Flg Off V S MacCausland
Lancaster serial number: ED887/G
Call sign: AJ-A
First wave. Fourth aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine dropped accurately, causing small breach. Aircraft shot down on return flight.
Vincent Sanford MacCausland was born in Tyne Valley, Prince Edward Island, Canada on 1 February 1913. He was the oldest of the five children of Burns and Edith MacCausland and worked as a teacher before joining the RCAF in 1940. After training as an observer and then a bomb aimer he completed a first tour in 57 Squadron in late 1941. He received a commission and then spent more than a year in a training unit as an instructor. Keen to get back to a second tour, which was well overdue, he returned to 57 Squadron in March 1943. His return roughly coincided with the arrival of the inexperienced crew skippered by Melvin Young.
When it was decided that Young’s bomb aimer was not suitable for the mission being planned. MacCausland fitted the bill for a replacement. Already at Scampton, with a tour under his belt and further experience training other bomb aimers he could be expected to slot in easily, and he was therefore drafted into Young’s crew on 14 April 1943.
In a letter home just after he had been posted into 617 Squadron he told his mother what had happened:
You are perhaps wondering what I am doing here. There is really no need to feel over anxious to know that I am back again for my second tour. I really was due back six months after Sept of 41 and had the privilege of joining a well experienced crew and on aircraft that one dreams about. To tell you the honest truth I would not have taken this on had I believed it was a doubtful move. I came up here a couple of days ago (Apr 14th) and we are on revision and conversion for the next month before going over with a few bundles for the squareheads I know that you will be feeling most anxious during those few months ahead but the time will soon pass and I know that God will be especially with us as were blessed in that first tour. I hope that we shall be writing at least two to three times per week and if you do the same, it will be much happier for us all.
Sadly, the blessings that were bestowed on him in his first tour would not follow him to his second. MacCausland delivered a perfectly placed mine as Young’s aircraft flew at the Möhne Dam, and it bounced several times, exploded at the base and caused the initial small breach.
AJ-A was shot down at the last moment of danger shortly after they had passed over the Dutch coast. Vincent MacCausland’s body was washed ashore on 27 May 1943, along with those of Lawrence Nichols and Gordon Yeo. They were all buried in Bergen General Cemetery.
MacCausland had a girlfriend in Bedford, Rene Warman, and they had a daughter, Angela, born in Bedford in January 1943. Rene Warman made contact with the MacCausland family after he was killed and travelled out to Canada after the war with her daughter to meet them. She would later marry Vincent MacCausland’s brother, Howatt. The marriage did not last, and Rene and Angela returned to England.
More about MacCausland online:
His letters in the Canadian Letters and Images Project
Flickr collection by Joel Joy
Article in the PEI Guardian, including interview with his sister
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
KIA 17 May 1943.
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Sources: Arthur Thorning, The Dambuster who Cracked the Dam, Pen and Sword 2008
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassel 2002
Further information about Vincent MacCausland 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.