Part One – The Wellingtons
Guests: Jack Wakefield and the late Nick Carter
Co-Hosts: Dave Homewood and Glen Turner
Duration: 1 hour, 57 minutes, 38 seconds
Topic: This is the first episode in a planned series detailing the long and proud history of No. 75 Squadron – both with the Royal Air Force and then with the Royal New Zealand Air Force.
Regular WONZ Show host Dave Homewood is joined by co-host Glen Turner, the secretary of the No. 75 Squadron Assocition here in New Zealand, who lends his expert knowledge to the series.
This first episode focuses on three main areas:
– the pre-WWII history of No. 75 Squadron RAF, before the squadron became associated with the New Zealanders
– the background of the purchase by New Zealand of 30 Vickers Wellingtons for the RNZAF and how the New Zealand Squadron formed in britain for this purpose, only to be morphed from a peactime ferrying squadron into a wartime operational bomber unit
– and the period in which the New Zealand Squadron became No. 75 (NZ) Squadron RAF
We discuss the period of the New Zealanders (in both the New Zealand Squadron and No. 75 (NZ) Squadron) flying their Wellington bombers in action between 1939 and 1942; and Dave talks with two members of the No. 75 (NZ) Squadron aircrew who flew operations in those Wellingtons.
John Wakefield, known as Jack and also Wakey. joined No. 75 (NZ) Squadron in November 1940, and flew thirty ops as a rear gunner. He was crewed with Charlie Pownall DFC originally, but when Charlie was posted to North Africa, Jack then flew a few more ops with Oliver Mathieson DFC, RAF. But many of his later ops were flown with Bob Fortheringham as his skipper.
Nick Carter joined the squadron later on in May 1942 and flew in Jack Wright’s crew. He was a Wireless Operator-Air Gunner in the crew. Both Jack and Nick tell the story of the squadron and of their own personal experiences very well indeed.
It is planned to bring the episode in this sub-series to you in the non-immediate future focussing on the Stirling era – so keep an eye out for it. Apologies for a few sound glitches in a small portion of Jack’s interview.
Below are photos from Jack Wakefield’s collection from his time on No. 75 (NZ) Squadron
Sergeant Jack Wakefield with No. 75 (NZ) Squadron at RAF Feltwell, late 1940
No. 75 (NZ) Squadron Debriefing Room, RAF Feltwell 1940-1941
An official propaganda photo showing members of the squadron – this was captioned in newspapers that they were the New Zealand Bomber squadron going to Berlin, but it was the genuine No. 75 (NZ) Squadron staging the photo in daytime.
Jack’s caption identifies these men as P/O Oliver Matheson DFC, RAF (Captain), Sgt Bob Fotheringham RNZAF (2nd Pilot), unknown RAF front gunner, F/O Barnes RAF (Navigator), Sgt Jack Wakefield (Rear Gunner), Sgt Robert Newton DFM, RAF (Wireless Operator)
Jack Wakefield’s office, the Vickers Wellington’s rear turret.
“The Berlin Boys” – being farewelled by Wing Commander Cyril Kay, who’s on the left. Next to him is Squadron Leader Reuben Widdowson DFC , RAF, famous as the captain in Jimmy Ward VC’s famous flight on the wing. Third from left is Flying Officer Barnes (Jack’s Navigator), with Jack Wakefield next to him, and Bob Fotheringham DFC is seventh from left. Flight Lieutenant William Davenport Brown DFC is also in the photo
Prior to joining the squadron but a great photo of Sgt Jack Wakefield (left) and Sergeant Blake in
Trafalgar Square, London, July 1940
Jack’s crew’s personal aircraft, Vickers Wellington AA-Y for Yorker R1162
Sgt Jack Wakefield (left) and Pilot Officer Edgar Lockwood RAF, under the nose of Y for Yorker (R1162)
By the way the small music clip comes from Danosongs and is called Magic Ghost