Dambuster of the Day No. 41: Brian Jagger


Brian Jagger in the back row of a group in his 50 Squadron days. The picture is taken from the collection of the family of John Fraser, and his name was written in by Fraser’s wife, Doris. [Pic: Fraser family]

Sgt B Jagger
Front gunner

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.

Brian Jagger, David Shannon’s front gunner, came from an artistic family. His father, David Jagger, was a well known portrait painter and his uncle, Charles Sargeant Jagger, was a sculptor and artist, and was responsible for many memorials to the dead of the First World War. His aunt, Edith Jagger, was also an artist.
Jagger was born in Chelsea on 9 November 1921 and joined the RAF in 1941. He qualified as an air gunner in the summer of 1942, and was posted to 50 Squadron. Most of his operations were flown in a crew piloted by Sgt Norman Schofield, a Canadian, in a crew which also included two other Canadians who would fly on the Dams Raid, John Fraser and Ken Earnshaw. It may have been one of these who recommended Jagger to David Shannon when he was putting together his crew for 617 Squadron.
After the Dams Raid, Jagger flew on several other operations with the Shannon crew, and was commissioned in October 1943. He was transferred to a training unit in the spring of 1944, and was killed in a flying accident on 30 April 1944, in a Lancaster of 49 Squadron. On a Fighter Affiliation Exercise, a dinghy became released and wrapped itself around the tailplane causing the aircraft to crash.
Jagger Officer portrait
One of his father’s best known paintings is known as ‘Portrait of an officer of the RAF during World War II’, painted in 1941, which was held in the Arthur Ackermann and Peter Johnson Collection. It came up for auction at Christies in 2008, but was unsold. Although the title says the subject is an officer, he is quite clearly wearing sergeant’s stripes. The subject is not identified, but he bears a striking resemblance to Brian Jagger, and could well be of him.
Brian Jagger is buried in Cambridge City Cemetery.

More about Jagger online:
Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry
David Jagger’s Wikipedia entry

KIA 30.4.44

Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002

3 thoughts on “Dambuster of the Day No. 41: Brian Jagger

  1. julia davis July 16, 2014 / 6:11 pm

    My grandparents were good friends of the Jaggers and Brian was a friend of my father’s. It was a great tragedy when he died, particularly the circumstances of the crash. I believe this to be a painting of Brian.

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