25/26.06.1944 150 Squadron Wellington X LP249 F/O. Thomas Bernard McAneney
Operation: Shell Koolaz oil refinery Budapest
Date: 25/26 June 1944 (Sunday/Monday)
Unit: 150 Squadron - Motto: Αιει Φθανομεν (Greek for 'Always Ahead')
Squadron Badge: In front of a cross voided, two arrows in saltire, the points uppermost. The cross is adopted in reference to the arms of Greece. Authorised by King George VI - March 1939.
Type: Vickers Wellington X
Call sign: not known
Base: RAF Amendola, Italy
Location: Lajostelep, Szabadbattyán, Hungary
Pilot: F/O. Thomas Bernard (Tom) McAneney J/18232 (Formerly R114419) RCAF Age 24 - Killed
Nav: Fl/Sgt. Frederick Stanley Sparrow 1272578 RAFVR Age 21 - Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Thomas Bell 544054 (543054 Air78) RAF Age 24 - Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Stanley Jeacocke Aus/425310 RAAF Age 30 - PoW No. 520 Camp: Stalag Luft VII Bankau, Silesia, Germany (now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland)
Air/Gnr. Sgt. Edwin Charles Hum PM 1243785 RAFVR Age 30 - Killed
Tom McAneney got off to a good start at Initial Training School: graduating 28th of 228 he was described as 'Pleasant, Good natured, Conscientious, Sincere, Clever, Neat and alert, Confident', before being passed along to Elementary Flying Training School on 27 Oct 1941. The assessment of him at EFTS however was a little less gushing 'Average ability, inclined to be lazy - general and instrument flying fair, aerobatics good'. And 16 weeks later on graduating from Service Flying Training School on 10 April 1942 'a mediocre pilot, average ability, navigation very good, flying could stand a periodic check, link trainer average, practical navigation was above average'.
But, having arrived in the UK in May 1942, he seems to have upped his game after being posted to 12 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit at RAF in Grantham Lincolnshire, as the following report on completion of a Beam Approach Training Course at RAF Upwood Lincolnshire, bears testimony.
'He has maintained a very high standard throughout the course. Is exceptionally keen and tries hard. Tendency to lose a little height in turns'
Late October 1942, and with his newly formed crew he was training at 21 Operational Training Unit at RAF Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire where all seemed to be progressing satisfactorily until a night flying exercise of Saturday 21/22 November flying Wellington R1211.
'Took off from Edgehill for night flying practice. While so engaged, the sky clouded over and at 0115 a QFE signal [altimeter setting code] intended for another aircraft was intercepted and, erroneously believing the information was intended for his Wellington, Sgt. McAneney RCAF reset his altimeter and by doing so he now thought he was 400 feet higher than he actually was. Consequently, while descending in readiness to land he flew into trees about a mile N of the airfield.' [Courtesy Bomber Command Losses Vol. 7 - Chorley]
The crew comprised: Sgt. D. Jackson, P/O. L. W. Gill, Sgt Arthur Leslie Eastwick and Sgt. A. Johnson.
1207444 Sgt Arthur Leslie 'Dick' Eastwick* was awarded the George Medal for rescuing other members of the crew from the wreckage. The citation reads:
St. James's Palace, S.W.1, 2nd April, 1943.
The KING has been graciously pleased to
approve the award of the George Medal to the
1207444 Sergeant Arthur Leslie Eastwick, Royal Air Force.
In November, 1942, Sergeant Eastwick was the wireless operator of an aircraft which crashed and burst into flames. He managed to get clear of the burning bomber but, finding that the bomb aimer was injured and trapped, Sergeant Eastwick re-entered the blazing aircraft. By this time the flares and petrol tanks were exploding. Despite this and the danger from the ammunition which was liable to explode at any moment, Sergeant Eastwick successfully extricated the bomb aimer and then assisted in the rescue of the rear gunner, who was also injured. Sergeant Eastwick set a magnificent example of courage, determination and devotion to duty.
Despite their injuries all the crew survived. Tom McAneney was dangerously injured and taken first to the Station Sick Quarters where he remained until 24 November before being transferred to Halton RAF Hospital near Wendover in Buckinghamshire. He was removed from the Dangerous and Seriously Ill List on 26 November 1942.
*Dick Eastwick is commemorated on the Malta Memorial, being one of a seven man crew of Wellington DV931 of 162 Squadron which failed to return from a sortie in the Mediterranean on 18 May 1943.
It was 27 April 1943 before Tom McAneney was sufficiently recovered to fly again. Following an interview by the Air Crew Re-Selection Board he was posted to 20 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit at RAF Kidlington in Oxfordshire to re-commence advance flying training.
It was then back to 21 OTU at Moreton in Marsh on 17 August, where he acquired a new crew that comprised Londoner Fred Sparrow, aged 21 and the navigator, Thomas Bell, the air bomber, aged 24 from Northumberland, Sgt. R. Perrins the wireless operator, about who nothing more is known and air gunner Edwin Charles Hum. Edwin Hum aged 30 was also a Londoner and married to Dorothy. In peacetime he was a Paint Staver. He was also a member of the Merchant Navy Reserve and the holder of the Polar Medal (PM) for service on the Royal Research Ship HMS William Scoresby (see his biographical details below).
On completion of Course 64 on 26 October, Tom received a most encouraging report
'This captain has flown a total of 76.4 hours whilst at this OTU and has proved himself to be a pilot and captain of above average ability. He has been assisted in some respect by having completed a previous course at this OTU
He has made two day and four night cross country flights at above 10000' entailing the use of oxygen. His bombing and I R photography have shown good results. He is to be commended on landing his aircraft on one engine at a strange aerodrome, the engine having cut completely whilst on a day cross country. Has passed through the decompression chamber. 16 Nov 1943'
There followed a week's training at 311 Ferry Training Unit also at Moreton in Marsh, in preparation for their impending flight to North Africa, where they were to join 150 Squadron.
On 4 December, Tom and his crew flew Wellington LN644 to RAF Portreath in Cornwall, and two days later took off for Rabat Sali in Morocco, then on to Maison Blanche, Algeria and finally Oudna II in Tunisia where 150 Squadron were based.
Tom and his crew had barely settled in, when on 20/21 December 150 Squadron upped sticks and moved to Cerignola 3, one of the many airfields and landing strips in the Foggia Airfield Complex in south east Italy.
Bad weather prevented any operations, save 3 special operations sorties, until 12 January 1944 when Tom McAneney flew as 2nd dickey with WO. Tunstall and his crew, one of the six sent to bomb Perugia Aerodrome and followed three days later with another 2nd dickey trip, this time with Fl/Lt. Bint and his crew, one of six crews detailed to bomb the Salonika Marshalling Yards.
The next time Tom was detailed for operations he flew as captain with his own crew. On 20 January, he and his crew were one of six ordered to attack Cecina Railway Bridge. In the event only five took off but all returned safely.
Operations followed on a regular basis, with Perrins replaced by Sgt. Hampson in February and the Squadron moving to Amendola, another airfield in the Foggia Complex.
In mid-March Hampson was in turn replaced by P/O. Stanley Jeacocke the wireless operator of the crew of Wellington JA470 shot down 5 months earlier on 29 January whilst on an operation to bomb the Verona Marshalling Yards. The pilot Fl/Sgt. David Harold Susman, his navigator and air bomber were all captured and made prisoners of war. Stanley Jeacocke and air gunner Sgt. William Alexander MacGuffie evaded for 20 days and eventually reached Allied lines none the worse for their ordeal. To read an account of the loss click here .
Stanley Jeacocke was to remain an ever present with the crew, missing only three of the next twenty three ops and by 25 June Tom McAneney had completed 32 operations successfully.
On the night of 25/26 June 1944 104 aircraft of 205 Group were to bomb the Shell Koolaz refinery on Czepel Island, Budapest. 150 Squadron detailed 15 crews to take part in the operation one of which was Tom McAneney's.
According to the Squadron Summary of Events the 15 Wellingtons of 150 Squadron took off between 2020 and 2100 hours yet in the Record of Events Wellingtons LP510 and LP239 are both shown to have taken off 5 minutes earlier at 2015 hours. A minor error, but just one of a catalogue of errors in this hand-written and difficult to read record as will be seen later.
For simplicity the serial numbers quoted in the first part of this report are as they appear in the 150 Squadron Operations Record Book. However as will be demonstrated in the latter part of the report these serial numbers could not possibly have been correct.
REASON FOR LOSS
The first pair of 150 Squadron Wellingtons are recorded as taking off at 2015 hours and by 2100 hours all were airborne. Tom McAneney flying MF240 was away at 21.30 hours armed with a bomb load of 6 x 300 lb and 2 x 250 lb bombs.
All appears to have gone well until just beyond Lake Balaton some 50 miles south west of Budapest.
In a post war statement in June/July 1945 Stanley Jeacocke explains what happened next
'After setting course from Lake Balatrol [Balaton] to Budapest we encountered terrific flak which appeared to box barrage at first, but after taking evasive action proved to be predicted . We were using window which appeared to upset the accuracy for a couple of minutes but we were suddenly hit and I found myself lying on the floor of the aircraft beside the bed. I was on lookout duties in the astro- dome. I tried to struggle onto my feet but could not do so because of the speed at which we were going down. The port side was on fire, I believe from the port engine back as far as the tri-cell chute position. Not knowing that my telephone plug was out, I expected at any moment to hear the order to bale out and so continued trying to get onto my knees at least in order to crawl to the emergency exit when the bale out order should be given. The aircraft suddenly began to spin and I found it impossible to even roll myself over. I counted four spins and knew nothing further until I found myself conscious and falling through space. As I had been flying with my parachute on for the whole of the astrodome duties I pulled the ripcord and it opened at somewhere between two and four thousand feet. While coming down I noticed a fire on the deck which later proved to be our aircraft. I believe the position of the crash was about ten miles from the tip of lake Balatol [Balaton] and I know there was a three or four line railway connecting to towns about 100 yards west of my position. I think I must have been blown out of the aircraft by the explosion of the photoflash or possibly the port fuel tanks. As I found my telephone cable and plug burnt into my left flying boot on landing and proving I was not on the inter-com with the crew I don;t know if any of the rest of the crew up the front had been killed when we were hit but knowing from past conversations that I was the only one who used to fit my parachute over defended areas I presume that all the crew would find it impossible to leave the aircraft. As there was a huge explosion about 30 seconds after I landed which I believe to have been the bomb load I presume them to have been killed. I received no news of them later, even after visiting the casualty section of Air Min. An enemy motor vehicle visited the wreckage late the following afternoon but as I kept myself hidden in the wheat field I don't know if they found any bodies. They remained about an hour or more there before I heard the vehicle drive away. I also heard civilian women talking and laughing amidst the noise of tearing up cloth which I believe was parachute silk.'
Stan Jeacocke was captured on the 30th June (IRC Letter states 25 June) and after spending a few weeks in solitary confinement in a Budapest jail was taken to Germany to a prisoner of war camp'.
In September 1944 Stan Jeacocke was reported to be incarcerated at Stalag Luft VII Bankau, Silesia, Germany (now Bąków, Opole Voivodeship, Poland and having been liberated was reported safe in the UK on 30 May 1945. He had miraculously escaped two serious crashes and walked away more or less physically unscathed from both of them.
The Squadron ORB gives the details of another 150 Squadron aircraft which failed to return from the raid i.e. Wellington LN792 Z captained by P/O Robert Edward Seymour Shearer RAAF.
Post war investigations by the Missing Research and Enquiry Service (MRES) reveal strange discrepancies in respect of serial numbers of the two 150 Squadron aircraft which failed to return. At first these would appear to be no more than slight typing errors but on closer inspection present a totally confusing picture.
A letter of 19 February from MRES to the Air Ministry reads
I have the honour to forward the attached copies of reports regarding the aircraft crash near SZABADBATTYAN, Hungary, on 25th June, 1944, which presumably refers to the above aircraft, which was reported missing in an attack on Hungary on the night of 25th June, 1944. Particulars of the crew are shown below:
Can. J. 18232 F/O McAnemey [sic] T. B. Pilot - Death Presumed
1272578 F/Sgt Sparrow F. S. Nav. - Death Presumed
Aus. 425310 F/Sgt Jeacocke S. WOp/Air - P.O.W.
544054 Sgt. Bell T. A/B - Death Presumed
1243785 Sgt. Hum, E. C. A/G - Death Presumed
It is requested that positive identification of the bodies buried at SZABADBATTYAN cannot be established until a Searcher Party or Graves Registration Unit is able to commence operations in Hungary.'
And on 24 July 1947 the following Post Presumption Memorandum also quoting serial number MF249 stated that, having crashed at Lajostelop [Lajostelep - an area of Szabadbattyán] the four crew members had been re-interred at Budapest War Cemetery
A simple explanation of the discrepancy might well have been that MF240 in the ORB was merely a typograpgical error and should have read MF249. However Form 78 (Aircraft Movement Card) records MF249 ' F/B Cat "E" Missing 17/9/44' i.e. a flying battle write off 17 September 1944.
It transpires that this aircraft, at the time of the loss of the McAneney crew, was flying with 142 Squadron and its later loss is corroborated by the 142 Squadron ORB.
Moreover, Form 78 for Wellington MF240 records 'Cat "E" FA 30.6.44' i.e. write off, flying accident 30 June 1944.
So, based on the foregoing evidence, it would seem that Tom McAneney could not possibly have been flying either MF240 or MF249 during the Budapest raid of 25/26 June 1944.
Turning to the other 150 Squadron loss of 25/26 June 1944: the ORB records that P/O. Robert Edward Seymour Shearer was flying Wellington LN792. However LN792 is recorded as having flown afterwards on 1, 8, 10 and finally on 23 July when it failed to return from a raid on Milan Marshalling Yards. The date of loss is corroborated by the Form 78 below.
To confuse the identity of P/O. Shearer's aircraft even further, the MRES report regarding the loss of P/O. Shearer and his crew, records their aircraft as Wellington LJ811. However, serial number LJ811 refers to a Short Stirling MkIV.
Ultimate proof of the serial number of Shearer's aircraft would seem to be confirmed by the loss letter below from 150 Squadron to the Base Personnel Staff Officer dated 29 June 1944, in which the relevant identification number is given as LN811
Form 78 for LN811 also records '150 Sqn Cat "E" FB Missing 25.6.44'
It has also been established via its Form 78 (below) that Wellington LP249 was also lost on 25 June 1944 - '150 Sqn Cat "E". Missing 26.6.44'
Two Wellington Xs of 150 Squadron failed to return from the raid of 25/26 June 1944 on the Shell Koolaz oil refinery at Budapest, Hungary. Forms 78, detail the two aircraft as Wellington LP249 and LN811. It has been established that LN811 was flown by P/O. Shearer, thus the aircraft flown by Tom McAneney must therefore have been LP249.
It should be noted however, that in their 2018 book, Royal Air Force Bomber Losses in the Middle East and Mediterranean Vol. 2 1943-1945, David Gunby and Pelham Temple record that P/O. Shearer and crew were flying LP249 whilst F/O. McAneney and crew were flying LN811.
We appeal to anyone with further information and/or photographs to please contact us via our Helpdesk
BIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF THE CREW
(1) F/O. Thomas Bernard McAneney was born on 13 December 1919 at Toronto, Ontario, Canada the son of Joseph Thomas McAneney (a Confectioners' Sales Supervisor) and Margaret Mary McAneney nee Aitkin, of 462 Brock Avenue, Toronto. He had four siblings: Joseph William McAneney (1914-1985), F/O. John Hercules McAneney (1917-1958), Wilfred James Gregory McAneney (1926-2017) and Helen Evelyn McAneney (1915-2001)
He was educated at St. Helen's (1926-1933), De La Salle Collegiate (1933-1935), De La Salle 'Oakland' College (1935-1937) and Commercial High School (1937-1939).
After completing his education he was employed as an Office Secretary by Guy S. Whitaker Co., of Toronto (1939-1940) and later as a Clerical Stenographer by the Canadian Freight Association at Toronto (1940-1941).
He engaged in a wide range of sports including, riding, swimming, baseball, hockey, lacrosse, badminton, skiing, volleyball, basketball
When he enlisted at Hamilton, Ontario on 23 July 1941 he was 5' 11" tall weighing 157 lbs with a fair complexion, hazel eyes and black hair.
After training at 3 Initial Training School, RCAF Victoriaville, Quebec, 12 Elementary Flying Training School, RCAF Goderich, Ontario and 5 Service Flying Training School, RCAF Brantford, Ontario (Course No. 45) he was awarded his Flying Badge and promoted to Sergeant on 10 April 1942.
He embarked for the UK on 30 April 1942 and disembarked on 12 May. The following day he was posted to 3 Personnel Reception Centre at Bournemouth. On 23 June he was posted to 12 Pilot Advanced Flying Unit at RAF in Grantham Lincolnshire and whilst here attached to RAF Upwood Lincolnshire, 1511 Beam Approach Training Unit from 13 July to 20 July 1942.
He was posted to 22 Operational Training Unit on 18 August at RAF Wellesbourne Mountford in Warwickshire and to 21 Operational Training Unit at RAF Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire on 17 September 1942 where he was promoted to Flight Sergeant on 10 October.
21/11/1942 dangerously injured (in crash of Wellington R1211)
Posted to RAF Brighton 26 January 1943.
Promoted to WO2 on 10 April 1943
He was posted from Aircrew Re-Selection Board at Brighton to 20 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit RAF Kidlington in Oxfordshire - Course 5 13 April 1943 to 17 August 1943 attached to 1519 BAT Flight from 19 May 43 - 24 May 43 on Course 59 at Feltwell Norfolk then posted back to 20 (P) AFU. He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer on 6 August 1943.
He was posted to 21 OTU Moreton in Marsh from 17 August 1943 - 26 October 1943 on Course 64 and then to 311 Ferry Training Unit from 15 November to 4 December 1943. He enplaned for Overseas (Middle East Command) 5 December 1943 and was posted to 2 Aircrew Reception Centre from Home Establishment 6 December 1943. On 7 December 1943 he was posted to 150 Squadro
His promotion to Flying Officer was on 6 February 1944.
He is commemorated on the Memorial Plaques at De La Salle College (Oaklands) Toronto and at Western Technical School, Toronto dedicated to former students who were killed during the Second world War.
A copy of the above photograph of Tom McAneney's fiancée, Betty Cloutier, is in his service file. As well as Tom she lost two brothers in the war. She later married and had children and grandchildren.
(2) Fl/Sgt. Frederick Stanley Sparrow was born in 1922 at Islington, London the son of Frederick Sparrow (a Checker - General Carrier) and Ethel H Sparrow nee Fowler later of Edgware, Middlesex. He had two siblings: Doris E. Sparrow born 1917 and Joyce V.Sparrow born 1920
In 1939 the family lived at 18 Orchard Grove Wembley.
(3) Fl/Sgt. Thomas Bell was born in 1920 at Acomb Northumberland the son of William Bell and Sarah Ann Bell nee McGinley (died 1934). He had one sibling, Elizabeth Bell born 1924
In 1939 William Bell (a Colliery Worker) born 4 January 1886 and a widower was living at 4 Alma Cottages, Hexham-on-Tyne, Northumberland. Living with him was Helen Cunningham, his Housekeeper, born 1899 and one other person, closed but probably Elizabeth Bell. Thomas Bell is thought to have been serving in the RAF at this time. His serial number is one of a batch that was issued to civilians from 1925 onwards.
(4) F/O. Stanley Jeacocke was born on 9 August 1913 at Rubyvale, Queensland, Australia the son of James Henry Jeacocke and Elizabeth Sarah Jeacocke nee Keller.
He had 8 siblings: James Henry Jeacocke (1900-1953), Robert William Jeacocke (1903-1957), Isabel May Jeacocke (1904-1994), Eleanor Jeacocke (1907-1993), Florence Elizabeth Jeacocke (1908-1992), Leslie George Jeacocke (1911-1986), Elsie Sarah Jeacocke (1918-1994) and Sylvia Maud Jeacocke (1923-1944).
He married Hazel Inez Jeacocke nee Bell and they lived at 11 Garden St Maryborough Queensland. They had one child Kevin Stanley Jeacocke (died 1999).
On 1 February 1942 he enlisted in the RAAF and embarked for the UK on 15 January 1943
He was commissioned as a Pilot Officer wef 8 June 1944, confirmed in this appointment and promoted to Flying Officer wef 8 December 1944
He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal on 29 December 1944 as promulgated in the London Gazette.
He died on 4 February 1990 at Biloela, Queensland aged 76 and was buried at Biloela Lawn Cemetery, Biloela, Banana Shire, Queensland, - Section BB, Plot No. 40
(5) Sgt. Edwin Charles Hum PM was born in 1913 at West Ham, London the son of Henry Charles Hum and Esther Hum nee Williams. He had three siblings: George H. Hum born 1916, Harry W. Hum born 1920 and Joyce M. Hum born 1922.
In 1936 he married Dorothy May Farrant at Romford, Essex and in 1939 they lived at 10, Alma Drive, Chelmsford. Prior to enlisting in the RAFVR Edwin Hum was a Paint Staver ad a member of the Merchant Navy Reserve.
On 7 September 1941 he was awarded the Polar Medal (Bronze) for service as a Sailor on the Royal Research Ship HMS William Scoresby (London Gazette 7 October 1941)
BURIAL DETAILS, MEMORIALS AND EPITAPHS
(1) F/O. Thomas Bernard McAneney was originally buried at Sabadbattyán, Hungary, and re-interred on 24 July 1947 at Budapest War Cemetery - Coll. grave ll. C. 5-8
His epitaph reads:
Hath no man than this,
That a man lay down his life
For his friends. R.I.P.
(2) Fl/Sgt. Frederick Stanley Sparrow was originally buried at Sabadbattyán, Hungary, and re-interred on 24 July 1947 at Budapest War Cemetery - Coll. grave ll. C. 5-8
His epitaph reads:
An absent face
A memory dear
Often bring a silent tear.
(3) Fl/Sgt. Thomas Bell was originally buried at Sabadbattyán, Hungary, and re-interred on 24 July 1947 at Budapest War Cemetery - Coll. grave ll. C. 5-8
His epitaph reads:
Lest we forget
(5) Sgt. Edwin Charles Hum PM was originally buried at Sabadbattyán, Hungary, and re-interred on 24 July 1947 at Budapest War Cemetery - Coll. grave ll. C. 5-8
His epitaph reads:
Shall not dim our memory
Nor space deflect our esteem
Researched by Aircrew Remembered researcher Roy Wilcock for all the relatives and friends of the members of this crew - August 2020
With thanks to the sources quoted below.