Dambuster of the Day No. 4: Robert Hutchison

IWM CH18005

Gibson and his crew take off on the Dams Raid. Hutchison has his foot on the lowest step of the ladder. [Pic: IWM CH18005]

Flt Lt R E G Hutchison
Wireless operator
Lancaster serial number: ED932/G
Call sign: AJ-G
First wave: First aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine exploded short of the dam.

Flt Lt Robert Hutchison was the only person who had regularly been in Guy Gibson’s crew in his previous squadron to join the CO at 617 Squadron. Gibson’s crew chopped and changed during his time in charge at 106 Squadron, suggesting that a few people found him a hard taskmaster. A more generous interpretation would be that as commanding officer he did not fly as frequently as some of his men, so being part of his crew meant a longer time on active operational duty. In Enemy Coast Ahead, Gibson describes Hutchison as ‘one of those grand little Englishmen who have the guts of a horse’, and says that they had been on forty operations together. This is a gross exaggeration, since the real number was about eighteen. However, there is no doubt that Hutchison had been one of the small circle of brother officers in 106 Squadron with whom Gibson got on well, and this personal friendship may be what led him to accept the offer of ‘one more’ operation in a new squadron.
Robert Edward George Hutchison was born in Liverpool on 26 April 1918, the oldest of the four children of Robert and Ada Hutchison. His father worked for the Hall Line, a freight shipping line. Hutchison won a scholarship to the famous Liverpool Institute, whose later old boys would include both Paul McCartney and George Harrison. After leaving school he worked in the principal accountant’s department of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board before joining the RAF soon after the outbreak of war.
The final part of his training as a wireless operator/air gunner was at 25 OTU at RAF Finningley, where he crewed up with Plt Off Horner as his skipper. The crew was posted to 106 Squadron in Coningsby in December 1941, and undertook their first operation to Ostend on 15 December. Hutchison went on to fly on four more operations with Horner and six with Plt Off Worswick. Guy Gibson took over command of the squadron in April, and Hutchison was selected to fly with him as his wireless operator on his fourth operation in his new squadron, a trip to Warnemunde on 8 May 1942.
After five more operations with other pilots, Hutchison became Gibson’s regular wireless operator in July and they flew on 18 operations together between that date and February 1943. Hutchison was then recommended for the DFC, where the citation noted the ‘numerous operational sorties’ he had undertaken. It also specified an attack on Berlin in which Hutchison repaired defective electrical circuits in the mid-upper turret, despite the intense cold which almost rendered him unconscious during the work.
Having flown on thirty-three operations, Hutchison’s tour came to an end on 26 February. On 19 March 1943 he was posted to 1654 Conversion Unit, expecting to be given instructional duties. Within a few days, however, Gibson had been asked to set up the new squadron, and shortly afterwards must have contacted Hutchison, who recorded the transfer in his own logbook as taking place on 25 March.
Hutchison was a gregarious man – he enjoyed organising concert parties and other activities – and was quick to make friends in all his postings. He was engaged to Beryl Brudenell, who lived in nearby Boston, and was known by the nickname ‘Twink’. One of Hutchison’s particular friends in 106 Squadron was Canadian navigator Revie (Danny) Walker, who went to stay with the Hutchison family in Liverpool on some of his leave periods. Hutchison must have been pleased when their paths crossed again when Walker rejoined the Shannon crew in 617 Squadron. Another friend had been RAF Syerston’s Committee of Adjustment Officer Harry Humphries – another concert party aficianado – and their acquaintanceship continued when Humphries was hastily summoned by Gibson to be the adjutant of the new squadron.
As the senior wireless operator in 617 Squadron, Hutchison was the Signals Leader, responsible for co-ordinating the training of all his colleagues. Individual booths were set up in the crew room so that they could practise their drills. The wireless operators were also given a new responsibility when VHF radios were installed so that voice messages could be passed between aircraft when they were over the target. The Dams Raid would be the first time Bomber Command aircraft had the use of this equipment. In order to test out the radio sets, Hutchison went on a one hour flight with Henry Maudslay as pilot on 8 May.
Hutchison got a bar to the DFC he had received only a few weeks previously for his work on the Dams Raid. As a non-drinker, he might have found the round of parties a little too much, and he didn’t go to London on the special train for the investiture.
Hutchison could have gone off operations at any time, as he was well past the number required by then, but he was one of the four members of the Gibson crew who transferred to the new CO, George Holden. He was flying with him on 16 September 1943, the night he was shot down on the Dortmund Ems canal raid.
Revie Walker and Harry Humphries were both devastated when they got the news, and each wrote heartfelt letters to the Hutchison family. Walker said: ‘My two year friendship with Bob has convinced me that he was the finest lad I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.’ Humphries said that he was ‘badly cut up’ and anxiously awaiting further news.
Robert Hutchison is buried along with the rest of George Holden’s crew in Reichswald Forest Cemetery.

More about Hutchison online:
Liverpool Institute Old Boys
Commonwealth War Graves Commission listing

Decoration awarded for Operation Chastise: Bar to DFC
KIA 16 September 1943
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.

Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
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 Robert Hutchison 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.

Dambuster of the Day No. 3: Harlo Taerum

Taerum1

Pic: Bomber Command Museum of Canada

Plt Off H T Taerum
Navigator
Lancaster serial number: ED932/G
Call sign: AJ-G
First wave: First aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine exploded short of the dam.

Harlo Torger Taerum was born in Milo, Alberta on 22 May 1920, the oldest son of the four children of Guttorn and Hilda Taerum. His father was Norwegian, and had emigrated to Canada as a young man. He died in a drowning accident when Harlo was 10.
Despite this tragedy, Harlo was a brilliant student at school. Soon after he left the war started. When he heard how his father’s people were being treated in their homeland by the invading Germans, he joined the RCAF. After training in both Canada and Britain, he began operational service with 50 Squadron in January 1942, at first flying on Hampdens, but then moving onto Manchesters and finally Lancasters.
By the end of the year he had completed a full tour of operations and was assigned to the squadron’s conversion unit as an instructor. But he continued to fly on operations, including two to Berlin with pilot Mick Martin. It may have been Martin who mentioned both him and bomb aimer Fred Spafford to Guy Gibson at the time of the formation of 617 Squadron, and the pair were quickly slotted into the CO’s crew.
Nicknamed Terry, he got on well with Gibson who regarded him as ‘one of the most efficient navigators in the squadron’ and he received the DFC for his work on the raid. The squadron received huge public attention, and Taerum became one of its stars, making speeches at the Avro factory and Wings for Victory events. ‘Can you imagine me giving a speech? We were just about mobbed for autographs afterward,’ he wrote to his mother. When Gibson left the squadron and went to North America on his speaking tour, he met Harlo’s mother in Calgary. In front of the press, he praised the work her son had done on the raid. The local press went ecstatic, with headlines reading ‘Terry Got Dam Busters to the Job W/C Gibson Tells His Mother Here and ‘Modest Dam Buster Hero Gets Enthusiastic Welcome. Gibson’s modesty was noted as he: ‘spoke little of the escapades which won for him the VC, DSO and Bar, and DFC and Bar. Rather, this young airman, probably the most famous hero yet to emerge from the present war, led the conversation to the splendid job Canadian fliers are doing and to his, “great pal,” Flying Officer Harlo “Terry” Taerum DFC, of Calgary.’
A few days later Gibson spent several hours at the Taerum residence. Mrs Taerum showed him a treasured album with letters and photographs about Harlo, and had it autographed. She summed up her experience by saying that it was one of the proudest and happiest times of her life.
Four days later a telegram arrived. Taerum was one of four of Gibson’s Dams Raid crew who had flown with the new squadron CO, George Holden, on a disastrous raid on the Dortmund Ems canal on 16 September 1943. Five of the eight 617 Squadron crews were shot down, and thirty-three lives were lost. Taerum is buried in Reichswald Forest Cemetery.
In a tragic postscript for the Taerum family, Harlo’s brother Lorne, a gunner just 18 years old, was also killed while serving in the RCAF. His Lancaster was shot down by a fighter on his very first operation in February 1945. The Taerums 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.

More about Taerum online:
Bomber Command Museum of Canada: Harlo “Terry” Taerum
Bomber Command Museum of Canada: My Son: A First Class Man
Video tribute on Monumental Canadians website
Commonwealth War Graves Commission listing

Decoration awarded for Operation Chastise: DFC
KIA 16 September 1943
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.

Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
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 Harlo Taerum 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.

Dambuster of the Day No. 2: John Pulford

IWM CH18005

In this famous photograph, taken as Gibson’s crew was about to take off on the Dams Raid on 16 May 1943, John Pulford is second from the left.  [Pic: IWM CH18005]

Sgt John Pulford
Flight engineer
Lancaster serial number: ED932/G
Call sign: AJ-G
First wave: First aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine exploded short of the dam.

Only one of Guy Gibson’s previous crew from 106 Squadron came with him when he set up the new 617 Squadron in March 1943. This was wireless operator Robert Hutchison. Mick Martin is thought to have recommended navigator Harlo Taerum, who in turn recommended bomb aimer Fred (Spam) Spafford. These three, along with rear gunner Richard Trevor Roper, were all in 50 Squadron when the call came.
John Pulford was born on 24 December 1919 in Sculcoates, a district of Hull, the second of the four children of George and Ada Pulford. He went to St Paul’s school, a local elementary school. He became a motor mechanic and joined the RAF a month before the outbreak of war as ground crew. Like many other ground crew, he volunteered for retraining as a flight engineer in 1942, when the senior authorities in Bomber Command decided to create this new category for heavy bomber aircrew, rather than use a qualified second pilot. His brother Thomas was also a flight engineer.
By December 1942, Pulford had joined 97 Squadron, based at Coningsby. He flew on 13 operations with Sqn Ldr E F Nind between December 1942 and March 1943. On 4 April, he was posted to Scampton, and assigned to Gibson’s crew. Gibson’s logbook actually records Pulford as flying with him on 1 April, but this must be bad record-keeping on the CO’s part.
Pulford’s father George died on 7 May 1943, and the funeral was fixed for Sunday 16 May. Pulford was given special permission to attend the funeral, but he was escorted throughout by two RAF policemen in order to ensure he didn’t let something slip about the planned operation. It is not clear whether he returned to Scampton in time for the all-crew briefing which took place at 1800 that day.
Despite the fact that they sat side by side throughout their Dams Raid training and on the operation itself, Gibson seems never to have noticed much about Pulford. In Enemy Coast Ahead he describes him as a Londoner, obviously unable to spot his Yorkshire accent. But he relied on the Hull man to operate the throttles as they hurtled towards the Möhne Dam at 240 mph, calling out the famous words ‘Stand by to pull me out of the seat if I get hit.’
All of Gibson’s crew were decorated for their collective actions on the Dams Raid, and John Pulford was awarded the DFM. However, he was sick at the time of the original investiture at Buckingham Palace on 22 June 1943, and collected his medal later in the year. Earlier, he had been home on leave and one night went out for a drink with his brother Thomas, also serving in the RAF. Both men were in civilian clothes and at some point in the evening someone put white feathers in their pockets.
In the run up to Gibson leaving 617 Squadron in the summer, five of his crew – including Pulford – were allocated to the new CO, George Holden. Pulford flew with Holden on his first operation with the squadron, a trip to bomb the Italian power station at Acqua Scrivia on 15 July. The detachment flew on to RAF Blida in Algeria. On the return trip nine days later, where bombs were dropped on Livorno, he had swapped to the crew of Ken Brown. The reason why isn’t clear. Pulford didn’t fly with Holden again, and the CO then recruited the flight engineer from Bill Townsend’s crew, Dennis Powell. Holden, Powell and the remaining four members of the Gibson crew were all killed in the disastrous Dortmund Ems canal operation on 16 September 1943.
By December, Pulford was in another crew, piloted by Sqn Ldr Bill Suggitt, and completed several more operations. On 12 February 1944, Suggitt’s crew bombed the Antheor viaduct in southern France. They had used Ford airfield in Sussex as a staging post and successfully landed there in the early hours of the next day. Then in the short hop home from Ford to Woodhall Spa, they crashed into a hill on the Sussex Downs, near the village of Upwaltham. In 2009, a memorial to this crew and another who died in the area during the war was opened in the local church.
John Pulford is buried in Hull, in a plot next to his father.

More about Pulford online:
Hull Daily Mail article
Daily Telegraph article about final flight
Commonwealth War Graves Commission listing

Decoration awarded for Operation Chastise: DFM
KIA 13 February 1944
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.

Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassel 2002
Alan Cooper, The Men who Breached the Dams, Airlife, 2002
The information above has been taken from the books listed and a number of online sources. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further material in the comments section below.

Thanks to Malcolm Bellamy for help with this article.

Further information about John Pulford 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.

Dambuster of the Day No. 1: Guy Gibson

443px-Guy_Penrose_Gibson,_VC

Wing Cdr G P Gibson DSO & Bar DFC & Bar
Pilot
Lancaster serial number: ED932/G
Call sign: AJ-G
First wave: First aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine exploded short of the dam.

Guy Penrose Gibson was born on 12 August 1918 in Simla, India, where his father Alexander James (A.J.) Gibson worked for the Imperial Indian Forest Service. He didn’t set foot in England until he was 4 years old, when he was brought on a holiday to his grandparents’ house in Cornwall. At 6, his mother, Nora, and her three children made a permanent move back and he was sent off to boarding school: first to preparatory schools in Cornwall and Kent and then, aged 14, to St Edward’s School in Oxford.
Gibson’s time at St Edward’s was not particularly distinguished, but it was there that he first became interested in flying. Before he left, he wrote to Captain ‘Mutt’ Summers at Vickers-Armstrongs (who would later fly the Wellington which dropped the first test ‘bouncing bomb’ and then collect him at Weybridge station for his first meeting with Barnes Wallis) for advice on how to become a pilot. Summers told him that he should join the RAF. Gibson’s first application was refused but he tried again and was accepted onto the No. 6 Flying Training Course at Yatesbury in Wiltshire in November 1936. This was a civilian course, run under the RAF expansion scheme. Pilots who qualified from it were then recruited directly into the RAF and given a short service commission. Gibson became an acting Pilot Officer in early 1937, and then went off on further training until he was sent to his first posting, 83 (Bomber) Squadron at Turnhouse in Scotland, in September 1937.
In March 1938, 83 Squadron was transferred a couple of hundred miles south, to the newly built RAF station at Scampton, Lincolnshire. On the day the war started, 3 September 1939, Gibson piloted one of the first nine RAF aircraft to see action in a raid on German shipping. Apart from one short break, he was to stay at Scampton, flying Hampdens, until he completed his first tour of operations in September 1940.
Although he was supposed to go on a rest period, instructing at a training unit, this only lasted a few weeks as he was drafted over to night fighters due to a chronic shortage of experienced pilots. He joined 29 Squadron in December 1940 and flew some ninety operations in Beaufighters, the last in December 1941, and was credited with several night fighter kills. Having then been sent on instructional duties, he lobbied hard to get back to Bomber Command, where Sir Arthur Harris had just taken over as AOC. Harris knew Gibson and sent him to 5 Group, recommending that he be sent to command one of its new Lancaster squadrons. In the event, he was sent to 106 Squadron based at RAF Coningsby, who were still flying Manchesters but whose Lancasters were expected shortly.
Promoted to Wing Commander, Gibson flew his first operation in a Manchester on 22 April 1942, a ‘gardening’ trip. By July, he was flying a Lancaster, an aircraft widely regarded as a cut above anything else that had been used before. 106 Squadron moved on to Syerston on 1 October 1942, and Gibson completed his second tour in Bomber Command with an attack on Stuttgart on 11 March 1943.
He was expecting a rest from operations, but instead he was called to a meeting with the Commanding Officer of 5 Group, Air Vice Marshal Ralph Cochrane. ‘How would you like the idea of doing one more trip?’ Cochrane asked, and Gibson, who hated the idea of being away from the action, readily agreed.
Thus was 617 Squadron born, and the legend began to grow. Based at Scampton again, Gibson, with the support of two excellent flight commanders, Melvin Young and Henry Maudslay, took only two months to mould almost 150 aircrew into a force which would successfully deliver an innovative weapon against a series of targets using astonishing airmanship. On the Dams Raid, he was the first to attack the Möhne Dam, but his mine exploded short of its wall. When the next pilot, John Hopgood, was shot down in the process of dropping his mine, Gibson took it on himself to fly alongside each aircraft to divert the enemy flak as Mick Martin, Melvin Young and David Maltby each made their bombing runs. For this, and his leadership of the raid as a whole, he was awarded the VC.
After the raid, Gibson was taken off operations and was employed what was in effect a full-time publicist for Bomber Command and the RAF. He made public appearances all over the country, and was then sent on a speaking tour of Canada and the USA where he met politicians and film stars, but also found time to see ordinary people like the mother of Harlo Taerum, his navigator on the raid. He signed her scrapbook a few days before Taerum was killed, in a costly raid on the Dortmund Ems canal.
By January 1944 he was employed in a desk job in Whitehall, but his real task was to write a draft of his book, Enemy Coast Ahead. Much of the text about 617 Squadron was pulled together from material ghostwritten for him, although the earlier sections of the book are probably Gibson’s own work. He also found time both to be interviewed for the Desert Island Discs radio programme and to be selected as a Conservative candidate for the next General Election.
He changed his mind about going into politics within a few months, but he was still frustrated about being kept off operations. By the late summer he had persuaded the authorities to let him fly on active service again, and he was assigned to an operation on 19 September 1944, to Mönchengladbach and Rheydt. Gibson was to be the controller in a 627 Squadron Mosquito, in charge of other Mosquitoes who were marking the target for the main bomber force.
What happened that night is the subject of much speculation. His aircraft crashed near Steenbergen in Holland, killing both Gibson and his navigator Sqn Ldr James Warwick. There are thought to be three possible causes. The first (and most likely) is that the Mosquito just ran out of fuel because neither Gibson nor Warwick were very familiar with the aircraft and didn’t know how to switch to the reserve fuel tank. The second scenario is that they were shot down, either by ground-based anti-aircraft fire or a German night fighter. A third possible account, that they were shot down in a ‘friendly fire’ episode by a main force bomber, has been put forward by some but there is some doubt about the veracity of the ‘confession’ of the rear gunner involved.
Gibson was admired by many of his peers and associates, but not by all of them. ‘Those who liked or loved him did so intensely,’ writes his biographer, Richard Morris. ‘More looked upon him with a wary respect. Many thought him unpleasantly rebarbative. A few found him insufferable.’ But he was a wartime warrior with a formidable record: few matched his two tours of bomber operations in Hampdens and Lancasters and ninety patrols in a Beaufighter. To quote Morris again: ‘He achieved greatness because his combat experience was backed by a practical application of rules of leadership which he had learned: the need to unify his squadrons behind clear aims, to communicate his aims with confidence and to balance discipline with the enlistment of hearts.’
Gibson is buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Steenbergen.

More about Gibson online:
Wikipedia
Medals at RAF Museum
Commonwealth War Graves Commission listing

Decoration awarded for Operation Chastise: VC
KIA 20 September 1944
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.

Sources:
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
The information above has been taken from the books listed and a number of online sources. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further material in the comments section below.

Further information about Guy Gibson 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.

The Dams Raid: complete list of all participants

Grantham 0003 fly order small

During the next nineteen weeks I will be publishing an article about each one of the 133 aircrew from 617 Squadron who took part in the Dams Raid (Operation Chastise) on 16/17 May 1943, at the rate of one a day. These will be titled ‘Dambuster of the Day’.

Above is shown the order for the operation as it appeared on squadron noticeboards on the morning of the raid. For security reasons it was merely titled ‘Night Flying Programme’. The typed programme was kept by Squadron Adjutant Flt Lt Harry Humphries, and is now in the possession of Lincolnshire Libraries.

Each article will include links to other material online about each man, and I hope that readers will add further links in the comments on each piece. In that way, the blog entries will serve as a tribute to all the people who took part, in this the 70th anniversary year.

A complete list of the 133 also appears below.

The names appear in the order of the three designated ‘waves’: the first tasked to attack the Möhne and Eder dams, the second to attack the Sorpe, and the third the mobile reserve. Each aircraft in the wave is then listed in the order it finally took off, which differs slightly from the list in the programme above.

AJ-G

Wg Cdr G P Gibson DSO & Bar DFC & Bar
Pilot AJ-G
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded VC
Born Simla, India, 12 August 1918
KIA 20 September 1944  [Read more]

Sgt J Pulford
Flight engineer AJ-G
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born Hull, 24 December 1919
KIA 13 February 1944  [Read more]

Plt Off H T Taerum
Navigator AJ-G
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born Milo, Alberta, Canada, 22 May 1920
KIA 16 September 1943  [Read more]

Flt Lt R E G Hutchison DFC
Wireless operator AJ-G
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded Bar to DFC
Born Liverpool, 26 April 1918
KIA 16 September 1943  [Read more]

Plt Off F M Spafford DFM
Bomb aimer AJ-G
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born Adelaide, South Australia, 16 June 1918
KIA 16 September 1943  [Read more]

Flt Sgt G A Deering
Front gunner AJ-G
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born Kirkintilloch, Scotland, 23 July 1919
KIA 16 September 1943  [Read more]

Flt Lt R D Trevor-Roper DFM
Rear gunner AJ-G
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born, Shanklin, Isle of Wight, 19 May 1915
KIA 31 March 1944  [Read more]

AJ-M

Flt Lt J V Hopgood DFC & Bar
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born Hurst, Berkshire, 29 August 1921 [Read more]

Sgt C C Brennan
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 22 February 1916, Calgary, Alberta, Canada [Read more]

Flg Off K Earnshaw
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born Bridlington, Yorkshire, 23 June 1918 [Read more]

Sgt J W Minchin
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 29 November 1915, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire [Read more]

Flt Sgt J W Fraser
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid. PoW.
Born 22 September 1922, Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
Died Saltery Bay, British Columbia, Canada, 2 June 1962 [Read more]

Plt Off G H F G Gregory DFM
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born Govan, Glasgow, 24 June 1917 [Read more]

Plt Off A F Burcher DFM
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid. PoW.
Born Vaucluse, Sydney, Australia, 15 March 1922
Died Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 9 August 1995 [Read more]

AJ-P

Flt Lt H B Martin DFC
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DSO
Born Edgecliffe, Sydney, Australia, 27 February 1918
Died London, 3 November 1988 [Read more]

Plt Off I Whittaker
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born Newcastle on Tyne, 9 September 1921
Died Wendover, Buckinghamshire, 22 August 1979 [Read more]

Flt Lt J F Leggo DFC
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded Bar to DFC
Born Sydney, Australia, 21 April 1916
Died Brisbane, Australia, 11 November 1983 [Read more]

Flg Off L Chambers
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born Karamea, New Zealand, 18 February 1919
Died Karamea, New Zealand, 1 March 1985 [Read more]

Flt Lt R C Hay DFC
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded Bar to DFC
Born Renmark, South Australia, 4 November 1913
KIA 13 February 1944 [Read more]

Plt Off B T Foxlee DFM
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born Queensland, Australia, 7 March 1920
Died Nottingham, 6 March 1985 [Read more]

Flt Sgt T D Simpson
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 23 November 1917
Died Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, 2 April 1998 [Read more]

AJ-A

Sqn Ldr H M Young DFC & Bar
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born London, 20 May 1915 [Read more]

Sgt D T Horsfall
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born Bramley, Yorkshire, 16 April 1920 [Read more]

Flt Sgt C W Roberts
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 January 1921, Cromer, Norfolk [Read more]

Sgt L W Nichols
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 17 May 1910, Northwood, Middlesex [Read more]

Flg Off V S MacCausland
Bomb aimer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 1 February 1913, Tyne Valley, Prince Edward Island, Canada [Read more]

Sgt G A Yeo
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 9 July 1922, Barry Dock, Glamorgan [Read more]

Sgt W Ibbotson
Rear gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 18 September 1913, Netherton, Wakefield, Yorkshire [Read more]

AJ-J

Flt Lt D J H Maltby DFC
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DSO
Born 10 May 1920, Baldslow, Sussex
KIA 15 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt W Hatton
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 24 March 1920, Wakefield, Yorkshire
KIA 15 September 1943  [Read more]

Sgt V Nicholson
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 15 February 1923, Newcastle on Tyne
KIA 15 September 1943  [Read more]

Sgt A J B Stone
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 5 December 1920 Winchester, Hampshire
KIA 15 September 1943  [Read more]

Plt Off J Fort
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born 14 January 1912, Colne, Lancashire
KIA 15 September 1943  [Read more]

Sgt V Hill
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 6 December 1921, Berkeley, Gloucestershire
KIA 15 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt H T Simmonds
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 25 December 1921, Burgess Hill, Sussex
KIA 15 September 1943 [Read more]

AJ-L

Flt Lt D J Shannon DFC
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DSO
Born 27 May 1922, Unley Park, South Australia
Died 8 April 1993, London [Read more]

Sgt R J Henderson
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 17 June 1920, Tarbrax, Lanarkshire
Died 18 February 1961, Limassol, Cyprus [Read more]

Flg Off D R Walker DFC
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded Bar to DFC
Born 20 November 1917, Blairmore, Alberta, Canada
Died 17 November 2001, Blairmore, Alberta, Canada [Read more]

Flg Off B Goodale DFC
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 12 June 1919, Addington, Kent
Died 16 December 1977, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk [Read more]

Flt Sgt L J Sumpter
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 20 September 1911, Kettering, Northamptonshire
Died 30 November 1993, Luton, Bedfordshire [Read more]

Sgt B Jagger
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 9 November 1921, London
KIA 30 April 1944 [Read more]

Flg Off J Buckley
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 1 May 1919, Bradford, Yorkshire
Died 6 May 1990, Bradford, Yorkshire [Read more]

AJ-Z

Sqn Ldr H E Maudslay DFC
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 21 July 1921, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire [Read more]

Sgt J Marriott DFM
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 January 1920, New Smithy, Derbyshire [Read more]

Flg Off R A Urquhart DFC
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 2 August 1919, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada [Read more]

WO A P Cottam
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 29 August 1912, Jasper, Alberta, Canada [Read more]

Plt Off M J D Fuller
Bomb aimer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 28 April 1920, Reigate, Surrey [Read more]

Flg Off W J Tytherleigh DFC
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 8 November 1921, Cambridge [Read more]

Sgt N R Burrows
Rear gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 31 August 1914, Liverpool [Read more]

AJ-B

Flt Lt W Astell DFC
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 1 April 1920, Knutsford, Cheshire [Read more]

Sgt J Kinnear
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 6 November 1921, Newport, Fife [Read more]

Plt Off F A Wile
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 17 April 1919, Scotch Village, Nova Scotia, Canada [Read more]

Flg Off D Hopkinson
Bomb aimer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 September 1920, Royton, Lancashire [Read more]

Wrt Off A A Garshowitz
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 11 December 1920, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada [Read more]

Flt Sgt F A Garbas
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 13 July 1922, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada [Read more]

Sgt R Bolitho
Rear gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 January 1920, Derry, Ireland [Read more]

AJ-N

Plt Off L G Knight
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DSO
Born 7 March 1921, Camberwell, Victoria, Australia
KIA 16 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt R E Grayston
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 13 October 1918, Dunsfold, Surrey
Died 15 April 2010, Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire [Read more]

Flg Off H S Hobday
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born 28 January 1912, Croydon, Surrey
Died 24 February 2000, Hindolveston, Norfolk [Read more]

Flt Sgt R G T Kellow
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 13 December 1916, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
Died 12 February 1988, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada [Read more]

Flg Off E C Johnson
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born 3 May 1912, Lincoln
Died 1 October 2002, Blackpool, Lancashire [Read more]

Sgt F E Sutherland
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 26 February 1923, Peace River, Alberta, Canada
Died 21 January 2019, Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada [Read more]

Sgt H E O’Brien
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 15 August 1922, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died 12 September 1985, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada [Read more]

AJ-E

Flt Lt R N G Barlow DFC
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 22 April 1911, Carlton, Victoria, Australia [Read more]

Plt Off S L Whillis
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 18 October 1912, Newcastle on Tyne [Read more]

Flg Off P S Burgess
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 September 1922, Portsmouth, Hampshire [Read more]

Flg Off C R Williams DFC
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 March 1909, Townsville, Queensland, Australia [Read more]

Plt Off A Gillespie
Bomb aimer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 16 November 1922, Hesket, Westmorland [Read more]

Flg Off H S Glinz
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 2 March 1922, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada  [Read more]

Sgt J R G Liddell
Rear gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 22 June 1924, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset [Read more]

AJ-W

<Flt Lt J L Munro
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Born 5 April 1919, Gisborne, North Island, New Zealand
Died 4 August 2015, Tauranga, North Island, New Zealand [Read more]

Sgt F E Appleby
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 3 November 1921, Eastbourne, Sussex
Died 15 September 1996, Eastbourne, Sussex [Read more]

Flg Off F G Rumbles
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 14 September 1920, Kirtlebridge, Dumfriesshire
Died 26 February 1988, Port Elizabeth, South Africa [Read more]

Wrt Off P E Pigeon
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 3 June 1917, Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada
Died 25 March 1967, Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada [Read more]

Sgt J H Clay
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 2 February 1911, North Shields, Tyne and Wear
Died 6 August 1995, Gosforth, Tyne and Wear [Read more]

Sgt W Howarth
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 29 August 1921, Oldham, Lancashire
Died 12 January 1990, Oldham, Lancashire [Read more]

Flt Sgt H A Weeks
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 10 December 1919, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada
Died 22 March 1992, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada [Read more]

AJ-K

Plt Off V W Byers
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 24 September 1919, Star City, Saskatchewan, Canada [Read more]

Sgt A J Taylor
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 December 1922, Alves, Morayshire [Read more]

Flg Off J H Warner
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 May 1914, Horncastle, Lincolnshire [Read more]

Sgt J Wilkinson
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 2 March 1922, Antrobus, Cheshire [Read more]

Plt Off A N Whitaker
Bomb aimer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 8 September 1909, Blackburn, Lancashire [Read more]

Sgt C McA Jarvie
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 9 May 1922, Glasgow [Read more]

Flt Sgt J McDowell
Rear gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 13 August 1910, Glasgow [Read more]

AJ-H

Plt Off G Rice
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Born 4 January 1917, Hinckley, Leicestershire
Died 24 November 1981, Taunton, Somerset [Read more]

Sgt E C Smith
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 26 August 1919, Cambridge
KIA 16 September 1943 [Read more]

Flg Off R Macfarlane
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 12 December 1921, Glasgow
KIA 20 December 1943 [Read more]

Wrt Off C B Gowrie
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 14 April 1918, Tramping Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada
KIA 20 December 1943 [Read more]

Wrt Off J W Thrasher
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 30 July 1920, Amherstburg, Ontario, Canada
KIA 20 December 1943 [Read more]

Sgt T W Maynard
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 6 September 1923, London
KIA 20 December 1943 [Read more]

Sgt S Burns
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 27 December 1920, Dudley, Worcestershire
KIA 21 December 1943 [Read more]

AJ-T

Flt Lt J C McCarthy DFC
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DSO
Born 31 August 1919, Long Island, New York, USA
Died 6 September 1998, Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA [Read more]

Sgt W G Radcliffe
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 24 September 1919, New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada
Died 5 July 1952, British Columbia, Canada [Read more]

Flt Sgt D A MacLean
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 2 April 1916, Toronto, Canada
Died 16 July 1992, Toronto, Canada [Read more]

Flt Sgt L Eaton
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 16 March 1906, Manchester
Died 22 March 1974, Manchester [Read more]

Sgt G L Johnson
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 25 November 1921, Hameringham, Lincolnshire  [Read more]

Sgt R Batson
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 5 December 1920, Ferryhill, Co Durham
Died 25 November 2006, Leeholme, Co Durham [Read more]

Flg Off D Rodger
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 23 February 1918, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada
Died 1 September 2004, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada [Read more]

AJ-C

Plt Off W Ottley DFC
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 4 March 1922, London [Read more]

Sgt R Marsden
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 8 May 1920, Scarborough, Yorkshire [Read more]

Flg Off J K Barrett DFC
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 9 September 1920, London [Read more]

Sgt J Guterman DFM
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 1 August 1920, Ramsgate, Kent [Read more]

Flt Sgt T B Johnston
Bomb aimer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 19 July 1921, Bellshill, Lanarkshire [Read more]

Sgt H J Strange
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 25 April 1923, Birkenhead [Read more]

Sgt F Tees
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid. PoW
Born 16 June 1922, Chichester, Sussex
Died 15 March 1982, Letchworth, Hertfordshire [Read more]

AJ-S

Plt Off L J Burpee DFM
Pilot
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 5 March 1918, Ottawa, Canada [Read more]

Sgt G Pegler
Flight engineer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 27 September 1921, Ringwood, Hampshire [Read more]

Sgt T Jaye
Navigator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 3 October 1922, Crook, Co Durham [Read more]

Plt Off L G Weller
Wireless operator
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 1 September 1915, London [Read more]

Flt Sgt J L Arthur
Bomb aimer
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 3 July 1917, Toronto, Canada [Read more]

Sgt W C A Long
Front gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 11 September 1923, Eastleigh, Hampshire [Read more]

Wrt Off J G Brady
Rear gunner
Killed on Dams Raid
Born 16 April 1916, Ponoka, Alberta, Canada [Read more]

AJ-F

Flt Sgt K W Brown
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded CGM
Born 20 August 1920, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died 23 December 2002, White Rock, British Columbia, Canada [Read more]

Sgt H B Feneron
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 14 May 1920, London
Died 18 November 1993, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire [Read more]

Sgt D P Heal
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 5 August 1916, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Died 7 February 1999, Southampton, Hampshire [Read more]

Sgt H J Hewstone
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 24 July 1909, London
Died 28 May 1980, Havering, Essex [Read more]

Sgt S Oancia
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 5 March 1923, Stonehenge, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died 6 May 1999, Carleton, Ontario, Canada [Read more]

Sgt D Allatson
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 7 November 1923, Eastwood, Essex
KIA 16 September 1943 [Read more]

Flt Sgt G S McDonald
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 20 July 1921, Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada
Died 13 May 2012, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada [Read more]

AJ-O

Flt Sgt W C Townsend DFM
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded CGM
Born 12 January 1921, Gloucestershire
Died 9 April 1991, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire [Read more]

Sgt D J D Powell
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 21 January 1922, Birmingham
KIA 16 September 1943 [Read more]

Plt Off C L Howard
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFC
Born 12 January 1913, Freemantle, Western Australia
Died 26 December 1989, Perth, Western Australia [Read more]

Flt Sgt G A Chalmers
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 12 February 1921, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire
Died 6 August 2002, Harrogate, Yorkshire [Read more]

Sgt C E Franklin DFM
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded Bar to DFM
Born 12 November 1915, London
Died 25 January 1975, Birmingham [Read more]

Sgt D E Webb
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 12 September 1922, London
Died 8 December 1996, Yarmouth, Isle of Wight [Read more]

Sgt R Wilkinson
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Awarded DFM
Born 1 September 1922, South Shields, Tyne and Wear
Died 27 July 1980, Noble Park, Victoria, Australia [Read more]

AJ-Y

Flt Sgt C T Anderson
Pilot
Survived Dams Raid
Born 9 December 1913, Wakefield, Yorkshire
KIA 23 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt R C Paterson
Flight engineer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 20 September 1907, Edinburgh
KIA 23 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt J P Nugent
Navigator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 9 August 1914, Stoney Middleton, Derbyshire
KIA 23 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt W D Bickle
Wireless operator
Survived Dams Raid
Born 6 March 1922, St Ann’s Chapel, Calstock, Cornwall
KIA 23 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt G J Green
Bomb aimer
Survived Dams Raid
Born 13 April 1922, Malling, Kent
KIA 23 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt E Ewan
Front gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 3 January 1922, Wolverhampton
KIA 23 September 1943 [Read more]

Sgt A W Buck
Rear gunner
Survived Dams Raid
Born 30 November 1914, London
KIA 23 September 1943 [Read more]

AJ-E crash site to be commemorated on anniversary

AJ-E

One of this blog’s growing number of German readers, Volker Schürmann, has contacted us to say that he plans to commemorate the Dams Raid crash of AJ-E on 16 May. He is writing a report for a local history club in Haldern, where he lives.
AJ-E, piloted by Norman Barlow, was the first of the five aircraft tasked with attacking the Sorpe Dam to leave Scampton (after Joe McCarthy was delayed by a fault in his designated Lancaster) but came down shortly before midnight. It is not clear whether it was shot down or crashed after hitting high tension electric wires. In any case, the top secret mine did not explode, so within a few days of the Dams Raid, the Germans were able to find out exactly the full details of what had been used.
Volker has also unearthed this brief biography of AJ-E’s flight engineer Leslie Whillis, for whom the Dams Raid was his 23rd operation, in a report of an auction held in 2001.
Any more information about events in Germany to mark the 70th anniversary of the raid would be gratefully received. Please contact me here.

Inside Gibson’s office at Scampton

Guy-Gibson-Office-3

History buff Ross Corbett has set up an fascinating new website called World War II Discovery, and has written several posts of interest to Dambuster enthusiasts. He recently visited RAF Scampton, and had a tour of the some of the areas which are open as a Heritage Centre. Tours are available. but only by appointment as Scampton is a working RAF base and the home of the Red Arrows.
The first floor room which was once Guy Gibson’s office is now restored, and looks much as it did on the day in July 1943 when the photograph shown below, of Gibson and his new Flight Commander Sqn Ldr David Maltby, was taken.

IWM TR1122

IWM TR1122


Ross has also been to the Derwent Dam and the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby where he saw original Lancaster ‘Just Jane’.