RAF Rear Gunner

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by ozzy16, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Update on Richards service record.
    Richards daughter phoned me today,and told me she has just received his RAF service record.(I posted it on the 14-October) allowing for postage it's taken around 3 weeks.
    I've never seen a RAF service record so its a first for me.I will with her permission, post it here and hope members can help me decipher it.

  2. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Had a look at Richards service record.(will upload it later)And the first thing which caught my eye was Pershore.This airfield is about 6 miles from where I live.
    It was requisitioned by the ministry just after the start of WW2 and took over by the RAF April-1941 until March 1944 when operations
    The main unit stationed here during this period was 23OTU (operational training unit) Richard was posted here.This unit trained Canadian aircrews with Wellingtons.Pershore airfield was attacked 3 times by the Luftwaffe during WW2 with no casualties reported.
    Throughout their time at Pershore the Canadians it seems paid a high price with Accidents involving Wellington bombers.There is a cemetery at Pershore and within it there are 74 war graves, 64 were airmen,41 are Canadian.
    During Sept 1942 an American Douglas Dakota transport plane called "idiots delight" took off from Pershore with a film crew making a gunnery training film.Also on board was the movie star Clarke Gable accompanied a USAFF general.The aircraft made an emergency landing at nearby Worcester,but it came in to fast for the grass field and overshot the runway crashing through a fench and ending up in the city rubbish tip.The airforce general onboard had a broken ankle and moaned " I've come all this way across the Atlantic only to end up in a trash tip"

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  3. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Whilst I'm comfortable researching most of the units on this record.There are a few I'm not familiar with.See below.
    18 EFTS. with A inside a circle ?
    ACDC 7.AGS ?
    1664 E.U. ?
    any help appreciated thankyou......Graham. r3.jpg r2.jpg r4.jpg r1.jpg
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  4. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    ref: 1664 EU, above.
    Its not 1664 EU, its 1664 CU,which is Group 6 conversion unit at Croft Yorkshire.Just found it.

  5. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member


    18 EFTS: No. 18 Elementary Flying Training School, located at Fairoaks, outside London
    ACDC: Aircrew Disptach Centre
    7AGS: No. 7 Air Gunnery School, located at RAF Stormy Down.

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  6. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Brilliant Dave, thankyou.

    Can anyone read the single word at the bottom of his units record ?

  7. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    Wot - after Kidderminster??
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  8. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member



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  9. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    cheers Kev,
    Daves got it.

  10. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    I don't know what medals Richard was awarded after his service in the RAF. Looking at his record above I'm assuming he was awarded.

    1/.......Air Crew Europe Star.
    2/.......1939-1945 Star, with bomber command clasp.
    3/.......War Medal.
    4/........Defence Medal ??
    Would these be correct?

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  11. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member


    I am replying here to let you know that Antonio (Tony) Camenzuli was my Great Uncle, and a hilariously entertaining man who I miss a great deal.

    I saw this thread today and immediately signed up here to give you some information about him.

    He did indeed survive the war and went on to live in England until his death in 2013. He wrote about his experiences during the war and the family has a copy of his story, which is extremely fascinating and details the crash and death of their Skipper, as well as his how he evaded the Germans with the help of Belgian resistance, and his POW experiences after he was eventually caught.

    In 2014 my family were sent some incredibly interesting and emotional letters that had been discovered in an attic by a woman who had no connection to our family. She very kindly managed to track down my uncle and was able to return the letters to us.

    We had no prior knowledge of these letters so it was wonderful to read them so many years later and to verify some of my Great Uncle's story.

    The letters were sent from the Royal Canadian Airforce Overseas to my great grandmother in 1944 during the period of April 27th to September 29th. The letters initially were sent to notify her of her son's disappearance and presumed death after the Aprill 22nd raid on Dusseldorf. However, the final letter tells that he survived, and the news was, "Very enthusiastically received on the squadron and in the gunnery section particularly."

    Looking through these letters, they also mention the names of Flying Officer W. I. Canter D.F.M who had been captured and was a prisoner of war, Flying Officer Norris, A.W, navigator, who was also a prisoner of war, and Warrant Officer (Second Class) H. G. Boissevain who lost his life on the 23rd April 1944.

    If you'd like any more information please feel free to contact me. At the moment I'm unable to scan the letters or the story, but I might be able to get copies of them should they interest you.
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  12. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

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  13. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    From Hugh Halliday's Honours and Awards database:

    CANTER, Sergeant (now P/O) Wilfred (R127907/J17845) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.408 Squadron - Award effective 14 August 1943 as per London Gazette dated 27 August 1943 and AFRO 2322/43 dated 12 November 1943. Born 7 February 1921 in Russia; home in Toronto (shipping trade, salesman); enlisted there 22 August 1941 and posted to No.5A Manning Depot. To No.8 SFTS (guard duty), 8 October 1941. To No.3 ITS, 6 December 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 30 January 1942; to No.12 EFTS, 1 February 1942; may have graduated 6 April 1942 but not posted to No.5 SFTS until 11 April 1942; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 31 July 1942. To “Y” Depot, 14 August 1942. To RAF overseas, 20 August 1942. Further trained at No.23 OTU, Pershore. Commissioned 12 April 1943. Repatriated at the end of June 1943 but returned to Britain, 12 September 1943. Returned to operations with No.433 Squadron. Shot down 22/23 April 1944 in Halifax HX291 (BM-W, “Whacky”), target Dusseldorf. One of three No.433 Squadron Halifaxes lost on this operation; the others were LV840; LV990. Airborne at 2224 hours, 22 April 1944 from Skipton-on-Swale. Homebound, having already sustained some flak damage, it was shot down from 18,000 feet by a night-fighter near Weert (Limburg), Holland. On fire, the order to abandon was given and the Halifax crashed near Meeuwen (Limburg), Belgium. Those killed were buried at St.Truiden, 25 April 1944; their graves are now located in the Heverlee War Cemetery. Crew consisted of F/O W.L. Canter (POW), Flight Sergeant A.M.P. Camenzuli (Maltese. POW), Sergeant J.G. Cumming (killed), F/O A.W. Norris, RCAF (POW), WO2 H.G. Boissevain, RCAF (killed), F/O P.A. Schnobb, RCAF (evaded), Sergeant H.C. Seedhouse, RCAF (killed). Canter was held in Camp 3 (POW number 4456). Information from “Lost Bombers” website. Award presented by King George 15 May 1945. Repatriated again, 1 June 1945; to No.1 Composite Training School, 12 June 1945. To No.4 Release Centre, 11 September 1945; retired 19 September 1945. Joined Israeli Air Force. Killed 24 October 1948. He was pilot, navigator Willy Fisher, 25, of Winnipeg and co- pilot Fred Stevenson, 29, of Vancouver. They had just taken off on a night supply run to Sodom on the Dead Sea when an engine caught fire. Their C-47 soon exploded in the air and fell to the ground near Ekron, south of Tel Aviv. Canter and Fisher are buried in Rehovot. Stevenson is buried in the Haifa Military Cemetery. Killed with them were navigator Leon Lightman of Britain, and Air Force supply officer Michael Wimers. RCAF photo PL-44534 (ex UK-21512 dated 19 May 1945) taken soon after release and investiture.

    In air operations Sergeant Canter displayed courage and tenacity of a high order.

    Public Record Office Air 2/4995 has recommendation for a BEM drafted by W/C W.D.S. Ferris on 12 July 1943. He had flown one sortie (seven hours and seven minutes).

    Sergeant Canter, who was acting as second pilot in aircraft piloted by P/O I.C. MacKenzie on a trip to Frankfurt, Germany, on the night of 14th-15th April 1943, was attacked by an enemy fighter and was able to clear the aircraft by parachute along with five other members of the crew.

    This Non-Commissioned Officer showed bravery and initiative in that he escaped enemy territory to Gibraltar and has now returned to Great Britain. I strongly recommend that his act in effecting this escape be awarded by a BEM.

    G/C J.L. Plant, Officer Commanding, Station Leeming, wrote (19 July 1943):

    Sergeant Canter was shot down over enemy territory on his first operational flight. The fact that he escaped shows that he had prepared by study for such a happening. In effecting his escape he showed courage and tenacity of purpose for which I recommend the award of a British Empire Medal.

    A/V/M G.E. Brookes, Air Officer Commanding, No.6 Group, wrote (10 August 1943)

    In view of the remarks contained in the MI.9 Report (attached) covering the escape of this Non-Commissioned Officer from enemy territory, I support the remarks and recommendation contained above except that it may be than an award of the DFM would be more appropriate.

    Public Record Office WO 208/3314 has his MI.9 evasion report based on interview of 30 June 1943. He had left Gibraltar on 23 June 1943, arriving at Liverpool on 29 June 1943.

    I was second pilot in a Halifax aircraft which took off from Leaming Bar (Yorkshire) about 2200 hours on 14 April 1943 to bomb Stuttgart. On the return flight we were attacked by a night fighter over Reims and the aircraft caught fire. The order to bale out was given about 0330 hours, 15 April.

    The only member of the crew whose name I know was P/O McKenzie, RAAF (first pilot), who with the flight engineer was preparing to jump when I left the aircraft. The rear gunner, mid-upper gunner, and wireless operator jumped before me. About five hours later, while hiding at a deserted farm house, I saw a German patrol with two prisoners. I could not identify them, but they may have been the bomb aimer and navigator.

    I came down about 0345 hours just northwest of Reims. My leg was broken just above the ankle, and I was unable to walk. I gathered up my parachute and, after covering it with the harness, I started crawling in search of a hiding place, there being no cover in the field where I came down. I crawled for about a mile, resting frequently. There were numerous Germans searching the district on foot, in cars and on motor cycles, as as several aircraft had come down that night. There was also a German barracks in the vicinity.

    Eventually I reached two small deserted farm houses, in one of which I hid after climbing in through a window. During the day I called to two women who approached the house. I speak very little French, and I explained to them that I was RAF ans asked for help. In the late afternoon the women brought me food and clothing - I was wearing shoes under my flying boots - and took away my uniform. In the evening their husbands escorted me by bicycle to the home of one of them in Reims, where I was sheltered for nine days (15-24 April). I was then handed over to an organisation which arranged the rest of my journey.

    Notes: His own report of being shot down, 22/23 April 1944, was recounted 7 May 1945 in filing “Questionnaire for Returned Aircrew - Loss of Bomber Aircraft.” He had done twelve sorties on his tour:

    All went well as we reached the target, dropped our load and were returning. Ten miles from N/E Belgium we were attacked without warning by a fighter. The weather was good and the moon was up. After a burst which put the port wing on fire and made port outer engine unserviceable and damaged port inner; tried to feather port outer but it wouldn’t feather. The fighter made second attack which Rear Gunner saw and I successfully evaded the attack due to accurate instruction from Rear Gunner. The fire was gaining and so I gave the order to abandon aircraft. The Navigator, Bomb Aimer and Wireless Operator jumped and I called the rear section after a few minutes but got no answer so presuming the rest had jumped I left. Have received no definite news of their safety and whereabouts except the WOP and Navigator. Fighter attack was from the rear and evasive action was diving and turning to the right.

    View Arnold NORRIS's Notice on edmontonjournal.com and share memories
  14. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    That's amazing.


    I am reading my Great Uncle's description of those events now. He's the Rear Gunner mentioned above.

    He writes:

    "Suddenly we saw white flares high above us. We were trapped! The glow of the flares blinded us like the sun. Within seconds I saw a trail of 20mm shells, or tracer bullets, coming straight for me. They passed the aircraft just 3 inches past my turret, but before I could catch my breath, fire burst out on the starboard wing, rapidly spreading towards the fuel tanks and engines.

    I instructed my Skipper to take evasive action (by then the enemy aircraft had stopped firing and had slipped away). I didn't get a glimpse of him and I noticed that our mid-upper gunner hadn't fired a single shot. I later learned that he had been killed, along with Glen and Jock. I gave up firing - surely it was me next."
  15. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Hello Dan,
    Welcome to the forum.

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  16. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    Thank you.

    Good to be able to post here and to read all of these stories.
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  17. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    F/Sgt AMP Camenzuli (Maltese) is shown as having been shot down on 22nd April and captured in Antwerp on 3rd August 1944.
    With that amount of delay, I wonder if he was one of the hundred plus airmen betrayed in Antwerp by the collaborator Rene van Muylem (known as Alphonse"). Muylem was executed on 29 May 1948.
    Tony was held at Stalag L7 with PoW No 561.
    (Footprints on the Sands of Time)
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  18. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    Again, wow. Never thought I'd see any information like this. And it matches up with what he wrote in his story.

    From his story:

    "The five men involved in our arrest were Dutch and Belgian traitors, paid by the Gestapo."

    I'd love to know who the Belgians were who looked after my uncle when he was evading capture. He wrote down some of their names.

    I have the following: a boy of about 16 or 17, and a woman - his mother, who spoke in Flemish. A man on a bicycle - the boy's father, who came and gave him cigarettes, meat sandwiches, beer, sweets, and matches when he was hiding out injured in a ditch.

    A guy named Marcel who spoke good English and French. Aged about 18.

    A man with blue eyes and an angelic face who introduced himself as "Harry". Harry said he belonged to the White Brigade, a Belgian underground movement.

    Harry's uncle, Franz.

    A butcher also called Harry, referred to as "Old Harry" in the story.

    And finally, Maria, Franz's niece, and Harry's sister.

    My Great Uncle wrote he also met another man, an American pilot called Douglas. Douglas had been hiding out in a brewery and had been shot down in his flying fortress bomber during a daylight raid over Germany.

    They were in a village called Bocholt.
  19. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

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  20. KevinBattle

    KevinBattle Senior Member

    alieneyes links cross refers to another file
    and who might also be captured by the same collaborator....
    In all they believe that at least 177 airmen were captured in Brussels and hundreds more Belgian resistants by betrayal from van Muylem.

    From Tony's story, IF he had been able to evade another month, Brussels was liberated on 4th September.......
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