Crew: Snell


Pilot: P/O CR Snell, RCAF
Flight Engineer: Sgt Leslie Thomas Harman
Navigator: P/O L Lintott
Bomb Aimer: P/O NJ Smith, RCAF
W/Op: Sgt J Grieve
Mid-Upper Gunner: Sgt CJ Green
Rear Gunner: Sgt Oliver Derek Wood

The photo below is of the crew on their transfer to 635 Squadron

snell crew

This crew flew on Black Thursday in Lancaster JB846-OF-M, M-Mother. They were the first to land at Bourn that night, at twenty-five past eleven, some six hours and twenty minutes after the last of the Lancasters had departed for Germany. They were twenty-five minutes earlier than anybody else.

It appears that all of the crew survived the war except Leslie Thomas Harman, who was lost with the RICHES crew on 6 July 1944 when flying with 635 Squadron.

Snell and Oliver Derek Wood, the only two on whom we have information, both lived to a ripe old age.

derek wood

Left: Oliver Derek Wood, the rear gunner on Black Thursday

The photograph of Oliver was sent in by his grandson, Chris Wood.

Chris writes that his grandfather was “most commonly known as Derek …
I am sad to say that my Grandfather passed away on the 29th Aug 2005 at 83 years old. He was a devout Methodist and senior manager for the British Rail and SeaLink organisations. Survived by his two sons, Michael, my father, and David Wood.

He was married to Phyllis Wood having met her while stationed at Downham Market (with 635 Squadron). She was a volunteer worker in the airdrome canteen and a local farmer’s daughter.

He was often known to recite anecdotes about the war but solely of a humorous nature. Most memorable for me was his imitation of “Chucky” Snell’s complaint’s about Leslie Harman’s flatulence whilst flying. While imitating “Chucky’s” Canadian accent Granddad quoted “Harman, is that you? You dirty b*******d!” It’s about the only time in my life I heard him use a profanity and the source of many childish sniggers.”

Leslie Harman was the only crew member who did not survive the war. Derek obviously remembered him with teasing affection.