Personnel Index - Detail

Name
WHEWELL
First Names
Thomas Birtwistle
Rank
Sgt
Service
RAF
Service Number
1232608
Crew Position
Wireless operator/Air Gunner
Age
21
Date of Death
22/06/1944
Cemetery

 

Photographed by Malcolm Brooke
 

21/22 June, 1944; WESSELING:

There was nothing unusual about Wednesday 21 June, 1944; the weather, as with previous days remained dull and the slight northerly wind kept temperatures a little chilly.
For aircrew the morning passed slowly, whilst activity on the airfield indicated that ops were on the menu for that evening. There had been no operations for the past five days so just after lunch a small crowd had gathered as an airman pinned up the Battle Order; twenty aircraft were detailed with the main briefing at 20.00hrs. For those crews listed, the usual pre-operational routine began, then later, after a noisy meal in the Sgts' Mess and with coffee flasks filled, crews walked or were ferried over to the main site for specialist briefings and then the main briefing. The tape on the wall map showed a route ending just below the Ruhr... Germany for a change.
Two tortuous hours now for aircrew, as they awaited the take-off time of 23.00hrs. With oleo legs compressed by their heavy bomb loads, each Lancaster rumbled around to the active runway threshold; a flash of green from the control caravan sent the first aircraft (piloted by F/Lt Johnny Hill) speeding down the concrete strip. On this, the longest day of the year, daylight still lingered during double British summertime, even at such a late hour. As F/Lt Hill's aircraft accelerated past the ever-present group of well wishers, waves and gestures were exchanged by the smiling Lancaster crew but this was to be this particular crew’s final take-off, for within just a few short hours, all seven members were to perish over Holland, victims of a deadly German night-fighter.
 

Lancaster ME675 (EA-R)
F/L J.R. Hill Pilot (Killed)
Sgt G.F. Witty F/E (Killed)
F/O K.W. Jones RNZAF NAV (Killed)
Sgt T.B. Whewell W/AG (Killed)
Sgt T.A. Hall A/G (Killed)
F/S D.M.F. Bell B/A (Killed)
F/S G.F. Wood A/G (Killed)

Crew on their 9th operation