Date: 30th July 1944 (Sunday)
Unit: 75 (New Zealand) Squadron
Type: Lancaster I
Base: RAF Mepal, Cambridgeshire
Location: English Channel off France.
Pilot: P/O. Colin George Nairne 42117 RNZAF Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Raymond Charles Smith 1235250 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed
Nav: P/O. Lyndon Clifford Perry 428925 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
Air Bmr: W/O. Dennis Alfred Kidby 1391158 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed (2)
WOp/Air Gnr: Sgt. Alfred Richard Stannard 1338510 RAFVR Age 22. Missing - believed killed
Air Gnr: Sgt. Stanley Alfred George Woodford 922095 RAFVR Age ? Missing - believed killed
Air Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Philip Falkiner 425140 RNZAF Age 21. Missing - believed killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 06:10 hrs joining 691 aircraft (made up from 42 Lancasters, 200 Halifaxes and 30 Mosquitoes - 3 aircraft lost) on attacking 6 enemy strong points at Amaye-sur-Seulles in the Normandy area of France. This was an operation to support the American ground attack in the Villers Bocage-Caumont area.
The presence of cloud caused many difficulties.
Only 377 of the aircraft were actually able to drop their bombs with only two of the six targets effectively hit.
H.S.L. 2556 (3 - see letter)Lancaster HK558 was observed from minesweeper HMS Hannaray to collide in mid-air with a Lancaster (1) from another squadron, whilst flying northwards in heavy low cloud about 08:00 hrs. The minesweeper searched for survivors but found only one body (2) which was buried at sea. The others are commemorated on the memorial at Runnymede.
The loss of this crew is made even more tragic in that they escaped from a previous major incident earlier in the year. The relatives who have written to us and provided a great deal of information for these pages of remembrance, also lost another family member deserving with the RAF.
(1) No further details can be found regarding this Lancaster, but it is thought that it did return to its base. Eye witness, Mr. Leslie South, wrote to us reporting that only one aircraft came down.
(2) Confirmed as that of WO. Dennis Alfred Kidby. (Source RNZAF communique dated 28th July 1948 - copy held). Later (24th October 2021) new information that the notes stating he had New Zealand flashes were a mistake.
(3) HSL. - High speed Launch; used by RAF Sea rescue teams.
In December 2012 a Mr. Leslie South contacted me, writing to describe this incident and also the layout of the Lancaster on the sea surface, as they recovered the single body:
P/O. Colin George Nairne. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 263. Son of William Joseph and Alice Elizabeth Nairne (nee Crowe), husband of Betty Olive (nee Hollis), of Richmond, Nelson, New Zealand.
Further details: Born 8th April 1922 in Palmerston North New Zealand, married Betty Olive in 1942.
George attended Taihape District High School and was in the First XV. He worked as a farmhand/tractor driver at Hihitahi after leaving school and before joining the Air Force. His father was in the Railways and stationed at Hihitahi for several years. A total of 555 flying hours logged and on his 20th operational sortie.
Enquiries were made by the family after someone contacted them via a newsletter looking for contact with George's wife or daughter from a chap named Dennis. He had been one of the flight ground crew at RAF Mepal. It appears that when George's aircraft failed to return that night, he was very upset. He remembers waiting and waiting, making inquiries to see if it had landed at some other airfield and finally sitting for hours on the end of the runway crying his eyes out. He said it was a busy time as the planes were often doing two operations a day and the ground crew were kept very busy, often doing 2 x 30 hour stints a week. Dennis regarded George as a special man who always showed his appreciation for work done and treated the
ground crew as equals. On the day before his last trip George asked Dennis around to his billet as he had a parcel from home, some cake's etc. This was an unusual and generous offer to a 'mere erk'. He recalled that George showed Dennis a photo of his wife Betty and daughter Gloria who was born after George left New Zealand.
In 1950, Betty remarried a George Render of Richmond. George Render died in 1985. Contact as recent as 2000 had been made with Gloria (living in Nelson area with her husband Lester) She had spoken to George on the telephone.
The cousin of P/O. Nairne, Keith Springer's mother, Randal Springer, (shown above right) also served in 75 Squadron as a W/Op/Air/Gnr, joining the squadron in February 1945. After the war 75 squadron was then transferred to the RNZAF During the post war period he remained at the base working as an air traffic controller. Randal became president of the 75 (New Zealand) Squadron Association for several years until just before his death. Randal is the father of Keith Springer who kindly sent us this information.
Sgt. Raymond Charles Smith. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 238. No further details as yet.
P/O. Lyndon Clifford Perry. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 263. Son of Lyndon and Grace Perry, of Lower Hutt, Wellington, New Zealand. A total of 400 flying hours logged and on his 23rd operational sortie.
(2) W/O. Dennis Alfred Kidby. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 214. (Confirmed as buried at sea) Born 23rd January 1922 in Ipswich, England. Son of Alfred Samuel Kidby and Winifred Mary Kidby (née Brown) of 74 Leopold Road, Ipswich, Suffolk, England.
Sgt. Alfred Richard Stannard. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 238. Son of Alfred Richard and Martha Stannard, of Shepherd's Bush, London, England.
Sgt. Stanley Alfred George Woodford. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 241. No further details as yet.
Fl/Sgt. Philip Falkiner. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 263. Son of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Clifford Falkiner of Papakura, New Zealand. A total of 223 flying hours logged and on his 20th operational sortie.
Researched for Keith Springer and dedicated to all relatives of the crew. With thanks to Keith Springer and family, Mr. Lesley South, Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vol 5', Errol Martyn - 'For Your Tomorrow Vol 2', Auckland Museum/Cenotaph , N.Z. Weekly News, Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', CWGC. Ipswich War Memorial for W/O. Kidby details.
30.04.2020 - Editorial update
26-10-2021 - Editorial update
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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