New picture of Canadian pilot Gordon Price and crew

Canadian pilot Gordon Price and five of his crew, photographed in 617 Squadron sometime in early 1945. Left to right: Flg Off Joseph Merchant (bomb aimer), Wrt Off G E Hartley (flight engineer), Sgt D V Sargison (rear gunner), Flt Lt Gordon Price (pilot), Sgt Charles Avey (mid-upper gunner), Sgt K Pocock (wireless operator). Absent: Flt Sgt H Kohl (navigator).
[Pic: Merchant family]

A second wartime picture of the late Charles Avey has emerged, 24 hours after the first. One of his crewmates was bomb aimer Joe Merchant, whose son Peter has kindly sent me a rarely seen photograph of the crew skippered by the Canadian pilot, Flt Lt Gordon Price. The crew came straight to 617 Squadron from Lancaster Finishing School on 9 December 1944, and flew on some eleven operations before the end of the war, including the bombing of the Lutzow, which they hit with the decisive Tallboy.

Addendum, 16 December 2020: Sgt Gordon Richard Price was born in 1922 and joined the RCAF in Montreal in April 1941. He flew a first tour of operations with 106 Squadron at RAF Syerston between November 1942 and April 1943 and was then posted to 1661 Conversion Unit as an instructor. He received the DFM in May 1943, and was then commissioned. He was posted to 617 Squadron in December 1944 to start a second tour of operations.
The aircraft in the picture is PD112 – YZ-S. This was the first Lancaster to drop a Grand Slam, which it did on 14 March 1945 at the Bielefeld Viaduct. On this occasion it was piloted by Sqn Ldr Charles (“Jock”) Calder.
[Hat tips to Clive Smith and Robert Owen for this information.]

12 thoughts on “New picture of Canadian pilot Gordon Price and crew

  1. Lisa Ingham December 11, 2020 / 8:48 pm

    There’s my uncle!!!

    Wow. Thank you so much for posting this

    • Hannah Price July 27, 2022 / 9:12 am

      Hi Lisa. Is Gordon your uncle? That’s my grandfather. Hello!

  2. Lisa Ingham December 11, 2020 / 8:49 pm

    Thank you Peter.

  3. Frank & Valerie Ellis December 11, 2020 / 9:10 pm

    HI, any idea why the front turret was removed? Frank E.

    • Simon Rolt December 12, 2020 / 9:29 am

      The front turret was removed as it was a grand slam lancaster

  4. Mohne all the time December 12, 2020 / 1:05 pm

    Aircraft intended to carry the “Grand Slam” required extensive modifications. These included the removal of the dorsal turret and of two guns from the rear turret, removal of the cockpit armour plating (the pilot’s seatback), and installation of Rolls-Royce Merlin Mk 24 engines for better take-off performance. The bomb bay doors were removed and the rear end of the bomb bay cut away to clear the tail of the bomb. Later the nose turret was also removed to further improve performance. A strengthened undercarriage and stronger mainwheels, later used by the Avro Lincoln, were fitted. So there were quite a few more modifications required other than just a front turret mod .

  5. clive smith December 14, 2020 / 10:18 am

    Sgt Gordon Richard Price DFM (R79417) flew a first tour with 106 Squadron at RAF Syerston between November 1942 and April 1943. He was posted out to 1661 CU on 21/4/43 so I guess later on he ended up instructing at LFS before joining 617 Sqn.

    • charlesfoster December 14, 2020 / 1:33 pm

      Clive — I think this must have been another Gordon Price. The 617 Squadron one was number J19531, which is an RCAF number.

      • clive smith December 14, 2020 / 3:52 pm

        Hi Charles – Yes I wasn’t sure to start with but I found a bit about him on another website that said he went onto fly with 617 Sqn. Also he was an RCAF Sgt at 106 number R79417 but then this number would have changed when he was promoted to being an officer to a ‘J’ one. I’ll carry on checking to see if I can confirm one way or the other!

      • charlesfoster December 16, 2020 / 2:24 pm

        Thanks, Clive. You’re right of course. Post updated.

  6. Hannah Price July 27, 2022 / 9:11 am

    Hello! Gordon Price was my grandfather, and we have this photo or one like it at my mothers house. I’d love some help understanding the numbers you’ve mentioned, and apologies in advance for ignorance. He was 59384 as a flight lieutenant in England. In Canada his number was J17531, not with a 9 as above. I can’t see any documents with the 106 number as above. I’d love any help finding out more about him. He died when my father (Richard) was 9 years old. Thanks for any help in advance.

    • charlesfoster July 27, 2022 / 9:24 am

      Dear Hannah
      Very glad to make contact with you, and for correcting Gordon’s number when he was a sergeant. I must have made a mistake typing in his new number for when he became an officer, so thank you for correcting it. Best wishes — Charles

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