Dambuster of the Day No. 83: Charles Jarvie

Wilkinson+Jarvie lores
Charles Jarvie, on right, photographed with his crewmate John Wilkinson, wireless operator in AJ-K on the Dams Raid. Photograph probably taken between February and May 1943. [Pic: Wilkinson family]

Sgt C McA Jarvie
Front gunner

Lancaster serial number: ED934/G

Call sign: AJ-K

Second wave. Shot down on outward flight and crashed into sea.

Charles McAllister Jarvie was born in Glasgow on 9 May 1922, one of the two children of Charles and Nellie Jarvie. He joined the RAF around the time of his 18th birthday in July 1940. After a long period awaiting training, he was finally selected for aircrew and underwent gunnery training in September 1942.

He was posted to the new 467 Squadron at RAF Bottesford about the time of its formation in early November 1942 and was crewed up with pilot Sgt Herbert Vine, along with bomb aimer Neville Whitaker.

The Vine crew’s first operation was the usual “gardening” (mine-laying) operation in the Deodars area on 12 January 1943. Jarvie flew with Vine that night and on four further missions, the last being the bombing of Lorient on 13 February. Whitaker flew on one further trip, also to Lorient, with Vine but then a straight swap of two crew members between Vine’s crew and the newly arrived crew of Vernon Byers took place. Bomb aimer Whitaker and mid upper gunner Jarvie were exchanged for Sgt John McKee and Sgt Robert Haslam respectively. Why this happened remains something of a mystery. It was a bad move for McKee and Haslam since on their very first operation with Vine, on 19 February, they fell victim to a German night fighter and crashed into the North Sea.

Jarvie however would survive another couple of months. He flew with the Byers crew on the three operations which they flew in 467 Squadron on 9, 11 and 22 March. Then, on 28 March, the whole crew was posted to 617 Squadron.

Charles Jarvie was in the front gun turret of AJ-K when it was hit by flak just after it had passed over Texel island on the Dutch coast. Like five of his colleagues, his body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.

More about Jarvie online:
Entry on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Page about Byers crew on Aircrew Remembered website

KIA 16.05.1943.

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 Charles Jarvie 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.

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