Dambuster of the Day No. 42: Jack Buckley

IWM HU91948

Group picture taken outside Officers’ Mess at Scampton, 17 May 1943. Jack Buckley is third from the right in the front row, standing between David Shannon and Les Knight. [Pic IWM HU91948]

Flg Off J Buckley
Rear 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.

Jack Buckley was one of the most experienced air gunners in 617 Squadron, and one of only eight already commissioned by the time of the Dams Raid. The only son of Hubert and Lucy Buckley, he was born in Bradford on 1 May 1919. He attended Salt’s High School in Saltaire, and then worked in the wool trade. He joined the RAF at the outset of war and after training went first to 225 Squadron, and then later to 75 (NZ) Squadron. In the latter, he flew thirty-five operations, mainly with Plt Off Fisher as pilot. He was commissioned in June 1942, and then transferred to a training unit.

Buckley became an important part of the squadron’s social activities. Len Sumpter remembered him as owning a racing car, and also usually having a pint in his hand. This reputation looks to have been cemented by the famous ‘morning after’ picture, taken on the steps of the Officers’ Mess on 17 May 1943. Buckley is obviously laughing out loud – perhaps affected by a combination of quite a lot of booze and no sleep.

He was awarded the DFC in July 1943 and flew on several more operations with Shannon. In the summer of 1944, he went back to training and remained there to the end of the war.

After the war, he resumed his career in the wool trade, and died in Bradford on 6 May 1990.

 Survived war. Deceased.

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

Further information about Jack Buckley 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.

11 thoughts on “Dambuster of the Day No. 42: Jack Buckley

  1. Tim Hutchings August 27, 2013 / 12:56 pm

    Can anyone help corroborate some post-war life details for Jack Buckley after the war? I went to Worth Abbey School in Sussex and in my prep school years, believe it was Jack Buckley who was my music teacher. There was a rumour around the school that he had been on the Dambusters raid and when I saw his name and picture amongst those on the BBC website today, I was pleasantly surprised although I couldn’t recognise his picture. I guess he would have been at Worth Abbey from around 1969 (when I first arrived) for a few years; can’t say when he left, though the birth date above would make him 50 in 1969 – about right for the man I remember.

  2. David Fell October 14, 2015 / 9:22 am

    My uncle knew Jack Buckley. I seem to recall in his later years Jack lived in retirement at Nab Wood near Bradford. Towards the end of his life he was admitted to the Cheshire Home at Calverley between Bradford and Leeds. Champion House it is called. He died early 90s. May 1990 will be right. It was reported in the local paper at the time. My uncle said he was a cheerful chap who enjoyed a pint. Never spoke much about his time in the RAF though.

  3. Alan Simpson October 14, 2015 / 10:09 am

    I knew Jack Buckley, I was an apprentice woolsorter with Messrs Cooper Triffit and Jack came to learn something about wool, it would have been about 1944/5. He had been invalided out of the RAF after a motor cycle accident. He was a pleasant chap.

  4. David Fell October 14, 2015 / 10:53 am

    That will be it. If Jack was involved in the Bradford wool trade at some point after the war that will be how my uncle got to know him.

  5. Ian Booth December 30, 2016 / 7:16 pm

    Jack Buckley was a client of ours. We were insurance brokers in Bingley.
    My dad always asked him into our boardroom when we were dealing with his insurance. He was a good client and was held in high esteem by the directors and staff.

  6. Kim mclaughlin April 3, 2018 / 12:48 am

    I knew Mr Jack Buckley in 1984…a lovely quiet man he liked to drink Chivas Regal Whisky in the Ross public house in Saltaire…A wonderful honourable man that I have ever met GOD BLESS YOU MR BUCKLEY…from Kim Mclaughlin… was Devine x

  7. Paul McMillan August 29, 2018 / 8:19 am

    Sgt Jack Buckley #935695 was in 225 Sqn in 1941 – He flew on May 9th 1941 with Pilot P/O Ian Grahame Stewart #43983

    The aircraft he flew was Westland Lysander IIIA V9312 – Yesterday 28th August 2018 V9312 -G-CCOM flew for the first time in probably 70 Years after a long term restoration at Duxford with ARCO


  8. Ian Pickles April 17, 2021 / 3:07 pm

    I spent the bulk of my working life with Midland Bank,later HSBC.Throughout the 1970s I was attached to Manningham,Bradford branch which was the satellite for several sub-offices including Saltaire,the cashiers – usually male in those days – being rotated.Jack Buckley was a regular customer.Always cheery,often looking the worse for wear,especially when the pubs were open,he would regale us lads with tales of his exploits in the war.We assumed he had been in the army,not having been enlightened otherwise,and his outpourings were,I’m sorry to say,taken with a pinch of salt.Years later,by now promoted and working in the city centre,I was astonished one day to open the Yorkshire Post and find a substantial obituary for Jack Buckley,DFC,Dambuster and rear-gunner in a legendary Lancaster….and felt a tinge of regret and sadness for not taking him seriously.Never judge a book by its cover as the old adage goes.

  9. Tim Hutchings April 17, 2021 / 11:56 pm

    Many thanks for these comments. However I see none that link him with Worth Abbey at any time (in Sussex, not far from Crawley & Gatwick). Neither do I see any mention of him with music, so fear I’ve not got the right man….?

  10. Ian Pickles April 18, 2021 / 6:44 am

    It would appear so,Tim.

  11. Michael Rushforth March 15, 2023 / 3:24 pm

    I met Jack Buckley in the 1970s as my late sister was a school friend of his daughter. I had been working on a school presentation about the Dambusters when my sister said “oh Mr Buckley was a Dambuster” I still remember walking into his house & getting his autograph, he was so nice & patient to an excited youngster. I remember him as a very kind man.

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