Lancaster - W4364 - 103 Squadron
This was the first Lancaster in Bomber Command to achieve 50 operations, with a number of different crews. The 50th, trip was on Monday 23 August 1943 to Berlin. "We had just started to board our aircraft when there was a shout to get out quick and when we did we saw that the Lancaster in the next dispersal was on fire and we took shelter After a few minutes it blew up and the airfield was covered in smoke. We thought operations would be cancelled but the C.O. thought otherwise and we took off about an hour late and I think we were about last over the target and consequently had a rough time, getting coned in searchlights etc. However we survived and returned to base unaware of our landmark trip until next day when we were ordered to report to flights for this.
On the platform - Station Commander Group Captain Dickens, rivet gun in hand, who has attached a dummy D.F.C. to the aircraft nose. Back row. Ground crew including Alex Gorrie 3rd from left. Front row. Aircrew L to R Eddie Edwards - Mid upper Gunner, Norman Turrell - Flight Engineer, Mac McDonald - Wireless operator, Cliff Annis - Pilot and Captain, Jack Birbeck - Bomb Aimer, Johnny Oldershaw - Rear Gunner, Johnny Renwick (Canadian) - Navigator. This Lancaster was shot down 3 days later on the 27th Aug 43. Only Annis, Birbeck and Turrell survived. Cliff Annis was badly injured in the resulting explosion.
This aircraft was amongst the first batch of 103 Sq Lancasters delivered in late 1942 and had been flown by some prominent 103 Sq captains including Cook, Bayliss, Temperley, Maddern, Bickers, Burton and Steel. David Fell
Sgt Pat Cramer RAAF - 103 Squadron
Pat was in the crew of Sgt G M Pettigrew of Glasgow. They were posted to 103 Sqn in April 1943 and completed 6 ops being shot down on their 7th which was a long trip to Stettin on the Baltic coast..
20/04/1943 - Stettin - ED614 - Sgt GM Pettigrew - 25- Glasgow - RAFVR - K
20/04/1943 - Stettin - ED614 - Sgt J Cooper - 23 - Chorley, Lancashire - RAF - K
20/04/1943 - Stettin - ED614 - Sgt WD Ramsay - 21 - Preston, Lancashire - RAFVR - K
20/04/1943 - Stettin - ED614 - Sgt AI MacKay - 20 - Brodick, Isle of Arran - RAFVR - K
20/04/1943 - Stettin - ED614 - F/O A Daley - 24 - RAF - K
20/04/1943 - Stettin - ED614 - Sgt RG Elkins - 23 - Abertillery, Monmouthshire - RAFVR - K
20/04/1943 - Stettin - ED614 - Sgt PJ Cramer - 34 - North Hughenden, Queensland, Australia - RAAF - Died in captivity
At midnight on the 20/21st April 43 Pettigrew's Lancaster - ED614 PM-G was seen on fire over Vester Vedsted, Denmark while being attacked by a German Ju 88 piloted by Hauptman Baer of 4./NJG 3. The tail broke off the Lancaster and fell to the ground. Pat Cramer was trapped inside his turret and still alive when found by local people. He was immediately taken to hospital at Ribe but died hours later.
Pat was an accomplished cartoonist and left a particularly nice drawing of himself - see above. David Fell
F/O William Edwin Nightingale RCAF – 103 Squadron
Edwin Nightingale of 103 Sqn who was killed on the 8th March 1945. Edwin hailed from Kingswear, Devon in the UK. During the war however he lived in the USA with William's grandparents, Percy LeBaron Spencer and Louise. They took Edwin into their own home when he was a student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Before he completed his studies Edwin left for Canada and joined the RCAF training as a pilot and joined 103 Sqn in early 1945. His death was keenly felt by the Spencer family.
This crew were lost on their 7th op to Dessau in Lancaster RA500 following a night fighter attack. Damage was caused to the 2 outer engines, turrets, electrical and hydraulics systems, the starboard No 1 tank was holed and starboard fin and rudder shot away. 2 crew members were wounded. The aircraft managed to limp back over Allied held Belgium where they baled out. Edwin Nightingale was killed when he baled out possibly due to being too low or I seem to recall being told he may have been strangled by his parachute lines when he came down in a tree. He was interred at the Choloy War Cemetery.
Percy LeBaron Spencer was an electronic engineer of considerable distinction. In WW2 he was a senior engineer for the Raytheon electronic company working on the cavity magnetron and developed a much improved method of mass production of this important radar component.
Post-war Percy became a distinguished inventor registering around 150 patents. Interestingly amongst his inventions was the first micro wave oven from which all such modern appliances originate. David Fell
Leo Patrick & Kevin Joseph Curtin - 103 Squadron.
Leo Patrick (known as Pat to avoid confusion with his father Leo Michael) and his twin brother Kevin Joseph were born in December 1924 in the New South Wales town of Queanbeyan. They were educated at the Queanbeyan Catholic School and moved to Canberra with the family in 1939. On leaving school they both joined the Commonwealth Public Service in Canberra and worked there until joining the RAAF in December 1942 as soon as they turned 18.
They remained together in the same flight and trained as navigators at Bradfield Park in Sydney, Mt Gambia in South Australia and Sale in Victoria. They left Sydney by ship for England in early January 1944. On their way to England they traveled through Canada where it caused confusion with some Canadians that they were white and spoke English. There was little known about Australia or Australians in that area in those days.
When they arrived in England they were both attached to 103 Sqn. It was not usual that siblings were attached to the same squadron but in this case as they were twins and both trained as navigators they were assigned to the same squadron but different flights.
They flew in Lancaster bombers and commenced their tour of flights over Germany. Kevin’s flight finished their tour before Pat’s and he waited for his brother to finish so they could come home together. When Pat, whose tour had been delayed for some reason, had completed all but two of his allotted flights the authorities raised the number of flights in a tour by a further five trips. It was on the third of these extra trips that on 24th February 1945 Pat’s plane was involved in a collision with another plane that had been hit by anti-aircraft fire and both planes crashed. There was only one survivor of Pats crew. He managed to get out and parachuted to earth. He was taken prisoner by the Germans and served out the war in a prisoner of war camp. A few months later the authorities reduced the number of trips in a tour of duty back to the original number but it was too late for Pat by then.
During their active service both Kevin and Pat were promoted to Flying Officers. Our parents were notified that Pat was missing in late February 1945 but it was four years later before they received official notification that he was dead. With thanks to the Curtin family.