Pic: Valerie Davies Arends
To mark tomorrow’s 76th anniversary of the Dams Raid, here is a rarely seen photograph of Guy Gibson, taken while he was Commanding Officer of 106 Squadron at RAF Syerston. It is undated, but must have been taken before 8 December 1942 as the central figure is Gp Capt Augustus Walker, CO of RAF Syerston, who lost his right arm that day on his own airfield, trying to rake burning incendiaries from an aircraft which had somehow ignited. The man on the right is Wg Cdr Richard Coad, the CO of 61 Squadron, which was also based at Syerston.
Gibson was one of those who accompanied Walker to hospital after his accident, and it was while Walker was being treated that Gibson first met Cpl Margaret North, a WAAF nurse, with whom he later had an intense but platonic liaison.
[Thanks to Valerie Davies Arends for the use of this picture.]
Thanks Charles, it doesn’t seem long since I went to the 50th Anniversary event, I think at Derwent. There were many veterans of the raid on that occasion,sad that there is now only one left.
Great photo Charles. The 61 Squadron Lancaster involved was R5864 (QR-X) and Gus Walker was lucky to survive when the Cookie blew up.
Inspired phot there Charles. You can really appreciate his youth in that photo, taking any of us (males!) back to the early days of wispy moustaches! An incredible story regarding that poor chap. A very lucky chap to have survived the blast.
When I was a 16 year old ATC cadet in 1960 at Abingdon we were lucky enough to have Air Marshal Sir Augustus Walker visit us and inspect us (i think he was visiting RAF Abingdon at the time).
I remember he talked to me for 3 or 4 minutes and looking back what I think impressed me most was his humbleness and lack of pompousness as he was an Air Marshal and I was just a mere ATC cadet.
Now in later life having served in the RAF and now volunteering at the RAF Scampton Heritage Centre I have had the pleasure of meeting many officers of high Air Rank but Gus as he liked to be known made a lasting impression on me, a gentleman of gentleman, a kind and humble man.
A great find, I wonder how many more are lurking in old boxes in people’s attics.
A cut down version of this photo showing only Gibson and Walker was published in ‘Illustrated’ Magazine on 12th Dec 1942 although i think the photo might have been taken around the end of October 1942 when other official photos of 106 Sqn were taken.
Is it known if any servicemen died as a result of the exploding cookie on 8th December 1942 in which Gus Walker was injured?
Yes, I believe that a member of ground crew with the surname of Thwaite died. Sorry, don’t know first name. CF