Dambuster of the Day No. 111: William Long

Burpee crew composite loresThis reverse of this picture of the Burpee crew taken on 18 January 1943 shows that William Long was known by the nickname “Ginger” by his colleagues. It also shows a list written by Burpee of the composition of his “recent crew” – the one which would fly with him on the Dams Raid. The list reads:
Pilot – Lew [Lewis Burpee]
Rear A/G – Gordie [Gordon Brady]
Mid Upper – Ginger [William Long]
W/Op – Sam [Leonard Weller]
Bomb/A – Jimmy [James Arthur]
Engineer – Johnny [Guy Pegler]
Nav – Tommy [Thomas Jaye]
Pic: Burpee family

Sgt W C A Long
Front gunner

Lancaster serial number: ED865/G

Call sign: AJ-S

Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.

William Charles Arthur Long was born in 1923 in Eastleigh, Hampshire, the older of the two sons of William and Ethel Long. The family would later move to Bournemouth.
Long applied to join the RAF around the time of his 18th birthday, but like many young men of his time had to wait several months before eventually being accepted. He was selected for air gunnery training, and qualified in August 1942. He was posted to 106 Squadron in September 1942. He flew on two operations: on 17 October with Sgt Lace on the Le Creusot raid and 8 December, with Flg Off Healey to Turin, before joining Lewis Burpee on 20 December.
His first trip with Burpee and his crew was a trip to Duisburg.
He thus became the fourth member to join what would eventually become the Dams Raid crew of AJ-S, and would fly on all the 21 further operations flown by Burpee in 106 Squadron, as well as a single trip to Berlin on 16 January with Flt Lt Wellington.
Long moved over to 617 Squadron on 29 March, along with all of his colleagues. Like all the Dams Raid mid-upper gunners he had to get used to flying in the unfamiliar position of the front turret, and he was in this position when AJ-S left the ground at 0011 on the morning of Monday 17 May 1943. It was shot down less than two hours later, and everybody on board was killed instantly. The Germans could not individually identify the bodies of Guy Pegler, Bill Long, Tom Jaye and James Arthur, so they were buried in a communal grave in Zuylen Cemetery, Prinsenhage, next to the individual graves of Lewis Burpee, Gordon Brady and Leonard Weller. After the war the bodies of all seven were exhumed and reburied in Bergen-op-Zoom War Cemetery.

More about Long online:
Entry at Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Aircrew Remembered page about Burpee crew

KIA 17.05.43

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 above, and other online material. Apologies for any errors or omissions. Please add any corrections or links to further information in the comments section below.


New picture of Lewis Burpee and three other Dambusters

Burpee sqd106 smal

Joel Joy continues to unearth interesting new material about the Canadian Dambusters. He has recently got permission from the family of Plt Off Lewis Burpee to publish this picture of his crew, taken while he was on 106 Squadron.
Alex Bateman has kindly identified all the personnel present:

Left to right:
Sgt Joe Brady (Rear Gunner)
Sgt Bill Long (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sgt Guy Pegler (Flight Engineer)
Flt Sgt Lew Burpee (Pilot)
Flt Sgt Eddy Leavesley (Wireless Op)
Sgt George Goodings (Bomb Aimer)

The photo was taken on 106 Squadron at Syerston, on 18 January 1943 after a night trip to Berlin.  The Lancaster is W4842 ‘ZN–H’.

Brady, Long, Pegler and Burpee went on to 617 Squadron in March 1943, and were four of the crew of AJ-S on the Dams Raid. They were all killed when they were shot down near Gilze Rijen in Holland, and are buried together in Bergen Op Zoom war cemetery. There are full details of Burpee’s 26 previous operations on the Air Force Association of Canada website. (In alphabetical order, scroll down to Burpee.)