A Lanc called Mickey - No.50 & No.61 Squadrons .A Lanc called Mickey 2 Introduction This volume records

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  • A Lanc called

    Recollections of the crew of World War II LancasterBomber called Mickey the Moocher

    Mickey

    Memoirs of Frank Mouritz, Laurie Cooper, Jim Leith,David Blomfield, Peter Smith, Dennis Cluett and Arthur Bass.

  • Recollections of a crew of World War II Lancaster Bomber called Mickey the Moocher

    Contents

    Introduction.............................................................................. 2

    Abbreviations Used ................................................................... 3

    Mickey the Moocher .................................................................. 5

    Frank Mouritz ............................................................................ 7

    No 5 Initial Training School, Clontarf .......................................................... 7

    No 9 Elementary Flying Training School, Cunderdin .................................... 10

    No 4 Service Flying Training School, Geraldton .......................................... 11

    No 5 Embarkation Depot ......................................................................... 12

    No 1 Embarkation Depot, Ascot Vale ......................................................... 13

    At Sea .................................................................................................. 14

    Across America ...................................................................................... 16

    Crossing the Atlantic .............................................................................. 17

    United Kingdom, First Stop Brighton ......................................................... 18

    No 18 Pilots Advanced Flying Unit, Church Lawford ..................................... 20

    14 OTU (Operational Training Unit), Market Harborough .............................. 23

    Commissioned ....................................................................................... 26

    1660 Heavy Bomber Conversion Unit (HBCU), Syerston............................... 27

    ACS Scampton ...................................................................................... 29

    No 5 Lancaster Finishing School Syerston ............................................... 29

    61 Squadron, Skellingthorpe ................................................................... 31

    A Day on the Squadron, Winter 1944-45 ................................................... 36

    The Night We Nearly Bought It ................................................................ 40

    How an Excellent Meteorological Forecast got us Home for Christmas ............ 43

    Manston ............................................................................................... 46

    Dresden ............................................................................................... 47

    Various Operational Incidents .................................................................. 48

    The End of the Tour ............................................................................... 49

    Laurie Cooper Navigator....................................................... 52

    Kidbrooke Park and I Join Up ................................................................... 52

    To South Africa...................................................................................... 57

    Skellingthorpe ....................................................................................... 64

  • A Lanc called Mickey

    Jim Leith Flight Engineer ...................................................... 66

    From 14th July 1941 to 6th Aug 1946 ....................................................... 66

    The journey and life at Blackpool ............................................................. 68

    The Airframe course, St Annes Blackpool ................................................... 69

    Biggin Hill in Kent .................................................................................. 72

    Manston in Kent .................................................................................... 72

    The Fitter 11 A Course, Cosford ............................................................... 74

    No.3 Wing, Henlow ................................................................................ 74

    Lindholme in Yorkshire ........................................................................... 75

    Warmwell, Dorset .................................................................................. 77

    St Johns Wood, London .......................................................................... 78

    St Athens, Glamorgan ............................................................................ 79

    Swinderby, Lincolnshire .......................................................................... 79

    Syerston, near Nottingham ..................................................................... 81

    Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire (61 Squadron) ............................................... 81

    The New Year 1945 ................................................................................ 85

    Lindholm Again ..................................................................................... 91

    David Blomfield - Wireless Operator........................................ 92

    Peter Smith Bomb Aimer ...................................................... 93

    Dennis Cluett Rear Gunner ................................................... 96

    Arthur Bass Mid-Upper Gunner ............................................. 98

    After the War Postscripts of the Crew and their lives .............. 97

    Frank Mouritz ........................................................................................ 97

    Laurie Cooper ........................................................................................ 98

    Jim Leith ............................................................................................ 100

    Dave Blomfield .................................................................................... 101

    Peter Smith ........................................................................................ 101

  • Recollections of a crew of World War II Lancaster Bomber called Mickey the Moocher

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  • A Lanc called Mickey

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    IntroductionThis volume records some important war time memoirs of one crew who served as members of theEmpire Air Crew flying Lancasters over Europe during Workd War II. The recollections provide animportant insight into the challenges they faced as they served their countries as proud members ofthe Allied Forces.

    This account of what was a relatively short but highly significant part of the lives of these men wascollated as one volume in draft form to mark the 80th birthday of Frank Mouritz, the pilot of the crew, inOctober 2003. It has taken a year or so since then to get the final version complete.

    Within these pages there are substantial accounts provided by Frank Mouritz, Laurie Cooper and JimLeith, with briefer accounts provided by the other members of the crew, namely David Blomfield,Dennis Cluett and Peter Smith. Each providing their own insights and reflections on their experiencesduring training and active service. The stories recorded here are of ordinary men who were asked todo extraordinary things; face death and deliver as much damage and even death to an enemy, in thename of the very significant challenge faced by the Allied Nations.

    Their story is made even more extraordinary by the fact that they were required to fly in a plane,referred to as Mickey the Moocher, which had already seen 119 missions. All their early missions ofthei 34 they flew were in this plane. The odds of returning from any mission was very low, with farhigher losses occuring in less experienced crews. The overall survival rate in Bomber Command wasone in five. So we have a story of significance just because of the remarkable circumstances.

    As I reviewed these documents to bring collection together what amazed me was the sheer magnitudeof the logistics involved in this part of the war effort. These men came from different walks of life andeven different countries. They were brought together with a common purpose, through a highly organizedprocess, with training in different parts of the world, ultimately coming together as well trained teams,committed to serve. I feel sure that the experience they gained in team work and commitment servedthese individuals well for the remainder of their lives.

    While these are just the reflections of one crew within thousands, it provides an important record of asignificant part of our history. Although just 60 years ago, it provides a stark reminder of the horror ofwar and the amazing risks faced by those who serve.

    For the families of these men, these recollections also reveal a part of the lives these men that musthave had great influence them as individuals. In my case, my father, Frank Mouritz, never spoke of thewar to us as children. The first time we spoke about it was my 21st birthday with Dad indicating he hadthe first of several combats with Luftwaffe night fighters on the night of his 21st. Now that was asobering experience. I found the task of tiding up the crews memoirs very emotional. Simply comingto terms with events described has given me a brief glimps into experiences I hope I never have toendure.

  • Recollections of a crew of World War II Lancaster Bomber called Mickey the Moocher

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    I encourage the readers of this document to reflect on the words and the deeper message that underliesthese very personal but truly insightful reflections of this period of our history.

    Mike MouritzJanuary 2005

    Abbrev