75th Anniversary of the Dambusters Raid and a very Special Visit

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by The Cooler King, May 16, 2018.

  1. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Pilot Officer (Air Bomber) GILLESPIE, ALAN
    Service Number 144205
    Died 16/05/1943
    Aged 20
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    D F M
    Son of Robert and Margaret Gillespie, of Carlisle.

    Plt Off A Gillespie DFM Bomb aimer - Lancaster serial number: ED927/G - Call sign: AJ-E - Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Alan Gillespie was born on 16 November 1922 in Hesket, Westmorland.
    When Barlow set about putting together a crew who would accompany him on to 617 Squadron Gillespie and Whillis, who had been with him since their training days, were obvious choices. Both were commissioned two days before the Dams Raid. Whether they had time to move from the Sergeants’ to the Officers’ Mess is not recorded. 

    It was therefore as a newly fledged Pilot Officer that Alan Gillespie met his end. Flying in the nose of the Lancaster at treetop level, he may have seen the pylon they hit near Haldern a split second before impact. 

    Alan Gillespie and his comrades were buried first in Dusseldorf, but after the war they were reinterred in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. The DFM he had won a few weeks before was presented to his family posthumously.

    Gillespie Dambusters.jpg
     
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  2. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flight Lieutenant BARLOW, ROBERT NORMAN GEORGE
    Service Number 401899
    Died 16/05/1943
    Aged 32
    617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn.
    Royal Australian Air Force
    D F C
    Son of Alexander and Frances May Barlow; husband of Audrey May Barlow, of St. Kilda, Victoria, Australia.

    Flt Lt R N G Barlow DFC Pilot - Lancaster serial number: ED927/G - Call sign: AJ-E - Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Robert Norman George Barlow was born on 22 April 1911 in Carlton, a suburb of the Australian city of Melbourne.

    In September 1942, Barlow was posted as a Lancaster pilot to 61 Squadron, based at RAF Syerston and began a successful first tour of operations. His regular crew included flight engineer Leslie Whillis and bomb aimer Alan Gillespie, both of whom would later accompany him to 617 Squadron.
    By March 1943, Barlow and his crew had completed a full tour, and he was recommended for the DFC. The citation read:

    Throughout his many operational sorties, this officer has displayed the highest courage and devotion to duty. He has participated many attacks on Essen, Berlin, Hamburg and Cologne, and on two occasions he has flown his aircraft safely back to base on three engines. During periods of the most extensive operations Flt Lt Barlow has set a magnificent example of courage and determination.

    Barlow and his crew had been assigned to the Second Wave, detailed to attack the Sorpe Dam. Because they were under instruction to maintain radio silence, nothing more was heard from them. But we know that they reached the border between the Netherlands and Germany for it was near Haldern, 5km east of the Rhineside town of Rees, that they crashed, ten minutes before midnight. It appears that they hit one of the pylons which stretch across the fields in the locality, although it is possible that the aircraft had first been hit by flak. AJ-E came to rest in a small meadow on the edge of a copse. All on board were killed instantly, their bodies badly burned.

    Barlow Dambusters.jpg
     
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  3. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Pilot Officer (Flight Engineer) WHILLIS, SAMUEL LESLIE
    Service Number 144619
    Died 16/05/1943
    Aged 31
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Son of Charles and Edith Whillis, of Newcastle-on-Tyne; husband of Gladys Winifred Whillis, of Fenham, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

    Plt Off S L Whillis Flight engineer - Lancaster serial number: ED927/G - Call sign: AJ-E - Second wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Samuel Leslie Whillis, known as Leslie to his family, was born in Newcastle on Tyne in 1912, the second son of Charles and Edith Whillis. He joined the RAF shortly after the outbreak of war, and served as ground crew until 1942. Two days before the raid, both Whillis and Gillespie received commissions, backdated to April 1943. Not much more than two hours after take off, Whillis and the rest of his ex-61 Squadron comrades crossed the Rhine, and then hit a pylon and crashed, killing all on board.
    Whillis’s wife Gladys kept his medals, a letter from Gibson concerning his loss and various other mementoes. They were later sold at auction and are now on display in the Bygones gallery in Torquay.

    Whillis Dambusters.jpg
     
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  4. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flight Lieutenant (Pilot) ASTELL, WILLIAM
    Service Number 60283
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 23
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    D F C
    Son of Godfrey Grant Astell and Margery Helen Astell, of Manchester.

    Flt Lt W Astell DFC Pilot 617 Squadron - Lancaster serial number: ED864/G - Call sign: AJ-B. First wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    On 1 December 1941 he was involved in a horrendous flying accident: another aircraft cut in ahead of him while he was landing, and he fractured his skull and suffered severe burns to his back. Back on operations the next summer, he was shot down over the Western Desert and crash landed behind enemy lines. He managed to evade capture and got back to his base some five days later. For this operation he was awarded the DFC.
    He eventually returned to England in September 1942 and was destined to become a flying instructor, but managed to get himself trained to fly Lancasters and was then posted to 57 Squadron at RAF Scampton, arriving in January 1943.

    On the night of the raid, Astell took off in the final trio of the first wave, led by Maudslay, with Les Knight as the third member. They ran into unexpected light flak, from the same position that had damaged Hopgood’s aircraft about 20 minutes earlier. Through this Astell flew at 0015, and although his gunners vigorously retunred fire he did not survive the ordeal. When eight miles north-west of Dorsten, Kellow watched the aircraft become swiftly engulfed in flames about two miles astern, and shortly afterwards he and Hobday reported an explosion on the ground.
    Astell had hit an electrical pylon near Marbeck, where a line of HT cables lay in the path of the attacking force. The Upkeep mine Astell’s aircraft was carrying exploded about ninety seconds later. The next day the bodies of the crew were taken to Borken and buried in the City Cemetery. After the war, they were all reinterred together in the Reichswald Forest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

    Astell Dambuster.jpg
     
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  5. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flight Sergeant (Air Gunner) GARBAS, FRANCIS ANTHONY
    Service Number R/103201
    Died 17/05/1943
    617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Royal Canadian Air Force

    Sgt F A Garbas Front gunner 617 Squadron - Lancaster serial number: ED864/G. Call sign: AJ-B. First wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Garbas Dambuster.jpg
     
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  6. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Sergeant (Air Gunner) STRANGE, HARRY JOHN
    Service Number 1395453
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 20
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    Son of Margaret Elizebeth Strange, and stepson of Robert William Lynn, of Holloway, London.

    Sgt H J Strange Front gunner 617 Squadron - Lancaster serial number: ED910/G. Call sign: AJ-C. Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Along with five others in his crew, he died when the aircraft was shot down near Hamm on 17 May 1943.
    Harry Strange and his comrades were originally buried in by the Germans in Hamm, but were reinterred after the war in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

    Strange Dambuster.jpg
     
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  7. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Pilot Officer (Navigator) WILE, FLOYD ALVIN
    Service Number J/16872
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 24
    617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Royal Canadian Air Force
    Son of Harris A. and Annabelle B. Wile, of Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada.

    Plt Off F A Wile Navigator 617 Squadron. - Lancaster serial number: ED864/G - Call sign: AJ-B. First wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Wile and his colleagues were all to die on 617 Squadron’s first operation, when their Lancaster was damaged by flak and collided with a pylon near Marbeck. They were buried first in Borken, and reinterred after the war in the Reichswald Forest Military Cemetery.

    Wille Dambuster.jpg
     
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  8. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Sergeant (Flight Engineer) KINNEAR, JOHN
    Service Number 635123
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 21
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force
    Son of William and Helen Kinnear, of East Newport, Fife.

    Sgt J Kinnear Flight engineer - 617 Squadron - Lancaster serial number: ED864/G - Call sign: AJ-B. First wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Shortly after midnight on the raid, when they hit a pylon and crashed near Marbeck. The explosion was so fierce that it wasn’t until the next day that the wreckage was approached by the Germans. Along with his comrades, John Kinnear was buried first in the City Cemetery in Borken. They were all reinterred after the war, and lie together in the Reichswald Forest Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery.

    Kinner Dambuster.jpg
     
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  9. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Pilot Officer (Pilot) OTTLEY, WARNER

    Service Number 141460

    Died 17/05/1943

    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

    D F C
    Plt Off W Ottley DFC - Dambuster Pilot - Lancaster serial number: ED910/G - Call sign: AJ-C. Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.


    The Ottley crew undertook their first training flight in the new squadron on 8 April 1943. About five weeks later, they were designated to be the first crew in Operation Chastise’s Wave Three, the mobile reserve. Their duty was to be in the air over Germany after the earlier two waves had done their work, and then be diverted by 5 Group headquarters to attack whatever target it deemed necessary.

    
Ottley led off the wave, and AJ-C was airborne at 0009 on Monday 17 May. It crossed the Dutch coast at about 0130 and proceeded on the same route taken earlier by the First Wave towards Ahlen. At 0231, Group sent the code word “Gilbert” to AJ-C, and the signal was acknowledged. This meant proceed to the Lister Dam. A minute later a change of plan occurred, and the code word “Dinghy” was sent, instructing AJ-C: “Eder destroyed, attack Sorpe”.
    The second signal was not acknowledged, indicating that AJ-C had met its fate at about 0231. Ken Brown, flying AJ-F a few minutes behind, reported seeing him hit the ground at 0235. He recalled later: “Ottley, on my right, was hit and pulled up, his tanks exploded then his bomb – the whole valley was lit up in a bright orange.”


    AJ-C hit the ground at Heessen, five miles north-east of Hamm, which suggests that it was probably hit by flak west of Hamm itself. Tees’ turret was blown clear of the rest of the aircraft and he regained consciousness on the ground, very badly burnt, and spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner.
    Ottley and the rest of the crew died instantly. They were originally buried in by the Germans in Hamm, but were reinterred after the war in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.


    Ottley Dambuster.jpg
     
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  10. Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart

    Jamie Holdbridge-Stuart Senior Member

    CK, do you have ny piccys of Guy gibson's grave in Steenburgen, If not I can send you a couple?
     
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  11. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    I do thanks Jamie, these to come latter in this thread! :)
     
  12. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Sergeant (Flight Engineer) KINNEAR, JOHN
    Service Number 635123
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 21
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force
    Son of William and Helen Kinnear, of East Newport, Fife.

    Flg Off J K Barrett DFC Navigator, 617 Squadron. Lancaster serial number: ED910/G - Call sign: AJ-C. Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Jack Kenneth Barrett was born in Hackney, London, on 9 September 1920, the only child of David and Ethel Barrett. He joined the RAF in 1940, and was sent to South Africa for training as a navigator. On qualification, he was awarded a commission.
    He was posted to 207 Squadron in February 1942, and by the end of March 1943, he had reached the end of his tour, and could have opted for a training position for a period. He was also recommended for a DFC, the citation for which read:

    Flying Officer Barrett has invariably displayed a high standard of navigation during operational flights. His good work has contributed to the success of the operations in which he has participated. On one occasion, when returning from a raid on Saarbrucken, one engine failed when leaving the target area and a second failed when over the French coast. Although the situation appeared desperate for a time, Flying Officer Barrett continued to give cool and effective navigational directions which greatly assisted the captain in landing the bomber safely. Throughout his operational career, this officer has displayed exceptional skill, courage and devotion to duty.

    Unfortunately the award did not come through before Jack Barrett set off on the Dams Raid shortly after midnight on the morning of 17 May 1943. Within three hours he was dead, shot down near Hamm.
    Jack Barrett and his comrades were originally buried by the Germans in Hamm, but were reinterred after the war in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

    Barrett Dambuster.jpg barrett 617.jpg
     
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  13. 17thDYRCH

    17thDYRCH Senior Member Patron

    Superb thread. Well done!
     
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  14. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

    Agreed ! A wonderful thread. Thank you.
     
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  15. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flying Officer (Air Gunner) TYTHERLEIGH, WILLIAM JOHN
    Service Number 120851
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 21
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    D F C
    Son of A. P. and Julia Tytherleigh, of Hove, Sussex.

    Flg Off W J Tytherleigh DFC - Front gunner. Lancaster serial number: ED937/G Call sign: AJ-Z. First wave. Second aircraft to attack Eder Dam. Mine overshot. Aircraft damaged, and shot down on return flight.

    William John Tytherleigh, always known as “Johnny”, was born in Cambridge on 8 November 1921. He joined the RAF in 1940, and qualified as an observer/air gunner. On 2 February 1943, he joined up with Henry Maudslay, Robert Urquhart and Norman Burrows for the first time, on an operation to Cologne, and he flew a further eight times with this crew, until they were all transferred to 617 Squadron.
    On the Dams Raid, he was occupying the front gun turret of AJ-Z, which would have meant he was very close to the explosion when its Upkeep mine went off as it hit the parapet of the Eder Dam. As their damaged aircraft stuttered homewards, it flew too close to a flak battery on the outskirts of Emmerich, and they were shot down.
    When they got to the crash site, the Germans could not identify the individual remains of William Tytherleigh, Michael Fuller and Robert Urquhart, and they were buried together in a single grave. After the war, they were all reinterred in Reichswald Forest war cemetery.
    Like Urquhart, Tytherleigh had been recommended for a DFC at the time of his transfer from 50 Squadron. He had completed 42 operations. However, just as happened with his colleague, the recommendation got ‘lost’ for over two years, and it was not announced until June 1945.

    TYTHERLEIGH Dambuster 2.jpg tytherleigh22.jpg
     
  16. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flight Lieutenant (Air Gunner) HUTCHISON, ROBERT EDWARD GEORGE
    Service Number 120854
    Died 16/09/1943
    Aged 25
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    D F C and Bar
    Son of Robert George and Ada Louisa Hutchison, of Liverpool.

    Flt Lt R E G Hutchison - Wireless operator 617 Squadron - Lancaster serial number: ED932/G, Call sign: AJ-G. First wave: First aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine exploded short of the dam.

    As the senior wireless operator in 617 Squadron, Hutchison was the Signals Leader, responsible for co-ordinating the training of all his colleagues. Individual booths were set up in the crew room so that they could practise their drills.
    After the Dams Raid, for which he received a bar to his DFC, Hutchison kicked his heels for a while. As a non-drinker, perhaps he found the round of parties a little too much, and he didn’t go to London on the special train for the investiture.
    Hutchison could have gone off operations at any time, as he was well past the number required by then, but he was one of the four members of the Gibson crew who flew with new CO, George Holden, on the night he was shot down, on the Dortmund Ems canal raid. Like them, he is buried in Reichswald Forest Cemetery.

    Hutchison Dambuster.jpg Hutchison.jpg

    Hutchison is seen above with Gibson's Crew, with his foot on the rung.
     
  17. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Flight Lieutenant (Navigator) TAERUM, TORGER HARLO
    Service Number J/16688
    Died 16/09/1943
    617 (R.A.F.) Sqdn
    Royal Canadian Air Force
    D F C

    Plt Off H T Taerum Navigator 617 Squadron - Lancaster serial number: ED932/G. Call sign: AJ-G. First wave: First aircraft to attack Möhne Dam. Mine exploded short of the dam.

    Harlo Torger Taerum was born in Milo, south of Calgary in Alberta. His father was Norwegian, and had emigrated to Canada as a young man. He died in a drowning accident when Harlo, his oldest son, was 10. Despite this tragedy, Harlo was a brilliant student at school, but soon after he left the war started. When he heard how his father’s people were being treated in their homeland by the invading Germans, he joined the RCAF. After training in both Canada and Britain, he began operational service with 50 Squadron in January 1942, at first flying Hampdens, but then moving onto Manchesters and finally Lancasters.
    By the end of the year he had completed a full tour of operations and was assigned to the squadron’s conversion unit as an instructor. But he continued to fly on operations, including two to Berlin with pilot ‘Mick’ Martin. It may have been Martin who mentioned him to Guy Gibson at the time of the formation of 617 Squadron, and he quickly slotted into the CO’s crew.
    Nicknamed Terry, he got on well with Gibson who regarded him as ‘one of the most efficient navigators in the squadron’. Like all Gibson’s crew, he was decorated for his work on the raid itself, receiving a DFC. The squadron received huge public attention, and Taerum became one of its stars, making speeches at the Avro factory and Wings for Victory events. ‘Can you imagine me giving a speech? We were just about mobbed for autographs afterward,’ he wrote to his mother.
    When Gibson left the squadron and went to North America on his speaking tour, he met Harlo’s mother in Calgary. In front of the press, he praised the work her son had done on the raid. The local press went ecstatic, with headlines reading ‘Terry Got Dam Busters to the Job W/C Gibson Tells His Mother Here and ‘Modest Dam Buster Hero Gets Enthusiastic Welcome. Gibson’s modesty was noted as he: ‘spoke little of the escapades which won for him the VC, DSO and Bar, and DFC and Bar. Rather, this young airman, probably the most famous hero yet to emerge from the present war, led the conversation to the splendid job Canadian fliers are doing and to his, “great pal,” Flying Officer Harlo “Terry” Taerum DFC, of Calgary.’
    A few days later Gibson spent several hours at the Taerum residence. Mrs Taerum showed him a treasured album with letters and photographs about Harlo, and had it autographed. She summed up her experience by saying that it was one of the proudest and happiest times of her life.
    Four days later a telegram arrived. Harlo was one of four of Gibson’s Dams Raid crew who had flown with the new CO, George Holden, on a disastrous raid on the Dortmund Ems Canal. Five of the eight 617 Squadron crews were shot down, and 33 lives were lost.
    In a tragic postscript for the Taerum family, Harlo’s brother Lorne, a gunner just 18 years old, was also killed while serving in the RCAF, when his 550 Squadron Lancaster was shot down by a fighter in February 1945. Lorne Taerum had only been on operations for approximately six weeks.

    Taerum Dambuster.jpg taerum1.jpg taerum2.jpg
     
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  18. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Sergeant (Flight Engineer) POWELL, DENNIS JOHN DEAN
    Service Number 644741
    Died 16/09/1943
    Aged 21
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force
    Son of Easton Walter and Ada Winifred Powell, of Sidcup, Kent.

    Sgt D J D Powell Flight engineer - Lancaster serial number: ED886/G - Call sign: AJ-O

    Dennis John Dean Powell was born in Birmingham on 21 January 1922, although his family later moved to London.
    Powell joined the RAF as a boy entrant before the outbreak of the war and served in ground crew. In 1942, he took the opportunity to train as a flight engineer. He joined 49 Squadron in October 1942, but wasn’t immediately allocated a crew. He teamed up with Bill Townsend at the end of the year and then flew with him on 15 operations before their transfer to 617 Squadron in March 1943.
    Like all the flight engineers on Operation Chastise, Powell had a very busy trip. Low level flying required both pilot and engineer to have sharp eyes and speedy reactions. The two young men in the cockpit of AJ-O certainly displayed both over the course of the raid. After the raid, however, Powell was the only one of the entire crew of AJ-O not to be decorated – a decision which today looks very unfair, but probably reflects the thinking in the RAF of the time.
    Powell flew with Townsend and most of the rest of his Dams Raid crew on the two trips to attack Italian targets in July 1943. However, unlike the rest of his crewmates he was only about halfway through a tour, so he then transferred to the crew of the newly appointed CO of 617 Sqn, George Holden.
    Holden’s first two operations with 617 Squadron had been the Italian trips in July, which he undertook with all of Guy Gibson’s Dams Raid crew: John Pulford, Harlo Taerum, Robert Hutchison, Fred Spafford, George Deering and Richard Trevor Roper. By September 1943, both John Pulford and Richard Trevor Roper had left the crew, so Dennis Powell moved into the flight engineer’s seat. He must have regarded flying with the squadron CO as a significant step upwards.
    Unfortunately, his first operation with Holden would be his last. On 16 September, Holden led a detachment of eight aircraft on a low level attack to bomb the Dortmund Ems Canal with a new 12000lb “thin case” bomb. This was to be a catastrophic night for the squadron, and Holden’s was the first of five aircraft to be lost. Approaching the small town of Nordhorn, Holden rose to about 300 feet in order to fly above its church. A more cautious pilot – perhaps someone who had flown on the Dams Raid – would probably have changed course to go around the spire. Holden’s Lancaster became a simple target for the town’s only flak battery and it was shot down, crashing in flames in a farmyard nearby. The bomb inside exploded a few minutes later, devastating the area and killing a woman on the ground. The crew had all been killed in the crash. Of the eight on board, only George Holden and George Deering were positively identified by the Germans. All the bodies were buried in the nearby cemetery at Lingen, but after the war they were all exhumed and reinterred in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.
    The aircraft loss was witnessed by Les Knight and his crew, flying in formation with Holden. His navigator, Sidney Hobday, wrote to Dennis Powell’s mother in 1961 saying: “We were flying a matter of yards from the machine which carried Guy Gibson’s crew – piloted by Sq Ldr Holden – which must have been the one which your son was in. We were very low and they were shot down by light flak.”
    Along with the four other Dams Raid veterans who flew in Holden’s aircraft, Dennis Powell is buried in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. The cemetery also holds the remains of four crews killed on the Dams Raid itself – those piloted by Bill Astell, Norman Barlow, Henry Maudslay and Warner Ottley.

    Powell Dambuster.jpg
     
  19. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Sergeant (Wireless Op./Air Gunner)GUTERMAN, JACK
    Service Number 1172550
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 23
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
    D F M
    Son of Jack and Jane Guterman, of Guildford, Surrey.

    Sgt J Guterman DFM Wireless operator - Lancaster serial number: ED910/G - Call sign: AJ-C - Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Jack Guterman was born in Guildford, Surrey, on 1 August 1920, the older of the two children of Jack and Jane Guterman.
    He was posted to 207 Squadron in February 1942, and started operational flying in June 1942. Along with navigator Plt Off Jack Barrett he joined the crew of Flt Sgt Anthony Walters, and they flew on their first “Gardening” operation to the Deodars area on 3 June 1942. The pair flew on some 19 operations together until September, when Walters was transferred out. Guterman and Barrett were then posted to a conversion unit.
    In November, they arrived back on 207 Squadron, now in a new crew skippered by Bill Ottley. Flight engineer Ron Marsden, bomb aimer Tommy Johnston and gunners Fred Tees and Harry Strange were also all posted to 207 Squadron at about the same time. This was the same crew who would fly on the Dams Raid six months later. The crew went on to fly on some 20 more operations between December 1942 and March 1943.
    Guterman’s last operation in 207 Squadron was on 8 March 1943, on a trip to Nuremburg. With this he finished his tour and could have opted to go to a training unit for at least six months. He was also recommended for a DFM, in which the citation.

    In both capacities [as air gunner and wireless operator], he has consistently shown the greatest enthusiasm, determination and efficiency. In the capacity of air gunner, Sergeant Guterman displays a fine fighting spirit, welcoming every opportunity to use his guns against the enemy. On one occasions when returning from Kassel, he successfully attacked light gun and searchlight positions from a low level. His courage, reliability and perseverance have made this airman a most valuable member of aircrew.

    Unfortunately the award did not come through before the Dams Raid, and the medal was presented to his family after the war.

    As AJ-C’s wireless operator, Guterman received the message from Group HQ to attack the Lister Dam at 0231 on the morning of 17 May 1943. A second message, sent a minute later, ordering them to go to the Sorpe instead was never acknowledged. By then the aircraft had been hit by flak, and was about to crash in flames.

    Guterman Dambuster.jpg
     
  20. The Cooler King

    The Cooler King Elite Member

    Sergeant (Flight Engineer) MARSDEN, RONALD
    Service Number 568415
    Died 17/05/1943
    Aged 23
    617 Sqdn.
    Royal Air Force
    Son of William Frederick and Emily Ann Marsden, of Redcar, Yorkshire.

    Sgt R Marsden Flight engineer - Lancaster serial number: ED910/G. Call sign: AJ-C - Third wave. Crashed on outward flight.

    Ronald Marsden was born in Redcar, Yorkshire, in 1920, one of the five children of William and Emily Marsden.
    He served in ground crew in a number of establishments. In 1942, a policy change meant that a new trade of flight engineers was established to fly in heavy bombers instead of second pilots, and Marsden was quick to apply for the specialist training at No 4 School of Technical Training in St Athans, Glamorgan.
    He qualified as a flight engineer in September 1942, and was posted to a conversion unit to join a crew. It would seem that he met up with Bill Ottley, Thomas Johnston, Jack Guterman and Fred Tees there, as they were all posted together to 207 Squadron from 1660 Conversion Unit on 12 November 1942. Their future crewmates Harry Strange and Jack Barrett were also posted from the same conversion unit to 207 Squadron within a few days.
    Marsden went on to fly with Ottley on all the 20 operations he completed in 207 Squadron, so he is unlikely to have hesitated when offered a posting to the new 617 Squadron.
    Unfortunately, the crew did not complete their first operation, and six of them died when they were shot down near Hamm on 17 May 1943. Ronald Marsden and his comrades were originally buried in by the Germans in Hamm, but were reinterred after the war in Reichswald Forest War Cemetery.

    Marsden Dambuster.jpg
     

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