Outstanding POW DFC group to a Pathfinder Pilot and member of the Caterpillar Club who according to a newspaper report in 1965 flew an amazing 85 missions including Black Thursday
Six: Distinguished Flying Cross (dated 1944), 1939/45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal, War Medal and Australian Service Medal. All campaign medals correctly impressed to 403147 J. H. Nicholls. Along with correct period gold Caterpillar Club badge with red gem eyes engraved ‘F/L J. H. Nicholls DFC
DFC London Gazette date 2nd June 1944
“Numerous attacks on German & French Targets”.
At the time of listing these Flight Lieutenant John Harold Nicholl’s service records were still sealed. The following was taken from the WW2 nominal roll and various POW websites;
“Johnny” Nicholl’s enlisted into the Royal Australian Air Force in Sydney, NSW on the 9th December 1940.
Posted to the UK Flight Lieutenant Nicholls did nearly all of his operational flying with 97 Sq (including Black Thursday) before moving with “C” flight to form part of the new 635 Squadron at Downham Market, Norfolk.
On the night of the 30/31st March 1944, F/L Nicholls piloting Lancaster JB706 took off on his 35th mission from RAF Downham Market, Norfolk, detailed to bomb Nuremberg (Operation: Nurnberg), but was hit by flak near Westerburg (Rheinland Pfalz, Germany). The aircraft crashed and two of the crew WO Jolley and Flt Sgt Whitehead were killed. The other five parachuted including Nicholls who earnt his Caterpillar Club badge in doing so. Once on the ground all five became Prisoners of War. The plane crashed at Mademühlen (Hessen, Germany), 2 km SW of Driedorf. Taking down the plane plane was also claimed by German night fighter (Felwebel Otto Kutzner, 5./NJG3).
Germany In a POW Report Flt Lt Nicholls stated; “An explosion in the fuselage set fire to the aircraft and damaged the elevator control and trim controls as well as loss of power in three engines. The aircraft was out of control and had commenced a stall spin with smoke issuing from the centre of the aircraft inside the fuselage. I gave the order to abandon but this was not acknowledged because the I/C was U/S. I bailed out at approx. 17,000 feet. There was no crew member injured and no crew member still in the aircraft as far as I know. The aircraft landed in a field 20 miles north east of Coblenz. I was captured 24 hours later by German farmers. I have no information re Jolley or Whitehead.”
Casualty enquiry, 18/01/1946.
“ … Questionnaires completed by F/S Ogilvie and Sgt. Smith on repatriation state that W/O Jolley bailed out but was killed to parachute failure. It was probable that F/S Whitehead did not leave the aircraft and they presumed he was killed on information given by Germans … “.
WO Jolley is buried in the Rheinberg Ware Cemetery, Locality Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany. Flt Sgt Whitehead is buried in the Hanover War Cemetery.
Fl/Lt Nicholls spent the remainder of the as a Prisoner of War in Stalag Luft L1 Barth Vogelsang before being repatriated in 1945.
Discharged 26th November 1945, “97 Squadron” listed as unit on discharge.
Comes with cased unofficial Bomber Command Medal in case of issue and numbered “4610”.and original group of miniatures with miniature Pathfinders badge
Good VF SOLD
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