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From Mike Truscott 04/03/2013
Harold Truscott was my fathers brother, the uncle whom I had never met. I am his name sake. Harold Michael Truscott.
Very interesting reading and pictures. I can see my similarity with those of Harold in those pictures.
Reply by Craig Scott 05/03/2013
It was so good to receive your e-mail. I was delighted to hear from you and that you had found the website very interesting. As you may have read, one of the reasons for creating the site was to give remaining family members of the flight crew a glimpse into the lives of the crew and also what happened on that fateful flight over Germany.
If you are aware of any other crew member's family perhaps you would be so kind as to pas the website address on to them, or publicise the story somehow where family members may live or have lived. I take it you live in Canada?
Once again thank you so much for getting in contact.
From Lloyd Truscott 05/03/2013
My name is Lloyd Truscott (my brother Mike had already emailed you) and I live in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. I had been doing research, off-&-on, on my Uncle Harold for some 35 years (I’m going on 59.) In 1980 I had sent the British Ministry of Defence a letter requesting assistance in locating your father as I knew he was the only survivor of that fateful night in 1944. The responded stating that I should send my letter to your father to them, the Ministry, and they would forward it on. I sent my letter and never got a response. After getting married and moving to western Canada I sorta forgot about things until this past November. I had found and posted on Facebook nose art photos from several Lancasters that those ‘boys’ flew in. On this past Sunday, I happened across my original request to the Defence Ministry and thought, because the internet is such a wealth of information, I would Google your father’s name. I was floored beyond belief at what you had posted! Those photos of the crew, my Uncle Harold (Hal) Truscott. And the stories by your father. Simply unbelievable that this information was there. My Dad would have been most pleased as he enjoyed the research I was doing – he passed away 11 years ago today. I immediately sent your website address to my brothers and sister. They all replied to me what a joy it was to see those photos and to thank you, Mr. Scott, for taking the time to transcribe your father’s diary. I called my Aunt Audrey today to let her know – she is the sister to Harold, my Dad, my Uncle Claire, and the last living member from that side of my family.
There is one small discrepancy though, the Lancaster they were flying that night was the Berlin Special EQ-M LL687. The other Lancaster in the pictures, LL723, was lost during operations on May 22/ 23, 1944. If you would like a copy of my research info and the nose art photos, I would be happy to send them to you. Please check http://www.6grouprcaf.com/ , Daily Operations, for information on the aircraft.
I have also been searching the families of the other crew members (on Ancestry.ca) and have been in contact with Gordon Croucher’s grand niece (she has a .uk email address.) I have also found Bob Whitson was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta (about 20Km from me) and there are still Whitson’s in that area. I will surely let them know about your website.
Again, I can’t find the words to thank you for sharing your father’s diary with us.
Reply by Craig Scott 06/03/2013
It was absolutely wonderful to hear from you and to realise how special it was for you and your family to be able to look through my Dad's website, see the photographs and read his account. I found your e-mail very emotionally moving and so did my ex partner Sandra (who helped me with the content of the website) who was moved to tears by your words. She summed up my own feelings exactly when she said "It was worth doing the website just for your response," also your brother's, of course.
I must say I am very impressed by the tenacity behind the research you did and so very pleased you kept on going until you found my Dad's website. I am obviously sorry you didn't get a reply to your letter. I certainly didn't come across it in my Dad's personal effects after he passed away, and feel absolutely sure he would have replied if he had actually received it. It seems to me that the Ministry badly let the side down here.
I'm so very pleased you have circulated the website amongst your relatives and intend to also try to do so with some other family members of the rest of the crew. I would like to think it will be as well received, as it has obviously has been with yourself and your immediate family. I know I do not need to say keep up the good work on this. As you will be aware the main object of putting the website together was to let family members of the flight crew have all the information my Dad had about them, including of course what happened on that fateful flight. Equally important to me though was in allowing my Dad's words to describe what a really great bunch of guys they were, and obviously such good buddies as well.
Thank you for letting me know about the error on the actual aircraft. It was very unlike my Dad to make an error like this, as you will have realised from his diary he was usually meticulous in noting details accurately.
From Kirston Parry 11/03/2013
Thank you very much for sharing this wonderful diary. My Great-Uncle was F/Lt Gordon Croucher and this account and the photos are wonderful. Unfortunately my Grandmother, Gordon's sister, died a few years ago but this account would have been special to her.
Reply by Craig Scott 12/03/2013
I'm so very pleased you found my Dad's account so interesting and rewarding. I am, of course, sorry that your Grandmother was unable to see the website. I did try to publicize the website a few years ago by writing to a number of Canadian newspapers, but with very limited success. It was only when Mike and Lloyd Truscott wrote to me very recently (Please see their letters I've just copied onto the Guestbook page on my Dad's website), following Lloyd's research on the web that family members of the flight crew have been aware of the website and been in touch.
Thank you very much for getting in touch with me.
Very best wishes - Craig.
From Andrea Smith 12/03/2013
Your website and father's diary has struck such a resonating chord within our family.
I am the great niece of Gordon Croucher. My grandmother (Gordon's sister) sadly passed away in 2009 but would have cherished the information in your father's account of the night that their plane was shot down. We are a little sad that it came a bit too late for some but appreciate this insight thought long lost.
I was wondering if you would be willing to provide me with higher quality digital copies of the photographs of the crew? My father was inspired to become a pilot because of Gordon and would love to have prints for himself.
Thank you for publishing this information. It is very special to us.
Reply by Craig Scott 13/03/2013
It was truly wonderful to have received your e-mail and also from Fred, your Dad of course. I was very touched by both of your responses.
I am so sorry the knowledge of my Dad's website only became known to your family very recently. As I wrote to Fred; I wrote to a number of Canadian newspapers a few years ago, asking them to publish my letter mentioning my Dad's website, so that family members would be able to visit the website, read my Dad's account and see the photographs. Sadly this ploy produced little response. Luckily though, in the end, Lloyd (Truscott) came across the site very recently
I also mentioned to Fred that I intend to scan the air crew photographs in better quality and send them on to him and Lloyd.
Thank you so much for your e-mail.
Very best wishes - Craig.
From Fred Smith 12/03/2013
I am flabbergasted to come upon this site. I also flew as a commercial pilot and it was because my Uncle Gordon Croucher ( my Mother's brother ) was my inspiration. I will mount his photo in a prominent place in the house. Uncle Gordon was my Mum's favorite, she always talked about him and would desperately loved to have his photo. I suspect her life would have been very much more fulfilled if she could be reading what I am now.
I consider myself an extremely fortunate person to now have all of this information. A very special day in my life.
I cannot express enough thanks’ to David Scott for all his hard work to bring tears of joy to so many others!
Barry's Bay, Ontario, Canada
I took the time to express thanks to David Scott, realizing he has now passed on for doing all he did for us, but neglected to express my thanks to his son, who I would guess did even more work putting all the pieces together. A huge thanks Craig!
Reply by Craig Scott 13/03/2013
It was wonderful to receive your e-mail and to know my Dad's website has been so important to you and your family. As you are probably aware the main aim of constructing the website was to allow family members of the flight crew that were on that fateful flight to have my Dad's account, to see the photographs, and hear about the friendship and camaraderie that existed amongst them. To have just one family member write to me would have been wonderful in itself and making it well worthwhile constructing the website in the first place; but to receive ones from your own family as well as those of the Truscott's, has been beyond my highest expectations.
I'm so very sorry your Mum didn't get to see the website. I did write to a number of Canadian newspapers a few years ago, asking them to publish my letter so their readers could visit my Dad's website, especially if they were related to any of the flight crew. This ploy however sadly produced little response.
I intend to scan the images of the flight crew in higher quality than on the website and would gladly send you a copy of them if you would like me to.
I was very emotionally moved by your e-mail Fred. Thank you so much for getting in contact with me.
I wonder if I might put your e-mail on the Guestbook page to inform others, but no problems if not.
Very best wishes to you and your family - Craig.
From Fred Smith 14/03/2013
I will do and pay everything necessary to get better copies of the photos. I cannot tell you what it means to me. Already, I have mounted a copy of Uncle Gordon sitting on the plane, in a very prominent place in my room.
My room looks like a hangar because of all my r/c planes and choppers hanging about. My father-in-law was another war hero who knew and fought alongside the Croucher boys. His picture now hangs alongside Gordon's. My wife would tell you my room is a mess, whereas I like to think of it as a shrine. FYI. I am now severely disabled thus my own room!
Some interesting info as told to me by mother may be of interest and helps to put some pieces of the puzzle together. My mother and I spent countless hours on the subject of Uncle Gordon. Your father had to be extremely instrumental in this bit of info, since he was the only survivor, thus the only one who could have known to tell the story.
It goes as such; when the plane was hit Don Ryan, son of the famous Monsanto chemical family, was about to bail out when he said he was going back to get Gordon. Sadly, Gordon had already been killed by a bullet through the head and, as Don went back, the plane exploded. If such is all true, the only person who could have told this story was the sole survivor, your Father. This means your Father had to have been in front of Don during bailout. Finally, my mother never had a picture of her brother after he went over, so, I cannot imagine what this would have done for her personal happiness.
No words can describe what the events of these last few days have done for me and my wife (my wife's father was all part of the Croucher circle) thus this closes circles for her as well.
Feel free to post anything, and, once again, thanks so very much!
Reply by Craig Scott 15/03/2013
It was wonderful to hear from you again and once more I was very emotionally moved by your words. I can't tell you how very rewarding it has been to get such a response both from yourself and Andrea, as well as the Truscott family of course. Having set in motion this whole chain of events when my Dad's website went live in 2007, it feels to me now as if a 'guiding hand' was at work.
There is no way I would even consider payment from you for scanning the photographs, but thank you for offering. It gives me great pleasure being in the position of being able to do it in the first place. I've made plans to go over to Chesterfield to get them scanned onto disk next week.
Thank you so much for telling me your Mum's story during those terrible few minutes for the crew, as the plane caught fire and went down. I've just reread my Dad's account of it on page one of his diary. Bringing the two accounts together in my mind created a vivid picture of those awful last few moments.
I have attached two files that Lloyd (Truscott) sent me a few days ago. Both of which throw some light on what happened to the crew on that fateful night. They are:
a) The Investigation Report by my Dad.
b) Oops Record -the official ops record of the mission
I hope you don't find them too upsetting, but I thought you would prefer to read them, so you have all the known facts and assumtions. You may have to 'rotate' them and 'fit page to width' to read them clearly, but that obviously only takes a few seconds.
Your room sounds great by the way. You should see my cluttered living space.
With very best wishes to you Fred and your family.
Yours in spirit - Craig.
From Jean-Claude Charlebois 16/03/2013
My name is Jean-Claude Charlebois and I’m a member of radio operator Gordon Croucher’s family. Gordon is my wife’s uncle and she has four siblings. I’m now in my early 70’s and for at least the last 40 years we have been trying to find out what really happened to Gordon and his crew members. All we knew was that they were lost during a bombing raid over Germany. Recently we connected with Lloyd Truscott and the details have been flowing ever since Lloyd gave us the link to your outstanding web site. Your father’s diary is indeed sobering to say the least yet very heroic and shows the outstanding courage of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Thank you so much for publishing it so eloquently. It’s a wonderful gift to our family and we hope the other families will soon also find it as we did.
Kindest regards from Gordon Croucher’s family.
Reply by Craig Scott 17/03/2013
Thank you for getting in touch and for your kind and complementary words. I am so pleased my Dad's website has been helpful in throwing more light on what happened to Gordon and the rest on that fateful flight. Hopefully, as you say, other family members of the flight crew will also come across the website, possibly through Lloyd (Truscott's) excellent research endeavours. As you may know through Lloyd, I did try to contact family members to let them know about the website by writing to various Canadian newspapers a few year ago, but sadly with little success.
I will be adding a number of copies of e-mail exchanges, between different family members of the crew and myself on the website 'Guestbook' pages in the near future. Would it be ok with you and your family to add yours to the conversation thread, so that others are informed? If so then I will. If not, that's obviously fine by me too. If ok then I wouldn't of course include your e-mail address.
With very best wishes to you and yours - Craig.
From Jean-Claude Charlebois 17/03/2013
Thank you for your prompt reply. It's indeed an honour to make contact with you. By all means you can add my comments to the "guestbook", it's the perfect place for all to share information on the crew members.
Would you know by now the name of the town where your dad landed 30 miles NE of Hamburg? I'm attempting to retrace the flightpath of that Lancaster. Also the plane No. Would you know if it was LL723, LL725 or LL687? I have it as LL 687 based on Gordon's military records that are somewhat confusing but I would like to make sure I have the correct aircraft as I continue with more research. I know their last flight originated in Linton on Ouse UK. It's close to a 500 mile flight to reach Hamburg; perhaps more if they crossed the Danish Border as your dad states in his diary.
... to be continued.
Many thanks sir.
Reply by Craig Scott 18/03/2013
Hi Jean-Claude (or do you prefer just JC from friends?)
It was good to hear back from you. Many thanks for giving your permission to include your correspondence on my Dad's Guestbook pages.
Regarding the crash site: As you will be aware, my Dad doesn't name the village where the plane came down in his diary, only that after being taken prisoner he was transported to the nearby Stade Luftwaffe Station. However I see from the official RCAF Investigation Report that Lloyd (Truscott) kindly sent to me (please see attachment) the crash site was Sprechens, situated 5 km South of Bremervords L54/R94 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bremervörde) I hope this is helpful and accept my apologies for any upsetting details you might read in the Investigation Report.
In respect of the Lancaster's official number; yes, it is as you say, quite confusing. I see in the official investigation report it is logged as EQM LL687 and yet under the photograph of the plane on my Dad's website he describes it as being EQM LL723. Please see the attached scan of my Dad's original description of the plane on the back of his picture frame. As I mentioned to Lloyd when we were first in contact with each other; my Dad was a bit of a stickler for accurate note making, so I would be surprised if he got it wrong, but then again he was only human and making mistakes is part of being so, of course. I have a feeling Lloyd and the official RCAF Investigation Report are correct, but I still have a niggling doubt about it. It may be best to coordinate your research with Lloyd's and see what you both come up with. By all means copy this e-mail on to him if it helps in any way. Please keep me informed of any progress you may make on this - Thank you.
Many thanks once again to you and your family.
Very best wishes - Craig.
From Dana McNair 12/07/17
My name is Dana McNair. I am the daughter of Sheila Ryan Foster, Donal Ryan's little sister. I discovered the Lancaster facebookj group through my mother not long before she passed away. Mom was already ill when I found it so we never really had a chance to speak about the memorial project and all the pieces that have connected in the past year.
It was through that group page that I discovered your site. I have not been able to read David's diary fully yet but have looked at everything you have there. It is truly amazing. I never knew my uncle Donal, but his picture hung outside my parent's bedroom so that mom saw him each morning as she started her day. It is so tricky to navigate the feelings this brings up. Even though Donal died long before I was born, my mother spoke of him often so that I always felt cheated that I never knew him. Looking at all this new information fills in the gaps in who these boys were. As a mother of two mostly grown sons, I still can't quite wrap my head around how young they all were.
I inherited my grandmother's album many years ago. After mom passed away the album has come to live with me. This album has photographs that you might like to see as some of them might be new to you. I also have some letters that your grandmother wrote to my grandmother that I thought I might share with you if you are interested. When you read the letters, you will really feel the life force these young men carried with them. Your grandmother paints a wonderful picture of a lively group of boys who cared deeply about what they were doing, and about each other.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Reply from Craig Scott 14/07/17
Thank you so very much for getting in touch with me. I found your information extremely interesting and was very emotionally moved by the fresh insights you gave me into my grandmother's view of the crew, as well as the love your family obviously has for Donal and the 'boys'.
I would love to see, and possibly have, copies of the photographs and letters (I had no idea these existed). I'm not sure though of the best way of doing this, unless they were scanned into computer files. I'm also wondering if you would like to have our initial e-mail exchange to go on my Dad's web Guestbook page, as with those of the other aircrew family members?
Once again, my heartfelt thanks - Craig.