Update Thurs 22 November: The collection was sold for AU$24,000.
Ray Wilkinson occupies a unique place in history. He was the only man to took part in both the Dams Raid, Operation Chastise in May 1943, and the final attack on the Tirpitz, Operation Catechism in November 1944. On the Dams Raid, he was the rear gunner in Bill Townsend’s aircraft ED886 AJ-O, which attacked the Ennepe Dam but failed to breach it. He occupied the same position in Flg Off Arthur Kell’s NG181 on the Tirpitz attack. On this, the crew’s Tallboy bomb was recorded as registering ‘a hit or a very near miss’ as it ‘fell in the centre of the smoke coming up from just in front of the superstructure.’
An interesting extra to the logbook is the small photograph which seems to have been pasted on the page shown above. This shows his Dams Raid Lancaster in flight, in a snap which may have been taken during a training exercise by a member of Les Munro’s crew.
Ray Wilkinson, his wife Iris, and their family moved to Melbourne in 1968 to start a new life in Australia. Ray died in 1980 but Iris lived until last December. In her will she specified that her husband’s medals, log book, invitation to the film premiere and other Dambusters memorabilia should all be auctioned to raise funds for two charities of her choosing.
My good friend Dom Howard has kindly let me use this video he created a few years ago as the Dambusters Blog’s contribution to Remembrance Day. It shows the crests of all the squadrons who made up Bomber Command, to whose fallen members we particularly pay our respects this weekend.
The voice you will hear at the end is that of Sgt Dennis Over, a rear gunner who survived the war. Dennis joined the RAF as soon as he turned 18 and served on 106 and 227 Squadrons. In his later years, he ‘discovered’ the internet and in particular a couple of forums dedicated to Bomber Command. To one of these, the much-missed Lancaster Archive Forum, he contributed more than a thousand posts, full of experience, wisdom and wit.
Dennis died on 4 October 2015. He grew old, but many of his comrades did not, and he never forgot them. May they all rest in peace.
Sqn Ldr David Maltby (left) with Wg Cdr Guy Gibson, photographed at RAF Scampton in July 1943. [Pic: IWM TR1122]
The following comment has been made by the grandsons of Sqn Ldr David Maltby:
“It has come to the attention of the Maltby family that a forthcoming auction by East Bristol Auctions features a toy teddy bear called Pinnie the Wooh which allegedly belonged to Sqn Ldr David Maltby DSO DFC, the pilot of AJ-J on the Dams Raid.
It is asserted that this toy bear is authenticated by a typed label which was authored by Ettrick Maltby, David’s father. The label has not been signed by him so the handwriting cannot be compared to the many handwritten letters of which he was the author.
David Maltby’s son, John Maltby and his two grandsons, are alive and well. Having lost his father, John was educated as a boarder at the school, Hydneye House, owned and run by his grandfather Ettrick. Other family members were also at the school, which closed in 1969. The family wish to state that such a personal item would have been retained by the family, that they care for his items deeply, and have never considered selling or profiteering from such an item.
Ettrick and Aileen Maltby had eight other grandchildren besides John, most of whom visited Hydneye when young. None of them can recall any such item being in the school.
The Maltby family are aware that this item was presented for auction on a previous occasion, on which matter they commented similarly at the time. As a family, they are therefore unable to authenticate this item.
They are making this comment in the hope that it will come to the attention of anyone thinking of purchasing this item. They would prefer this item, and any other similar item which might come up for sale in the future, be carefully authenticated and if appropriate preserved as part of a publicly-accessible museum or collection, and that any fees which might arise be donated to the RAF Benevolent Fund in honour of all who lost their lives.”