RAF Rear Gunner

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

  1. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Do you happen to have any photos of the aircrew mentioned in this thread, that you could possibly share with us here.?

  2. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

  3. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    Yes, I do, but unfortunately they are not the originals, only photocopies so the picture quality is not the best.

    Picture one is my great uncle Tony, and picture 2 is of the crew from the plane crash in January 1944. The pilot (who died saving them all - according to Tony's story), Navigator Snobby (Schnobb), bomb aimer, Glen (H.G Boissevain), Wireless operator, Pop (not sure of his actual name), Engineer Jock (J. C. Cunnings), Mid-upper gunner Mickey (H. L. Ludlow), and finally Tail Gunner Tony.

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  4. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    I'm not sure if I have the correct names to the faces as there are only 5 out of 7 of them in the photos, so I'm sorry if I got any wrong.
  5. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    About the plane crash, he writes:

    "It was 28th or 29th of January 1944.We had bombed Germany for the second time and had to go a long way round to fox the enemy defences.

    After having dropped our bombs successfully, we made our way home flying over the North Sea. Suddenly our skipper informed us that he was switching off two of his four engines, one on each side, because we were running out of fuel and may have to ditch into the sea!

    He then ordered Jock, Mickey, and me to take up our emergency crash positions; I came out of my turret shivering from head to toe at the thought of landing in the sea. It was freezing cold! We had a dinghy in one of our wings and we were each wearing a Mae West, but I still didn't like the thought of landing in the water.

    Pop (wireless), and Snobby (navigator) remained at their posts situated inside the fuselage behind the cockpit. There were no doors or separations in our aircraft, I was the only one completely shut off from the crew. Snobby was busy with his charts, while Pop tried to make contact with base. Glen (bomb aimer) and Second Pilot remained sitting next to our skipper in the cockpit.

    We were losing height and the Yorkshire coast was getting nearer. After further deliberation it was decided to keep going and try to land on an RAF aerodrome, which Pop had previously contacted. The emergency services were alerted and standing by. By the time we reached the aerodrome it was daylight - Skipper was making a sharp turn to line up with the runway and suddenly the other two remaining engines stopped.

    Our aircraft began to dive steeply. Skipper soon realized what was about to happen and ordered Glen to join us in the middle of the fuselage. What a skipper! The ground was coming up behind us at a terrifying speed; I could clearly see we were heading towards some large buildings surrounded by tall trees.

    As soon as our skipper ordered Glen to leave, I saw him leap to the middle section of the plane. Our skipper remained at the controls, trying to pull out of the dive, but it kept on gathering speed heading straight towards a large building I later found out was an RAF hospital. Whether it was luck or judgement on our skipper's side I don't know, but we missed the building by 300 meters and crashed in a small wooded area.

    At the time of impact I felt no pain at all; all I remember is seeing a very clear picture of my father, mother, and two sisters. Then everything went black. When I woke up I found myself lying on the damp, cold grass a few meters away from the fuselage. We didn't wear helmets in those days and I started to feel some pain on the top of my head - it was a bump as large as an egg. I stood up and looked around, still dazed. Both of the wings of the aircraft were ripped off and the nose and cockpit were compacted into the ground. The fuselage was scattered all over and hung from the tall trees. The whole area looked like a scrapyard. I noticed the large building in the background, it was the hospital, and I remember thinking, "Gee, they sure had a near miss!"

    I can vaguely remember a long line of people about 100 meters away, looking terrified, most of them nurses from the hospital.Then I saw some of my mates, and the rescue people arrived and took us to the hospital. As we left the crash site I saw Skipper laying on the grass with a deep hole in his head - poor Skipper had been killed outright. He was such a friendly unassuming guy. So brave and unselfish. There were many unknown and unacknowledged heroes during the war; Skipper was one of them."
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  6. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    I think it's fair to say my great uncle Tony had a pretty eventful year in 1944.

    Surviving a plane crash, getting shot down, evading the Nazis with the help of Belgian resistance, and then being betrayed and captured and sent to a POW camp.
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  7. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Thanks for sharing the photos, and the story (post 85) Dan, wonder who holds the originals ?
    The war took a terrible carnage of aircrew throughout the conflict, and so young they were to.
    All heroes everyone of them.

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  8. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    I'm trying to see if I can get hold of anymore pictures. If I am able to I will try to put them on here. Tony didn't even tell his family he was going off to fight so when they found out he was missing I can only imagine their shock.
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  9. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    And yes, every one of them was a hero. I can't even fathom what they went through.

    I just want to say thanks to everyone who posted on here. I've been able to show this to other family members and they've been so pleased to see this information and to know that these brave men haven't been forgotten.
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  10. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Not to sure whether to post here or start new thread.

    Need a few pointers where to look just started researching my Uncle Charles Burnikell
    In later life he cut himself off from family so only partial knowledge.
    He is not showing up at various places I have tried.
    I know Service records will be required eventually.
    What I do and do not know.
    Charles Burnikell
    Born East End (Bethnal Green?)
    Service number not known
    DOB unknown
    Died 60's?
    Rear Gunner
    Awarded DFM or DFC (Not to sure about that might be family legend)
    Shot down and survived date unknown
    Talked about DZ's White City and Piccadilly Circus (Burma?)
    Said they were a shambles (Gliders?)
    If he was active in Burma in Bomber Command it might help if I can find what Squadrons were Operating there.
    Any help appreciated .
  11. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Thankyou for giving us the complete story of the flight HX285 and it's final demise.
    I will pass on your story to (Dick's) 'Richard Lewis' daughter, she will be thrilled to hear it.

    best regards.......Graham.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
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  12. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    ? died in the 1960's OR he was in his 60's when he died ??

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007
    Name: Charles William Burnikell
    Death Age: 64
    Birth Date: Oct 1916
    Registration Date: Dec 1980
    Registration district: Ealing
    Inferred County: Greater London
    Volume: 12
    Page: 0175

  13. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Hi Redtop,
    Best if you start a new thread in 'The War In The Air Forum'.
    You will probably get more interest from members not necessaly following this thread.

    Goodluck with your research.

  14. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    I believe now that the "Mickey" in my uncle's story may have been a wrong interpretation of the name and that it should have been Dick, or Dicky. He wrote his story by hand (a family member typed it up for him) and his writing wasn't always the easiest to read so that would account for the name being different.
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  15. redtop

    redtop Well-Known Member

    Thank you Graham I will try that
    I was guessing when he might of died
  16. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    "Pop" was F/O Peter Aldege Schnobb of Ottawa, who was 31 at the time.
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  17. alieneyes

    alieneyes Senior Member

    Here are a few bits and pieces on Schnobb and the two aircraft.

    He was put up for a Military Cross for his efforts as an evader. This was downgraded to a Mention in Dispatches. Recommendation reads:

    Flight Lieutenant Schnobb was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner of a Halifax aircraft engaged in an attack on Dusseldorf on 22nd April 1944. The aircraft received hits from enemy anti-aircraft fire and the crew were ordered to leave. Flight Lieutenant Schnobb made a successful parachute descent, hid his parachute harness and life-saving jacket in a swamp, and walked for two days and nights towards the Belgian frontier. His ability to speak French fluently helped him to get in touch with friendly people and he eventually reached Belgium. At Liege he joined the Maquis, acting as interpreter at their Headquarters and evading the Gestapo for five months until liberated by the Americans in September 1944.

    A preliminary recommendation adds that "still bears the scars of a few bouts with Gestapo agents who were on his trail."

    I noticed his date of birth is given as 1920 so he shaved off at least eight years to enlist. Deceased Smith's Falls, Ontario 13 December 1987. Obituary states he was 75 at the time.

    Anybody feel like digging up Isidor Schmitz's garden? Ottawa Journal, 26 September 1945.

    schnobb ottawa journal 26 september 1945.png

    Apparently, Halifax HX285 was known as "Evening Ecstasy" while HX291 carried the moniker "Whacky"
  18. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Thanks Dan, I seem to remember someone referring to him as Dick.(might of been his daughter.)

    Just asked Liz if she fancied a gardening holiday, didn't get a reply. ??


    edit, just checked his headstone, it was Dick.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2019
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  19. Dan Cooper

    Dan Cooper Member

    Please pass on my best wishes to his daughter. I would love to know what she thought of the story.
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  20. ozzy16

    ozzy16 Patron Patron

    Cheer's Dan,
    I have printed a copy out, and will catch up with her over the weekend.

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