75 SQUADRON - Bomber, Vickers Wellington
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Disbanded in Essex in 1919, the squadron was re-formed in 1937 as a heavy bomber squadron but in March 1939, became a Group pool squadron or, in other words, assumed the role of what was later known as an operational training unit. Soon after the outbreak of war the squadron was posted to No.6 (Training) Group and on 4th April 1940, its number plate, with the letters "NZ" added, was transferred to a Royal New Zealand Air Force heavy bomber flight which was based at Feltwell, Norfolk, a station in No. 3 Group.
Equipped with Wellingtons, No. 75 (NZ) Squadron of the RAF - the first Commonwealth squadron to be formed in Bomber Command - took part in the early bombing offensive against enemy-occupied territories, and while returning from a raid on Munster on 7/8th July 1941, one of its aircrew, Sergeant Pilot JR Ward, RNZAF, won the Victoria Cross.
Heavier bombers, based in the United Kingdom, were also operating over the battle area from the beginning of the campaign. Their first attack was launched on the night of 10 May against the important Dutch airfield at Waalhaven, near Rotterdam, and three Wellingtons from No. 75 New Zealand Squadron were among the 36 aircraft detailed. Crews reported hits on buildings as well as on the aerodrome itself. During the next four days and nights New Zealand airmen were among the crews of the small formations of Blenheims and Wellingtons which flew from England to attack enemy columns, bridges and road junctions, Wellingtons from No. 75 Squadron operating on two nights against such targets without loss. But the bombing attacks were insufficient to hinder the rapid advance of the enemy.
There was some disagreement at this time as to whether the heavier bombers should be employed in a strategic or tactical role, but eventually the critical situation which developed in the north forced their employment more in close-support operations during the remainder of the campaign. At first, Wellingtons from No. 75 New Zealand Squadron carried out each type of operation. On the night of 15 May, six of these aircraft formed part of the force which made the first bombing raid on objectives in Germany. It was aimed primarily at oil plants in the Ruhr, but unfortunately bad visibility prevented the majority of the bombers from identifying and attacking these installations.
Two nights later the squadron again provided six aircraft, this time as part of a force of 50 bombers detailed to attack objectives in the Ruhr and river crossings at Namur, Dinant and Givet. Again cloud rendered recognition of the targets uncertain, although the six Wellingtons were among the aircraft which reported having made attacks. For the rest of the month the majority of the 43 sorties despatched by No. 75 Squadron were, along with the general effort of Bomber Command, in support of the hard-pressed ground forces.
On the night of 19 May one of the objectives was the forests around Fumay and Bouillon where the enemy had concentrated fuel and ammunition supplies. Eleven Wellingtons, seven of them from the New Zealand Squadron, were given the task of setting these forests alight. All the crews located the target and, attacking with both incendiaries and high explosives, succeeded in starting many fires. There was considerable opposition from anti-aircraft batteries in the target area and many of the bombers were hit; one Wellington from No. 75 Squadron had a shell pass right through it without exploding. All returned safely.
Subsequent targets for the bombers included the Meuse crossings, railway and road junctions, bridges, troop concentrations and points of congestion close behind the enemy lines. Similar objectives in the north were also bombed by units of Coastal Command based in south-east England, with which a small group of New Zealand airmen were flying. From the commencement of the campaign these squadrons had been called upon to supplement the operations of the other commands against the enemy's advances in Holland and Belgium. They were also employed in protecting supply ships crossing the Channel.
Dunkirk, ca 26-5 to 2 june: Throughout these grim and desperate days Bomber Command Wellingtons and Blenheims gave valuable assistance to the ground forces striving to prevent the enemy from reaching the beaches. No. 75 Squadron made nine attacks and crews reported good results on each occasion.
Source: New Zealanders in the Royal Air Force
Operations and losses 10/05/1940 - 30/06/1940
(not all operations listed)
10-11/05/1940: Waalhaven, NL (-)
15-16/05/1940: Germany and Belgium
21-22/05/1940: Dinant, B. 1 Plane lost, 1 KIA. 1 MIA, 3 POW
LOSSES 01/01/1940 - 09/05/1940 (incomplete)
Sergeant (Nav. Instr.) Frederick T.M. Smith, RAF 518492, 75 Sqdn., age unknown, 18/01/1940, Cardiff (Cathays) Cemetery, UK
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Barry O.C. Stevens, RAF 33415, 75 Sqdn., age 22, 18/01/1940, Harwell Cemetery, UK
10-11/05/1940: Waalhaven, NL
During the late evening and the night several bomber flights from the RAF paid a visit to Waalhaven. These 36 Wellington medium bombers dropped a total of 58 tonnes of bombes [each plane dropped 18 off 200 lbs bombs] on the airfield itself and the direct surroundings. The only enemy opposition they faced was the light FLAK that had been flown in during the 10th [2 cm AA]. The majority of the planes operated from an altitude of 2,000 - 2,500 feet - well within the range of the FLAK. The raids started around 2230 hours and lasted until about 0400. No aircrafts were shot down and only one crew member returned home wounded [from shrapnel].
- 6 Wellingtons No.9 Sq. Afb. Honington [S/L Peacock, KIA 06/06/1940]
- 3 Wellingtons No.37 Sq. Afb. Marham [jointly with 75 Sq., S/L Glencross]
- 6 Wellingtons No.38 Sq. Afb. Marham [F/L MacFadden]
- 3 Wellingtons No.75 [NZ] Sq. Afb. Feltwell [jointly with 37 Sq., S/L Glencross]
- 6 Wellingtons No.99 Sq. Afb Newmarket [S/L Bertram]
- 6 Wellingtons No.115 Sq. Afb. Marham [unknown]
- 6 Wellingtons No.149 Sq. Afb. Mildenhall [S/L Harrie]
Source: War over Holland
15-16/05/1940: Germany and Belgium
Six aircraft from No. 75 NZ Sqdn., this time as part of a force of 50 bombers detailed to attack objectives in the Ruhr and river crossings at Namur, Dinant and Givet. Again cloud rendered recognition of the targets uncertain, although the six Wellingtons were among the aircraft which reported having made attacks.
21-22/05/1940: Dinant, B
Type: Wellington Mk.1C
Serial number: R3157, AA-H
Flight Lieutenant John N. Collins, RNZAF 2513, 75 Sqdn., age 23, 21/05/1940, missing
Pilot Officer (Pilot) Francis A.G.J. De Labouchere-Sparling, RAF 41990, age 20, 21/05/1940, Kain Communal Cemetery, B
Sgt G.Thorpe PoW
Sgt J.S.Brooks PoW
F/L L.P.R.Hockey PoW
Airborne 2120 21May40 from Feltwell. Cause of loss not established. Crashed near Kain (Hainaut) 4 km NNW of Tournai, Belgium.
Sgt J.S.Brooks was interned in Camp 357. PoW No.50392. F/L L.P.R.Hockey in Camp L3, PoW No.410 with Sgt G.THorpe, PoW No.5399.
Air Force POWs 1939-1945
Belgian Aviation History Association Archaeological Team
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
H.L. Thompson, New Zealanders with the Royal Air Force, Historical Publications Branch, Wellington (NZ), 1953
Royal Air Force - 75 Squadron
RAF History - Bomber Command
RAF Museum: British Military Aviation in 1940
RAF Order of Battle, France, 10th May 1940
The Royal Air Force, 1939-1945
War over Holland
W.R. Chorley, Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Volume 1, 1939/40, Midland Counties Publications, ISBN 0 904597 85 7
N Franks 'Forever Strong - 75 NZ Sqn 1916-90' (Random Century 1991)
Errol Martyn, For Your Tomorrow - A record of New Zealanders who have died while serving with the RNZAF and Allied Air Services Since 1915 (Vol One: Fates 1915-1942)
Chris Ward '75 Squadron' (Bomber Command Profile no. 20)
Harry Yates 'Luck and a Lancaster'
Allied World War II Casualties in the Netherlands
British Aviation Archaeological Council - Books and research links
CWGC Cemeteries Netherlands
The National Ex-Prisoners of War Association
Pilotfriend.com: aircraft of WW2
RAF Battle of Britain
The Aerodrome -
Aces and Aircraft of World War 1
This page is dedicated to the men of 75 NZ Squadron.
© Bart FM Droog / Rottend Staal Online 2008. Permission granted for use of the data gathered here for non commercial purposes, if this source is mentioned with a link to http://www.epibreren.com/ww2/raf/index.html