Ken Earnshaw, back row, third from left, in his 50 Squadron crew.
Back, L-R: W Mooney, J W Fraser, K Earnshaw, N L Schofield,
R A Baker, B Jagger.
Front, L-R: J O Christie,
B Jagger, R A Baker.
Flg Off K Earnshaw
Lancaster serial number: ED925/G
Call sign: AJ-M
First wave. Second aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Aircraft hit by flak. Mine dropped late and bounced over dam. Aircraft crashed on far side of dam.
Kenneth Earnshaw was born in Bridlington, Yorkshire, on 23 June 1918. His family emigrated to Canada a year later and took up farming in rural Alberta. He qualified as a teacher after leaving school, but left within a year to enlist in the RCAF.
After training in Canada, at the end of which he was commissioned, he travelled over to England, and was posted to 50 Squadron in November 1942.
He was part of a Lancaster crew which flew with pilot Norman Schofield, another Canadian. John Fraser, the bomb aimer was also Canadian and became a close friend. Together they flew on 30 operations in under six months.
By mid April 1943, they were scheduled to go to a training unit for the normal inter-tour rest period. However both Earnshaw and Fraser were recommended when a call came from the new 617 Squadron being set up at Scampton. Pilot John Hopgood needed an experienced navigator and bomb aimer after the first pair selected had not come up to scratch, so they arrived at Scampton on 29 April, some time after training for the Dams Raid had begun.
As navigator, Ken Earnshaw sat immediately behind John Hopgood and Charles Brennan in the cockpit. He must have seen the trouble Hopgood was in, hit by flak before they even reached the Möhne Dam. Almost as far from the escape hatch as them, he had no chance when Hopgood ordered the crew to bale out, and he died along with them when AJ-M crashed in a field near Ostönnen, 6km from the dam.
Hopgood, Brennan, Earnshaw, Minchin and Gregory are buried together in Rheinberg War Cemetery, Germany.
More about Earnshaw online:
Canadian Virtual War Memorial entry
Bomber Command Museum of Canada article
Commonwealth War Graves Commission listing
KIA 17 May 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 and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.
Updated 28 April 2013: Names of Jagger and Baker in caption transposed. (See comment below).