a faded cutting from a London newspaper extolling the wizardly 'hockey play'' by an Indian in some local match.There was an annotation on the cutting by Sgt Sidhu in his own hand--''About me'' , also a cutting from some paper or magazine showing him sitting on a chair.As an aviation enthusiast and an avid reader of military history,having grown up as a second generation Army officer and being a qualified helicopter pilot myself,tracing Sgt Sidhu became an obsession with me.Armed with this and no more, my quest to search for Sgt Sidhu began--read on as I develop the story.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
The turf acres of Newmarket Heath offered a ready made landing ground for aircraft and was first so used during the 1914 1918 War. The adjacent racecourse was undoubtedly an attraction and during the inter-war years many private owners landed on the heath to attend race meetings. In 1938 the Air Ministry took an interest in the site as a satellite base for Mildenhall and on September 1, 1939 began transferring over No. 99 Squadron's Wellingtons, apparently without notifying the Clerk of the Course! This was approximately 300 acres north of the Beacon Course and Cambridge Hill providing one of the longest grass landing and takeoff runs available at the time - 2,500 yards in an east-west direction. Accommodation for air and ground crews was in the racecourse administration buildings, the grandstand and requisitioned local housing until new huts were erected.
No. 99 conducted operations from Newmarket until March 1941 when it moved to the new airfield at Waterbeach. During the winter of 1940-41 and the following spring, Newmarket was often used as an alternative airfield by Stirlings from Oakington. Whitley's appeared but these were used with a number of Lysanders for `special operations' over occupied countries delivering agents and equipment to aid resistance forces. No. 1419 Flight carried out this mission becoming No. 138 Squadron in August 1941 before moving to Graveley in December. With an increasing demand for this service, No. 3 Group formed a second squadron, No. 161, at Newmarket in the following February but it moved within weeks to Stradishall.
During 1941-42, a hard taxiway was put down along the northern perimeter to link a total of 24 loop-type aircraft standings. Three T2 hangars were erected on the technical site, on the north-east side, and a Bl to the east of the operational buildings site on the south side at the eastern end of Beacon Course. Two Bl hangars were also erected, possibly at a later date, on the north-west side of the airfield near Portland Farm and to the west of the bomb store. Additional domestic sites were dispersed to the northeast on the outskirts of the town.In November 1942, No. 75 Squadron arrived while runways were laid at Mildenhall and operated from Newmarket Heath until June 1943 when the new Class A station at Mepal offered a better environment for the heavy Stirlings. With several new airfields with hardened runways coming into use, Newmarket was relegated to a support role.
W7513 took off at 20.42 hrs from R.A.F. Newmarket in Suffolk.It was part of a huge 207 aircraft force on a "Gardening" (Mine laying) operation. A total of 593 mines were laid off Heligoland, in the river Elbe and in the Great and Little Belts. Low cloud base forced the aircraft to fly very low over the German and Danish coasts. Because of this they took very heavy flak and also attacks from Luftwaffe night fighters. Records confirm that there was a German flak ship also operating the coast that night. 68 Lancasters, 60 Halifaxes, 47 Wellingtons, 32 Stirlings - were involved in the operations that night. 167 aircraft laid 593 mines off Heligoland, in the River Elbe and in the Great and Little Belts. Low cloud over the German and Danish coasts forced the minelayers to fly low in order to establish their positions before laying their mines and much German light Flak activity was seen. 22 aircraft - 7 Lancasters, 7 Stirlings, 6 Wellingtons, 2 Halifaxes - were lost. This was the heaviest loss of aircraft while minelaying in the war, but the number of mines laid was the highest in one night.
6 Mosquitoes had also carried out a raid to Wilhelmshaven, dropping many flares to divert attention from that part of the minelaying force which was operating nearby. No Mosquitoes lost.'
Although this was the largest mine laying operation in one night of the whole war it came at a price. A total of 22 aircraft were lost (75 Squadron lost 4 aircraft alone, with a total of 28 crew members killed) - 9 aircraft were lost by the night fighters and the remainder from the flak. Stirling W7513 is not on the Luftwaffe claims list for this raid so it is thought that it had been taken down by flak - Possibly shot down near the
target area, the plane and the crew disappeared without a trace.
"28 - 29 april 1943 (00.35 hours) The Langelands Bælt near Vesternæs. Stirling Mk I W7513 (AA-G)
No 75 Sqn, Newmarket, Suffolk. Minelaying: The western part of the Fehmarn Belt (7 MIA).
Possibly shot down in the area, the plane and the crew disappeared without a trace.
Date: 28/29th April 1943 Mission: Gardening
Unit: No.75 Squadron (R.N.Z.A.F.)
Type: Stirling I
Base: Newmarket, Suffolk
Location: Unknown - probably over target area.
Pilot: Sgt. Keith Halliburton 415411 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 23. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Devinder Singh Sidhu 946455 R.A.F.V.R. Age ? Killed
Nav: Sgt. Patrick Torre Hunter 42297 R.N.Z.A.F. Age 29. Killed
Air/Bmr: Sgt. Leslie Thomas Scarfe 1261331 R.A.F.V.R. Age 21. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Sgt. David Church 1196564 R.A.F.V.R. Age 29. Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Charles Henry George Boxall 1393248 Age ? Killed
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Alexander Clunie Howell 392104 Age 23. Killed
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
http://growtallforidiots.com/short-stirling-bomber-better-quality-footage/ This is a video footage of the Stirling Bomber and gives some intresting glimpses of its evolution and use.
Type: Four engined heavy bomber.
Period of Operation: 1939-1946 (retired from frontline service 1943)
Roles: A dedicated four-engined bomber, it was transitioned to glider tug and transport.
Successors: The Stirling was replaced by the Handley Page Halifax and Lancaster.
Survivors:None. Not even parts in museums. There is an attempt underway to restore one enough for museum display. http://www.stirlingproject.co.uk/
Technical Specifications of the Short Stirling
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Always remembered as the first of the four-engined bombers to join the RAF, the Stirling suffered from several design limitations which severely affected its performance and load-carrying capability. As a consequence, its service with Bomber Command was marred by heavy losses when used on operations alongside the higher-flying Halifaxes and Lancasters.
Air Ministry Specification B12/36, to which the Stirling was one of 11 designs proposed by various companies, called for a four-engined heavy bomber capable of carrying a bombload of 14,000lbs with a range of 3,000 miles a remarkably demanding request for the time). It also specified that the wingspan should not exceed 100 feet to enable the aircraft to fit inside current RAF hangars (although, curiously enough, the most common type of hangar, the C Type, could open to over 125 feet). As a consequence, certain aspects of the Stirling's performance suffered namely that operating altitude of the aircraft with a full load, as the wings could not generate the lift required to operate a higher altitudes.(Note this aspect--it had a major impact on the bombers performance .)
NUMBER: e777788 SURNAME: Sidhu INITIALS : D S RANK: Sgt SERVICE: RAF SQN: No 75
Plane: Short Stirling W7513 Operation: Minelaying CRASH SITE: SW of Lolland
Sergeant Devinder Singh Sidhu had joined the RAFVR on the outbreak ofWW2.
He is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 147, among more than 20,000 airmen, who have no known grave.
W7513 crashed into the sea near Vesternæs, (Danish coast) ,on the night of
28 - 29 april 1943 (at 00.35 hours)somewhere near the Langelands Bælt near Vesternæs.The aircraft had taken of from New Market base ,.
Possibly shot down in the area, and the plane with the crew disappeared without a trace. The Stirling Bomber of which he was one of the crew , crashed into the sea near Vesternæs.The entire crew of 7 died.(Keep following , as I build the actual story)
Friday, October 15, 2010
Taken by Geoff Walden. They can be found on his site www.thirdreichruins.com
Thursday, October 14, 2010
1959-1965, died of pancreatic cancer on January 24, 2010.So many of us grew up reading about the Cartwrights . Now he, Lorne Greene (Ben),
Michael Landon (Little Joe), and Dan Blocker (Hoss) are finally side by
side riding together in Heaven.Those were the great days of Gunsmoke , Rifleman and the Lone Ranger. Who can ever forget that close knit Ponderosa family fighting the rustlers and the outlaws of the wild west!!!