RAF KIA air gunner's log book, 12 Sqdrn. (DFM recommended)

RAF KIA air gunner's log book, 12 Sqdrn. (DFM recommended)

Code: P23485

SOLD

Log book grouping to Sergeant Kenneth Basil Reeves RAFVR (1575770), an airgunner with 12 squadron.  He was born on 30th August 1921, son of Basil Augustus and Edith Reeves from Wainfleet All Saints, Lincolnshire.   His log covers the period from March 1943 to January 1944.  He trained at No.2 Air Gunnery School Dalcross (Scotland), on the infamous Boulton-Paul 'Defiant', qualifying as an air gunner on the 30th April '43.  The course instructor noting 'Needs more experience'.  In May 1943 he was posted to 'A' flight 27 OTU at Lichfield on Wellingtons and then to 1481 Gunnery Flight based at Binbrook, Lincolnshire.  In June 1943 he was posted to 1662 conversion unit Blyton, Lincs., as a mid upper gunner on Lancasters, before moving to No.12 Squadron, Wickenby in July.  Operational sorties began on the 27th July, target Hamburg - this raid was comprised of 787 aircraft, of which 2.2% were lost.  A firestorm resulted from the intense bombing, destroying around 16,000 apartment buildings and killing approximately 40,000 people.  They bombed Hamburg again two days later and for a third time on the 2nd August but the latter was a failure due to a thunderstorm over the city.  On the 7th he was on Ops to Genoa, Italy, followed by Mannheim on the 9th, Nuremburg on the 10th and Milan on the 12th & 15th.  On the 27th Reeves was back over Nuremburg, followed by Rheydt on the 30th and his first sortie to Berlin on 31st.  He returned to Berlin 3rd September on a sortie that lost 7% of the Lancaster force.  His log book notes 'Abortive Rear Turret' against the Op to Mannheim on 5th and they attacked Munich the following day.  During October there were sorties to Munich, Frankfurt and Stuttgart, his aircraft crash landing on return.  On 3rd November they attacked Dusseldorf followed by Modane on 10th.  From the 18th November an all-out assault was unleashed on the German capital.  Reeves notes their Lancaster 'Hit Flak, 20 Holes'.  Berlin was the target again on 22nd, 23rd and 26th with electrical system failures noted and 'shaky do on return'.  During December Reeves's crew attacked Mannheim, with a further three attacks on Berlin, one with engine trouble as he notes 'U/S Stb. Outer'.  The turn of the year provided no respite with a return to Berlin on New Years day and 2nd January.  On the 5th they attacked Stettin, he writes 'Wizard Prang, Ground Detail Perfect, Buildings Covered Snow'.  Reeves's 29th sortie was to bomb aircraft and armament component factories in Brunswick, the first major raid made on the city with 498 aircraft involved.  The Germans picked up on the raid early and were monitoring progress soon after they crossed the channel.  Luftwaffe fighters were deployed and Reeve's Lancaster III, serial JB542, code 'PH-M' was lost along with another 37, representing 7.6% of the force.  His log reads 'Death Presumed 14.1.44'.   Little information appears to be known but reports suggest they were shot down by a combination of flak and nightfighters.  The aircraft crashed south east of Burgdorf, with the loss of the entire crew: Pilot, F/O Robert Spencer Yell DFC, RAAF (24); Flight Engineer, Sgt. William John Charles MaDonald, RAFVR (19); Navigator, P/O Kenneth Robert Middlemiss DFC, RCAF (25); Bomb Aimer, Sgt. Thomas Arthur Finch, RAFVR (23); Wop/AG, F/Sgt. Joseph Henry Nutt, RAFVT; A/G, Sgt. Kenneth Basil Reeves DFMRAFVR (22) and A/G, Sgt. Sidney Bates, RAFVR (19).   In 1947 a team tasked with identifying graves looked at those in Burgdorf, interviewing an ex policeman and the village church superintendant.  They stated that the Lancaster was seen on fire and diving steeply, crashing at around 0200hrs after which it continuted to burn for 10 hours.  The bodies of the crew were retrieved by members of a local flak battery, identified and buried in the local cemetery.  In 1948 they were moved to the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery at Hannover.  Sgt. Reeves is buried in Plot 3, Row F. Grave 4.  He was recommended  for the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal in the London Gazette, 29th May 1945 (with effect from 13th January 1944).  The citation reads ' Sergeant Reeves is a mid upper gunner who can claim, amongst the 29 sorties he has now participated in, no less than 11 visits to Berlin, whilst he has also witnessed the bombing of Hamburg (3 times), Milan (twice), Frankfurt and Dusseldorf.  The most important part of a gunner's work is to search the sky for enemy aircraft and give appropriate orders to his pilot to evade any attack.  The fact that Sergeant Reeves' aircraft has not once been fired at bears testimony to the efficiency with which he has discharged his duty.  He displays a very keen sense of duty and his cheerful courage and unselfishness are a shining example to all.  I strongly recommend that Sergeant Reeves be awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for such exemplary service, 10th January 1944'. With the log is a family snapshot, a small photo of Reeves's first grave cross (prior to the current Portland stone CWGC headstone), the slip from the Air Officer in charge of RAF Records that accompanied the return of his log and photocopies relating to the graves of him and his crew.  An interesting and poignant log book grouping to a courageous young airgunner who flew on 11 sorties over Berlin.  Worthy of more research.  Stock code P23485.