By John Lowe

 

KEN'S CREWS


(Last updated: 23.07.13)
Faces of the 206

This photograph is one of the earliest photographs I have after Ken joined the 206 Squadron. It only came to my attention after visiting my great uncle, Ken's brother, in 2004. Howard Bass kindly let me take a copy, you can see various faces from Ken's history: Ken, Clark, Robins, 'Dusty' Miller and Bill Morgan with a Hudson behind them.

 

The 206 Squadron

Aldergrove Aug/Sept 1941


Top Row - 'Dusty' Miller - 2 from left, Bill Morgan - 3 from left, Eric Crowe - 4 from right

2nd row down - Ken - 6 from right

3rd row down - Clark - 9 from right, Robins - 5 from right

Bottom row - John Owen 6 from right, Lawrence Nelson - 4 from right

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Ken had several photographs of Crew Members, the following details are those I have on crews linked to KenClark and Robins both went into the 206 Squadron with Ken after Prince Edward Island and Silloth. Clark was know as 'Nobby' Clark, whilst in the 206 Ken flew with Clark on 64 occasions and Robins on 6 occasions. Sadly Robins died when on Detatchment to another airbase around the time Ken moved to Benbecula (July - Sept 1942),the last time Ken is recorded flying with Robins was on the 27th of August 1942.

 

Bass      -      Clark      -      Robins 

 

'Brylcream would pay pounds for this'

 

(written on the back of this photograph)

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Lockheed Hudson Crew - 1942

 

The photograph below is of Ken, Clark, Miller and an unknown, we know that Miller was with Ken and Clark coming over from Silloth and it's a Hudson behind them, therefore I assume it was taken around July 1942 in Aldergrove.

 

Unknown      -      Clark      -      Miller      -      Bass

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Flying Fortress Crew - 1943

 

It is on the 19th August 1942 that Ken, Miller and Morgan are mentioned together, this was the beginning of a new Crew.

 

On the 9th September 1942 Ken, Miller, Morgan and Clark are mentioned together completing night flying. Ken and Clark appeared to change over the first pilot role quite a lot when flying together.

 

On the 12th of September Roberts and Hunt are first mentioned and so there were 5 of them, Ken, Miller, Morgan, Roberts and Hunt.

On the 11th of October Anderson is first mentioned and so we have it...

 

Kenneth Bass                          Hunt                 Ranald Anderson        Kenneth Roberts

(Pilot)           (Wirelesss Op & Air Gunner)            (Co-Pilot)            (Navigator)

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'Dusty' Bill Miller                          Bill Morgan

(Wireless Op & Air Gunner)          (Wirelesss Op)

 

On the 1st February 1943 all six men are mentioned together doing a sweep, I believe this photograph was taken on this day. The main reason for this is that the aircraft recorded in the Log-book is 'L FK195' and if you look at the photograph above you can clearly see the large 'L' above 'Dusty' Millers head. They only flew a Flying Fortress with that marking on 4 occasions and on the other 3 times there were only 4 of the crew above, not all 6.

 

Miller      -      Bass      -      Anderson      -      Hunt      -      Roberts      -      Morgan

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Sgt J.Hunt, Sgt D.S.Coutts, F/O J.Delarue, F/S J.Taplin

 

As mentioned above Ken had flown with Hunt as a crew member and in August 2006 Chris Ransted contacted me as he was investigating a crash of Flying Fortress IIA FL454 and it's crew on the 6th October 1942. On investigation I found that Ken had piloted this Fortress once on 12th September 1942 just 24 days before the crash. It also transpired that 2 of the 7 crew survived the crash which were Sergeants J.Hunt and D.S.Coutts.

 

On checking Ken's logbook I found that he flew with Hunt on 42 occasions, of which 41 took place after the crash, so it looks like Hunt became part of Ken's crew after the majority of Jack Delarue's crew were lost. Ken flew with Sgt D.S.Coutts on 5 occasions of which all took place after the crash.

 

Sadly the other 5 crew members didn't make it, they were...

  • Jack Delarue - Pilot Officer
  • James C.H. Jaegar - Sgt (Co-Pilot)
  • John F. Guppy - Sgt
  • John B. Taplin - F/S
  • Frederick A. Robinson - F/S

Ken flew with Jack Delarue on 6 occasions, 4 where Ken was pilot and 2 where Jack was pilot. Of these 6 flights 4 of them had John Taplin as a crew member. The other 3 crew members are not mentioned in Ken's logbook so assume they never flew together. The photograph of Jack Delarue below was taken from Chris Ransted's finished article on the crash in Issue 4 of the 'Britain At War Magazine' and courtesy of Robert Stitt. The photograph of John Taplins grave stone was taken at Benbecula in the summer of 2008 courtesy of Richard Crowe.

 

Sgt J.Hunt                                     F/O J.Delarue                   F/S John Taplin

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Flying Fortress Crew - 1943

 

The photograph below was provided by Sonia Johnson in 2009 when we were researching her father William Rundle whose story is within the 'Wireless Ops: Part III' section. After much investigation I am able to name 5 of the 7 crew members below.

 

Flying Fortress FL451 'D'

 

Benbecula 1943

 

William Rundle - Eric McIlwrick - Unknown - Hunt

Ken Roberts - Ken Bass - Unknown

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Liberator Crew - 1945

Bahamas - Nassau

 

Ken flew with Clemson 28 times whilst in Benbecula in a Flying Fortress and they were reunited in the Bahamas in March 1945 where they flew in Liberators with Clemson as one of the Crew.

Clemson      -      Bass

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Liberators had a crew of 10 men and the aircraft were classed as heavy long distance bombers, Ken only listed the crew once and that was on the first flight on the 3rd of April. He named them as follows:

 

Gaston - Bass - Edwards - Pike - Clemson - Royson - Bairstow - Forrester - Hindmarch - Gunn

 

Until recently I could only put 3 names to faces out of the 10, that was because Gran: Margaret could only remember 3, however Ken's brother Howard Bass had the same photograph but with the list of names on the reverse, see below the photograph for the names...

Ken's Liberator Crew

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Pike (1st Navigator) - Clemson (1st Radio Man) - Bass (Captain) - Spencer (Radio Operator) - Edwards (Co-pilot)

 

Gunn (Wireless Op Mechanic) - Royston (2nd Radio Man) - Hindmarch (2nd Navigator) - Bairstow (Air Gunner) - Forrester (Air Gunner)

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Piloting a Liberator put a lot of strain on Ken and between him and Margaret he was quoted as saying:

 

'No way could I be responsible for the lives of 10 men'

 

A Liberator Crew

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RAF Ranks

 

For the next section it's useful to illustrate the different ranks that existed in the RAF during World War II

 

Non Commissioned Ranks

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Ken made it to the rank of Flight Lieutenant on the 3rd September 1944

206 Superiors

 

Flight Officer William Roxburgh

 

Ken had several superiors through his time in the 206 Squadron, one of these was William Roxburgh. He was Ken's Flight Officer in August and September in 1942 and he signed off the summaries in Ken's Log-book for those months.  William Roxburgh also took part in the same 1,000 Bomber Raid as Ken in June 1942, I have a newspaper article that details the fact that his Hudson suffered severe damage during the raid but he managed to nurse it back home. I've since been contacted by Richard Thomas who was on that very raid with F/O W.Roxburgh and F/O J.Owen. I've also been contacted by Simon Nelson with the following photographs of F/O W.Roxburgh

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Courtesy of Robert Stitt I've found out that William Roxburgh and his crew sank a U-Boat (U-469) on the 25th March 1943. The aircraft used was Flying Fortress FK195 'L', this exact aircraft was piloted by Ken on 4 separate occasions (November 1942 to February 1943) before the U-Boat sinking. Just 2 days later F/O Ian Samuel and crew went on to sink another U-Boat (U-169) using the same aircraft. On cross referencing Ken's Logbook, he's also recorded as flying with F/O Samuel on 7 separate occasions; 3 times in 1942 and 4 times in February 1943 - the month before the U-Boat sinkings.

 

Squadron Leader Richard D Patrick

 

Ken's Squadron Leader was a man called Richard D Patrick. On the 9th of September 1942 he piloted the crew night flying in the new Flying Fortress. On the 11th of September 1942 Ken piloted him and the crew. They flew again twice on January 7th 1943 to and from Silloth. The photograph below, along with that of Wing Commander Thomson further down are courtesy of Simon Nelson.

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S/L Patrick signed off the summaries in Ken's Log-book each month from October 1942 to February 1943 and again in April 1943. Ken signed off his own summary in May 1943 as he was a Flight Officer, from  July 1943 he signed off his own summaries.

 

Wing Commander Ronald B Thomson

 

Wing Commanders were above Squadron Leaders and Ken's was a man called Ronald B Thomson. The second photograph below was taken whilst 206 Squadron were in the Azores.

 

Ken actually flew with W/Cmdr Thomson as his pilot on the 1st July 1943 to Aldergrove from Chivenor. He signed off Ken's summaries from May 1943 to July 1943 at which point Ken had been posted to Group 15 of the 206 Squadron. Prior to Ken moving, Wing Commander Thomson signed a summary of Flying and Assessments for the period commencing the 20th August 1941 to the 3rd of August 1943 stating:

  • Above Average as a General Reconnaisance Pilot
  • Above Average as a Pilot-Navigator
  • Average in Bombing
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Summary of Flying and Assessments (taken from Ken's Log-book)

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I have a copy of W/Cmdr Thomson's obituary and it's noted that he had to ditch after sinking a submarine in September 1943, this was just 2 months after Ken's posting to Group 15.

 

I was contacted in November 2007 by Jean Bament who mentioned her late father Frank SweetloveFrank served in the 206 Squadron and whilst flying with Ron Thomson found themselves ditching their Fortress FA704 'R' in the Atlantic in June 1943 (see the 'F/Lt Ken Bass' section and the 'Aircraft Flown' sub section for photographs of this Fortress). They spent 4 days in a dingy before being rescued by a Catalina piloted by Squadron Leader Jack Holmes DFC. What's fascinating about this contact was that on searching Ken's logbook, he is recorded as flying with Squadron Leader Holmes in a Hudson on 3 occasions on October 2nd 1941.

 

I was supplied the following newspaper cutting covering the ditching incident from Roy Angel who is the Nephew of Frank AngelFrank's own story can be found in the 'Memoirs' section within the 'Flight Engineers' page.

 

Daily Telegraph

 

July 16th 2013

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