Dambuster of the Day No. 129: John Nugent

Anderson & Crew - 1943Six members of Cyril Anderson’s Dams Raid crew photographed in summer 1943 after their return to 49 Squadron. L-R: John Nugent (navigator), Gilbert “Jimmy” Green (bomb aimer), William Bickle (wireless operator), Arthur Buck (rear gunner), Cyril Anderson (pilot), Robert Paterson (flight engineer). Photograph was taken by Eric Ewan (mid upper gunner). [Pic: Dominic Howard]

Sgt J P Nugent

Lancaster serial number: ED924/G

Call sign: AJ-Y

Third wave. Did not reach Sorpe Dam because of navigation problems, flak damage and weather conditions. Returned with mine intact.

John Percival Nugent was born on 9 August 1914 in Stoney Middleton in the Derbyshire Peak District, one of the nine children of Francis and Ellen Nugent. The family ran a shoe and boot making business in Stoney Middleton. Nugent went first to a local primary school and then De La Salle College in Sheffield, which he reached by tram from his home.

After leaving school, Nugent qualified as a maths and music teacher at St Mary’s Training College, Strawberry Hill, Middlesex (now St Mary’s University College). He taught at Johnson Street School (now Bishop Challenor School) in the East End of London, but moved to Brighton at the start of the war when the school was evacuated there. He joined the RAF in 1940 and was sent to Canada for training as a navigator.

On returning to England, he was posted to 25 Operational Training Unit, where he crewed up with Cyril Anderson. They moved on to 1654 Conversion Unit, where the whole crew was formed up.

The crew were posted to 49 Squadron in February 1943, and did their first operation together as a crew on 12 March. After their second trip, they were posted to 617 Squadron but in fact stayed on 49 Squadron to do three more operations, including two to Berlin.

Nugent was back in the area where he spent his boyhood when the crews trained for the Dams Raid at the Ladybower reservoir in the Derwent valley. Whether he was able to buzz his family home is not recorded.

After their trip on the Dams Raid, the Anderson crew returned to 49 Squadron and resumed their operational career with an attack on Krefeld on 21 June. They flew on 14 more operations after this, but on 23 September they failed to return from a successful attack on Mannheim. As they headed home, their aircraft was shot down by a night fighter near Offenbach.

John Nugent was first buried with his crewmates in Offenbach Cemetery. After the war the bodies of all seven were exhumed and identified, and then reburied in Rheinberg War Cemetery.

Thanks to Dom Howard for help with this article.

More about Nugent online:
All the Anderson crew are commemorated on Dominic Howard’s excellent website. Each of the crew has their own page with biographical details. See Anderson’s page for a complete list of operations undertaken by the whole crew.
Nugent commemorated on Stoney Middleton website.
Entry at Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

KIA 23.09.1943

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 John Nugent 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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