NutsStirling Pilott Nuts

The "Lucky" Crew

Crew Profiles.

Crew Operations Summary.

This is the story of a unique crew (as they all were, of course) who flew with 149 Sqn in the same period as Andrew, arriving on the Squadron some five months before he did.

The Crew consisted of:

Pilot Officer J. L. Blair, Pilot, RNZAF; F/Sgt J. "Fritz" Giacomelli, RCAF, Navigator; Sgt T. Whitlock, RAF, Bomb Aimer; Sgt F. Johnson, RAF, Flt Engineer;Sgt W. H. Clayton, RAF, W/Op; Sgt R. Zambra, RAF, M/U Gunner; Sgt C. Barker, RCAF, Rear Gunner.

This is a portion of their story........

crew walking BarkerBlairzambra Fitz Zambra Zambra

The crew met up at 1657 HCU, at Stradishall, and then posted to 149 Sqn on 18th Dec '42.

Their first "Lucky" was a trip in R9334, OJ-G, on 3rd Jan '43, on a Night Bombing practice at Rushford bombing range. After being instructed to land on runway 24, the pilot ( At that time,Sergeant, L Blair RNZAF) realized that the drift on that runway was too high. The Stirling was noted for not liking drift on landing or take-off, and the undercarriage was very susceptible to collapse. The overshoot was not good, with two engines loosing power, undercarriage still down and flaps partly out. Blair could do nothing but hold it level until it hit at the far end of the Lakenheath playing field. On the way down it had hit power cables, causing a fire, and taken off a few chimmney pots. The Pilot and Bomb Aimer were both injured by the impact, Whitlock fatally. The rest of the crew got away with minor injuries. The burnt bit of parachute is from this incident. The WoP, Clayton, left the crew during Blair's recovery from this incident, and was killed when shot down by a nightfighter in March '43. The rest of the crew continued with Laurie and survived.



The second "Lucky" was the 3rd Op in EF343, OJ-B, Night Fighter Claim and FW 190 at West Malling.

The third was a mining or "Gardening" mission to the French coast in BK696, OJ-L. After being hit by Flak and a night fighter the aircraft lost the use of the compass and were very low on fuel. To add to the trials, an electrical storm hit them and they were forced to (sucessfully) abandon the aircraft over Havant, Hampshire. The crew all got the "Caterpillar" badge.



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