Sgt T W Maynard
Lancaster serial number: ED936/G
Call sign: AJ-H
Second wave. Aircraft badly damaged and mine lost, flying low over sea on outward flight. Returned to base.
Thomas William Maynard was born in Wandsworth, London in 1923, the son of Sydney and Janet Maynard. He was known to his family as Bill.
He joined the RAF in December 1941, and was selected for training as a wireless operator/air gunner. After qualifying, he met up with navigator Richard Macfarlane, wireless operator Bruce Gowrie, bomb aimer John Thrasher and flight engineer Edward Smith at a final conversion unit in October 1942. All five were posted to 57 Squadron at Scampton on 9 December 1942. Rear gunner Stephen Burns had joined the squadron a short while earlier, but the crew were without a pilot until Geoff Rice arrived in February.
The crew then flew on nine operations before being posted together from 57 Squadron to the new squadron being formed at the same base to undertake training for a special mission.
Like all the squadron’s mid upper gunners, Bill Maynard was switched to the front turret of the specially modified Lancasters for the Dams Raid.
Maynard flew with Rice and the rest of his crew on the handful of successful operations between the Dams Raid and December 1943, and was promoted to Flight Sergeant. However, the crew’s luck ran out on 20 December when they were hit by flak 14,000 feet above Merbes-Le Chateau in Belgium. Although Rice gave the order to bale out, there wasn’t time and the aircraft exploded. Rice seems to have been thrown clear by the explosion, and somehow landed in a wood but the bodies of the remaining six crew members were found in the wreckage.
Bill Maynard and his five colleagues were buried in Gosselies Communal Cemetery, near Hainaut, Belgium.
More about Maynard online:
Entry on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Page about Rice crew burial site, Gosselies cemetery
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
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.