The challenge has been set to find the families of a World War II Wellington Bomber crew after the gifting of a photograph by the aircraft’s Rear Gunner Mr Edward Sheriff (then RAF Flight Sergeant) to the Australian High Commission in London.
Taken in 1944, the photograph shows the combined Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Air Force crew standing with their No. 466 Squadron Wellington Bomber in Driffield, Yorkshire.
Mr Sheriff presented the photo to the Assistant Air Force Adviser London, Wing Commander Leigh Dunnett, with the hope of finding and sharing the photo with the late crew’s families in Australia.
Wing Commander Dunnett said it was a unique but welcome meeting with Mr Sheriff.
“We don’t receive many enquiries such as this, but in the year of the Battle of Britain’s 80th anniversary and with the RAAF approaching its centenary next year, it is fitting to help Mr Sheriff to share this part of our history,” Wing Commander Dunnett said.
“While we have done what we can to track down the next of kin contact details from the Australian archives, the time that has passed means these may be out of date. We hope that sharing this photo back home in Australia might also help find the crew’s families.
“This combined Wellington Bomber crew and Mr Sheriff’s commitment to share this photo with their families, illustrates the long established camaraderie that continues today in the Australia and UK relationship.”
Mr Sheriff joined the RAF at 17 in 1942 and flew as a rear gunner on the Wellington Bomber.
The combined RAAF-RAF crew he served with was led by Pilot Flight Sergeant Allan Crawford (RAAF) with Navigator Flight Sergeant Shand (RAF), Mid-upper Gunner Flight Sergeant Sturgess (RAF), Wireless Operator Flight Sergeant Thomas Peacock (RAAF), and Bomb Aimer Flight Sergeant Harry Muller (RAAF).
As a rear-gunner, Mr Sheriff said that down the back of the bomber was quite cold and wearing four pairs of trousers to stay warm for each flight was the norm. He described the most confronting mission was observing multiple Lancaster Bombers shot down while they flew in company.
Families of the Wellington Bomber crew can contact the office of the Air Force Adviser in London at //lon.afa.office [at] defence.gov.au">lon.afa.office [at] defence.gov.au for more information.