Sqn Ldr Lawrence (“Benny”) Goodman celebrates his 100th birthday today, 24 September 2020. He is well known for his service in 617 Squadron at the latter end of the war, but in fact he had volunteered to join the RAF at the outbreak of war in 1939 aged 18 and was mustered as a pilot in early 1940. After flying training in the UK, he was selected to be a Service Flying Training Instructor in Canada as part of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
He returned to the UK in late 1942, his ship having been torpedoed mid-Atlantic. As a result of his superlative flying skills, he was selected as one of the few ab initio pilots for 617 Sqn, where he completed 30 operational missions before the cessation of hostilities, dropping Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs on numerous targets, including the battleship Tirpitz and Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s nest’.
After compulsory demobbing in 1945, Benny joined 604 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force, flying Spitfire XVIs from RAF Hendon as a reservist. He re-joined the RAF in 1949 during the Berlin Airlift, initially flying Hastings in Transport command and finally retiring in 1963 after a tour on Canberra PR7s.
During his 21 years of service, he flew over 3,500 hours in 22 different aircraft types. He continued to fly as a private pilot until he was over 90 years old.
Since his retirement, Benny has been a great supporter of reconciliation with Germany, becoming a long-standing friend of the city of Arnsberg, whose viaduct he collapsed with a Grand Slam bomb. He has also promoted diversity through the RAF Museum’s Hidden Heroes programme and contributing to the RAF’s oral history. And, of course, he has been the greatest supporter of the 617 Sqn Association.
Benny was presented with a birthday cake and a greetings card by the Chief of the Air Staff at the RAF Museum last week, as shown above.
[Thanks to 617 Sqn Association]
Happy Birthday Benny, 100, well done, thank you and all the very best. My Uncle Alastair Taylor was 617 Squadron, lost in action 16th May, my brothers birthday many years later in New Zealand.
Happy birthday Mr Goodman. Had the honour to meet you and you are a true gentleman. Thank you for all your service to us all. Paul Young.
I Still think a new film or series abut the Dambusters is overdue – for the current generation. They need reminding !
Fascinating as always Charles. Happy special birthday ‘Benny’, through your devotion to service and your untold bravery, I am here, writing this note today. I wish you a fantastic day.
Happy 100th Birthday Benny on behalf of all the members of the 617 Sqn Association who are all so very proud of you.
Many Happy Returns of the Day Mr Goodman – A big thank you for all you did during your wartime service you are truly a remarkable gentleman.
100 not out…well done!
Well done Benny a true hero .
For all lovers of all things Dambusters.
There’s a great book titled Dambusters crash sites ,detailing the causes of the lost aircraft and the final resting place of the crew’s.