Pilot: Doug Jones
Flight Engineer: Maurice Hemming
Navigator: Jimmy Silk
Bomber Aimer: Tommy Hodgkinson
Wireless Operator: John (Jack) Hannah
M/U Gunner: Freddie Strange
Rear Gunner: Oscar Brierley
Brierley was replaced by Frank Burke on the crew’s 31st trip and flew with them until the end of their tour.
Photographs on this page courtesy of Maurice Hemming (and Rob Churchyard), Des Evans.
In his memoir, ‘Achieve Your Aim’, Maurice Hemming says that after a trip to Essen on 25/26 July 1943, the rear gunner, Oscar Brierley, decided that he had had enough, and left the crew. There is no record in the ORB of Brierley’s movements after this, and it is not known what happened to him. Having completed thirty operations, the normal length of a Main Force tour, it may be that he elected to leave the Pathfinders at this point and return to Main Force. However, this would have been a highly unusual move, and one which would have been deeply frowned upon by the authorities.
Maurice Hemming’s account of his crew tells of how, at 1660 Conversion Unit at RAF Swinderby, in the summer of 1942, he found himself crewed-up with a ‘baby-faced 19 year old Sergeant Pilot no taller than myself at 5 foot 5 inches’.This was Doug Jones, a first-class pilot, who would get all his crew safely through their operations.
Of the other crew members Maurice would later particularly remember Jimmy Silk, who kept himself to himself and never socialised with the rest of the crew, but was an excellent navigator; Jack Hannah, a Scot, who had been a trainee architect before the war; and Freddie Strange who had worked pre-war for the Ministry of Works.
Above: B Flight, around September 1943. The central figure is Squadron Leader Nind, B Flight Commander. To the right of him is Doug Jones. The rest of the crew are (L-R, second row) no 2 – Hodgkinson; (L-R, first row) no 5 – Burke, no 6 – Hemming, no 7 Silk, no 8 Hannah
Below: (L-R) Freddie Strange and Jack Hannah
LANCASTER in photographs – JA963 OF-Q