Writer unearths ‘heartbreaking stories’ about his dad’s service in R.A.F Mepal for new book ‘The Mallon Crew’

75 Sq Lancaster

75 Sq Lancaster - Credit: Archant

An author has shared a collection of “heartbreaking stories” about his dad’s service in the R.A.F where he was posted in Mepal.

Ken Philp, bomb aimer

Ken Philp, bomb aimer - Credit: Archant

Vic Jay’s father, a Lancaster bomber flight engineer with No. 75 (NZ) Squadron based at R.A.F Mepal, inspired him to write ‘The Mallon Crew’.

He said: “When he died aged 55, all I had to help me was a handful of photographs, his log book and the name of his pilot, Bill Mallon.

Jim Haworth, navigator

Jim Haworth, navigator - Credit: Archant

“I soon discovered the names of the rest of his crew but was ill-prepared for the further discoveries I was about to make.

“My dad, the son of a cobbler from Great Yarmouth, and Bill, born within a year of each other but over 11,000 miles apart, lived parallel lives until December 1944.

Frank Symes, wireless operator

Frank Symes, wireless operator - Credit: Archant

“They then ‘crewed up’ with five other young men, three from New Zealand and two from England, and, although they survived the war, they were stricken by more tragedies than it is possible to imagine, and their lives would never be the same again.

“Almost as fascinating as the stories themselves are the way in which a modest research project evolved into this extraordinary narrative.

Don Cook, mid-upper gunner

Don Cook, mid-upper gunner - Credit: Archant

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“Hardly a month went by without some new gem of information emerging. It connected me with the families of all but one of my dad’s crew, uncovered details of the aftermath of the death of both of Bill’s brothers and I even found a photograph of the crew flying to their last target.

“The highlight of the whole project, though, was discovering that one of my dad’s comrades is still alive.”

Denis Eynstone, rear gunner

Denis Eynstone, rear gunner - Credit: Archant

Vic Jay will attend a rremembrance service in the Memorial Garden at Mepal on November 13.

Bob Jay, flight engineer

Bob Jay, flight engineer - Credit: Archant

Bill Mallon, pilot.

Bill Mallon, pilot. - Credit: Archant