Peter Hazeldene memoir



Peter Hazeldene memoir
Memories of my crew of 57 Squadron Lancaster ND954 Q - Queenie


Peter's RAF service with 57 Squadron is detailed. This was his second tour and he lists his new crew:
Flt Lt J B P 'Tuesday' Spencer, 20 years, Pilot from Greenside, Co Durham
Sgt W D E West, 21 years, Mid Upper Gunner, from Barking, Essex
Sgt H Gordge, 21 years, Bomb Aimer, from Itchen, Southampton
Flt Lt R T Clarke, DFM, 21 years, Flight Engineer, from Teddington, Middlesex
Sgt E D Anderson, 19 years, Rear Gunner, from Kirkstall, Leeds
P/O N E Hughes-Games ('Hughie'), 21 years, Navigator, member of RCAF from Kelowna, British Columbia.
He gives descriptions of 'Tuesday' Spencer, and 'Hughie' Hughes-Games.
Peter carried out 25 operations since he had already completed a first tour of 30 operations. While he was on leave, his aircraft crashed and his crew died, including one who survived the crash but later died of meningitis in prison.
Peter then commenced a third tour but the war ended before it was completed.




Temporal Coverage



Four typewritten sheets


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ND 954 ‘Q’ – Queenie
(16.01.1922 – 27.04.2003)
I was a member of 57 Squadron based at East Kirkby from 22 April 1944 until my last operational flight from the base on 19 July 1944.
This was my second ‘Tour’ having completed my first with 106 Squadron.
I was the Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.
Our Lancaster’s call sign was “Q” for Queenie.
After my first tour I was sent to Husband’s Bosworth, in October 1943, where I met my ‘new’ rookie crew who were undergoing training in readiness for their first tour.
They were:
Flt Lt, J.B.P. “Tuesday’ Spencer – 20 years – Pilot – Tuesday was from Greenside, Co Durham
Sgt W.D.E. West – 21 years – Mid Upper Gunner – from Barking, Essex.
Sgt H. Gordge – 21 years – Bomb Aimer - - Itchen, Southampton
Flt Lt R.T. Clarke DFM – 21 years – flight Engineer – Teddington, Middlesex
Sgt E.D. Anderson – 19 years – Rear Gunner – Kirkstall, Leeds
P/O N.E. Hughes-Games. – 21 – Years – Navigator. ‘Hughie’ was a member of the RCAF and from Kelowna, British Columbia.
[page break]
[underlined] Flt Lt Spencer and the crew [/underlined]
I met ‘Tuesday’ at 14 OTU, Husband’s Bosworth in October 1943, when we were crewed together.
We carried out many training flights on Wellington’s[sic] and Stirlings before being posted to 57 Squadron at East Kirkby “ ‘Silksheen’.
I don’t know why we called him ‘Tuesday’.
I remember him well: he was a flamboyant character who once put us up at an expensive hotel in London after a forced landing.
We had many good nights together; he was one of a few who had a motorcycle.
Often we went to Spalding where [sic] and spent many a night at The Greyhound Inn (now a draper’s store) where my wife, Olive, worked.
We usually got drunk and it did us the world of good.
I cannot recall much of the background of the rest of the crew but they were all ‘good types’ and very friendly.
‘Hughie’ was quite a character; he was typical of many Canadian airmen I met. He never showed concern and was able to laugh, and make us laugh, often in the face of great danger.
He was a great tonic and morale booster for the rest of the crew.
Flt Lt Clarke, DFM, was very popular on the Squadron as Engineering Leader.
We carried out many raids from East Kirkby up to and after D-Day.
[page break]
I remember attacking the gun-emplacements on the Normandy Coast on 5/6 June 1944.
I recently visited the area for the first time (on land!) and the evidence of those raids is still apparent.
After 25 Operation [sic] with the crew I was sent on ‘End of tour leave’ – I was told that having completed one tour of 30 Ops, I was not allowed to do more than 25 on my second.
So of on leave I went.
On return to base, about 2 weeks afterwards, I was immediately called to the C/O’s office and was told that ‘Queenie’ had been lost over France on 31 July whilst returning from a daylight raid on Joigny-La-Roche.
Sadly all my crewmates had been killed [symbol].
Tuesday’s parents were present in the Station Commander’s Office and they had asked to meet me, as the only surviving crew member who had flown with him – they were such a kind and caring couple and I am sure it was a comfort to them to talk to me about their son.
Sometime later they sent me £5.00 to help me celebrate both my commission and the award of the DFC.
I actually spent the money on a pair of silver candlesticks in memory of him and the rest of the crew – we still treasure them.
[symbol] It later transpired that Hughie had survived the crash but after being taken prisoner of war he died of meningitis.
Many years later I found that my replacement, WO/AG, Sgt Grice (St Georges, Wellington, Shropshire) was also taken POW – ending up in Stalag IIIA. Luckenwalde, and survived the war – I never met him.
[page break]
[underlined] What happened to Queenie on that ill-fated operation? [/underlined]
The evidence is obviously sparse but some details emerged over time and is as follows”
In an interview with Hughie, in Stalag Luft III, he told the Red Cross that a fire had broken out on board and this was so sudden and catastrophic that ‘Tuesday’ Spencer had not been able to give the order to abandon aircraft.
The evidence later gathered from the Germans indicates that 3 parachutes left the aircraft although the third was on fire.
‘Queenie’ crashed and was burnt out.
Sadly Hughie contracted meningitis whilst in Stalag III and he died on 28 September 1944 – he was just 21 years old.
All except Hughie lie in the British Commonwealth War Cemetery at Banneville-Le-Campagne.
I visited their graves recently – in such a peaceful and beautiful setting near Caen.
Hughie lies in Ponzan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland.
Sgt Grice, I later found survived the war but I believe he may now have died.
Finally, as for me for me, [sic] I received permission to commence a third tour and was well into this when the war the war [sic] ended.
Peter Hazeldene
November 1995.



Hazeldene,P, “Peter Hazeldene memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 19, 2024,

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