Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby Kenny » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:47 pm

When you can, Allan, and not before... much obliged...

This is the image from AWM... reference SUK13908
Left to right: Flight Lieutenant John "Jack" Rand DFC, pilot; Flying Officer Vernon Noel Verney DFC RAAF, navigator; Flt Sgt F Wright, co-pilot; Warrant Officer Ray Geurtin, RCAF, 1st Wireless Officer; Flt Sgt R Tucher, wireless operator; Flt Sgt D Butcher, wireless operator; Flt Sgt R Webber, flight engineer; Flt Sgt H Neeve, flight engineer; Flt Sgt J B Knox, air gunner; Squadron Leader Louis Frank Middleton DFC, detachment commander.
Middleton, Rand and Verney all earnt their DFC's for this operation.
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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby Kenny » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:29 pm

Standing on the left in the above picture is the person who probably was recorded by a BBC correspondant, 18th July 1944, but is uncredited on the source disc... I transcribed the recording for my work and for a variety of reasons I am satisfied that this was John "Jack" Rand, "Gert's" pilot...

EDIT - post contact by a member of John Rand's family they are certain that the voice is not his, but the words match the tone and style of the way he recounted stories from the time... details on the third page of this thread...

... A further update, 21st June 2013... I've had some friends from t' north listen to this audio and without knowledge of the crew they are leaning to it being from there part of the world with some north-east inflections - Flight Sergeant Wright...? Certainly on all the flights with Jack Rand and might have picked up some of his "lingo" ... maybe we'll get lucky and confirm it one day... Kenny

"I’ve often complained about the boring jobs a Sunderland has to do, convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol, but this trip into Assam, and the flights over the mountains into Burma, gave us all the excitement we needed.
First, there was the Brahmaputra where we were based. The Indian Ocean was rough at times, but it was nothing compared to the Brahmaputra. The monsoon rains had swollen it 5 or 6 foot above normal level, and the current was rushing along at 12 knots and we had to land across this, because all down the inside of the bank, the stream brought down whole trees and great chunks of bank and dead cattle, and all across the middle there were sandbanks and islands; some of the sandbanks might be formed and washed away in six hours or so.
The mountains were pretty grim too. Most of the time we were blind-flying through the clouds, and a lot of the ground hadn’t been properly surveyed. Our map showed the highest peaks to be about 6,000 feet high, so the first time we flew at 8,000. Suddenly, dead ahead of us, the mist darkened: we were going straight into a mountain. I didn’t think we could miss it but I put the aircraft into as tight a turn as I could and hoped for the best, and just when she’d cleared that, another dark patch showed up: another mountain, so I pulled her hard round the other way, and by sheer good luck we went between them; I didn’t even have time to sweat.
Landing on the lake was always tricky. We used to find our way over to it by instruments. When we got over where thought it was we’d say, “Come down a thousand feet.” We’d do that very cautiously, because if we’d miscalculated, and were still over the mountains, we should have bought it. Then we’d come down another thousand, then five hundred, and so on, until at last, someone would see the water.
We never wasted much time at the lake; twice whilst we were there, we heard Japanese fighters looking for us, and once they machine-gunned the lake after we left; that was when the cloud helped us for a change: it gave us cover to get away. Another reason for speed was the fact that there was often fighting going on near one end of the lake; in fact we never quite knew whe’er the Japs were going to row out to meet us instead of our men. We had one casualty straight from the battle; he’d only been wounded half an hour before. The men on the ground helped us all they knew; once we landed, unloaded, and loaded up again in twenty-five minutes. We used to put the stretcher cases aboard ourselves; nineteen stretcher cases was the most we took, and several sitting wounded. It was no joke, in that heat, standing in a rubber boat, trying to lift one end of a stretcher. We stepped up the load until we could just get up to 10,000 feet; that just got us over the lowest part of the mountains; the highest were 15 and 20,000 feet high. If the navigator ‘d made a mistake or an engine had gone, we should have bought it again.
A funny thing happened over the mountains once. We were at 10,000 feet and I asked one of the soldiers to go up onto the flight-deck, because there was more room there. He looked at the ten foot ladder leading up to it and shook his head. He said, 'I don’t want to climb that; I get dizzy when I’m up high!'
And so we went on. We’d get back to the Brahmaputra, wash our hands in disinfectant, have a cup of tea, and go of on another trip, if it was at all possible. If it wasn’t, we’d do the usual daily maintenance on the aircraft, and wait for the next day. We were at it from May 31st ‘til July the 6th. It was a pretty hard time but we all think it was well worth it..."

Cheers and a nod to Alex for assistance in this matter...
Last edited by Kenny on Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:16 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby Kenny » Sun Jan 06, 2013 6:23 pm

Some statistics for, and a brief summation of, Operation “RIVER" – a significant proportion of this synopsis is from records stored at the National Archives…

There are some common misconceptions and errors that have appeared over time and some of those I’ll briefly clarify with this posting...
Operation “RIVER” effectively commenced 27th May 1944 and was the brain-child of the wonderfully named Squadron Leader “Chesty” Jennings and, as noted by Za earlier in the thread, the codes used have caused some confusion – the crews knew their aircraft by their prefix; in the case of DP180 it was “O for Orange” and JM659 being “Q for Queenie”. I am told that a member of the crew (“Jack” Norton) was not aware of the “GERT” and “DAISY” names and thought they had been made up by the press at a later date...
Figures for those rescued have varied from less than 300 to in excess of 600 personnel but the most accurate figure I have is 508...
Somewhat like the original name for the 111th IID being the “Leopards” (pretty much consigned to a line in one; book), “CHEESECAKE” and “WALNUT” are virtually unknown, but predating “GERT” and “DAISY”; the reason for the change is presently unknown...
Both sets of names were used by Command at the time and appear several times in various War Diaries…
Some crew names found in publications are incorrectly recorded due to interpretation of the details, such as L J Middleton and A F Norton…
… And that “DAISY” was sunk by a DUKW or floating tree debris...

Some basic facts…
There were 17 attempted flights to Lake Indawgyi from Dibrugarh, but they only alighted there 13 times…
Flight times tended to be, on average, around the 100 minute mark, the shortest being 75 minutes and the longest being 165 minutes...
Time on the lake was, on average, around 50 minutes, with the shortest turn-around being 25 minutes...
One thing I found interesting is that, where noted, almost all flight times over the same routes by JM659 were faster than DP180’s, with just the one exception...

Flight Commander: S/Ldr Louis Frank “Johnnie” Middleton DFC, Folkestone, Kent.

CREW OF “O” for ORANGE – DP180 – codenamed “CHEESECAKE” then “GERT”.
Captain: F/Lt John “Jack” Rand DFC, Cockfield, Bishop Auckland, County Durham.
Navigator: F/O Vernon Noel Verney (RAAF) DFC, Nundah, Brisbane.
2nd Pilot: F/Sgt M Wright, Lindale, Grange-over-Sands, Lancashire.
1st Engineer: F/Sgt RF Webber, Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk.
2nd Engineer: F/Sgt RH Neeve, Leeds, Yorkshire.
1st WO: Ray Guertin (RCAF), Rimouski, Quebec.
2nd WO: F/Sgt RW Tulloch, Dalston, London.
WOMS: F/Sgt DJK Butcher, Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
AG (rear): F/Sgt JB Knox, Horden, Co. Durham.

27th May – ferry flight from Koggala to Calcutta in excess of 9 hours.
28th – lead crew flew to Comilla by B25 for briefing; decision made that Calcutta inappropriate for operational base and decision that Dibrugarh would be forward base.
29th – lead crew flew in a B25 on a recce of Dibrugarh area to confirm area of operation returning to Dinjan for further meetings – decision made to fly up to Dibrugarh on 31st and Operation “RIVER” to commence on 1st June.
30th – no record – presumably all crew members returned to Calcutta this date.
31st – ferry flight to Dibrugarh of over 4 hours.
1st June - a flight in excess of 4 hours but cloud cover defeated them...
2nd - first successful flight taking out 32 evacuees...
3rd – notable for carrying the highest amount of evacuees - 56 - this was experimental and they did not take this risk again…
4th – 29 casualties evacuated.
5th – 2 flights and 81 evacuated.
6th – scheduled maintenance work.
7th – local recce work.
8th – 41 casualties evacuated.
9th – 41 casualties evacuated – last scheduled operation
10th – no record – presumably a ferry flight back to Calcutta
11th to 12th – last leg back to Koggala.
13th to 25th – regular squadron duties.

“GERT” part II
With news of the problems experienced by “DAISY”, it was decided to return “GERT” to the operation - a minor crew change took place - F/Sgt Halfacre from Thames Ditton in Surrey, replacing F/Sgt DJK Butcher.
26th to 27th – ferry flight from Koggala to Calcutta – over 9 hours
28th – ferry flight from Calcutta to Dibrugarh but a mechanical defect grounded her
29th – repairs and flight test proved successful and ops scheduled to commence next day.
30th – 40 casualties evacuated.
1st July – 40 casualties evacuated.
2nd – electrical storms – no flights possible.
3rd – 29 casualties flown out – the last flight of Operation “RIVER” – a Japanese prisoner is also noted to have been flown out on this trip.
4th – ferry flight to Calcutta and then on standby awaiting crew from JM659.
8th – ferry flight with both crews to Chennai – 7 hours
9th – 5 hour flight back to base at Koggala.

CREW OF “Q” for QUEENIE – JM659 - codenamed “WALNUT” then “DAISY”.
Captain: F/O Edwin Alfred “Ted” Garside, Edinburgh.
2nd Pilot: F.Sgt HW Smith, Harrogate.
Navigator: F/O Albert John “Jack” Norton (RCAF), Ottawa - 1918-2010
1st Eng: Sgt B Meteer, Distington, Cumberland.
2nd Eng: Sgt TP Cronin, West Hampstead, NW.
1st Wireless Operator: F/Sgt D Turner, Lancs.
WOP/AG: Sgt WH Garlick, Cricklewood, NW.
WOP/AG: Sgt W Phelan, Whitehall, Dublin.
Gunnery Officer: F/L FG Marshall, Blackton

3rd June – ferry flight of over 8 hours from Koggala to Calcutta.
4th – ferry flight of over 4 hours to Dibrugarh.
This aircraft was fated from the outset...
On arrival at Dibrugarh, her port float was damaged when a DUKW collided with it – local repairs proved impossible so off she went back to Calcutta for “local” repairs, returning on the 6th.
7th – two flights and 79 rescued.
8th and 9th - required scheduled-maintenance works kept her out of the skies.
10th - the weather kept them down and delayed ops; what I suspect was a significant tail/head-wind resulted in the shortest/longest flights to/from the lake - 75 and 165 minutes, respectively; they flew out a further 40 personnel.
11th - two engines failed whilst taxiing and water in the fuel was found to be the culprit – 48 hours estimated work was done in one day!
12th - they were airborne for over 2 hours but cloud cover prevented a landing.
13th - weather kept them down.
14th – 25 minute aborted flight due to extreme weather conditions…
15th – no flight possible - the weather beat them again...
16th - they again had to abort a flight due to weather and were airborne for about 45 minutes.
17th - a failed starter motor for one of the engines kept them down... spares were requested...
20th - a DUKW (again!) collided with the port float (again!!) – checks showed the float to be ok but the struts were wrecked and had to be removed, leaving her rather vulnerable... spares were requested...
4th July - a storm struck and with no port float the stabilisation tethering failed to stop the port wing-tip being forced down to water level. This in turn allowed water to enter the aircraft through a port-side hatch, which was open due to the tethering lines, causing the plane to tip further. The two crew members guarding the plane had to “abandon-ship” and down she went... no tree, just sheer bad luck…

There is still a possible problem over the total number of people evacuated on the Sunderland’s as the number of personnel flown out on the last flight is not given. An article published at the time records that DP180 flew out 389 personnel and JM659 118, the latter matching the records, so I am giving the figure for 3rd July as the remainder. There is another reference to 4 Japanese POW’s being flown out and that it is also unclear if these figures are inclusive. Further to this, an honourable mention should go to the USAAF pilot/pilots that operated the L1/L5 float-plane/s that continued to fly out the injured; I have found reference that a further 37 personnel were flown out by them after Operation “RIVER” concluded – I am still researching this matter…

Last edited by Kenny on Wed Jan 09, 2013 12:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby AlexNortonesq » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:13 am

Kenny: A minor addendum to the excellent job you've done chronicling this Operation. Although Dad was born in Winnipeg, he'd left there in about 1935, to work and live in Ottawa, and it was there that he enlisted, married, before going overseas, and returned to my Mother and older brother at war's end. Fair to say Ottawa, by then, was his home. (I understand that the RCAF press release on the Operation lists Winnipeg as his home)

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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby Kenny » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:32 pm

Cheers again, Alex, and now ammened...

One of the additional things I'm intending on trying to find out is the names rather than the initials for them all too - I'll pm you on another matter...
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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby BarbaraLane » Tue Jan 15, 2013 10:18 pm

Found this website after I was looking at the IWM film. My late father Jack Rand was the pilot of the "Gert" DP180. so I am quite interested in this discussion. To be honest he didn't talk much about the war and when you are young you don't think to ask anyway, now it is too late to ask him.

Here is what I do know, he certainly knew the plane was nicknamed Gert. Furthermore my mother was delighted to hear that a few years back that the two vaudeville type entertainers who, I gather entertained the troops during the war had eventually awarded the Burma Star I believe. My mother wrote to the surviving sister to congratulate her and received a lovely reply.

With respect to logs by the crew, my brother has my fathers log book. I am not sure about whether it contains many personal comments, but if someone was interested in the comments from a specific date, I am always happy to harass my brother.
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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby AlexNortonesq » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:58 am

Barbara: My father was navigator on the other 'boat. Have you heard the BBC interview that your father did? I obtained a copy from the IMW archives, and it has been transcribed here on the forum. Your father is not identified by name in the clip; but, my dad, after listening to it said it was not Ted Garside, who was his pilot on the operation. Hence my conclusion that it was your father.

There were many photographs taken on the Operation, and many of them have been posted here. Did your father have any others?

If your brother could be persuaded to scan in the pages from your father's logbook that pertaining to this Operation, I, for one, would appreciate seeing them posted here.

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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby Kenny » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:09 am

Hi Barbara
My father was flown out on one of these 13 (successful) flights, ten of which were undertaken by your late father - post war my dad worked in the Met Police in London and, by a quirk of fate, he was known as the "real life Reg Dixon", portrayed by Jack Warner in the UK TV serial "Dixon Of Dock Green" (also the film "The Blue Lamp"). His real name was Horace Waters, and his sisters were Elsie and Doris, aka "Gert & Daisy" - my dad was the last Station Sergeant and the rank "died" when he retired in 1977...

These flights are, understandably, of great interest to me...

I am certain that the recording mentioned by Alex is of your father - as it was recorded in 1944 shortly after the events (possibly still in copyright of the BBC, which is probably why it presently is not available to listen to directly on the IWM website), and almost certainly directly to 78rpm disc, it is a bit scratchy but worthy of being obtained - it is certainly of a pilot involved in the operation from the start and having an understanding of UK dialects is certainly north-eastern England in origin, and I believe this is where your father came from...

I am working towards a concise history of the 111th Indian Infantry Division, which 230 Squadron flew out the survivors - I will be separating the details of events for the Squadron for their private use as I am an associate member and consider that I owe them a debt of gratitude - that gratitude extends to all involved in those flights, including your father... in very real terms, I would not be here if those flights had not taken place...

I for one would be most grateful if you would hassle your brother, gently... ;)

I am aware of approximately 20+ minutes of film held at the IWM that I intend obtaining in the near future - I have a copy of two of them at present - there are a number of publications and books that discuss the exploits of these flights, as well as numerous images from various sources - a full copy of my work will eventually be supplied in a digital format to those assisting in the work - Alex has been most helpful in assistance on this subject...

I am running another thread on this subject elsewhere...
Gert & Daisy thread on WWII talk

Best wishes
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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby seawings » Wed Jan 16, 2013 9:27 am

And this thread, Ladies and Gentlemen, is exactly why I started this forum..............Well done to everyone! :)
Best Regards,

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The Flying Boat Forum
SEAWINGS - The Website

"I put the sweat of my life into this project, and if it's a failure, I'll leave the country and never come back".
Howard Hughes, re: the HK-1 Hughes Flying Boat, aka the 'Spruce Goose,' 1946.
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Re: Gert & Daisy - 230 Squadron and the Chindits

Postby Kenny » Wed Jan 16, 2013 11:09 pm

Keeping them crossed that we might be able to confirm who is on that recording, too...

Doing my best for you, Boss... ;)
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