[Pic: Peter Humphries]
Flg Off H S Glinz
Lancaster serial number: ED927/G
Call sign: AJ-E
Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Harvey Sterling Glinz was born in Winnipeg, the capital city of the province of Manitoba, Canada on 2 March 1922. His father Ernest was a letter carrier, or postman. Glinz was educated at Lord Roberts and Kelvin Schools, and had worked as a clerk in the Hudson’s Bay company until the war intervened.
Having volunteered for the RCAF Glinz was interviewed on 11 September 1941, and deemed to be best fitted for work as an air gunner/wireless operator. It was noted that he was ‘A neat clean – athletic young man – sincere – and should be worthwhile addition to aircrew.’ He signed up a few weeks later and was sent off for training. Glinz excelled at his air gunnery training, passing out first in his class in February 1942. He then applied for a commission, which was granted after he had left Canada. He arrived in England at the end of March.
After various delays and yet more training, he was finally posted on operations to 61 Squadron in October 1942. His first operation was a raid on Turin on 28 November 1942, in a crew captained by Flg Off A E Foster. This would appear to have been as a replacement for Foster’s usual gunner. A week later he flew with Flt Sgt McFarlane, on an operation to Mannheim. He finally became part of the regular crew of Plt Off William Dierkes, an American who had joined the RCAF before the USA entered the war, and who would later transfer to the USAAF.
Glinz flew on eight operations with Dierkes between December and February, but then went on sick leave. The medical report shows that he had suffered from catarrh and ear infections caused by the unaccustomed British weather, and that also he was suffering from ‘mild anxiety’. This was reported to have been caused by two crashes on landings on both his second and fourth operations (although neither of these are actually recorded in the squadron’s Operations Record Book). He was also diagnosed as being in a mild ‘anxiety state’, after being observed sitting on his own in the mess and seldom conversing with people. An RAF Medical Board first recommended that Glinz should see a specialist ‘neuropsychiatrist’, but then at the end of March reported that:
‘He had been thinking things over and wishes to resume operational flying. He has an opportunity of being crewed up with an experienced pilot in whom he has every confidence. This crew is being posted to another unit to form a new squadron. He appreciates that his symptoms are nervous in origin but thinks that he can make the grade and complete his tour… The Board considers this Officer to be a fundamentally good type and should be given a further opportunity to prove himself at operational flying.’
So, off went Glinz to 617 Squadron, along with Barlow and the rest of his ex-61 Squadron crew. There are no further medical reports in Glinz’s file, although his anxiety level may have increased for a while when the crew were involved in a bird strike on a training flight on 9 April 1943, which resulted in a collision with the top of a tall tree. The flight engineer’s and bomb aimer’s canopies were smashed and two engines badly damaged. It is not recorded whether Glinz was flying in the front rather than the mid-upper turret, but it would seem unlikely. (They were flying in one of the borrowed Lancasters which the squadron were using, as the special ones modified to carry the Dams Raid mine had not yet arrived.)
Glinz was 617 Squadron’s A Flight gunnery leader, a role which would have meant he helped organise training for other gunners. He must have been awarded this role because of his rank, rather than experience, as there were other gunners in A Flight with a full completed tour under their belts.
By 16 May, training was completed and Glinz was in the front turret when AJ-E crossed the Rhine near Rees. A few minutes later they approached the line of HT electric wires outside Haldern, and collided with a pylon.
The seven bodies were buried by the Germans in Dusseldorf North cemetery, but they could only positively identify Leslie Whillis, Philip Burgess, Alan Gillespie and Charlie Williams. All were reburied after the war, as part of the work undertaken by the RAF’s Missing Research and Enquiries Service. An insight into this detailed and rather gruesome task is given by a page in Glinz’s file:
‘The only clue to the identity of these three were another rank’s shirt in Grave 42 and officer’s shirt in Grave 45 and dental charts in both Graves 42 and 45. As Fg Off Glinz was a Canadian, his dental charts were obtained from Ottawa. They definitely do not tally with the charts in either Grave 42 and 45, and this proves by elimination that Fg Off Glinz is in Grave 46. The fact that there was another rank’s shirt in Grave 42 and an officer’s shirt in Grave 45 makes it possible to allot an individual grave to the remaining two crew members, Sgt Liddell being in Grave 42 and Flt Lt Barlow in Grave 45.’
Treating the war dead with such respect is an honourable tradition in the military of many countries, and the work that this involved is perhaps not appreciated by us today. In a further sad postscript to the short lives of two of the crew of AJ-E, it emerged in October 1945 that Harvey Glinz and Philip Burgess’s service greatcoats had been inadvertently muddled up when being sent back to their families.
The Glinz family were asked to inspect the coat they had received and see whether its buttons were those of the RAF or the RCAF. Having ascertained that they were in fact RAF buttons, the two coats were then exchanged. Whether Glinz and Burgess were roommates at Scampton is not known, but the fact their coats were muddled up suggests they might have been.
The two young Flying Officers are now buried together, alongside their five comrades, in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
Sources for this article:
Harvey Glinz RCAF personnel file, National Archives of Canada.
61 Squadron Operations Record Book.
Many thanks to Allan Wells, Susan Paxton and Ken Joyce for their help.
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Eric Fry, An Airman Far Away, Kangaroo Press 1993
The information above has been taken from the books and online sources listed above, 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 Harvey Glinz 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.