Handley Page Halifax III - NA502 - DY 'S' - 102 Squadron - 28/29th June 1944
The above aircraft was 1 of 20 from 102 Squadron detailed to attack railway yards in Blainville – Sur L’eu in North East France on the evening of 28th-29th June 1944.
The crew of NA502 ‘S’ took off from RAF Pocklington at 2216hrs, on board were:-
F/O GJF Mulvaney, RAAF – Pilot
Sgt JA Miller, RAF – Navigator
F/Sgt JB Duell, RAAF – Air Bomber
F/Sgt LK Whellum, RAAF – Wireless Operator
F/O GS Heath, RAAF – Air Gunner
F/Sgt TW Bastick, RAAF – Air Gunner
Sgt DG Smith, RAF – Flight Engineer
The crew had joined 102 Squadron in the previous month & had previously carried out 13 operational sorties together as follows:-
21st May – Trappes, France
4th June – Boulogne, France
5th June – Maisy, France
6th June – Saint Lorient, France
8th June – Alenoon, France
11th June – Massy, France
14th June – Evrecy, France
16th June – Sterkrade, Germany
19th June – Domleger, France
22nd June – Laon, France
24th June - Noyelles en Chaussee, France
25th June – Montorgueil, France
27th June – Montlandon, France
The operation books for 102 Squadron state that there were numerous Enemy Fighter sightings both in & around the target area & east of Paris. Slight Flak was also reported.
At about 0030hrs they were shot down by a night fighter about 2 km North East of Ons-en-Bray (Oise) & 10km West of Beauvais.
Mulvaney, Bastick, Heath & Miller would evade capture, Whellum would be captured & spend the rest of the war as a POW, Duell & Smith would sadly be killed in action & are buried at Marissel French National Cemetery near to Beauvais.
Marissel French National Cemetery (Image courtesy of the British War Graves Website)
Halifax NA502 had been delivered to 102 Squadron from the factory sometime between 28th April & 31st May of that year.
A claim on this Aircraft was made by Luftwaffe Pilot; Major Paul Semrau of Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 who is detailed as shooting it down at approx. 0045hrs in the Gisors-Gourney area along with aircraft LW143 also of 102 Squadron flown by Flight Sgt ND Campbell.
It would be a busy night for Semrau who also claimed another unidentified aircraft at 0030hrs as well as either LW159 of 102 Squadron flown by P/O H Rogers or MZ679 of 76 Squadron flown by F/O JG Jennings at approx. 0100hrs.
Semrau was an experienced pilot who before his death flew 350 combat sorties in both bombers & fighters. He was a highly decorated officer who was killed on 8th February 1945 whilst out on a test flight in his Ju88.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-2008-0024 / Seuffert / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons
The crews of 102 Squadron who did return to base reported a successful attack, however photographs clearly showed that the bombing was scattered.
The Squadron would lose a quarter of the aircraft detailed to take part in the raid on that night with 5 failing to return!
Flying Officer George John Frederick Mulvaney – Pilot
George John Frederick Mulvaney was born in Sydney on the 8th May 1924 to George Mulvaney & Dorothy Ireland. George a Packer & Dorothy had married on 4th February 1922 at St Paul’s Church, Sydney.
Educated in Sydney, George obtained certificates in Maths, Latin, English, Physics, Mechanics & French, he would later go on to work as a Costing & Accounts Clerk with De Havilland in Sydney.
He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force at No 2 Recruitment Centre, Sydney on the 22nd June 1942, was given the Service No 423422, rank of Aircraftman 2nd Class & would be detailed to train as a Pilot. He is described as being 5ft 10 inches tall, 133 lbs in weight, with medium complexion, brown eyes & dark hair, had 2 vaccination marks & a deformity at the base of his big toe, his religion is noted as being Church of Christ.
George went through his initial training at No 2 ITS, Bradfield Park, New South Wales & was Promoted to Leading Aircraftman on the 12th September 1942.
On 26th October 1942 he moved to No 8 Elementary Flying Training School at Narranderra, New South Wales.
He would go on to commence his Service Flying Training at No 8 SFTS, Bundaberg, Queensland from 16th January 1943 before a move to No 2 Embarkation Depot at Bradfield Park whilst he awaited transport to the UK. In the meantime, he had been Promoted to Temporary Sergeant on the 1st May 1943 & would receive his flying badge 2 days later.
He arrived at No 11 Personnel Despatch & Receiving Centre in England on 7th July 1943 before a move on the 10th of August to No 15 Advance Flying Training Unit at RAF Caistor. From here he would Train at No 1532 Beam Approach Training School then No 19 Operational Training Unit at RAF Kinloss, Scotland from December of that year. During his time at Kinloss he would be promoted to Flight Sergeant & would fly Tiger Moths, Anson, Oxford & Whitley Aircraft.
On the 20th February 1944 George would receive his commission being promoted to Pilot Officer, shortly after this he would commence his final training at 41 Base (1658 HCU) at Ricall where he would carry out Heavy Conversion training to accustom himself to flying the Handley Page Halifax.
Mulvaney is detailed as carrying out 1 operational sortie with 578 Squadron in Selby North Yorkshire before joining 102 (Ceylon) Squadron at RAF Pocklington on the 12th May 1944
Mulvaney reported the following in relation to the events of the evening of 28/29th June 1944:- Shortly after crossing the enemy coast the aircraft was attacked presumably by a night fighter. The Engineers Compartment caught fire & he fell down & was apparently killed by the attack (Sgt Smith, Flight Engineer). 2 Starboard engines & the starboard wing also caught fire & with the aircraft flying at 13,000 feet he was unable to control it, rapidly losing height & out of control he gave the order to bale out. An acknowledgement was received from the Rear Gunner just before the intercom went dead. He abandoned the aircraft at a height of about 8000 feet.
He came down in the middle of a wood near to the village of St Paul. After burying his parachute, mae-west & harness he wandered around & looked at several isolated farms. Eventually he made his way to a small farm where he was sheltered whilst contact was made with the resistance movement. The Resistance made the decision that he should remain at the farm which he did until British forces arrived on the 1st September. From there he hitch-hiked back to a forward RAF Station & was flown back to Normandy then Northolt.
Whilst evading capture in occupied territory Mulvaney made contact with F/Sgt Whellum The resistance movement notified him that F/Sgt Duell had drowned on landing in a lake & that he was buried along with the Engineer at the Military Cemetery at Marissel near Beauvais.
In July the RAAF received a letter from a Miss M Eastwood of Low-Belthorpe Farm, Yapham, Pocklington asking that a letter be passed to George’s parents.
George is detailed as returning to the UK on the 2nd September 1944 & after interview he requested that he 1. Return to Australia to complete his tour, 2. Move to Transport Command or 3. Transfer to Coastal Command. His father also George would write a letter to the Department of Air Casualty Section shortly after his return to say how appreciative the family were for having been kept up to date with his son’s movements.
George would be promoted to Flying Officer on 21st August 1944 before being sent to No 1 Personnel Holding Unit Morecambe Bay on 31st August 1944.
Granted his first choice of returning to Australia he was transferred to No
11 Personnel Despatch & Receiving Centre at Brighton on 2nd October 1944 & on returning to Australia would spend some time at 3 Personnel Depot at Sandgate before transferring to No 2 Personnel Depot at Bradfield Park on 12th February 1945
When his appointment with the RAAF was terminated on the 30th August 1945 he gave his address as 60 Cliff Road, Epping, New South Wales. At this time, he was provided with his Airman’s Certificate of Service & Discharge & was eligible for the Returned from Active Service Badge.
In 1948 George would marry Elizabeth Mary Beavis in Sydney. They would set up home together at 43 Blues Point Road, North Sydney & George returned to working as a Clerk. They would later move to the Parramatta area before moving back to Epping.
Sergeant John Arthur Miller – Navigator
John Arthur Miller joined the Royal Air Force, was given the service number 1583459 & would train as a Navigator.
Following the crash John evaded capture, his Evader statement shows that he was interviewed by IS9 on the 24th August 1944 he told his interviewer that he had been helped by in July 1944 by the following people: -
Dr Bouteil of Gourney for some weeks
M. Hanique of Gourney for some weeks
M. Bossu, 164 Rue de Suffren, Colombe, Paris for some time
Back home John’s wife Joan wrote letters on the 23rd July asking that they be passed onto the next of Kin for each of her husband’s crew members. At this time, she gives her private address as 67 River Ave, Palmers Green, London & business address as W.R.N.S., Isolated Units, 45 Parliament Street, Whitehall. Along with these letters she also sends on a photograph of the crew. She further requests that she be informed of any news in relation to the men stating that during her Husband’s happy association with them herself & her husband had come to cherish them as good friends.
I found an entry in Oliver Clutton-Brock’s evaders book that states ‘met Pilot Officer WC Reed who was told that Miller had been evacuated by air on 7th August’ P/O Reed had served with 158 Squadron & had been shot down during an operation to Amiens on 12th June 1944. A Memorandum however states that Miller arrived back in the UK on the 30th August
The hope at a later date will be to obtain John’s Service Record to see where he trained, what his previous occupation had been etc.
Flight Sergeant James Baird Duell – Air Bomber
James with his Half Sister Jean - Courtesy of Glen Birchby
James Baird Duell was born on the 28th February 1921 in Semaphore, South Australia to James Duell & Stella Alice Pelton or Foerster. James & Stella married in 1919 in Adelaide & this union was a 2nd marriage them both.
Sadly, his father who being 13 years older than his mother would pass away on 19th April 1931 at Semaphore aged 59.
James would attend Largs Bay School, Chartres Business College where he trained in Bookkeeping, Typing, Shorthand & English & Muirden College where an entry in their ‘Tuition by post book’ shows him as a student in November 1936. In December of the same year their Annual Speech Night Program lists James as obtaining a Shorthand Certificate of 90 Words per Minute.
Program Courtesy of Muirden Senior College, Adelaide
He would also undertake an accountancy course with Blennerhassett Institute of Accountancy by correspondence. Following his studies, he would go on to work as a Clerk/Stenographer in the Oil Industry with Caltex Oil in Birkenhead, Adelaide.
He enlisted at the Royal Australian Air Forces No 2 Recruiting Centre in Sydney on 9th October 1942, was given the Service No 424863 & rank of Aircraftman 2nd Class.
His Service Records details previous Service with 17 Battalion (Militia) in 1941 as a Private, he would later move to HQ 1 Division where he would serve between 1941 & 1942 before moving to (BIPOD) Bulk Issue Petrol & Oil Depot Home Forces, New South Wales in April of 1942 with the rank of Lance Corporal, he left the service on 8th October 1942, the day before he enlisted in the RAAF where he would train as an Air Bomber.
On enlistment he was described as 21 years old, 5 ft 4 inches tall, with a fair complexion, grey eyes & brown hair. His religion is listed as Methodist & he is listed as enjoying Tennis, Cricket & Sailing. He lists his mother Stella as next of kin, her address being 23a Semaphore Road, Semaphore, South Australia.
James’ half-brother Keith would also serve during World War 2 with the 9th Division Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in the Middle East.
James completed his initial training at No 2 ITS Bradfield Park before moving to No 2 Embarkation Depot on 30th January 1943 having been promoted to Leading Aircraftman earlier that month. He moved to No 1 Embarkation Depot at Ascot Vale on 26th February 1943 & it was from here on 22nd March 1943 that he would travel to No 17 Service Flying Training School at Souris, Manitoba, Canada where he would train under the Air Training Scheme.
On the 18th April 1943 he would move to Lethbridge, Alberta to attend No 8 Bombing & Gunnery School before transferring to No 2 Air Observer School at Edmonton, Alberta in July of 1943.
James was awarded his Air Bomber Badge on 20th August 1943 & was promoted to the rank of Temporary Sergeant.
He would arrive in the UK at RAF Charmy Down in Somerset on the 19th September 1943, before moving to RAF West Freugh in Wigtownshire, Scotland where he would complete his Advanced Observer Flight Training, a further move north to RAF Kinloss would see him train with No 19 Operational Training Unit.
In late February 1944 James was promoted to the rank of Temporary Flight Sergeant.
On the 14th March 1944 James joined 41 Base (1658 C.U. at Ricall) to carry out Heavy Conversion Training before joining 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington on 12th August 1944.
James would bale out of the aircraft along with the rest of his crew on the evening of 28/29th June 1944 but would sadly drown in a lake near to Milly-sur-Therain. An account written by one of his crew members states that James was unable to swim & as crews trained together in water in preparation for any bale out over water it is possible that they would have been aware of this fact. It is unclear if his death was caused by him not being able to swim, but it is possible also that he either injured himself exiting the aircraft or that he became tangled in his parachute cord on the way down which caused issues on landing.
Sgt Mulvaney also reported on his return to the UK that the resistance movement had notified him whilst in France that Jim had drowned on landing in a lake & advised where he had been buried. As they lived in the area they may have been privy to information when Jims body had been found.
I also found documentation from the International Red Cross in November 1944 that confirmed that the Germans had found James’ body on 29th June 1944 after it had been washed ashore.
It would not be until about March 1945 that Stella Duell would receive notification that her son was buried at Marissel French National Cemetery in Oise he was only 23 years old when he died.
The words ‘His duty nobly and bravely done, ever remembered’ would be placed at the bottom of his gravestone. He is also remembered on the Australian War Memorial in Canberra & the World War II Honour Roll in Adelaide.
He would be awarded the 1939-45 France & Germany Medal & Defence Medal.
Stella Duell would pass away in 1961 & rests at Murray Bridge Town Cemetery in South Australia. Her grave also details the loss of her son James.
War Grave Image courtesy of the British War Graves Website
Family Grave Image Courtesy of K McCarthy, Find a Grave
Warrant Officer Leslie Keith Whellum – Wireless Operator
Leslie Keith Whellum was born on 23rd June 1923 in Kensington, South Australia to Archibald Keith Whellum & Gladys Dorothy Cutting. The couple had previously married on 17th September 1920 at St Davids Church, Burnside, Norwood, SA. A Brother Allan Ronald Whellum would follow in 1925.
Archibald had himself served during WW1 as a Gunner with the Australian Infantry serving in France & England. I tracked down a later article relating to Archibald in 1921 when his wife Gladys reported him missing. He had apparently gone to the bank for money & arranged to meet her later but had now shown up, this article had been published a week after his disappearance. Approx. 2 weeks later a further article was published advising that a warrant for his arrest had been issued as he had unlawfully left his wife without adequate means of support. It is possible that Archibald was suffering due to his experiences during the Great war.
Like all boys Leslie seems to have gotten into mischief when in 1942 along with friends they sought shelter in an old railway carriage after rain broke up their camp. The carriage had been converted by a local resident who was most unhappy. Leslie along with 2 friends later appeared in court & were fined for the damage caused.
He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force, was given the Service No 417545 & would train as a Wireless Operator. Prior to joining the Air Force, Leslie had worked as a Cabinetmaker.
Sadly, a Service Record for Leslie is not yet available online, however other sources do confirm various details. A Newspaper Article detailing the aircraft loss states that he completed his training in Australia & left for England in June 1943.
Leslie would arrive at Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar, Germany on 20th August 1944 & would be allocated the ID number 78442, his record card states his name, rank & number & a statement that ‘Further details have been refused’. Buchenwald was one of the largest Concentration Camps & contained suspected communists, Jews, Poles, Slavs, the mentally ill & disabled as well as Political Prisoners, Romanis people, Resistance Fighters & Freemasons.
On 19th October 1944 Leslie would leave Buchenwald & be taken to Stalag Luft III at Sagan arriving on 21st October, he was given the POW No of 8123.
Leslie was reported as returning safe to the UK on 11th May 1945 & his local newspaper back home published a list which contained his name as one of the airmen who had now returned to England safe.
The following month Leslie’s parents Archibald & Gladys would tell the local newspaper that their son Leslie who was now safe in London had lived for 6 or 7 weeks with a family in Beauvais, France after their aircraft had been shot down. Warned of a Gestapo raid the French Resistance Movement smuggled him to Paris where he was sadly captured & sent to Germany.
One of the young Frenchmen (R Buffard) who had assisted Leslie had written to Leslie in Australia not knowing that he had been captured. Archibald & Gladys had opened the letter & wrote to the Frenchman as well as another family whose address had been given. Buffard would write back to Leslie’s parents to tell them that he was so sad to hear that their son had been taken prisoner & that he was a very kind boy. He further advised that when Leslie travelled to Paris he was accompanied by a Canadian Officer & an English Pilot.
Leslie would write to his parents on his return to England advising that he had been captured by the Gestapo in Paris & that they had taken him to Fresnes Prison south of Paris. From here he was taken along with a mob of French Resistance men & women to Buchenwald Concentration Camp. He stated that he was in the ‘hell hole’ for 2 months & that it had felt like 2 years. He tells how he was then moved to the POW Camp at Sagan & when the Russians advanced, he was marched 60 miles where they boarded a train to a place near Bremen, he was there for 2 months before the British got close & they were liberated after about 2 weeks on the road near Lubeck. He tells of the joy experienced by the prisoners when they saw the allied tanks coming up the road saying that they ‘nearly went nuts’ & how some of them had been prisoners for 4 or 5 years.
Leslie would later be promoted to Warrant Officer.
Leslie’s father Archibald would die on 20th August 1945, from his repatriation form it is not clear if Leslie had returned home before then. His mother Gladys would die on the 31st August 1949, both are buried at West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.
Leslie would pass away on 23rd May 2003, an Air Force Plaque detailing his name is mounted on the Memorial wall at Centennial Park Cemetery, Pasedena, Mitcham City, SA
Images courtesy J Long, Find a Grave
Flying Officer George Stafford Heath – Air Gunner
George Stafford Heath was born on 3rd November 1923 in Kadina, South Australia to Clarence Stafford Heath & Jessie Steggall Ward. Clarence & Jessie had married on 1st March 1922 at Tickera Methodist Church. A daughter Mary Isabel Heath would follow in 1925.
George would go on to attend Kadina Memorial High School in South Australia & it was during his School years in 1935 that he would lose his father Clarence.
George enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force at No 5 Recruitment Centre in Melbourne on the 12th September 1942 at this time he was given the Service No 429808, rank of Aircraftman 2nd Class & would train as an Air Gunner. He gave his previous occupation as Assistant Electrician & Religion as Church of England His address was given as 11 Agery Road, Kadina, S.A where he lived with his mother who he listed as next of kin. His description is given as 5 ft 6 ¾ inches in height, 139 lbs with medium complexion, brown hair & brown eyes, scars on his toe & finger were also detailed.
He would complete his initial training at No 4 ITS, Victor Harbour, South Australia before moving on to No 2 Embarkation Depot, Bradfield Park on the 7th November 1942, on this day he would be promoted to Leading Aircraftman. He again moved to No 1 Embarkation Depot in Melbourne on the 14th December 1942 & would leave Australia on the 15th January 1943 bound for Canada where he would train under the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
He arrived at No 3 Manning Depot, Edmonton, Canada on 31st January 1943 before transferring to No 2 Wireless School, Calgary, Alberta the following month.
At the end of July 1943, he would spend a brief time at RCAF Station, Trenton, Ontario before moving to No 3 Bombing & Gunnery School, McDonald, Manitoba on the 5th September 1943 where he would carry out training flying in Fairy Battle Aircraft
On the 15th October 1943 George received his commission, was promoted to Pilot Officer & received his Air Gunners Badge.
On completion of training George left Canada for the UK on the 3rd November 1943, he would join 19 Operational Training Unit at RAF Kinloss, Scotland on the 14th December 1943 & during his time there would carry out 60 hours training in Whitley Aircraft.
His final course which commenced on 14th March 1944 would see him carry out 50 hours training in Handley Page Halifax II Heavy Bombers at No 41 Base in Yorkshire.
On the 15th April 1944 George was Promoted to Flying Officer & would be posted to 102 (Ceylon) Squadron at RAF Pocklington on 12th May 1944
George was the Mid Upper Gunner of the Aircraft on the evening of the 28/29th June 1944 & had reported some light flak before the aircraft came under attack. He later stated that the starboard wing & astrodome caught fire & the captain gave orders to abandon the Aircraft. He baled out of the side hatch at a height of approx. 10,000 feet.
George came down south of Pierrefitte & sprained his ankle on landing, the following morning he was carried to a nearby farm where he spent 3 days. From here he was taken to Lalandelle where he spent a month & in early August he was taken to Ons-en-bray where he moved between 2 addresses with Sgt Bastick.
Detailed as arriving back in UK safe on 2nd September 1944 he was allowed 14 days leave & requested that 1. He be permitted to return to Australia for completion of his service or 2. Carry out instructional work in the UK.
His return to Australia was granted & he would transfer to No 11 Personnel Despatch & Receiving Centre on 19th October 1944. In January of the following year George made the trip back to Melbourne, Australia. On arrival he was transferred to No 3 Personnel Depot, Sandgate before moving to No 4 Personnel Depot in Adelaide on the 15th February 1945
On termination of his service in August 1945 George gave his contact address as ‘Strathayre’ Main Road, Blackwood, S.A. he would later receive his Airmen’s Certificate of Service & Discharge & his Returned from Active Service Badge.
Part of the way through his service George had given an additional next of kin as Margaret Madren of RCAF St Thomas, Margaret was a Stenographer & WAAF from London, Ontario. George & Margaret met in 1943 whilst he was training in Canada & although the couple had been separated for quite some time, they had managed to spend 2 weeks leave together when he was on his way home to Australia via America. This was just before Margaret left to carry out service in England. In late August 1945 a local Adelaide Newspaper announced that the couple had got engaged & as George headed to Tasmania to take up a post as an Electrical Engineer, he eagerly awaited a visit from Margaret when she had completed her Air Force Service.
George’s mother Jessie would pass away in 1967 & is buried in Centennial Park Cemetery, Pasedena, South Australia.
Flight Sergeant Thomas William Bastick – Air Gunner
Thomas William Bastick was born in Hobart, Tasmania on 8th April 1922 to John Horward Bastick & Doris Josephine May Belbin. John & Doris had married in Tasmania in 1915 & an older brother John Edward Bastick had been born in Hobart on 22nd June 1918. In 1919 the family are living at 247a Bathurst St, Hobart.
Tom’s father appears to have been a prominent man in the neighbourhood who worked with the Public Works Department from 1916 & had been secretary from 1935 until his retirement in 1950. He had also been a Justice of the Peace, a member of the Chartered Institute of Secretaries, was active in Free Masonry for 25 years serving with many lodges & clubs during this time.
Tom & his brother John would go on to attend Hutchins School in Hobart & whilst there Tom would pass his exams in Arithmetic, Algebra, English, Geography & Physics.
Tom would go on to work as a Junior Clerk with the local Police Department & would initially volunteer with the Militia Forces aged 18 years in April of 1940 signing up to serve for a term of 3 years at Fort Pierson. He was assigned to the 117th heavy battery Royal Australian Artillery & was given the Service No 49680. At this time, he was described as 5 ft 9 ½ inches & 9st 8lb in weight. His residential address was given as 1 Heathorns Ave, Lower Sandy Bay, Tasmania & his business address as Police Department, Liverpool St where he worked as a Clerk.
On the 22nd May 1942 he transferred from the R.A.A. to the Royal Australian Air Force, this must have been something Tom thought of doing for a while as he had previously attended an interview with the RAAF in December of 1941. He was given the Service No A408416 & rank of Aircraftman 2nd Class. Aged 20 years old he is described as 5 ft 9 inches tall, 140lbs in weight, medium complexion, grey eyes, with medium brown hair & his religion is noted as Church of England. In his spare time, he enjoyed Football, Cricket, Tennis & Swimming.
On completion of this initial training Tom was promoted to Leading Aircraftman on the 15th August 1942. He transferred to No 3 Bombing & Air Gunnery School in West Sale, Victoria on the 2nd October 1942 before moving to No 10 Elementary Flying Training School in Temora, New South Wales on 14th October 1942
On 8th February 1943 he left Sydney to train in Canada as a Tail Gunner. He would attend No 14 Service Flying Training School in Aylmer, Ontario, completing his course on 21st March 1943.
On the 11th June 1943 Tom transferred to No 2 Air Gunners Ground Training School in Trenton, Ontario
An article in the Mercury Newspaper in July 1943 tells how his mother had received a letter from a Mrs Mark Edgar of Grosse Point, Michigan telling how she had been entertaining 3 Australian Air Trainees which included Tom who had been on a visit whilst training in Canada. Mrs Edgar had been struck by how young the 3 boys were & commented that ‘it would be these fearless boys who would end up fighting the Japanese & Germans.’ The boys had been entertained by the Hostess Corps, events that the local ladies had laid on for these men almost every Saturday evening. The article goes on to say that Tom had particularly wanted to be a Fighter.
On the 24th July 1943 Tom transferred to No 3 Bombing & Gunnery School in MacDonald, Manitoba & it was whilst there in September that Tom was admitted to Portare Hospital, Manitoba to be treated for an Appendicitis.
On 15th October 1943 Tom qualified as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, he was awarded the Air Gunners badge & was promoted to Temporary Sergeant.
In Early November 1943 Tom made the trip to the UK where he would go on to train at No 19 Operational Training Unit at RAF Kinloss in Scotland & whilst there he would have trained in Armstrong Whitworth Whitleys. On completion of this training Tom transfers to 41 Base (1658 HCU) at Riccall in 14th March 1944 to carry out Heavy Conversion training in Halifaxes, whilst on this training he would be promoted to Flight Sergeant.
Back home in Australia Toms father was doing his bit for the ‘Digging for Victory’ campaign by planting & maintaining a 40 ft square garden which provided his household with a continuous supply of home-grown vegetables.
Tom would join 102 Squadron at RAF Pocklington on 12th May 1944
Following his Aircraft being shot down a Casualty Notification was sent on the 10th July 1944 reporting him missing during operations.
In a later evaders interview Tom stated that they were hit by a night fighter, the aircraft was out of control & on fire, when the Pilot gave the order to bale out he did so from the rear Turret, at this point they were at a height of about 2000 feet. He came down near St Martin le Noeud at 0030hrs close to an old French dug-out, making his way to another dug-out he remained there until 0500hrs & buried his mae west, parachute & harness in the woods.
In the morning & with an injury to his ankle & knee, Tom walked through the woods for several hours before eventually approaching a farmhouse. The people at the farm got in touch with a resistance group & one of the members took him to his house in the village of Ons-en-Bray. F/O Heath was also in the village as well as an American by the name of Sgt Frank McCall of the U.S.A.A.F, the men were sheltered by 2 families moving on occasion between these 2 houses.
A letter was sent out to Tom’s father on the 2nd July advising of the Aircraft loss, as there had been no notification of death the family were asked not to communicate with the press as this might prejudice any escape.
The men remained in the village until the 1st September following the arrival of British troops on 30th August.
Later newspapers detail that during their time in the village they had a good view of the approach to the houses & would move to a cupboard if any strangers approached the property. On one occasion 3 SS men were billeted to the house for 2 days, the men hid in the attic whilst the men were in the next room. During these days the men played draughts & cards & watched the Nazis through the keyhole. At one point a Gestapo officer also joined the SS men but only stayed for 1 night. The evaders had to whisper during these 2 days & even reported that they listened to one of the Nazis playing his violin for a couple of hours.
A further letter would be sent to Tom’s father on the 11th September 1944 reporting that he arrived safely in the UK on the 2nd September.
Although fit to return to operational flying, evaders were given the option to express their preference in relation to future employment within the service. Tom requested that 1. He return to Australia for completion of his tour on medium bombers or 2. He be posted to 27 OTU for instructional duties. During this interview he was granted 13 days sick leave in relation to an ankle & knee injury.
On the 11th October 1944 Tom would move to No 11 Personnel Despatch & Receiving Centre in Brighton, England to await repatriation to Australia which did not happen until the 16th January 1945.
The Mercury Newspaper of the 9th March 1945 announced that Joan Parker a Flight Sergeant with the WAAAF & 3rd daughter of Mrs DW Parker, 56 Colville St, Hobart had got engaged to Tom the youngest son of Mr & Mrs JH Bastick of 1 Heathorns Ave.
There was communication between the RAAF in Melbourne & 102 Squadron in March/April 1945 as Tom had applied for a commission but had not been interviewed in relation to this before his Aircraft was shot down. On the 15th April 1945 Tom was promoted to Warrant Officer.
Tom & Joan would marry at St George Church, Battery Point on Saturday 14th July 1945. The Mercury of Monday 16th July would go into quite a bit of detail in relation to Tom’s Air Force Service, the 2 1/2 months spent hiding from the Germans in France as well as who attended the wedding. Which interestingly included some of his crewmates (Mulvaney & Heath) as Ushers.
On the 2nd October 1945 Tom received notification via the RAAF that he was entitled to a Returned from Active Service Badge, he was also discharged on this date when his Character is described as Very Good & Trade Proficiency as Satisfactory. He was granted 60 days pay in lieu of leave due at discharge. He would also be awarded the 1939-45 Star, France & Germany Star, Defence & War Medals.
The voters roll in 1949 shows that Tom & Joan settled at Seaview Ave, Taroona when Tom was now working as a Civil Servant & Joan as a Typist.
Tom would lose his father on 19th September 1952, who just months before his death he would be awarded an MBE.
Tom & Joan would later go on to live at the house that his parent had owned at 1 Heathorn Ave.
Nancy ‘Joan’ Bastick would pass away on 22nd November 1996 & Tom on the 10th October 1998, both are remembered at Cornelian Bay Cemetery, Hobart,
Tom & Joans Wedding Picture - 1945
Sergeant Dennis George Brailsford Smith – Flight Engineer
Dennis was born on the 24th October 1923 at 50 Manor Road, Leyton, Essex. He was the son of Arthur Cecil Smith a Commercial Traveller & Edith Winifred Grosch. Arthur & Edith had previously married on 28th October 1916 at Leyton All Saints Church in Essex
Dennis was 1 of 4 children born to the couple with sister Eileen being born in 1920, brother Ronald in 1922 & younger sister Beryl in 1927
By 1939 the family have moved to Swan Road, West Drayton, Middlesex, Arthur is working as a Sales Manager in the Dairy Industry, daughter Eileen as a Shorthand Typist (the career her mother Edith had had prior to her marriage) & Ronald as an Assistant Stock Keeper. Eileen would work with the ARPs during WW2 in a Clerical Role & Ronald would work with them as a Messenger.
Dennis joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserves, was given the Service No 1807478, would train as a Flight Engineer & would later join 102 (Ceylon) Squadron at RAF Pocklington. Again the hope at a later date will be to obtain Dennis’ Service Record to see where he trained, what his previous occupation had been etc.
As already detailed, when the aircraft was attacked by a night fighter, the Engineers Compartment caught fire & Dennis would be killed.
His body would be recovered from the wreckage & he would be buried along with Flight Sergeant Duell at Marissel French National Cemetery in Oise he was only 20 years old.
The words ‘Sleep now, and rest the whole night through’ would be placed at the bottom of his gravestone. He is also Commemorated in the Book of Remembrance at St Martins Church, West Drayton.
Images of the Book of Remembrance mentioning Dennis Courtesy of St Martins Church, West Drayton
From Left to Right - Back Row - Dennis Smith, George Heath, Tom Bastick.
Front row. James Duell, George Mulvaney, Leslie Whellum.
25th April 1944 - Courtesy of Tim Bastick
From Left to Right - Back Row - George Heath, Tom Bastick, John Miller.
Front Row - Leslie Whellum, George Mulvaney, James Duell.
(photo B.Wilkin The Studio Elgin).
Courtesy of Tim Bastick
With thanks to the following for their assistance with this Project:-
K McCarty, Find a Grave.
J Long, Find a Grave
Mick McCann, British War Graves
Kate Harding, Muirden Senior College, Adelaide
Harry Bartlett, Secretary, 102 (Ceylon) Squadron Association
Rev. Rosy Barrie, St Martins Church, West Drayton
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