Monthly Archives: November 2021

M.H.D.O.I.F. “Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger”

Research by Clarence Simonsen

RCAF Halifax serial NR199 M.H.D.O.I.F.

Click on the link above for the PDF version with images.


Text version with images

M.H.D.O.I.F.

“Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger”

To fully understand the history behind the nose art painting [M.H.D.O.I.F. Finger] on RCAF Halifax serial NR199, I recommend you first read the 1991 publication “The Life and Times of Pilot Officer Prune” by Tim Hamilton. It is the best, [historical] humorous, [hundreds of images] and well worth the money.

You can also order all 60 issues of TEE EMM on a CD [in U.K.] or purchase original copies, but that will cost much more money, as they are collectors items and overpriced.

Fictional RAF [person] P/O Percy Prune #89008 was born 1 April 1922, and appeared in the first issue of TEE EMM [Training Manual] on 1 April 1941. “Tee Emm” and “Prune” were inseparable and met with instant approval by all members of the R.A.F. and R.C.A.F. The RAF had a well-known wartime phrase “Pull your finger out!” [meaning – Get your Finger out of your Ass, get on with the job and don’t be a damn fool, and P/O Prune always had his famous Prunery finger out]. In fact, a long line of Prunes became famous for the pointing of their index finger. The following history was published in a book titled “RAF Parade” by Evelyn Thomas, October 1944, John England Publications.

This led to the creation [March 1942] of the M.H.D.O.I.F. or “The Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger.” While the details of the award were published in each monthly issue of Tee Emm the recipient’s names were left blank, however, everyone knew who the real RAF/RCAF “Pruneries” were. Some RAF units even made the recipient wear the fake medal decoration around his neck for 24 hours as punishment.

This rare RCAF Halifax aircraft nose art [No. 408 and 415 Sqn.] was based on the factious spoof RAF WWII military decoration seen on the left. The special award was created by S/L Anthony Armstrong Willis OBE, MC, the editor of the RAF Training Memorandum called “Tee Emm.” Each month four or five RAF recipients of the award were published in Tee Emm magazine, awarded the “Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger.” The [Pilot Officer Prune] index finger was pointed clearly as the finger of blame, rather than the middle finger as an obscene gesture, surrounded by words FAITH ET BLIND HOPE and Motto – Dieu et Mon Doigt, [God and my Finger]. The next original pages appeared in Tee Emm issues September and December 1944, where nine recipients were awarded the Month’s Prunery, the M.H.D.O.I.F.

 

Halifax B. Mk. III, serial NR199 was constructed in a Batch NR169 to NR211, delivered between 15 October to 4 November 1944. The new bomber was first delivered to RCAF No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron 30 October 1944, flying no recorded operations. On 8 November 44, the aircraft was transferred to 408 [Goose] Squadron, but remained only seven days. On 16 November, NR199 was flown to No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron, where it was taken on strength for only hours, then the aircraft was returned to No. 408 Squadron flying her first operation on the same day [16 November] F/L R. Call J20725 bombing Julich, wearing code letters EQ-F.  The Halifax completed fourteen operations from 16 November 1944 until 9 February 1945, six were flown by the crew of F/O H.D. Sokoloff, J25966, January 2, 6, 13, 14, and 16/17 of the new year. It is possible they were the aircrew who named their aircraft as it carried the code letter “F” [for Finger] and possibly the Percy Prune finger was painted as nose art, due to the “Prunery” back and forth posting of the bomber.

On 11 February 1945, NR199 was N to No. 415 [Swordfish] Squadron and assigned the code letters 6U-N. The first operation was flown on 14/15 February by F/O A.B. Galley J36428, and twenty-two more operations followed, Feb. 17, 20/21, 24, 27, March 2, 5/6, 7/8, 8/9, 11, 12 two trips morning and afternoon, 18/19, 21, 22, 24, 31, April 4, 8/9, 13/14, 22, and her last trip in 25 April 1945.

F/L T.C. Mears J2939 flew her seven times and F/O J.T. Patterson J39023 flew NR199 the most on nine operations. It is also possible one of these crews were responsible for the nose art and if it was painted at No. 415 [Swordfish] Squadron, the nose artist was likely Air Engine Mechanic LAC Boris Nicklehoff. Wearing the code letter “N” I feel the nose art was painted in No. 408 [Goose] Squadron and remained on the nose for her operations flown in No. 415.

No. 41 Group RAF Maintenance Unit operated eleven aircraft storage bases spread around the U.K. No. 29 M.U. was located at High Ercall, Shropshire, where a large number of RCAF Halifax bombers were flown for scrapping in May 1945. NR199 was flown to No. 48 Maintenance Unit located at RAF Hawarden, where nine other RCAF bombers came to their end.  The Prune Finger was taken on strength RAF No. 41 Group on 18 May and flown to No. 48 M.U. on 28 May for scrapping soon afterwards.

Last of 23 operations flown No. 415 Squadron 25 April 1945.

Rejected again and again by RCAF Squadrons, NR199 finally found a home with No. 408 and last No. 415 Squadron, where she was awarded the “Prunery” Finger. Photo taken by F/L Lindsay after 28 May 1945 at 48 M.U. RAF Station Hawarden, England. In the next four months thousands of obsolete WWII bombers were scrapped.

Painted for Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta, 1999.

Joined No. 6 [RCAF] Group of RAF Bomber Command on 12 July 1944 and flew Halifax B. Mk. III and [six] Mk. VII aircraft until disbanded at East Moor, Yorkshire, 15 May 1945. In ten months they lost 22 aircraft and 151 aircrew members were killed in action.

Somehow RCAF M.H.D.O.I.F. [Irremovable Finger] survived 37 operations with two Canadian Squadrons only to be chopped up for scrap in an English Halifax graveyard in June 1945.

“Sleepy Boy” U-Boat Stalker – No. 407 Squadron

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Sleepy Boy U Boat Stalker

Click on the link above for the PDF version

Text version

“Sleepy Boy” U-Boat Stalker – No. 407 Squadron

No. 407 [Demon] Squadron RCAF was formed at Thorney Island, Hampshire, England, 8 May 1941, as the second Canadian coastal squadron formed overseas. They first flew as a Coastal “Strike Force” in Blenheim Mk. IV [training only] and American Lockheed Hudson Mk. III and MK. V [in June 1941], carrying out attacks on enemy shipping between the Bay of Biscay and Heligoland. The term ‘strike’ was applied to all operational aircraft in RAF Coastal Command which carried bombs or depth-charges on regular patrolling or for attacks on special targets, enemy shipping or German warships. These aircraft first flew in markings of RAF day bomber markings with assigned RCAF aircraft unit code “RR” for 1941-43. These surface markings began to change from temperate land colors to temperate [Coastal White] beginning in March 1942.
On 29 January 1943, No. 407 Squadron was re-designated General Reconnaissance, flying Vickers Wellington Mk. XI, Mk. [Feb. 43] XII, [March 43] and Mk. XIV in June 1943. This was the second part special history of the Canadian 407 Squadron [U-Boat Killers] as they now flew Vickers Wellington [L.L.] aircraft which were painted Coastal White and were equipped with Leigh Lights for secret night enemy anti-submarine operations.

RAF No. 1417 Flight was formed at Chivenor, Devon, to develop the Leigh Light Wellington aircraft and to form the nucleus of No. 172 Squadron, the first RAF unit to use the new aircraft. Four months of intense training began in February 1942, and on 3/4 June 1942, four Wellington took off on their first operation and the Italian submarine “Luigi Torelli was surprise in the dark and damaged. The [secret] success of the Leigh Light Wellingtons would continue until the end of WWII, [Europe] 8 May 1945.

The first Canadian operation by No. 407 was flown on 7 March 1943, Wellington XI, serial MP534, coded C1-E, F/O M.P. Jordon and crew. The aircraft were coded C1 with aircraft assigned letter as seen on Mk. XII, serial HF113/G, aircraft “P” of 407 Squadron.

In 1944, No. 407 began to use the code number 2 with assigned aircraft letter, however it is not recorded officially in any records the author can find. This image from the Imperial War Museum [FLM1995] captures Wellington “P” serial MP774 with No. 179 Squadron and the remainder are from No. 407 [Demon] Squadron with code number 2. Aircraft C-2 is serial HF127 and A-2 is MP587, while the other aircraft carry the codes together such as 2J which could possible be serial HF171 or NC512. Very confusing photos still exist concerning the markings of aircraft code letters used by the RAF during the war years and at times only a general rule can be expressed. Most No. 407 Wellington [Leigh Light] aircraft carried the “G” after the serial number and the [L.L.] in record books but the use of number 2 is still confusing. [Any info. would be appreciated by the author]

More RCAF photos showing the code number 2 used on Wellington aircraft in No. 407 Squadron, also wearing D-Day stripes on the fuselage. [Likely the same aircraft, serial NB858, used for P.R. photos, same aircrew, with aircraft code letter never shown] Note – this aircraft serial number did not carry the letter “G” [for Guard on ground]. Aircraft NB858 was possibly a [Leigh Light] RCAF training aircraft, which never flew ops. [DND RCAF photos]

Wellington Mk. XIV, serial NB811 which carried the letter “S” for [Walt Disney] “Sleepy Boy.” [What was the code “I” – S or “2” – S]? [DND RCAF photo]

Rare RCAF No. 407 nose art which also recorded each operation [eleven] with the same nose art replica painting. This Wellington Mk. XIV, NB811 completed twelve operations between 6 July 1944 to 26 September 1944, force landed on the coast of Norway, in German occupied territory. The Canadian crew escaped back to England thanks to the Norwegian Underground. This image was taken after operation #11, between 13 to 25 September 1944.

Due to the “Top Secret” classification, the contribution of the Leigh Light Wellington bomber in attacking enemy submarines was restricted and received very little wartime publicity. It took forty years for the true history to emerge in regards to the significant part the [L.L.] Wimpy played in Coastal Command and the defeat of German and Italian U-Boats. They seriously damaged at least 51 submarines [212 U-Boats were sunk 1942-45] in recorded attacks and saved countless possible attacks on merchant shipping convoys, which were vital to the whole war effort. Two Canadian RCAF pilots were involved in the original RAF No. 1417 Flight [Wellington] testing in early February 1942, plus the actions of No. 407 [Demon] Squadron [1943-45] have almost been forgotten with the passage of time. The most vital ingredient to their success was the invention of the Leigh Light, a moveable swivelling searchlight which operated remote from the pilot and cockpit.

The Leigh Light was proposed by Squadron Leader H. de V. Leigh, who took his idea to the C-in-C of Coastal Command, ACM Sir Frederick Bowhill.

The idea was first tested [March 1941] in a Wellington [magnetic minesweeping] aircraft which had a generator installed. RAF No. 172 Squadron was next formed at Chivenor on 4 April 1942, for the testing of the Leigh Light Wellington Mk. VIII, and flying the first Wellington [L.L.] operations in WWII.

The Leigh Light was a 22-million candlepower, 24-inch searchlight manufactured by Savage & Parsons, which was installed in a retractable section under the middle fuselage of the Wellington aircraft. This was called the “Dustbin” by the RAF and was a super hush-hush “Top Secret” invention in January 1942, thus protected by a 24-hour guard while on the ground. All Wellington aircraft equipped with ASV Mk. II Radar and the [L.L.] received the letter “G” [Guard] at the end of the aircraft serial number.

This original Leigh Light is preserved in the RAF Museum at Henden, as it would have been installed in a Frazer Nash FN77 gun turret.

This British Vickers Armstrong ad was based on the real attack by RCAF No. 407 [Demon] Squadron Wellington MP578, 10/11 February 1944, when German U-283 was destroyed, and a large dull red glow was observed under the submarine. Published in “Evening Standard” 25 May 1944. The true under fuselage location of the Leigh Light was top secret and could not appear in this censored British drawing.

On 1 March 1943, No. 407 [Demon] Squadron began Wellington Mk. XI bomber training at RAF Station Skitten, Caithness, Scotland. The first training operation was flown on 7 March, and after 43 Sorties, [518:00 hrs.] the squadron arrived at Chivenor, Devon, on 1 April 1943, ready for anti-submarine [Leigh Light training] operations. The first Wellington Mk. XII [L.L.] to wear code letter “S” was serial MP652, flying first operation on 22 April 1943, where they surprised and damaged two German U-Boats running on the surface at night.

MP652 was lost on her third operation, 29 April 1943. The bomber crashed into the sea at Morte Point [meaning Death-Point] which is famous for numerous ship wrecks. Morte Point is on the north coast of Devon, near the seaside resort of Woolacombe. No. 407 Squadron first U-Boat kill came on 6/7 September 1943, when Wellington Mk. XII, serial HF115 destroyed German U-669.

Four months later Wellington [L.L.] Mk. XII, MP578 sent U-283 to a watery grave.

The third kill took place on 3/4 May 1944, when Wellington Mk. XIV, serial HP134 surprised another Sea Wolf, U-846.

The squadron fourth and last kill came on 29/30 December 1944, when U-772 was attacked by Wellington Mk. XIV, serial NB855.

No. 407 [Demon] Squadron flew 1,987 anti-submarine sorties, dropped 331, 250-pound depth charges, destroyed four enemy U-Boats, and damaged three U-Boats. They lost 42 aircraft, 197 aircrew members, of whom 24 were confirmed killed in action and 151 presumed killed, no body was ever recovered. Another 64 personnel were killed in non-operational flying accidents. The squadron was disbanded at Chivenor, Devon, on 4 June 1945.

This is LAC Norman Hughes, No. 407 Squadron ground crew member who painted the rare Coastal Command Wellington Mk. XIV, serial NB811 [L.L.] nose art, but nothing else is known about the artist. Author collection from Leo Tiberio, [gunner] No. 407 Squadron. Norman had no idea he was painting a Wellington aircraft whose aircrew would make some unusual RCAF escape history.

Four different Wellington [L.L.] aircraft flew combat operations wearing the unit aircraft code letter “S.” The first was Wellington MP652, which completed three operations and failed to return [crashed into sea] 29 April 1943. The next aircraft to wear the letter “S” became Wellington Mk. XIV, serial MP756, which completed six operations, 7 February 1944, 13/14 February 1944, 11 March, 19/20 March, 25/26 March, and 26/27 March 44. Wellington HF135 was the third painted with the letter S and she completed ten operations, 12 June 1944, 13 June, 15 June, 16 June, 22 June, 29 June, 6 July, 7 July, 9 July, and 11 July. The fourth Wellington became Mk. XIV, serial NB811, completing 12 Ops., August 8, 9/10, 12, 15,26/27,30/31, September 7/8, 8/9, 9/10, 12/13, 24/25, and her last on 26 September, a crash on German occupied territory in Norway. This last operation was a total success in more ways than one, and yet, it has been totally forgotten by RCAF historians, due to the secret nature of the Leigh Light operations in WWII.

On her 13th operation, Wellington “Sleepy Boy” developed engine trouble and around 06:22 hrs. force landed on German territory in Norway. The German guards did not notice the landing [morning shift change] and the crew not only destroyed the secret radar equipment, they escaped back to England, [arriving 13 October] thanks to the Norwegian underground.

His WWII underground actions possibly helped Norwegian Mr. Kjell Harmens to immigrate to Canada in 1949. Maybe a relative will read this rare RCAF history and make contact.

Copy of original photo of Wellington Mk. XIV, serial NB811, for possible model builders.

This replica Wellington [Leigh Light] aircraft nose art [Mk. XIV, serial NB811] was painted on original WWII RCAF Norseman skin in 1993, [author] and donated to CFB Comox Museum.

Preserving the Past – The V-2 Rocket

Preserving the Past – The V-2 Rocket

Clarence Simonsen has been preserving the past more than 50 years. He has finally gotten recognition for his research on the V-2 rocket.

The original research of Clarence Simonsen on the V-2 rocket

Dr Philipp Aumann sent Clarence three photos of the exhibition and one photo of himself. The book he wrote on the exhibition can be bought at the museum shop.

This is the link to the museum shop:

https://museum-peenemuende.de/educational-offers/publikationen/?lang=enand

 This is the link to the publisher’s website:

https://www.editionbraus.de/Neuerscheinungen/Kunst-und-Waffen::309.html

Both sites are just in German, but the book itself is bilingual.

Embraceable “U”

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Embraceable “U”

Click on the link for the PDF version.

Embraceable “U”

“Embraceable You” is a very popular jazz song, music by George Gershwin and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, written in 1928 but not published until 1930. Performed by Judy Garland in the MGM 1943 film Crazy Girl, and record release by Nat King Cole in the same year, became a huge wartime hit. I prefer the 1944 recording by Billie Holiday, just listen to her voice [online] and it will take you back to wartime 1944. This song title also inspired [Beer] nose art on one RCAF Halifax Bomber in No. 408 [Goose] Squadron at Linton-on-Ouse, England.

RCAF Nose Art on Halifax B. Mk. VII, serial number NP742, No. 408 Squadron, August 1944.

Halifax serial NP742 was manufactured in a Batch NP736 to NP781, 1 August to 9 September 1944 by Handley Page Ltd. Cricklewood and Radlett plant. Arrived with RCAF No. 408 [Goose] Squadron, Linton-on-Ouse, 8 August 1944. Assigned the aircraft code letters LQ-R, the Halifax completed 22 operations with no [known] nose art painting or name. On 18 November a Category “A” accident took place and the Canadian bomber went for major repairs.

After repairs were completed, Halifax NP742 rejoined No. 408 Squadron on 13 January 1945, and flew her 23rd operation [Duisburg, Germany] on 21/22 February by WOI R.E. Craven R123205. During her repainting, early January 1945, the bomber received the new code letters LQ-U and it is most likely the new nose art painting was completed around this date. Inspired by the hit song “Embraceable You” with a mug of British Ale, the nose art was completed by an unknown artist. The 24th operation was flown 23 February 1945, [Essen, Germany] P/O A.M. Brown J92578, followed by operation #25 on 23/24 Feb., [Pforzheim, Germany] by the new assigned aircrew of WOI R. Herringer R169453. This became ‘their’ aircraft flown on nineteen of her last twenty-one combat operations.

Operations flown by the aircrew of WOI R. Herringer #R169453:

#25      23 February 1945      Pforzheim                50 attacked primary target

#26      24 February               Kamen                       108 attacked primary

#27      27 February               Mainz                         182 attacked primary

#28      1 March                     Mannheim                 159 attacked primary

#29      2 March                     Cologne                     177 attacked primary

#30      11 March                   Essen                          194 attacked primary

#31      12 March                   Dortmund                  191 attacked primary

#32      13 March                   Wuppertal                   97 attacked primary

#33      14/15 March              Zweibrucken             192 attacked primary

#34      21 March                   Rheine                          80 attacked primary

#35      22 March                   Dorsten                        96 attacked primary

#36      24 March                    Gladbeck                      95 attacked primary

#37      25 March                    Munster                       92 attacked primary

#38      31 March                    Hamburg                    189 attacked primary

#39      4/5 April                     Merseburg                 104 attacked primary

#40      8/9 April                     Hamburg                    184 attacked primary

#41      10 April                      Leipzig                         188 attacked primary

#44      22 April                      Bremen                      200 returned early

#45      25 April                      Wangerooge             184 attacked primary (Last RCAF operation in WWII.)

Operation #42 was flown by P/O A.J. Cull J92246 on 13/14 April 45 and operation #43 was flown by F/O A.A. Clifford J36136 on 18 April 1945. This unknown crew could possibly be one of the two mentioned, as they posed under the nose art and chalked [not painted] in the words “Calgary Pale” for their Alberta brand of beer [Pale Ale] brewed by the “Horseshoe and Buffalo” Brewing and Malting Co. Ltd. in Calgary, Alberta. Photo from collection of No. 432 pilot Harold Kearl, Calgary.

Calgary Brewing and Malting Co. Ltd bottles had a wide range of Beer labels, however, it was against the law in Alberta to advertise Beer and only soft drinks could appear with the Horseshoe and Buffalo label. Alberta Liquor laws were just weird until 1957, when mixed drinking with men and women was finally authorized and major changes did not really come until the 1970’s. [In 1963, the author discovered Quebec was the best place to drink in all of Canada, still is].

On Operation #40, 8/9 April 1945, Halifax NP742 had an encounter with a new German jet fighter, but no hits were scored on the enemy aircraft.

The proud Halifax bomber was ready for disposal on 16 May 1945, flown to the huge Halifax graveyard at RAF No. 43 Group, Rawcliffe, on 23 May and parked for scrapping. Struck off charge by the RAF on 26 May 45, the aircraft was photographed [above] by F/l Harold Lindsay a few days later. Marked for preservation and return to Canada, the nose art was not saved, reason still unknown.

RCAF Death Head’s in Top Hats

Research by Clarence Simonsen

RCAF Halifax LV860

Click on the link above to read the PDF version.


Text version

RCAF Death Head’s in Top Hats

Halifax Mk. III, serial LV860 was the fourth constructed in a Batch of 27 bombers [serial LV857-LV883] assembled by Rootes Securities, Speke, 10 to 25 February 1944. First assigned to RAF No. 35 [Madras Presidency] Squadron at Gravely, Hunts., and transferred to No. 10 Squadron, Melbourne, Yorkshire, operational history unknown. Transferred to No. 6 [RCAF] Group on 31 July 1944, the bomber was taken on strength by No. 415 [Swordfish] Squadron for just one day, then transferred to No. 427 [Lion] Squadron. The Halifax flew no operations with No. 427 and again was transferred to No. 429 [Bison] Squadron on 3 August 1944. The first operation was flown by F/O J. C. Lakeman and crew on 7/8 August 1944, aircraft code AL- “C.”

Operation #2- #3- and #4 were flown by F/O Prentice, #5 by J87026 P/O N.C. Muir [16/17 Aug.], #6 by J35291 F/O C.B. Gray on 18 August 1944.

I believe the nose art name and art image were chosen by the crew of F/O Gray as they flew this Halifax bomber the most, sixteen operations, in four months. 18 August, 27 Aug., 6/7 Sept., 10 Sept., 11/12 Sept., 13 Sept., 14 Sept., 15/16 Sept., 20 Sept., 25 Sept., 27 Sept., 4/5 Oct., 6 Oct., 9 Oct., 21 Oct., 23 Oct., and 18 November 1944.

The aircrew of F/O Gray flew most of the operations in September and October, with the following exceptions.

Operation #7, 25/26 August F/O J.M. Prentice, Op. #13, 13 Sept., F/L J.A. Morris, Op. #14, 14 September, F/O H.J. Hogarth, Op. #16, 17 Sept., J29080 F/O P.J. Commier, Op. #23, 14 October, J87404 F/O R.V. James, Op. #24, 14/15 Oct., J26133 F/O J. Dadek, Op. #27, 25 Oct., J12764 F/L A.R. Milner, Op. #28, 28 October, J28345 F/O F.R. Ridell, Op. 29, 30 Oct., J9356 F/O A.F. Chiloe.

On 1 November 1944, the [Sprog] rookie aircrew of J36200 F/O K.O. Powell took over operations flying Halifax LV860. I’m positive the twin Death-Head nose art impressed this inexperienced RCAF aircrew entering combat for the very first time.

They flew the veteran Halifax aircraft [the bomber had flown 30 operations] on five operations, November 1, 2, 4, 6, and 16th.

Flown by F/L P.F. Robb, Halifax LV860 was struck by falling incendiaries over the target area and received major damage, but returned to base. After repairs, the bomber was returned to No. 429 Squadron on 14 January 1945, [given new code letter AL- “T”] flew one operation #38, on 28/29 Jan. 45, J36347 F/O H.A. M. Humphries.

The aircrew of F/O Humphries flew nine operations in Halifax LV860, 28/29 January 1945, February 1, 14/15, 17, 21, 23, March 1, 14, and her last operation #50 on 15 March 1945.

No. 429 Squadron stood Down on 15 March 45 for the purpose of conversion training for the new British build Lancaster Mk. I & Mk. III aircraft.

Halifax LV860 was transferred to No. 420 [Snowy Owl] Squadron on 16 March 45 and again sent to No. 425 [Alouette] Squadron 16 April 45. Damaged in an accident 21 April 45 she flew no operations and was sent for disposal on 31 May 45. While waiting to be scrapped at RAF No. 43 Group Handley Page graveyard at Rawcliffe, RCAF F/L Lindsay recorded her last photo early June 1945, and completed a file card. The nose art was selected for return to Canada, but never made it, for reasons unknown.

No. 429 received twenty-four Avro Lancaster B. Mk. I [12] and Mk. III [12] British built aircraft and after conversion training began operations on 4/5 April 1945. J36347 F/O H.A.M. Humphries was assigned Lancaster Mk. I serial NN701, built by Austin Motor Company, Longbridge, which had first flown with RAF No. 57 Squadron. [Operations unknown]

The new Lancaster Mk. I, NN701 coded AL-T, soon appeared painted with the nose art of “Spook’ N Droop” photo taken after the third operation, 10 April 1945.

F/O Humphries “HAM” [for his initials] in the cockpit of ‘his’ Lancaster NN701 showing his operations flown on 4/5 April to Merseberg, 8/9 Apr. Hamburg, 10 Apr. Leipzig, 13/14 Apr. Kiel, 3/4 May, mining. 8 May 1945, end of WWII operations. No. 429 [Bison] Squadron based at Leeming, Yorkshire, remained in England, under Bomber Command Strike Force of RAF No. 1 Group. They airlifted Allied prisoners of war and rotated British troops back and forth from Italy.

No. 429 Squadron were first allotted the task of dumping all the squadron incendiary bombs in the North Sea, with two or three trips made each day. Other Lancaster aircraft took Canadian ground crews on a sight-seeing trip over Germany, to witness the results of the war bombing attacks. F/O Humphries also flew four “Exodus” flights bringing Allied prisoners of war back to England from Europe. These flights were also recorded and painted on the aircraft bomb total for operations. [Five bombing operations and four Exodus operations]

8 May, Exodus – Brussels, 9 May Exodus – Juvincourt, France, 9 May [2nd trip flown to France “W” RF257 in Exodus] and 10 May Exodus – Juvincourt, France. Operation Exodus was the return of Allied [Canadian/British] prisoners of war from Europe to England.

This free domain image [UK2854] showing the loading of ex-POW’s at Juvincourt, France, near Rheims in June 1945. Juvincourt Airport, France, was selected as a central departure point and over 500 POW’s were flown out to England each day. The British had a term for many, “The Awkward Lot” as many Allied prisoners had to learn to adjust to a free civilian society and had to be screened before they could board the flight home. The sad forgotten part from the madness of war.

The Death Head’s returned ninety-two European Allied prisoners of war to England.

No. 429 Squadron had one Lancaster Mk. VII on strength, however the RT series serial number is not recorded in the operations records. In September 45, Lancaster NN701 took part in Operation Dodge, the rotation of British troops from Italy, painted as a Red Cross in circle on nose art.

Each operation [twelve] carried twenty British soldiers back and from Italy to England and Lancaster NN701 rotated sixty military passengers on three flights.

Bison Squadron was disbanded at Leeming, Yorks., on 1 June 1946, and returned to Canada.

Lancaster B. Mk. I serial NN701 was struck off charge by RAF on 20 January 1947, and soon scrapped.