550 Squadron

F/Lt J Harris DFC and Crew

F/Lt J Harris and crew were posted to 550 Sqdn from No. 1 LFS w.e.f. 30/08/44.

The picture below shows F/O Harris and crew outside the Photographic Section at North Killingholme at the end of August 1944.

Click image Left To Right: F/Lt Jack Harris, F/O Ted Hornsby, F/Sgt Ron Richardson, Sgt Stan Freeman
F/Sgt Peter Flux, F/Sgt Bill Barrett, Sgt Alec Bentley

With thanks to Jack Harris for putting names to faces

At the end of November 1944 the Flight Engineer (Sgt Freeman) fell off his motor bike and fractured his wrist. This meant that he could not fly for about four-and-half weeks and a "spare" flight engineer had to take his place. So in December the crew flew four raids with Sgt H Moreton as F/Eng and 2 raids with Sgt A R Gow as F/Eng. Consequently their association with the F/Lt Harris crew in the squadron logs, and their details are:

When the "main/normal" crew finished their tour by flying 30 "ops" Sgt. Stan Freemen the usual F/Eng had only done 24 ops. So the crew volunteered to do six more trips to finish off the E/Engineer's tour! Meaning (that several members of) the crew did 36 ops, and F/Lt Harris did 37 ops (because pilots on their first tours did a "2nd pilot" trip with an experience crew to learn the ropes).

In order to complete the additional ops, and after two of the original crew (Flux (W/Op) and Barrett (MU/AG)) left 550 Sqdn, stand-in crew-men flew with the Harris crew:

NB: The ORB is not entirely clear which is the correct Rees. "Sgt Rees" gets most mentions, in a couple of places "F/Sgt K T Rees" is stated. A "Sgt I Rees" is also logged. A record for "K T Rees" cannot be found but there is a "F/Sgt E T Rees (A/G)" noted as also having flown with the F/O Tapsell crew (althought not a member of that crew). It is possible that the two mentions refer to the same man (and this is merely an error in the ORB over their initials).

F/Lt Jack Harris

International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC)

In September 2022 Jack Harris celebrated his 102nd birthday.

Below is the brief summary of Jack Harris's career issued by the International Bomber Command Centre at the time of that significant birthday.

"CONGRATULATIONS to John 'Jack' Harris who celebrates his 102nd birthday today. This gentleman had a long and successful career in the RAF which began in 1940 as a volunteer. At sixteen, Jack undertook employment as a clerk in the intelligence department of the Air Ministry, then received permission to leave his reserved occupation. He volunteered for aircrew in 1940, he trained on Tiger Moths, and Oxfords. in Lincolnshire. In 1941,he served as a navigation instructor . In January 1944, he returned to England from Canada and converted to Lancasters at RAF Hemswell. He then joined 550 Squadron based at RAF North Killingholme and completed thirty-seven operations, his penultimate operation was to Dresden. Jack was posted to a Halifax Heavy Conversion Unit at RAF Sandtoft, and eventually received a permanent position in the RAF in 1946, training to fly C-47s before being posted to the Far East in 1949 and posted to Singapore during the Burmese civil war In October 1955, he became Commanding Officer of 542 Squadron. In 1957 he was promoted to wing commander, and in 1962, he transferred to the NATO headquarters at Fontainebleau where he was responsible for the photo reconnaissance squadrons. He was posted back to the Air Ministry in July 1965 where he remained until he retired in 1967 after twenty-seven years of service. Jack went on to be involved in the formation of the 550 Squadron Association and RAF North Killingholme Association and the organisation of their annual reunions. We have interviewed Jack 3 times, in order to capture his life during WWII and post war action, and his story's are available on the IBCC Digital Archives (https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/show/1253). A most full and interesting life.
We send you our very best wishes on your special day Sir, and we thank you for all you did for us and your country."