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Archive Report: Allied Forces

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77 Squadron Crest
12/13.12.1944 No. 77 Squadron Halifax III MZ470 KN-F F/O. Mons Murrell

Operation: Essen

Date: 12/13th December 1944 (Tuesday/Wednesday)

Unit: No. 77 Squadron

Type: Halifax III

Serial: MZ470

Code: KN-F

Base: RAF Full Sutton, Yorkshire

Location: At airfield, RAF Full Sutton

Pilot: F/O. Mons Edwin Murrell NZ/39774 RNZAF Survived, uninjured (1)

Fl/Eng: Sgt. A. Baker RAFVR Survived uninjured

Nav: F/O. William Roderick McPherson AUS/414155 RAAF Age 22. Survived uninjured (2)

Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. ‘Hill’ Hilary James Connolly AUS/424977 RAAF Survived uninjured

W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. John William Bishop AUS/426510 RAAF Survived uninjured

Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. H. Hughes RAFVR Survived uninjured

Air/Gnr: P/O. ‘Ted’ H.E. Smith RAFVR Survived uninjured

REASON FOR LOSS:

Taking off at 16:25 hrs from RAF Full Sutton to bomb Essen - for the last time of the war. 512 Lancasters and Halifaxes together with 28 Mosquitoes. The attack taking place between 18:15 hrs and 19:55 hrs.

MZ470 With flight and ground crew (courtesy Rod McPherson -December 2016).

The bombers crossed France and then turned North East towards Deelen - when there they turned South East to Essen climbing to commence their bombing run. Due to the Mandrel screening and the radio signals silence the Luftwaffe were fooled as to the target. Even with that the very poor light with visibility spoilt by cloud up to 6,000 mtrs the Luftwaffe failed to intercept the stream until they reached the target.

During post war interrogation of Albert Speer he commented that this operation was the most accurate of the war against the Krupp works. Reports state that some 696 houses were destroyed. 1,370 others suffering serious damage. A total of 463 people were killed on the ground - made up of 160 German civilians, 89 PoW’s, 13 foreign workers and a further 201 prisoners when the City prison was hit - 309 others classed as missing.

Above - “Mons Mob” Front L-R: P/O. ‘Ted’ Smith, F/O. ‘Mons’ Murrell. Rear: F/O. William McPherson, Fl/Sgt. Hilary Connolly, P/O. John Bishop (courtesy Rod McPherson -December 2016).

Halifax MZ470 returned to base at 22:12 hrs making a crash landing from which all the crew managed to escape uninjured.

No further details on this or any other details of the members of this crew - we welcome any contact form others who are able to contribute. We understand that this was the crews final operational tour.

(1) Further information courtesy Colin Hanson via Errol Martyn (see below): Born in Wellington, New Zealand 04th November 1916 - served RNZAF 13th October 1939 - 26th September 1946 - reserves until 17th September 1962. Graduated as a pilot in New Zealand and embarked Auckland for the UK/attachment to RAF on the Matsonia (train from San Francisco then another ship across the Pond) on 20th June 1943. DFC Citation (27th March 1945): Whilst with 77 Squadron. This officer has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty. Died at Takapuna on the 24th November 1985.

(2) Notes as supplied by his son: F/O. William McPherson was born on the 26th June 1922 in Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Enlisted in Brisbane. Married in 1944 and was father to 7 children. He returned to Australia in 1946 with his wife joining him a few weeks later. In 1949 they returned to the UK were he did various jobs before becoming a master driller on oil wells etc. He worked abroad for much of his career and eventually became a senior purchasing officer for a major civil engineering company which took him to Iraq and Argentina. Sadly he died of a brain tumour at the age of only 62, a short but an active and exciting life.

Dad was a bit of an odd one. He refused to wear sheepskin flying boots (see crew photo) and on trying to get the bomber command campaign bar a couple of years ago I was informed that he had not collected his medals. These were supplied, engraved, in presentation cases with pins and spare ribbons. The Australian Government were very helpful and couldn't do enough, in complete contrast to the MOD who I first contacted as instructed.

Dad's journey was similar to ‘Mons'. He joined the reserves in Townsville in March 1941 and enlisted in Brisbane in August. He left Australia in April 1942 and arrived in Canada in May 1942 via the west coast of USA and train to Canada. He joined No. 5 Air Observer School (Winnipeg) on Ansons. Sailing for the UK from Halifax in October 1942 he completed his navigation training at RAF Wigtown up to April 1943. He went to 21 OTU at Moreton-in-Marsh in May 1943 but his training was interrupted. He resumed in Jan 44 but in the meantime his crew (Fl/Sgt. T Payne) was lost in a take-off accident. He first flew with his final crew (Mons Murrell) in Feb 1944 and was at 21 OTU until Mar 1944. In May they moved to 1652 HCU at Marston Moor until June 1944 and finally to 77 Squadron at Full Sutton. In January 1945 he became a ground lecturer on radar at 21 OTU and returned to Australia, arriving on 2/2/46. He left the service on 8/4/46 having signed on as a reserve.

Left: For Your Tomorrow A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied services since 1915 - 3 volumes of comprehensive research by Errol Martyn.

Burial details:

None - all crew survived and understood to have lived through the remainder of the war. Further details follow on others who served with F/O. McPherson, who sadly were killed. (28 year old, Fl/Sgt. Thomas Harold Payne AUS/413418 RAAF and 20 year old, Fl/Sgt. Geoffrey Maurice Connell AUS/420377 RAAF together with 27 year old, Sq/Ldr. John Noel Wilmot Kerr 43101 RAF)

December 12th 2016 - details now added.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Rod McPherson, son of the navigator F/O. William McPherson who contacted us in December 2016. Also many thanks to Errol W. Martyn for additional details on F/O. Murrell.

KTY - 11.12.2016

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives and Fred Paradie - Paradie Archive (both on this site), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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