On the 25th November 1944, Bob took the final step in his training to become a flight engineer on a Lancaster bomber when he was posted to 1669 Heavy Conversion Unit (H.C.U.) at RAF Langar on the Nottinghamshire Leicestershire border. A month later he was 'adopted' by an already established crew of four Kiwis and two RAFVR gunners in a process known as 'crewing up'. They had been together at No. 11 Operational Training Unit (O.T.U.) at RAF Oakley where they had learned to fly twin engine Wellington bombers but they didn't all fly together in a Lancaster until the end of January.
|F/S Bill Mallon|
- Pilot/Captain: Flight Sergeant (later Pilot Officer) William (Bill) Mallon (R.N.Z.A.F.) - age 24 (see chapter 4 and chapter 5). Bill had two brothers, both pilots and both would be killed in action before the war was over.
- Navigator: Flight Sergeant James (Jim) Randel Haworth (R.N.Z.A.F.) - age 34 (see chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9). Jim was the only crew member with a young family at home.
- Air bomber (bomb aimer): Flying Officer Kenneth Ralph Philp (R.N.Z.A.F.) (the only one at this time with a commission) - age 31/32. Ken also had a brother who was a pilot and had been killed in action earlier in the year (see chapter 12).
- Wireless operator: Flight Sergeant Frank Symes (R.N.Z.A.F.) - turned 21 on the 3rd March 1945. Frank came from a large family - he was the fifth of eight children (see chapter 10).
- Rear gunner: Sergeant Denis William Eynstone (RAFVR) (from Oxford) - at 19 the youngster of the crew (see chapters 11 and 11a).
- Flight engineer: Sergeant Robert Jay (RAFVR) - age 25, the original subject of this blog.
- Mid-upper gunner: Sergeant Don Cook (RAFVR) (from London) - age 20 (see chapter 13)
|The other six members of Bob's crew, probably taken in December, 1944|
- Jim Haworth
- Don Cook
- Bill Mallon
- Frank Symes
- Denis Eynstone
- Ken Philp
|The back of Bill's photograph|
On their first three operations they had an eighth crew member:
- Mid-under gunner: Pilot Officer Charles Frederick Green (RAFVR 178730) (see chapter 20) who had also flown a number of operations with the Zinzan crew.
- Flight Lieutenant Eric Frank Butler (NZ425558), who had completed his first tour with 75(NZ) Squadron in 1941 (see chapter 14)
- Flying Officer Lancelot Osgood Waugh (NZ429021) (see chapter 15)
|Owen Willetts in 1944.|
- F/Lt. Ian Taylor (RAFVR-1550767/135709) - pilot
- P/O David Dickson Hope (RAAF-AUS401954) - navigator
- W/O John Alfred Tarran (RAAF-AUS419395) - bomb aimer
- W/O Mervyn John King (RAAF-AUS430036) - wireless operator
- F/S William (Bill) Henry Grout (RCAF*-R109214) - mid-upper gunner
- Sgt. E. Franklin (RAFVR.) - rear gunner
*During WW2 aircrew enlisted into the RCAF Special Reserve were allocated a service number prefixed with the letter 'R', which they kept unless commissioned when they would receive a 'J' number.
The first names of the two gunners were a mystery for a while but these have now been established - Don Cook and Denis Eynstone. Although referred to as John or Johnny Eynstone by both Bill and Jim, the crew's rear gunner, whose initial appears almost exclusively as 'D' in the squadron's O.R.B., was actually Denis William Eynstone. The O.R.B.s were frequently incorrect (see below**) but in November 2014 Denis's daughter confirmed her father's name.
**Here is the entry for the Mallon crew for the Bad Oldesloe operation on the 24th April, 1945.
|Note the incorrect initials for Sgts. Jay, Cooke and Eynstone.|