The Shaw crew and Dog’s last op’

The Johnny Wood crew flew 19 op’s in her, but they didn’t have exclusive use of HK601 JN-D “Dog” during their time at Mepal. One of the crews that “shared” Dog with them over the final three months of the war was the Shaw crew.

Back in June I received a message via this website:

“Great web page. My grandfather flew Dog on her last Op. Like your uncle he never talked much about his experiences. I have learned more from your web page and Somerville’s web page about his experience. Thank you! Malcolm”

Malcolm is the grandson of  Pilot Officer James “Jimmy” Shaw who had arrived with his crew at Mepal on the 14th of February 1945.

Jimmy was from Edinburgh and his crew (very unusually for the squadron) was made up largely of fellow Scots:

P/O James ‘Jimmy’ Shaw RAFVR 1549541/189682 – Pilot, from Edinburgh, Scotland

Sgt Andrew Weir RAFVR – Navigator, from Edinburgh, Scotland

F/S Christopher Dunn RAFVR – Air Bomber, from Wimbledon, England

F/S R. ‘Bert’ Donald RAFVR – Wireless Operator, from Motherwell, Scotland

F/S Ron Webster RAFVR – Flight Engineer, from Bearpark, near Darlington, England

Sgt Thomas Grieve Beall RAFVR  1894568 – Mid Upper Gunner, from Kirkcaldy, Scotland

Sgt John Craig RAFVR – Rear Gunner, from Rutherglen, Scotland

The Shaw crew as it was from 7 March 1945.
Back row L-R: John Craig (Rear Gunner), Andrew Weir (Navigator), James “Jimmy” Shaw (Pilot), Chris Dunn (Air Bomber).
Front L-R: Bert Donald (Wireless Operator), Tom Beall (Mid Upper Gunner), Ron Webster (Flight Engineer).
– photo thanks to Malcom Laing.

– More about Jimmy Shaw and his crew here:

Malcolm has very kindly scanned and sent me copies of his grandfather’s log book.

The Shaw boys flew Lancaster HK601 JN-D “Dog” on two bombing op’s:

28.2.45. Attack Against Gelsenkirchen/ Nordstern synthetic oil refinery

Entry in Jimmy Shaw’s logbook for the February 28th daylight attack on the Nordstern benzol plant at Gelsenkirchen.
– Malcom Laing.

Note “hit by flak” under Remarks. According to RAF records, Dog was damaged by flak, 2 strikes (AIR 14:3463).

Their second trip in Dog was on the 1st of March, a daylight attack on the oil plant at Kamen, bombing through cloud:

1.3.45. Attack Against Kamen

Entry in Jimmy Shaw’s logbook for the March 1st daylight op’ to Kamen.
– Malcom Laing.

Six weeks later, according to the ORB, they took her on a mine-laying op’, the last time she is recorded in the ORB and the only time she appears in the ORB after the Wood crew’s near-disastrous trip to Merseburg on 4/5 April:

13/14.04.45. Mine-laying on Kiel

Entry in Jimmy Shaw’s logbook (in red) for “JN-D” on the night of 13/14 April, a gardening trip  to the Kattegat (Kiel).
– Malcom Laing.

At 20.28hrs on the night of the 13th of April, the Shaw crew took off from Mepal with four other Lancasters on a mine-laying or “gardening” trip to Kiel Bay.

Jimmy’s logbook records the target as the Kattegat, just to the north of Kiel Bay, between Denmark and Sweden. The ORB says the trip was uneventful and Jimmy’s captain’s report says the weather was clear.

They landed safely at 02.41hrs on the morning of the 14th.

However it can’t have been HK601 that they flew that night. It was only a week since she had been extensively damaged by fire. Her Aircraft Movement Card says that she was transferred to No. 54 Maintenance Unit on the 12th of April and didn’t return to the squadron until the 28th of May. After that she doesn’t appear again in the ORB; apparently retired from operations.

So it seems likely that the Shaw crew flew to Kiel in her replacement, NF981, the aircraft freshly re-coded from JN-Y to JN-D “Dog”.

Backing up this theory is Dennis Jones’ statement that HK601 landed at Woodbridge crash drome on return from her final op’. There is no mention of the Shaw crew landing at Woodbridge on returning from Kiel, either in the ORB or in Jimmy Shaw’s logbook.

So Dennis would have been referring to the Merseburg op’, when the Wood crew landed at the Manston crash drome. In other words, Merseburg was HK601’s final op’, not Kiel.

Two weeks after the Kiel Bay op’, on 30th of April, NF981 appears in the ORB as the new JN-D.

The Shaw crew went on to fly three more bombing op’s, the last to Bad Oldesloe on 24 April, the squadron’s last bombing operation of the war. It was Jimmy’s 14th op’, for the others, their 13th.

Then they flew two Operation Manna supply drops to Holland, four POW repatriations from Juvincourt (France) and one evacuation of refugees from Brussells.

After VE Day, the decision was made for 75(NZ) Squadron to become manned solely by RNZAF personnel and for it to begin training for Tiger Force and the bombing campaign against Japan.

As all members of the Shaw crew were RAFVR, not RNZAF, they were posted out in June and July, before the squadron moved to Spilsby.

Jimmy was posted to 90 Squadron at Tuddenham on the 10th of June where he took part in several Baedecker and “Review” flights (to view the effects of the bombing across Europe) and continued flying Lancasters with 90 Squadron until the end of April 1946.

Ake ake kia kaha

– Thanks to Malcolm Laing for permission to reproduce the Shaw crew photo and entries from Jimmy Shaw’s logbook.

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