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G.W.Daggett’s Navigator on all but one of his bombing raids, in the Lancaster bomber, was Thomas Hindley.

Before his death he wrote an account of his bombing raids, during WWII, on the BBC’s WW2 People’s War website.


                                Click button below to read his accounts.

Reunion (50 years on) with G.W.Daggett’s Navigator, Thomas Hindley (from New Zealand) at Heyshott, West Sussex, ca.1990’s. His accounts are documented above.

    At this stage of the war Air Marshall Harris had sometimes to give up his command of the bomber force to USA General Eisenhauer, but when he resumed in charge, continued the massive attack on Germany. More bombs tonnage dropped resulted from this period of the war than hitherto. We attacked targets all over the 3rd Reich and some in Scandinavia and East Prusia throughout the cold war winter of 1944-45. Also did quite a few ops involving sowing sea mines, known as 'vegetables' mostly around the Baltic Sea coasts.

    Sometimes supported the Allied Armies, with some attacks in daylight raids heavily protected by huge fighter groups and repelled the German offensive at Battle of the Bulge, when they advanced through the Ardennes. We attacked a German Cruiser in Oslo Fiord on a moonlit night with deep snow marking out the land and sea edges. Must have been the shortest war time raid ever when, in daylight, we bombed a massive German naval gun on the sea wall at Walcheran, a Dutch island which was preventing the opening up of the Port of Antwerp.

     On this operation we were assisting two RN capital ships, Warspite and a 16" gun monitor, either Erubus or Terror, who were bombarding inland enemy forces.
     Some of the above comes from a lazy memory refreshed by log book details, which show that I was present as Navigator on 32 Ops. involving 26 sorties at night, and 6 in daytime, taking 210.15 hours flying time, all of which were captained by Geoff Daggett, who was awarded a DFC for his perseverance, and usually Hindley, Navigator, Sharpe, Bombaimer, Simpson, F/Engineer, Chinook, W/Op., Simpson,M/UG., and rear gunner, Fred Barry. We were in two squadrons, 630 at East Kirkby, Dunholme Lodge and finally for the main part of our tour in B Flight of 44 (Rhodesia) Squadron at Spilby, all in Lincolnshire and our (unofficial) aircraft was KMB No. ND631 which by a rare coincidence is the same aircraft named on the pocket badge of my Scottish woven blue jersy purchased after the war.

 Also it was the last recorded aircraft which fell to enemy action from 44 Squadron in May 1945 and the spare bod 'Navigator was from New Zealand'.

On completion of our tour, the pilot and I went back as training staff to the Swinderby HCU where we sometimes flew together again, but the rest of the crew went elsewhere, some to India, and I never saw them again, but have had at least one Xmas card or letter over the years.
Training flying carried on until VJ Day, which saw the end of my Airforce flying career, but did include one 'Cooks Tour' of Germany, when with a makeup crew we saw some of the bomb damage inflicted on the more prominent targets. Also on VE day I was roped into a 44 Squadron crew to fly to Europe to bring back 24 prisoners of war to London in time for the celebrations.

     In quieter moments I joined a local RAF Station cricket team, which regularly played in a field in Newark on Trent. Round this field was a hedge which had some of its many holes blocked by old machinery, including an old mobile mill just like the ones used during my Rosewill childhood - so I had to examine it closely and explain it's workings to my fellow team mates. One of these fellows pointed out to me that there was an iron tablet screwed onto the chassis which read Clayton and Shuttleworth, Newark on Trent, England. Finally we were sent off back to Brighton to await repatriation to New Zealand, with our grubby uniforms now sporting our bright new war service medals alongside our brevets and at last sometime in October 1945 we trained off to Portsmouth to board the liner Andes, which sailed out past the partly stripped Warspite bound for Australia and New Zealand.

Although the Navagator is suppossed to be so engrossed with his paperwork that he doesn't see too much of what's going on outside, there were a few incidents which impressed me mightily at the time and might be of interest to any reader of this story.
The first concerns a loaded Lancaster which 'swung' on take off. At Spilsby we returned from a later daylight operation to find a scene of indescribable destruction caused by a Lancaster which failed to get airbourne, but behind us at take off on it's swing to port which, was the usual tendency, it had first passed through a large but relatively empty Nissen hut, then through two parked Halifax aircraft from a northern Canadian group, and finally settled down to explode somewhat too close to a hangar and nearby control tower. Nearly all the machines and buildings affected were burnt out and the casualties numbers are not known. A story round our bars had it that the Irish labourer who was sleeping his dayshift in the Nissan hut was the most impressed.
The second incident was caused by a administrative fault by our seniors. It was common practice in our group to state at briefing that the local bombing ranges could be used as positions to jettison unwanted bombs on return to base if required for landing. Our nearest range was at Wainfleet Sands, quite close to the coast at Spilsby, to which drome our Squadron had recently moved. On coming in to get to the aerodrome circuit at quite a low level on a dark morning return, we were astounded to see something akin to the sun arising beneath us. Now it is not possible to not live fuse a 4000lb cooky due to the fragility of its casing, so even if the aircraft which dropped it was at a safe height those of our Squadron who were airbourne in the area concerned, were at least most buffeted and annoyed at this error in briefing detail.
Then there was the time we returned from leave to find that our technical people had installed in every aircraft a new American radar navigation aid called Loran. Believe it or not, all our navigators could, without aid, or any parts books or instructions from anyone, use this device within a few days, even if a few went to some unusual places in the process. This set was somewhat like our marvellous Gee sets, but had a much grater range and . . . .

Short extract of Thomas Hindley’s war story.