The Christmas 1944 Menu's. The Top two pages is Tom's autographed menu. The third page is another set of autographs from Colin Penfold (posted by Chris) which contains Tom's signature on top next to Paper Doll.
Question Are these guys all ground crew?
Last Edit: Feb 13, 2017 5:16:41 GMT 12 by nordicul: Adding photos from new album
I could see the posted photos OK on my computer, but now that I've cleared cache there gone!....So patience folks while I set up things again, I reckon I know what the problem is relating to where they were stored on google photos. It may take me a while though as real life beckons .
What kind of pressure were these groundies under to get a kite safely and quickly up up and away!
Hi Have this unfortunately poor quality crew shot from Tom's stuff ,he is centre bottom row. However it might be enough for someone to identify it...seems also to be a labrador mascot front. the photo was associated with the letter referencing Jack Bradford.
Tom McGibbon's RAF Service and release record and reference.(Hope it is of interest) While trying to find out more about Tom's RAF background I only a few days ago obtained the following record from his niece. It shows that he was in the RAF from 1940 to 45 and it confirms he was lowly ground crew, all be it a good one judging by the reference they gave him.
Regrettably in the Service release there was no mention of any service before Mepal. However Tom appears to have spent the early years as part of a Barrage Balloon crew, another vital support service. These photos seem to relate from that time.
Tom 2nd right back row.
Tom below 1st left
Tom right with unknown comrade.
Tom again....don't forget to let go!
Last Edit: Feb 13, 2017 9:07:56 GMT 12 by nordicul
Below are some of these including his medals, still to be rediscovered in my attic is a book Forever Strong, a Mepal reunion beer bottle...empty! and a number of his a/c engine servicing notes. The F/E Brevet though is a bit of a mystery as he doesn't appear to have earned this, it may have been a gift from a friend or just an RAF souvenir.
Last Edit: Feb 13, 2017 11:15:32 GMT 12 by nordicul: Brevet image did not show
So you've confirmed with the papers posted above that your Dad was a Flight Mechanic Engines, rank Leading Aircraftman (LAC) ie., aero engine fitter or mechanic, a trained Rolls Royce Merlin specialist!
Yes, I believe all those Mepal Christmas Dinner Menu signatures are ground crew, probably all F/M/Es like your dad, and mostly but not all serving with "C" Flight.
I've been away from WONZ for a few days, but in that time I have been in touch with the daughter of one of the other signatures on that Menu! She has similar photos of groups of ground crew, also "C" Flight Mepal, 44-45, her Dad was also a F/M/E. If we can compare photos back and forth we may be able to add some more names. And she has a THIRD version of that Christmas Dinner menu, with a different set of signatures!!
The "Paper Doll" photo as I mentioned before is probably P/O Donald J Williams RNZAF and his crew. This was your Dad's aircraft, and as I understand it, a ground crew stayed with the aircraft - if it was lost, they inherited its replacement, ie., the a/c that took over the code (eg., JN-W). Paper Doll was never lost, so I think Mac would have serviced her right up to the end of the war, although she did get re-coded shortly afterwards. Each a/c had a dedicated ground crew of four I believe.
Intriguingly, there are a couple of surviving photos of Squadron Leader Nick Williamson with Paper Doll when she was coded JN-S (Sugar), one taken with ground crew, underneath in the bomb bay, and in it is his black Labrador dog named Rex! (here - scroll down: 75nzsquadron.wordpress.com/n-a-williamson-crew-30-6-44/). So the photo with black dog may be connected in some way ...
The photo of crew with Stirling AA-M is familiar and I'm sure we can identify the crew.
Stirling J-Johnnie is obviously an earlier aircraft that your Dad looked after.
I recognise Ted Gray in the J-Johnny photo (second from left, standing), so this is probably the Joll crew mid-tour, and their regular Stirling, EH880, AA-J Johnny:
Stirling Mk.III EH880 AA-J
S/L Jack ‘Jacky’ Joll, RNZAF NZ40234 – Pilot (centre, with pilot's wings badge). F/O Thomas Cameron Graham, RAFVR 125622 – Navigator. Sgt. William Barron Kane, RAFVR 1312222/ 158333 – Air Bomber. F/S Edward Henry Gray, RNZAF NZ412878 – Wireless Operator (second from left, standing). Sgt. George Hugh Falloon, RCAF C.18262 – Flight Engineer. F/S L.C. Soreson, RCAF R.86749/ J.89823 – Mid Upper Gunner. F/S William Joffre Reid, RNZAF NZ411779 – Rear Gunner.
And Simon, the guy who runs that website, would LOVE to have a copy of this photo, as he would of all of these!
Now, the photo of Mac with two other ground crew in front of Lancaster "D" - how sharp is the original, and can you make out the serial number just to the right of the large "D"? You will make my day if it is my uncle's a/c, HK601 JN-D "Dog"!
Thanks again for sharing these Ronnie, they are wonderful pieces of history. Cheers, Chris
Chris, I appreciate your kind comments but most of all glad that the pics have meaning for you and link to others, part of the giant jigsaw. It's wonderful that these, in many cases nameless faces, in faded photos can have their names remembered their stories resurrected . Along with them the a/c that they shared their lives with all saved for posterity in the forum.
First of, Tom was my Uncle , my Dad was Leslie Strachan ,he to did serve for a short time in the RAF reserve but I have no details. Thanks to for answering my many questions and for uncovering the identities of the a/c and crews.
I agree that the Williamson link, Paper Doll and the black Labrador in both photos is an intriguing link to Tom's ...could the capped gentleman far right be Squadron Leader Nick Williamson?... What a wonderful heroic story about the first Lancaster to land in France.
I Wish the photo was better, it was the worst of the bunch However better than none. The photos are with my brother in the States but I'll ask him to try again to get any better copies, but don't hold your breath as the originals were not in good focus.
Re menus , they really are a wealth of information, with more to be unravelled from them.I've just had some information from one of Tom' nieces of a letter she has of Tom's ....it relates briefly to three of the men who signed the menu, I will post about it next.
If with lots of luck(and a few other things)negatives are found of any photo, it's often possible to get a better copy from that, as fuzzy photos sometimes are the fault of the person who did the developing. I know that coming across negs is very rare, often disposed of immediately, and surely lost over the last 70 years. isc
Chris afraid no go with the photographs, brother can't get it any better than I posted. Though who knows what might turn up another day or in another attic!
Ref the Menu signatures, just to add a snippit of information about the signatories. In Toms effects held by his niece there is a letter dated May 1946,and addressed from Roland Stroud (F-Fox on both menus), he was on demob leave and in it he gave a general update on what he was up to. He referenced Jonah (J D Jones - "Snifter" on both menus) whom he said was then in "Egypt and making a good life for himself". Also he passed on regards from Cyril Stone ( "Rockafella" on one menu and "Get Some Inn"and "V Vera" on another. Not much info but it might help someone researching any of one them.I will be interested to learn who your Menu informant is connected to.
Thanks Ronnie, all good information. I am in email contact with the daughter of J.D. (Dennis) "Jonah" Jones. She has some of Dennis's photos of groups of ground crew, and a couple of the Wilson crew, who regularly flew his a/c, HK601, JN-D (Dog or Snifter). Dennis signed up with Fred Woolterton, another of those signatures, and they were good mates. Cheers, Chris