The Avro Lancaster arose from the avro Manchester and the first prototype Lancaster was a converted Manchester with four engines. The Lancaster was first flown in January 1941, and started operations in March 1942. By March 1945 The Royal Air Force had 56 squadrons of Lancasters with the first squadron equipped being No.44 Squadron. During World War Two the Avro Lancaster flew 156,000 sorties and dropped 618,378 tonnes of bombs between 1942 and 1945. Lancaster Bomberss took part in the devastating round-the-clock raids on Hamburg during Air Marshall Harris' "Operation Gomorrah" in July 1943. Just 35 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful operations each, and 3,249 were lost in action. The most successful survivor completed 139 operations, and the Lancaster was scrapped after the war in 1947. A few Lancasters were converted into tankers and the two tanker aircraft were joined by another converted Lancaster and were used in the Berlin Airlift, achieving 757 tanker sorties. A famous Lancaster bombing raid was the 1943 mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, to destroy the dams of the Ruhr Valley. The operation was carried out by 617 Squadron in modified Mk IIIs carrying special drum shaped bouncing bombs designed by Barnes Wallis. Also famous was a series of Lancaster attacks using Tallboy bombs against the German battleship Tirpitz, which first disabled and later sank the ship. The Lancaster bomber was the basis of the new Avro Lincoln bomber, initially known as the Lancaster IV and Lancaster V. (Becoming Lincoln B1 and B2 respectively.) Their Lancastrian airliner was also based on the Lancaster but was not very successful. Other developments were the Avro York and the successful Shackleton which continued in airborne early warning service up to 1992.
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|Signatures for : Lancaster|
|A list of all signatures from our database who are associated with this aircraft. A profile page is available by clicking their name.|
Flt Lt Phil Ainley DFC
| Flt Lt Phil Ainley DFC |
Phil was 15 when war was declared on the 3rd September 1939. He had always wanted to be a pilot and the only way to do this was to join the RAF or the RAF Volunteer Reserve. However, he couldn’t join until he was 17 and so he took up an engineering apprenticeship. When Phil tried to join up again he was told he couldn’t because he was in a reserved occupation. Phil finally joined the RAF in November 1941 when he opted for aircrew as this was the only way he could get out of his apprenticeship. However, he couldn’t start his flying training until he was 17½. In November 1942, Phil was sent to St John’s Wood, to the Air Crew Receiving Centre. Here he was given a uniform and white flashes to put in his cap to show that he was aircrew. He and his colleagues spent five weeks marching around London and having inoculations. After St John’s Wood, Phil was sent to Manchester’s Heaton Park. This was a holding centre for volunteer aircrew and from here everyone was sent for specialist training as pilots, navigators, bombardiers and wireless operators. Phil was sent for pilot training in Silloth, Cumbria. Here he received just a few hours of flying in Tiger Moths and then when he was safe to fly he was passed back to Manchester. From here, Phil was selected for pilot training and was sent with a batch of naval ratings to the US Air Base Gross Ille, Michigan, USA. It was extremely cold, but even so physical exercise had to be carried out at 5.30 in the morning and in singlet and shorts! Phil passed out from his basic flying training and then proceeded to the US Aviation Base, Pensacola, Florida. Here, Phil learned to fly single engine aircraft of various types. In December 1942, Pearl Harbour was attacked and American patriotism was everywhere even on the pats of butter. Any Britons were treated as honoured guests and were adopted by local families. It was decided that Phil was better suited to multi-engine rather than single-engined aircraft and so he was sent to train on Catalina, flying boats. In May 1943 he passed out as a pilot and was awarded his American Naval Gold Wings. The advantage of Phil’s training was that he learned seamanship as well as airmanship. Once back in Great Britain Phil went to Moss Bros to purchase his brand new Pilot Officer’s uniform. His pay had gone up from 5 shillings a day to 10 shilling and 6 pence and beer was only 9d to 10d (old pence) a pint! Unfortunately, there was no need for more flying boat pilots but as Phil had multi-engined experience, he was sent to fly 4 engined aircraft. This meant further training as landing aircraft on land rather than the sea required a different technique. Once this new technique had been mastered Phil was sent to a Wellington Operation Training Unit. Here people were either picked or they did the picking of aircrew. Phil picked a Pilot Officer from the Canadian airforce as his Navigator and a fellow British Pilot Officer as his bomb aimer. It was when training on Short Stirling aircraft that Phil met the rest of his crew; a wireless operator, a Canadian mid-upper gunner, a rear gunner and a flight engineer. Phil’s wireless operator was only 17 ½ as was his rear gunner. Although they had flown in the aircraft for only a few hours, they were seen to be ready to fly Lancaster bombers and were sent to Nottinghamshire for training. This consisted of 14 hours flying time on the Lancaster, 7 hours during daylight and 7 hours at night. On the 15th May 1944, Phil and his crew were sent to 57 Squadron East Kirby, Lincolnshire. He then experienced his first operational flight, sitting alongside a ‘veteran’ pilot. They flew to Amiens where they were due to deposit bombs on marshalling yards. However, they returned with their bomb load! Phil’s first operational flight with his crew was on the 24th May. Their target was the marshalling yards in Antwerp. Things were building up for the D Day landings and so the aim of the bombing raids was to cause maximum disruption to the Germans. Although the crew were not told when D Day was to happen, they returned from a mission in the early morning on the 4th June and saw numerous ships and barges, so they knew something was occurring. By July, Phil and his crew had flown 14 missions and they were flying almost every other night. After the troops had been landed in France there were more trips into Germany and more aircraft went missing. In the summer of 1944, Phil’s logbook recorded two trips, one with 31 missing and one with 49 missing and each of those aircraft had a crew of 7 men. On the 16th August 1944 the crew were briefed to do a ‘gardening’ mission. Gardening was code for dropping sea mines. The area to be mined was the Stettin Bay Canal in Germany. The mines had to be dropped from only 250 feet and this area was fiercely guarded. Only 6 crews had been detailed to fly down the canal and Phil’s was one of them. Command had laid on an attack on the town of Stettin itself to draw attention away from the Canal. However, the bombing was delayed as the marking for the bombs was off track and the aircraft had the terrifying prospect of orbiting the target at only 250 feet, whilst marking was relaid. The aircraft in front of Phil was blown up and they had to negotiate the debris. Out of the 6 aircraft earmarked to bomb the Stettin Canal, one was blown up, one did not reach Stettin and one went missing. It was for this mission and pressing home the attack that Phil was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Having successfully completed 33 missions Phil and his crew left the Squadron on the 6th October. In 2002, after 58 years Phil was re-united with his Navigator at a Re-union at East Kirkby, the Station from where they flew during the war. Sadly, Phil Ainley passed away on 19th September 2011.
Flight Lieutenant John Atkins
| Flight Lieutenant John Atkins |
He was an Air Gunner and then Navigator on Lancasters initially joining 166 Sqn and later 7 Sqn. After his aircraft was badly damaged he was forced to bale out over the Dutch coast in October 1944 and spent time in Stalag Luft VII & IIIA.
Flight Lieutenant Tom Austin DFC AE
| Flight Lieutenant Tom Austin DFC AE |
After joining the RAF in 1941 Tom Austin qualified as a pilot on Harvard’s, then converted into Halifax’s. During the war years other aircraft he flew included Wellingtons, Stirling’s and Lancaster’s. While flying Wellingtons as part of 199 Squadron during a raid over Dortmund, his aircraft was badly damaged but Tom managed to limp home, crash landing at Mildenhall.
Flying Officer Laurence W Baker
| Flying Officer Laurence W Baker |
Laurie Baker joined 467 Sqn RAAF at Waddington in Nov 1944, flying his first sortie in Sugar as Second pilot, before a further six sorties as Captain, including Sugars last operational sortie on 21 April 1945.
Warrant Officer John Banfield
| Warrant Officer John Banfield |
Trained as a Bomb Aimer and Navigator with 207 Sqn he was shot down in a Lancaster on 3rd January 1943 whilst on a raid to Essen. After spending 4 weeks in a hospital near Amsterdam he was moved to various PoW Camps including Stalag Luft III until Liberation in May 1945.
Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham GCB CBE DFC AFC FRAeS
| Marshal of the Royal Air Force Sir Michael Beetham GCB CBE DFC AFC FRAeS |
Michael Beetham volunteered for the RAFVR in May 1941. After pilot training he was commissioned, and in November 1943 posted to 50 Squadron flying Lancasters at Skellingthorpe. At this time the bomber offensive was at its height, culminating in the Battle of Berlin. Sir Michael and his crew made ten trips to Berlin, lost an engine over Augsburg and took heavy damage during an attack on Leipzig. After completing his first tour and a period of instructing, Sir Michael started his second tour with 57 Squadron at East Kirby, taking part in Operation Exodus, bringing home Prisoners of War from Germany. After a distinguished post war career, Sir Michael received the RAFs top job, Chief of the Air Staff, where he was deeply involved in the Falklands War.
Flight Lieutenant James Bell DFC
| Flight Lieutenant James Bell DFC |
Joining the RAF as a pilot in 1941, Jim Bell flew 32 operations with 576 Sqn, 31 of these were done in Lancaster ED888, the aircraft that flew 140 operations, more than any other in Bomber Command. His first op as skipper on ED888 was on its one hundredth trip.
Wing Commander John Bell
| Wing Commander John Bell |
After initially training as a Navigator he went on to complete most of his 50 ops in Lancasters as a Bomb Aimer with 617 Sqn, including all the raids against the Tirpitz.
Tom Bennett DFM
| Tom Bennett DFM |
Born in 1919, Tom Bennett was a specialist navigator with 30 ops with 49 Sqn Lancasters followed by selection for Leonard Cheshire’s elite Mosquito ‘Marker Force’ within the legendary 617 Sqn. Following the D-Day landings on 5/6th June, there was a very great danger that the Germans would reinforce their troops with their reserves Panzer tank corp. These had been stationed at Calais due to the Germans belief that the invasion would come at that point. The only way to get the Panzer through to the Beachhead at Normandy was via the French Saumur tunnel. 617 squadron were assigned to destroy this and were led by the famous Leonard Cheshire VC OM DSO DFC. He used 3 Mosquitoes as a marker force for the main 617 Bomber Force and the dropping of flares was so accurate that one of the Lancaster’s put a 12000 tall boy straight through the roof of the tunnel and the tunnel was not reopened until 1946. Three Mosquitoes were used on this operation and only one of the crew is surviving today. This is Tom Bennett DFM
The Lord Mackie of Benshie CBE DSO DFC
| The Lord Mackie of Benshie CBE DSO DFC |
George Mackie joined the RAF in February 1940, training as a Navigator in Bomber Command. He first joined 15 Squadron in 1941 flying Wellingtons, before going to the Middle East to join 148 Squadron. He later served with 149 Squadron on Stirlings, and 115 Squadron on Lancasters. Squadron Leader George Mackie completed three full tours on heavies, the last two as aircraft Captain.
Warrant Officer Jim Booker
| Warrant Officer Jim Booker |
A Navigator on 625 Sqn Lancasters, flying operationally from late 1944, he flew on the last bombing mission of the European war to Berchtesgaden and supplied relief drops to the Dutch in Operation Manna.
Flight Lieutenant Albert R T Boys DFC
| Flight Lieutenant Albert R T Boys DFC |
Reg Boys was posted to 467 Sqn RAAF during June 1943, and navigated S for Sugar for three different Captains, including the Squadron C/O, W/Cdr Hay. On 7th May 1945, he navigated Sugar as the first aircraft to bring POWs out of Germany to the UK.
Flt Sergeant Stan Bradford DFM
| Flt Sergeant Stan Bradford DFM |
A mid-upper gunner on Lancaster ED308 D-Donald of 57 squadron RAF Bomber Command, then based at Scampton. By the end of his tour in March 1944 Stan had become an air Ace, credited by 5 Group with the shooting down of 6 enemy fighters, including a Bf109 over France on his very first operation on the night of August 27th 1943.
Warrant Officer M Ben Brennan DFM AFM
| Warrant Officer M Ben Brennan DFM AFM |
Ben Brennan volunteered for the RAF in 1941, qualifying as a Flight Engineer in early 1943. Converting to Lancasters, he was posted to join 619 Squadron at Woodall Spa. In late 1943 he went to 83 Squadron at Wyton, as part of the Lancaster Pathfinder Force, before joining No 5 Group at Coningsby. He flew a total of 80 operations during the war.
Flight Lieutenant Boris Bressloff DFC
| Flight Lieutenant Boris Bressloff DFC |
Having completed his training as a Bomb Aimer he joined 635 Sqn serving with W.O. Ernie Patterson and W.O. Harry Parker on over 50 Ops in Lancasters with Pilot Alex Throne DSO DFC.
A de Breyne
| A de Breyne |
Pilot of 'Mynarski's Lanc', the Lancaster in which Andrew Mynarski earned his VC after attempting to rescue the rear gunner of the Lancaster, which was on fire as it lurched towards it's doom after losing two engines to a Ju88. After allowing time for the crew to escape, De Breyne parachuted out of the doomed Lancaster at about 800ft.
Flt Lt Don Briggs DFM
| Flt Lt Don Briggs DFM |
62 ops as Flight Engineer on Lancasters of 156 Pathfinder Squadron. After the war he qualified as a pilot and flew all three types of V-Bomber operationally including the famous Vulcan XH558 as well as Canberras and Meteors. He flew the mission that dropped the third and last Atom Bomb on Christmas Island.
Flight Lieutenant George Britton
| Flight Lieutenant George Britton |
Joining the RAF in 1941, George trained on Wellington and Stirlings as a Wireless Operator and Air Gunner. Converting to Lancasters he was posted to 90 Squadron for his first operational tour, and then to 186 Squadron, still on Lancasters. George then found himself designated to be an Intelligence Officer at Lossiemouth, interrogating Italian POWs Finally, before leaving the service in 1946, he served in Sunderland flying boats, flying to West Africa, Europe and Scandinavia.
Sgt Jim Brookbank
| Sgt Jim Brookbank |
Born in a Victorian terrace in the back streets of Kilburn in North West London and had yet to reach his sixteenth birthday at the outbreak of war. Having experienced the ‘Blitz’ and already obsessed with flying since the age of 12, he - in keeping with many aspiring young aviators - wanted to be a Spitfire pilot. He volunteered as U/T pilot at the age of 18, trained in Canada and qualified as a Bomb Aimer. Jim joined IX Squadron at Bardney in August 1944 and flew on Operations with them until VE Day. He attacked specially selected daylight targets with the Barnes Wallis 12,000lb ‘Tallboy’ bomb, including the final raid of the war on Berchtesgaden on 25th April 1945. Jim completed 23 ops.
| P Brophy |
Brophy was the rear gunner in 'Mynarski's Lanc', the Lancaster in which Andrew Mynarski earned his VC after a failed attempt to save the trapped tailgunner. Mynarski, with his parachute and clothing on fire, jumped clear of the aircraft, mortally burned. Brophy survived the subsequent crash without injury, being thrown miraculously clear of the fully laden bomber. Paul Brophy died in 1991.
Squadron Leader Ken Brown CGM RCAF
| Squadron Leader Ken Brown CGM RCAF |
Born 20th August 1920. Joined the Canadian Air Force in 1941, and joined No.617 Sqn in 1943. Pilot and Captain of Lancaster AJ-F, he attacked the Sorpe Dam. Ken Brown died 23rd December 2002.
Warrant Officer Ron Brown
| Warrant Officer Ron Brown |
Initially served as a Fitter on Hurricanes and Harvards, then joined Aircrew in 1942 and served as a Flight Engineer on Stirlings with 218 Squadron where he towed gliders on D-Day. He went on to complete another Tour with 75 Squadron on Lancasters, completing 64 Operations by the end of the War.
Warrant Officer William Jock Burnett
| Warrant Officer William Jock Burnett |
Jock Burnett (Flight Engineer) volunteered at the age of 18 as a Direct Entry in Edinburgh F/E and served in the RAFVR from 25th May 1943 until 19th February 1947 following a F/E course at St Athans, South Wales. On passing out from this course Jock was posted to Swinderby on Stirlings heavy conversion unit 1660 before being transferred to Syerston and Lancasters. In early August 1944 Jock joined 617 Sqn at Woodhall Spa and was subsequently posted with the squadron to Waddington and Digri, India. He completed 30 missions, all with Lawrence Benny Goodman as the pilot. Notable raids Jock took part in were on the Tirpitz, 29th October 1944, dropping the Grand Slam 22,000 bomb on the Arnsberg Viaduct, 19th March 1945, and the attack on Berchtesgarten Eagles Nest, 25th May 1945.
Group Captain Dudley Burnside DSO OBE DFC*
| Group Captain Dudley Burnside DSO OBE DFC* |
Dudley joined the RAF in 1935 and in 1937 went to India flying on the North West Frontier, and Iraq. At the outbreak of war he went to Burma and in 1942 was fortunate to escape when his airfield was overrun by the Japanese. Escaping back to England he took command of 195 Squadron RCAF flying Wellingtons. In 1943 he became CO of 427 Squadron on Halifaxs, later converting to Lancasters. In the Korean War he commanded a Flying Boat Wing operating Sunderlands. He retired from the RAF in 1962. He died 20th September 2005.
Flight Lieutenant Nat Bury DFM
| Flight Lieutenant Nat Bury DFM |
With 207 Sqn he completed a full operational tour as a Flight Engineer on Lancasters including attacks on the German coastal village of Peenemunde where the V-1 and V-2 projects were being developed.
W. O. G. T. M. Caines
| W. O. G. T. M. Caines |
Volunteered and joined the RAF at age 18 and was called up on 4th December 1940. He subsequently joined 9 Squadron and after 7 Operational sorties was granted four days compassionate leave to visit his wife, who had just given birth to a son in a temporary maternity hospital in Taunton. He returned to find his crew reported missing. He carried on flying with 9 Squadron as a spare Wop but after 13 ops crewed up with F/O Manning who had lost his Wop after five trips. On 23rd March 1944, on his twenty-fifth trip, in Lancaster LM430, WS-B, on the way home from Frankfurt they were hit in the bomb bay by a fighter. Badly on fire and in a steep dive they blew up. The aircraft broke her back and Caines was thrown clear of the wreckage, landing in a little village called Lembeque, near Brussels. He finished the war in captivity and was repatriated a week or so before VE Day. Unfortunately he was the only one to survive the crash.
Warrant Officer Ken Calton
| Warrant Officer Ken Calton |
Joining the RAF in late 1940, he served as a Flight Engineer with 7, 156 and 12 Squadrons before finally joining 635 Sqn, Pathfinder Force on Lancasters who acted as Master Bombers for this final raid of the war in Europe.
Squadron Leader Pat Carden DFC AE
| Squadron Leader Pat Carden DFC AE |
Joining the RAF in 1932, after qualifying as a pilot, he served as an instructor until 1942, when he joined 15 Squadron at Mildenhall, flying Lancasters. Volunteering for the Pathfinder Force he joined 35 Squadron at Gravely on Halifaxes, followed by 582 Squadron on Lancasters, taking part in many bombing sorties over Normandy, including two missions on D-Day. He finished the war having completed 66 operations. Pat Carden sadly died 28th June 2008, aged 96.
Flying Officer Don Carruthers
| Flying Officer Don Carruthers |
Joining the RAF in 1941 he trained as a wireless operator and completed his ops training at Lossiemouth on Wellingtons where he formed up with a crew that was to stay together for his entire operational career in Bomber Command. In 1943 he was posted to 466 squadron at Leconfield on Wellingtons before converting to the Halifax. He and his crew volunteered for the Pathfinder Force and joined 35 squadron on Halifax's and then Lancasters. In 1945 having completed a total of 63 operations he moved to Transport Command flying Dakotas in India with 238 squadron and then Calcutta with 52 squadron. He left the RAF in 1946.
Squadron Leader J R Cassels DFC*
| Squadron Leader J R Cassels DFC* |
No's 14, 29, 98, 106, 125, 139 (Jamaica), and 162 Squadrons. April, 1941 - Enlisted in Edinburgh and accepted for pilot training. April 1941 to April 1942 - No 4 I.TW. Paignton, No 9 E.F.T.S. Ansty, Coventry, No 12 S.F.T.S. Spittlegate, Grantham, (22/01/1941 Received wings as Sgt. Pilot) No 14 O.T.U. Cottesmore flying Hampdens. April 1942 - No 106 Squadron, RAF Coningsby commanded by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, DSO, DFC. I was second pilot on Manchesters and did 4 operational sorties. Converted to Lancasters as first pilot and did 26 operational sorties, including Le Creusot raid on 17 October '42, between June and December 1942. Final sortie on 8 December 1942. December 1942 to March 1943 - Survived several attempts to turn me into a flying instructor. March 1943 - No 1485 Conversion Unit ie. No 5 Group Gunnery Flight training air gunners. October- November 1943 - No 1655 Mosquito Training Unit. November 1943 to June 1944 - No 8 Group, Pathfinder Force - No 139 (Jamaica) Squadron. H2S Mosquito Marking Squadron, RAF Wyton and Upwood. Completed 44 operational sorties before ending up interned in Sweden. 12 June 1944 to 20th September 1944 interned at Falun, Sweden. October 1944 to June 1945 - rejoined No 139 (Jamaica) Squadron at RAF Upwood after an air crew medical where a Group Captain M.0. told me that, as I was warm and my goolies didn't drop oftwhen I coughed, I was back to war. Completed 46 operational sorties before V.E. day. Total sorties on 139 squadron 90. June 1945 to July 1946 - Transport Command, No 162 Squadron flying Mosquitos (ALDS ic, Air Delivery Letter Service) RAF Blackbush. August 1946 to February 1950 - No's 14 and 98 Squadrons, No 139 Wing, RAFO, at RAF Wahn and Celle. February 1950 to August 1950 - abortive EIPS Course. August 1950 to October 1951 - Air Traffic Controllers Course and ATC Officer at RAFWest Raynham. November 1951 to October 1952 - No 29 Night Fighter Squadron, RAF Tangmere. Meteor NFXI. October 1952 to April 1953 - Air Ministry and All Weather Wing, RAF West Raynliam. April 1953 to November 1955 - No 12 Group Headquarters, Group Accidents Officer. November 1955 to April 1957 - No 125 Night Fighter squadron, RAF Stradishall, Meteor NFM and Venom NF. April 1957 to August 1959 - Eastern Sector Operations Centre, Recovery Executive. RAF Neatishead. October 1959 to July 1962 - Hg FEAF, Joint Intelligence Staff. Commissioner Generals Office and RAF Changi. July 1962 to March 1965 - No 3 Group Hg, OC HQ Unit and RAF Liaison Officer to USAF Mildenhall. Retired from RAF as Squadron Leader March 1965. Employed by Airwork Services Ltd, as pilot. March 1965. March 1965 to August 1970 - No 3 (Civilian Anti Aircraft Unit) Exeter Airport. Vampire TX1 and Meteor T=. September 1970 to April 1977 - FRADU ( Fleet Requirements Air Defence Unit) RNAS Yeovilton. Hunter GAII and Mk 8. September 1977. Aged 55. RN age limit for fast jet flying. September 1970. Commissioned in RA17VR M. September 1970 to May 1982 - No 4 AEF, Exeter Airport, Chipmunk. Retired from RAFVRM aged 60, May 1982. Total Flying Hours - 11,300 Ins. Sadly passed away 19th December 2008.
Flight Lieutenant J Castagnola DSO DFC
| Flight Lieutenant J Castagnola DSO DFC |
Joining the RAF in 1941 he graduated as a pilot after completing his training in America. Returning to England he joined 51 Squadron in early 1943 flying from RAF Snaith. Joining 617 Squadron in early 1944 he took part in many of the squadrons successes including attacks on U-boat pens and all three raids against the Tirpitz.
Flight Lieutenant George Chalmers DFC DFM
| Flight Lieutenant George Chalmers DFC DFM |
George Alexander Chalmers was born on February 12 1921 at Peterhead in Scotland. He was educated at Aberdeen Academy before working briefly at a local Crosse & Blackwell factory and joining the RAF as a boy entrant. After boy's service and qualifying as a wireless operator and air-gunner, Chalmer joined the RAF in 1938. Geogre Chalmers was posted to No 10, a two-engine Whitley bomber squadron at Dishforth, Yorkshire, from where he took part in leaflet-dropping operations over Germany after the outbreak of war. In August 1940 Chalmers transferred to No 7, the RAF's first four-engine Stirling bomber squadron which was operating from Leeming. There followed a spell with No 35, a four-engine Halifax bomber squadron, with which Chalmers was fortunate to survive an attack on the battle cruiser Scharnhorst at La Rochelle - his captain managed to make base despite being severely wounded and piloting a badly-damaged aircraft. When he joined 617 Squadron he was a Flight Sergeant and served as wireless operator on Lancaster AJ-O during the Dambusters raid which was piloted by Bill Townsend. Awarded the DFM for his part in the attack on the Ennepe Dam he was commissioned a few months later and awarded the DFC after 65 operations. In 1946 Chalmers was granted an extended service commission, and served in No 617 and No 12 Squadrons until 1950, when he was posted to No 38, a Lancaster squadron in the Middle East. He was released as a flight lieutenant in 1954, and served in the Reserve until 1961. Meanwhile, he had joined the civil service at Harrogate, where he worked for the Ministry of Defence dealing with the RAF's technical requirements. In this period his advice was much valued in the sphere of flight refuelling. On his retirement from the MoD in 1984, the company Flight Refuelling hosted a farewell party for him at which he was hailed as an expert in specialised spares procurement, especially in relation to a refuelling system of outstanding value used by the RAF in the Falklands conflict. Sadly, George Chalmers passed away in August 2002 aged 81.
Flight Lieutenant Mike Chatterton
| Flight Lieutenant Mike Chatterton |
RAF pilot Mike Chatterton flew the Battle of Britian Memorial Flight Lancaster in the 1990s, amassing over 500 flying hours, and also is an experienced Nimrod pilot.
Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC OM DSO** DFC*
| Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC OM DSO** DFC* |
One of the most courageous and determined bomber leaders of World War II, Leonard Cheshire flew four operational tours, starting in June 1940 with 102 Squadron on Whitley bombers at RAF Driffield. In November 1940, he was awarded the DSO for getting his badly damaged aircraft back to base. He completed his first tour in January 1941, but immediately volunteered for a second tour, this time flying Halifaxes with 35 Squadron. He became Squadron Leader in 1942, and was appointed commanding officer of 76 Squadron later that year. Leonard Cheshire ordered that non-essential weight be removed from the Halifax bombers in a bid to increase speed and altitude, hoping to reduce the high casualty rates for this squadron. Mid-upper and nose turrets were removed, and exhaust covers taken off, successfully reducing the loss rate. In July 1943 he took command of 617 Squadron. During this time he led the squadron personally on every occasion. In September he was awarded the Victoria Cross for four and a half years of sustained bravery during a total of 102 operations, leading his crews with careful planning, brilliant execution and contempt for danger, which gained him a reputation second to none in Bomber Command. Sadly, Leonard Cheshire died of motor neuron disease on 31st July 1992, aged 74.