Pic: Simon Goodale
Flg Off B Goodale DFC
Lancaster serial number: ED929/G
Call sign: AJ-L
First wave. First aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine dropped accurately but no breach caused. Aircraft returned safely.
David Shannon’s crew was only finalised three weeks before the Dams Raid with the arrival at Scampton on 20 April 1943 of wireless operator Brian Goodale. The crew’s members came from quite disparate backgrounds but nevertheless they worked well together and became an important part of the backbone of the squadron. Dedicated fighters in the air, they were serious revellers on the ground, and thereby added greatly to squadron morale. Goodale, tall and thin with a slight bent and thus known widely by his nickname ‘Concave’, was described by his colleague Len Sumpter as being ‘a bit of a character with a drink in his hand’.
Goodale was born in Addington, Kent on 12 June 1919 and joined the RAF at the outbreak of war. After training as an observer, he became a wireless operator/air gunner and served a full tour of 28 operations in the Whitleys of 51 Squadron, starting in September 1940. During this time, he received the DFC and was commissioned. Then, after a period instructing, he was summoned to Scampton to join 617 Squadron when the call came to find an experienced wireless operator for the Shannon crew.
Some of the escapades in which Goodale were involved after the Dams Raid have passed into Squadron folklore. Prominent among them is the trip by train from Lincoln to London for the investiture at Buckingham Palace, where he had to be locked in a lavatory after a drunken trouser-removing incident. Fortunately, Adjutant Harry Humphries managed to retrieve them, crumpled and dusty, before anyone became too offended. Many of these incidents were recorded by Paul Brickhill in his 1951 book The Dam Busters – items which add to its period charm.
Goodale became the squadron’s Signals Leader in September 1943 and carried on flying on operations with Shannon for another nine months until he was posted out to another training centre. He was awarded a bar to his DFC. He stayed in the RAF after the war and retired as a Squadron Leader in 1961. He then had a career in business, including five years working for the armaments manufacturers Short Brothers in Northern Ireland.
Brian Goodale married Vera Beales in 1949, and they had two children. He died on 16 December 1977 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.
Survived war. Deceased.
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Harry Humphries, Living with Heroes, Erskine Press 2003
Further information about Brian Goodale 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.