Guy (“Johnny”) Pegler pictured on the far right, standing next to Gordon Brady. Their skipper, Lew Burpee is on the far left. Picture taken in 106 Squadron, probably late 1942. [Pic: Burpee family]
Sgt G Pegler
Lancaster serial number: ED865/G
Call sign: AJ-S
Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.
Guy Pegler was born on 27 September 1921 in Ringwood, Hampshire, the older of the two sons of Claud and Charlotte Pegler. The family would later move to Letchworth in Hertfordshire, where he went to Letchworth Grammar School. Pegler was known by the nickname “Johnny” during his time in the RAF, which he joined in 1938 as an apprentice at No 1 Training School, RAF Halton.
He served in ground crew in the early part of the war, mainly servicing aircraft in Fighter Command, before taking the opportunity in 1942 to train as a flight engineer in Bomber Command.
After qualifying, he was posted to 106 Squadron’s Conversion Flight where he joined up with Lewis Burpee and gunner Gordon Brady for the final stages of Lancaster training. The trio were posted to 106 Squadron in October 1942.
On 24 October 1942, the day Burpee flew on his final operation as second pilot (with David Shannon), Pegler had the dubious privilege of making his operational debut, accompanying the Squadron CO, Wg Cdr Guy Gibson on a trip to Milan. At that stage in his career, Gibson had a different flight engineer or second pilot on nearly every one of his operations. Whether they volunteered or instead were chosen by him is not recorded. Pegler survived the experience, and was able to rejoin Burpee and his crew for their first trip together as a crew, on a “Gardening” operation to the Silverthorn area on 16 November 1942.
Thereafter, Pegler flew with Burpee on all his 25 operations in 106 Squadron and went with him to 617 Squadron. On the Dams Raid, he would have been in his usual seat, alongside his skipper, as they flew too close to the heavily defended Gilze-Rijen airfield and crashed in a ball of flame.
The Germans could not individually identify the bodies of Guy Pegler, Bill Long, Tom Jaye and James Arthur, so they were buried in a communal grave in Zuylen Cemetery, Prinsenhage. After the war the bodies of all seven of the crew of AJ-S were exhumed and reburied in Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery.
More about Pegler online:
Entry at Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Aircrew Remembered page about Burpee crew
Rank and decorations as of 16 May 1943.
Richard Morris, Guy Gibson, Penguin 1995
John Sweetman, The Dambusters Raid, Cassell 2002
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 Guy Pegler 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.
I believe the unidentified airman 2nd on the left is Flt Sgt K.L. Szczepanski (R94584) who was Burpee’s original Bomb Aimer at 106 Squadron and flew with him on 9 ops between 7/8 Nov 42 and 11/12 Jan 43. His surname would suggest he was Polish in origin and his service number is an RCAF one. I’m unsure why he finished flying with Burpee in January but he was posted to SHQ Syerston on 16th January 1943.