WILLIAM CAMPBELL MURRAY MAXTON
AND ERIC JAMES MAXTON
460 SQUADRON RAAF
Murray Maxton with the painting of "D" for Dog presented to him on 24 October 1998.
Subject: 460 SQUADRON
Date: Sun, 21 Jun 1998 22:30:19 +0900
From: Brendan Marshall <Marshb@newman.ses.curtin.edu.au>
My name is Brendan Marshall and I'm from Perth W.A.
My grandad, Murray Maxton flew 'D' for Dog in Bomber Command 460 Squadron in Binbrook 1944. We have information and photos of his war time ordeals that we will be glad to send to you if they can be of any help in your construction of this 460 Squadron homepage.
He is still alive and lives in Albany W.A and would like to help out.
He was the pilot and would like to hear from any of his crew if you know of any that are still alive.
Feel free to email me at Marshb@ses.curtin.edu.au with any questions or comments. Look forward to hearing to you.
Thank you, Regards
Subject: 460 Squadron
Date: Sat, 24 Oct 1998
From: Lorraine Marshall firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Lorraine Marshall and my Father William Campbell Murray MAXTON and his Brother Eric James MAXTON served in 460 squadron in 1944.
My son Brendan sent you an email some time ago asking if you would be interested in any of their experiences.
I have scanned a story that was published in our local paper on my father and his brother and I send them to you in this email. I hope you can read them and make use of them.
I also have dad's Log Book and will scan a few pages and send them soon.
I have also scanned some of his Photo's and will also send these through to you.
My dad and his brother are still alive and live in Albany Western Australia. Dad will be 78 on the 4th November.
Dad was the Pilot and my Uncle was the radio engineer on "D" for Dog (Lancaster) and completed their 30 missions over Germany. To their knowledge they were the only two brothers allowed to fly together during the war.
Please let me know if these attachments are not satisfactory and I will send you a hard copy in the post.
Regards Lorraine Marshall
"D" for Dog - 460 Squadron RAAF
Subject: 460 SQUADRON
Date: Thu, 29 Oct 1998
I thought you might have problems with the files that I sent so I will photocopy the article that was in our local paper and post it to you today - you may be able to use some of the story.
I will endeavour to send you the photo's that my dad has of his time in 460 squadron.
We have just had a local artist paint dad plane "D" for Dog and it was presented to him last Saturday.
I have a digital camera and will get a photo of it and dad and email it to you shortly.
Hope the info that I can provide is helpfulRegards Lorraine Marshall
ALBANY AND GREAT SOUTHERN
19 - 25 August 1998
Article by Lyndell Whyte
Albany brothers Murray and Eric Maxton have an extraordinary story to tell about wartime flying over Europe.
|0n the seventh of July 1944, a day-light
raid was launched on Caen, the capital of Brittany in France.
It was the first bomber raid on an army support area.
For Eric and Murray Maxton, the battle had begun.
"It was a beautiful summer day, " Murray remembers.
"There were 1,000 bombers all focused on this town."
The raid was conducted at 10,000 feet instead of the usual 20,000. This meant the bomber crew could see exactly what impact their bombs were having on the town below. This had a deep effect on the crew, particularly Eric.
"I looked down and saw a line of ambulances, there must have been 30 of them. I could see the red crosses on their roofs,". he says.
"Then I saw the first, line of bombs drop and land square on these ambulances.
"It made me realise just what war-was all about." Sitting in Murray's lounge room beside a roaring fire, it is hard to imagine the world they describe. A world where one was a pilot and the other a skilled radio engineer. It is the stuff of legend for most people, a world of Biggles and dogfights with the Red Baron.
For Eric and Murray, it is a part of their lives they can never forget.
The brothers casually read through their flight logs which document some of the most successful air raids on enemy territory during WWII.
To their knowledge, they are the only two brothers to be allowed to fly together during wartime when Murray was a pilot and Eric a radio engineer.
Murray joined up on December 7, 1941, one month after his 21 st birthday. Eric joined up nine months later.
"I was sent to Britain on the Queen Mary with 18,000 other troops in 1942," said Murray.
We ended up in Brighton to complete our training.
"From here we were to be sent to Lichfield for assignment."
But a dose of measles meant Murray had to remain behind while the rest of his mates went ahead.
Upon his recovery, Murray took a few days 'recreation' in London and a cup of coffee decided his fate for the rest of the war.
Eric (left) and Murray Maxton .. war-time memories will last forever
"I was sitting in some coffee shop, I can't even remember exactly where it was, somewhere in London, and in walks this bloke," he says gesturing to his brother.
"I said: 'What are you doing here?' and he said 'I joined up'."
It turned out they were both heading for the same place. Both had entered the air force because as Murray says 'We weren't very brave' and been drafted to Wellington bombers due to a shortage of air crew.
After a somewhat liquid reunion, they managed to miss their connecting train to Lichfield.
Arriving in Lichfield, they realised all the crews had been assigned and they had no choice but to crew up together even though they knew it was against regulations.
"It was about three weeks before the CO realised we were brothers," says Eric.
"And by that stage it was too late to do anything about it."
Their training period was fraught with dangers but someone seemed to be watching over them.
One of Murray's favourite tales is the time their Wellington bomber was struck by lightning 200 miles north of Ireland.
"We lost all our instruments and it was so dark, the bomber they sent up to locate us couldn't find us," said Murray.
"In the end they guided across the country using search lights.
"We followed from light to light all the way back to Lichfield."
After this the crew was transferred to Sandtoft, the Lancaster bomber finishing school.
"We used to call it 'Prangtoft' because there were so many prangs," says Eric.
Prangtoft indeed. Thirteen air crews were lost during this training period.
Again the issue of being brothers was raised.
"The CO said 'have you considered your mum and dad?'," says Eric.
"And of course we hadn't."
|The Maxton brothers with a copy of the caricature which was painted on the front of a plane they flew together during the war.|
"People say 'Can't you forget it?'," says Eric.
"But how can you forget something like this?
"I went to the padre once because it was all getting a bit much, you know, and he told me that I had to live every day like it was my last. "And I tell you, during this time every day could have been our last."
This was truer than anyone realised. One in three flight crews were killed on their missions.
Other raids followed closely on the heels of Caen.
Kiel, Emmerich, Duisberg, Stutgard which Murray describes as a "shocking" raid.
"I just kept thinking about the poor blighters underneath," he says.
Despite the strain and guilt of flying, the options for flight crews were limited, as Eric explained.
"If you didn't fly you were charged with lack of moral fibre and stripped of all your rank and honour in a public ceremony and sent home as a civilian.
It was meant to be incredibly humiliating ."
During this period, it did not seem to bother the two brothers that they were different ranks with Murray being a Flight Lieutenant and Eric a Flight Sergeant.
The most memorable raid for the Maxton brothers was Dusseldorf.
It was 460 squadron's 27th operation. One thousand Lancaster bombers had attacked the city in the heart of the Third Reich, each carrying a 4000 pound 'blockbuster' and 500 incendiaries.
In Murray's words, "the city was on fire" as they turned for home.
"Searchlights lit the sky and the flak was intense.
"A Mescherschmidt 110 came out of nowhere and hit us with a 50mm cannon blast and the side of the plane blew out.'
As the fighter closed in, Eric was in the astrodome of the plane, calling instructions to Murray for evasive action.
"We dived, we climbed, we corkscrewed our way toward the French coast, waiting for the fighter to finish us off."
As captain, Murray was about to tell the crew to bail out when he felt he had one other option.
"I then got on the hotline to heaven," he said.
"Don't ask me what I said, but whatever it was, it worked.
"Out of a clear night sky a huge black cloud rolled in and we sheltered in it." The Lancaster limped safely back to base.
At the end of their tour 30 successful missions, the brothers remained in the air force transporting POWs and VIPs.
Returning to Albany after the war, Eric took over the family farm and Murray went to work at Hunt's Canning Company before receiving a war service farm which he and his wife worked for 30 years. In 1976, they bought Dymesbury Lodge on Chester Pass Road and have only recently sold it.
Eric still works the family farm, which he named Sandtoft after their training ground in England.
When asked about their feelings regarding the war, they are somewhat hesitant.
"At the time we were trained for it," says Eric *
"It was either you or them.
"I don't think about the ones we killed, I think about the ones we maimed. "That's what really gets to you, particularly in your old age."
There is no doubt that the brothers have shared some extraordinary experiences which have clearly linked them in a lifelong bond.
They carry with them guilt, pain and glory from a time which combined victory with defeat and life with death when the world turned upside down.
Two stories stick in my mind from my interview with the Maxton brothers. The first was their encounter here in Australia with a German lady who told them they were cruel. The reason? While Murray and Eric were 21,000 feet above Dusseldorf, she was six feet below it, giving birth, to her first child.
The second is one of forgiveness. In the 1950s a man arrived at Murray's farm looking for work. He was German and Murray gave him a job. As it turned out, Murray's new employee was a former SS man and part of Hitler's bodyguard. This didn't appear to bother Murray and the two worked together for many years.
"It was strange, "says Murray. "He would never takeoff his shirt,"
Subject: 460 Squadron
Date: Sat, 20 May 2000 22:17:04 +0800
From: Lorraine Marshall
It is some time since I have contacted you but I quite often visit the 460 Squadron site to see what is new.
You posted the info I sent you on my father William Campbell Murray Maxton and his brother Eric James Maxton some time ago now and we have had some response from this being on the Internet.
One of their crew has contacted them (from England) for which they are all very grateful and have now been catching up on the 50 years that have past.
My dad has recently been contacted by a Film Crew wanting to do a documentary on their life story - they are very excited about that.
I would like to thank you for putting the info on the net about these two old veterans, they get quite excited about telling people to visit the site and read about the many and varied stories.
You have done a wonderful job - keep up the good work
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© Peter Dunn 2006
This page first produced 30 October 1998
This page last updated 6 November 1998