Press cutting about John Minchin from unnamed newspaper. [49 Sqn Association]
Sgt J W Minchin
Lancaster serial number: ED925/G
Call sign: AJ-M
First wave. Second aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Aircraft hit by flak. Mine dropped late and bounced over dam. Aircraft crashed on far side of dam.
John William Minchin was born on 29 November 1915 in the picturesque Gloucestershire village of Bourton-on-the-Water (‘The Venice of the Cotswolds’). He was the third of the six sons of Bertram and Eliza Minchin. His father was a baker. He joined the RAF soon after the onset of war, and after training as a wireless operator/air gunner was posted to 49 Squadron at Scampton in October 1941.
He married Jessie Irving in London on 28 May 1942 but only got three days honeymoon before being recalled to his base to take part in the first Thousand Bomber raid.
In August 1942, he completed a full tour in both Hampdens and Manchesters, and was posted to a training unit. From there he went straight to join John Hopgood’s crew in the new 617 Squadron. What happened to Minchin on the Dams Raid is told in an online extract from John Ward’s book Beware A Dog at War on the 49 Squadron Association website:
Minchin was badly wounded in the leg when M-Mother was hit by flak en-route to the Möhne Dam. Sgt Minchin sat for almost an hour at his radio set nursing this terrible injury before the target was reached.
M-Mother, the second aircraft to attack, was severely hit by ack-ack on the run-in and set on fire. The bomb was released but hit the parapet wall and exploded. F/Lt Hopgood struggled valiantly to keep his blazing aircraft airborne in order for the crew to bale out.
Tony Burcher evacuated his rear turret and made for the crew door. There he was confronted by the pained face of John Minchin, who had dragged himself the length of the fuselage, his leg almost severed.
All Burcher could do to help his comrade was to clip on Minchin’s parachute and push him out into the darkness, pulling his D-ring in the process. The Lancaster crashed 3 miles to the north-west of the dam and exploded in flames.
The aircraft crashed in a field near Ostönnen. Hopgood, Brennan, Earnshaw and Gregory’s bodies were found in the wreckage. Minchin’s body was found about 2km from the crash site.
Tragically, just six weeks after the Dams Raid on 27 June 1943, the family lost another son, Ronald Buckland Minchin, aged 23, who served with 295 Squadron. Both are commemorated on the Bourton-on-the-Water War Memorial.
The Minchins were one of the three families who lost a son who took part in the Dams Raid and another son serving elsewhere in Bomber Command during the war.
Hopgood, Brennan, Earnshaw, Minchin and Gregory are buried together in Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.
KIA 17 May 1943
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Research by Andy Bailey
The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.
Further information about John Minchin and the other 132 men who flew on the Dams Raid can be found in my book The Complete Dambusters, published by History Press in 2018.