THIRD TIME UNLUCKY
who was a mid-upper gunner and flew in Lancasters of 103 Squadron, 1 Group,
from Elsham Wolds in 1944 and 1945.
After volunteering for aircrew, I did my training first in Canada and then in the Isle of Man at the Gunnery School at Andreas. From there I was to join a crew and ultimately, we were posted to Elsham Wolds to join 103 squadron using Lancasters. By the end of the war, this squadron was to have carried out the most bombing raids of any in the Group and also suffered the most losses.
I have memories of 3 operations we undertook, particularly. The first is when we were returning from a German target and were attacked by a Messerschmitt 109. The aircraft was not badly damaged but in the mid upper turret I became aware that my neck was extremely cold. Turning round, I saw that the Perspex panels behind me had been blown away by a bullet that had missed my head by about three inches. This bullet was discovered on the floor of the turret, after landing, and I have it still as a memento of a very near miss.
The second memory is of returning over the coast at Weymouth just as dawn was breaking. Looking to the rear of the Lancaster from the turret, I was disquieted to see two incendiary bombs embedded in the tailplanes, one either side of the fuselage. I called the skipper with the bad news and asked him if he could possibly land on a sixpence and give us fourpence change! Thank goodness he could and after landing, we all scarpered as smartly as we were able to a safe distance.
I have had to give up marathon running and ice hockey, but on the whole it
could have been worse.