Pic: Warner family
Flg Off J H Warner
Lancaster serial number: ED934/G
Call sign: AJ-K
Second wave. Shot down on outward flight and crashed into sea.
James Herbert Warner was born on 19 May 1914 in the small Lincolnshire town of Horncastle. This is in the heart of the area which would become the home of many Second World War airfields, and not far from the village of Hameringham where George “Johnny” Johnson was born seven years later. He was the older of the two sons of Harry and Janetta Warner.
He joined the RAF in 1940 and although initially selected for pilot training was eventually transferred to the observer scheme, from which he qualified in September 1942. He received a commission on completing his training.
By December 1942, he was undergoing the final phase of heavy bomber training at 1654 Conversion Unit, and was crewed up with Vernon Byers and the rest of his crew. They all moved together to 467 Squadron on 5 February 1943. Their first operation was “Gardening” in the Silverthorne area on 9 March, and they would undertake just two further operations before transferring to 617 Squadron on 24 March.
As a Flying Officer, James Warner was the senior member of the Byers crew by rank. Byers himself was recommended for a commission on 17 April, and bomb aimer Neville Whitaker also received one posthumously.
All seven of the crew were lost when a lucky shot fired from behind brought down AJ-K just after it had crossed the island of Texel on the Dutch coast. Along with five of his colleagues, James Warner’s body was never found and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
More about Warner online:
Entry on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Page about Byers crew on Aircrew Remembered website
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
Robert Owen, Steve Darlow, Sean Feast & Arthur Thorning, Dam Busters: Failed to Return, Fighting High 2013
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 James Warner 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.