Cyril Paley was never a member of 617 Squadron, but he had a connection to it, in that his sometime crewmate, Flt Sgt Victor Hill was a last minute recruit to David Maltby’s crew as front gunner. Hill and Paley had served together in 9 Squadron throughout the latter part of 1942 and early 1943.
Cyril Milner Paley was born on 25 October 1914 at Littleborough near Burnley. He was training to be a solicitor, but the war intervened. Although in a reserved occupation he volunteered for aircrew. Initially trained on Blenheims as a navigator, he later switched to bomb aimer. He joined 9 Squadron at RAF Waddington in the early summer of 1942. Along with most of the crew, but not Victor Hill, he moved to 83 Sqdn Pathfinders at Wyton in the early part of 1943. His plane “F for Freddie” was crippled over Stettin by a Junkers 88 on 21 April 1943. The Canadian pilot, Chuck McDonald, nursed the blazing Lancaster over the Baltic to near Malmo in Sweden, where they ditched in the shallows. The crew of 7 were interned in Sweden until August 1943. On return to England he became a bombing instructor and never flew combat again. He did 36 combat flights in total, including the Le Creusot daylight raid, many over Berlin and several during the Battle of the Ruhr.
Cyril Paley died in his sleep on 20 March 2011 at a care home in Lytham, Lancashire. He was 96.
Picture shows Cyril Paley in his 9 Squadron crew, late 1942. Left to right: Sgt Frank Charlton, flight engineer; Flt Sgt Cyril Paley, bomb aimer; Flt Sgt Maxwell Coles, wireless operator; Sgt Victor Hill, mid-upper gunner; Flt Sgt Victor Nunn, navigator; Plt Off Charles McDonald, pilot; Flg Off John Crebbin, rear gunner; Picture: Joe Paley.