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.
Very sad – my thoughts are with his family.
My own father had a very loose connection to 618 Squadron (formed a short time after 617, Mosquitoes armed with the smaller ‘Highball’ bouncing bomb).
I had the great privilege of talking to Cyril about 18 months ago when researching for the second edition of my book about the Plzen op. He was and is one of my heroes as all of his kind are. He flew on the Skoda works raid of 16th April 1943 shortly before the Stettin raid when he and his crew ditched. He was a super man who will be missed.
Hi, do you by chance have contact details of Cyril’s family? I came across this page after searching for his name which I did because there is man who has found some WWII soldier photos which he would like to return to the soldiers families.. Cyril is one of the photos!
Max Coles is my brother-in-law living near Montreal, Canada. He is now 90 years of age and in failing health. For Remembrance Day the Montreal Gazette newspaper is preparing some pages to honour our veterans. My niece found this information on the internet and we are very pleased as some of the gaps in Max’s military career are now filled. Thank you for this great effort. Best Regards……George Mrazik