Pilot: F/L Joseph Laurence Moore, DFC
F/E: F/Sgt Robert Alfred Kerckhove
Nav: S/L James Parker McMillin (RCAF)
B/A: P/O William James Stephen, DFM
W/Op: F/Sgt Alan Tomlinson
M/U Gunner: Sgt John William Darroch
Rear Gunner: Louis Leslie Davis
There is an unforgettable account of James Parker McMillin, the navigator, in Joan Beech’s book, ‘One Waaf’s War’. There are a couple of small errors of memory – he was not a Wingco; the pilot was called Moore (though may have had the nickname Mort); and the aircraft was lost without trace (though someone may have seen it being shot down and reported this unofficially). However, as a brief memorial to one of the missing by someone who obviously was very fond of him, it sticks forever in the memory.
One [RAF officer] I shall never forget was a Canadian, the Station Navigation Officer, Wing Commander McMillin. Tall, prematurely grey, and I suppose in his early forties, he had a cheerful word for everyone and was adored by the whole camp, men and women alike. He came into the Met Office regularly and knew all our names. It seemed that he was extra attentive to me, and I heard via the grapevine that he always referred to me as ‘the little Waaf with starry eyes’. He had come unscathed through all his ops and then was reluctantly persuaded to become Navigation Officer, but he couldn’t bear being grounded. Whenever any crew member was laid off sick, Mac was there taking his place. One day, a pilot named Flt Mort had a sick navigator, and Mac eagerly jumped into the gap, in spite of people telling him that he must be mad to fly with a man who had a name like that. But it was all to no avail. Off he went with Mort, beaming happily, so delighted to be flying again, and yes – you’ve guessed it – Flt Mort’s plane was shot down in flames and no one got out. Well, the whole camp went into mourning. It was as though we had all lost our favourite brother. There was a shadow hanging over Bourn for a time and nothing was fun any more. What was it all about when someone like Mac could be snuffed out, just like that? What was God doing up there – taking a nap? In the end, of course, we all pulled our socks up and got on with the job. What else could we do?
24.6.43 14 aircraft detailed to attack Elberfeld. Sgt Montgomery returned early – ASI u/s. Remainder bombed target, large fires developed which were reported to be seen from the Dutch coast. A dark night but visibility was good with little cloud. 1 aircraft, F/L Moore is missing. No news received. The Squadron Navigation Officer was in the missing aircraft.
24/25 June 1943 Elberfeld – Bomb Load 5 x TI, 1x 4000lb, 6 x 1000lb unless stated – ED953Y F/L J.L.Moore, F/Sgt R.A.Kerckhove, S/L J.P.McMillin, P/O W.J.Stephen, F/Sgt A.Tomlinson, Sgts J.W.Darroch, L.L.Davis. 1 x 4000lb 12 SBC. Up 2245. Aircraft and crew missing.
S/L McMillin RCAF was a graduate from Toronto University, while P/O Stephen had gained his DFM while serving with 15 Squadron, details being Gazetted on 30 July 1940.