Pic: Weeks/Douglas family
Flt Sgt H A Weeks
Lancaster serial number: ED921/G
Call sign: AJ-W
Second wave. Aircraft badly damaged by flak on outward flight. Returned to base with mine intact.
Harvey Alexander Weeks was born on 10 December 1919 in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. Chilliwack is a large town some 60 miles from Vancouver.
After joining the RCAF and qualifying as an air gunner, he crewed up with Canadian pilot Marcel Cuelenaere during training, along with his future Dams raid colleague Jimmy Clay. This crew joined 97 Squadron at Woodhall Spa in October 1942. The Cuelenaere crew had completed almost 30 operations together in March 1943 when their pilot reached the end of his tour. This coincided with the call for volunteers for the new 617 Squadron, which Les Munro and most of his crew had decided to accept. Because Munro’s rear gunner was one of those who declined the invitation, Weeks volunteered to take his place, even though Munro told him and Clay that operations with the new squadron would be ‘probably special, probably dangerous’.
Weeks settled in with his new crew, although he suffered from being jammed into his turret when it was damaged by a plume of water when Les Munro flew too low on a trial drop on 12 May 1943. On the raid itself he was isolated from the rest of the crew when the intercom was severed by flak over Vlieland, and it was only when Percy Pigeon clambered through to the rear of the aircraft that everyone knew he was all right.
The Munro crew’s next operation was some two months later, an attack on an Italian power station. Over the next 11 months, Weeks went on to complete more operations than anyone else in the crew – a total of 60, made up of 33 under Munro’s captaincy and 27 done previously in 97 Squadron.
He was commissioned in November 1943, and received the DFC in June 1944. After being taken off operations, Weeks went to 1690 Bomber Defence Training Flight where Munro had been posted as CO. He returned to Canada after the war.
Harvey Weeks died in Chilliwack, BC on 22 March 1992.
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
John Sweetman, David Coward and Gary Johnstone, The Dambusters, Time Warner 2003
James Holland, Dam Busters: The Race to Smash the German Dams 1943, Bantam 2012
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 Weeks 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.
He was just another brave selfless man to accomplish SO much for us who are deeply in debt for our freedom.
My wife and I spent many good times in Harveys’ company having a beer or two in the Chilliwack legion…..His recollections were vivid (like my fathers’) and eagerly shared….He appreciated our genuine interest in his life…..He was an explosives expert and built many roads in B.C. for the logging industry …..Years before meeting Harvey, we lived in Sault Ste. Marie ( Ont.) and had a good friend named Kurt Mueller….Kurt had lived in Nanaimo and worked along the B.C. coast……He often told us a story about finding a grizzly bear kill just as the bear showed up…This bear attacked Kurt and two co-workers and they all jumped off a steep embankment into a river to escape…..One was too slow and was badly clawed before jumping………Now, years passed and I’m in Chilliwack talking to Harvey and damned if he doesn’t tell me the same story ! ….I asked if one of the other fellows was German…..he said yes, that he was guiding them up the river because (Kurt) was doing salmon research for the Federal Gov. …. What a thing to find out ! what a very small world ! ….. When Kurt moved back to Nanaimo I told him I knew Harvey and related the story ….He was amazed…….They’re both gone now, but my wife and I really miss both those guys……They had a fleeting encounter but we knew each of them as family……………
I knew Harvey when I worked at the Royal Bank in Chilliwack. He was a customer friend and always came in to see me when he came back to town. He worked as a logger and was out in camp for most of the time. I’ll always remember his handshake, like a vice!
Harvey was a tail gunner on the raid, and funnily enough, the commissionaire that we used at the Bank to organise our parking lot and drive through teller , Al Ford, was also a WW2 tail gunner, but on Sunderlands. It was a privilege to know both these men