Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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Airmen awarded the George Medal 1944-1945

[1940-1941 | 1942-1943 | 1944-1945]

This section contains the citations that appeared in the London Gazette in 1944 and 1945, although some of the actions for the awards were  made took place earlier: -

Honorary Flight Lieutenant Eric George Ackermann, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

For three years Flight Lieutenant Ackermann has been employed on special duties both in this country and the Mediterranean area. He has completed his tasks often under most difficult and dangerous conditions and the results have been worthy of great praise.

(London Gazette 14 January 1944)

Flying Officer Geoffrey Howard Dhenin, M.B., Ch.B., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (138354), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

 One night in October, 1943, an aircraft, which had sustained damage during an attack against Hanover, crashed near an airfield. The aircraft disintegrated on impact and immediately burst into flames. The rear gunner was injured and trapped in his crushed turret, being pinned down by the remains of the tail unit and the rear of the fuselage. A high explosive bomb was in the blazing wreckage some 10 yards away from the gunner. Flying Officer Dhenin, the station medical officer, and Corporal Lush, a gunner, hastened to the scene of the accident. Although fully aware that the heat might cause the bomb to detonate at any moment Flying Officer Dhenin worked for over half an hour to relieve the injured airman's pain and, assisted by Corporal Lush, endeavoured to release him. Their efforts to extricate the gunner were, however, unavailing. A mobile crane was brought to the scene and the mass of wreckage was lifted clear of the ground. Displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Flying Officer Dhenin then crawled under the wreckage and released the trapped airman thereby enabling others helpers to drag him to safety. Flying Officer Dhenin and Corporal Lush showed fine courage and determination in circumstances of great danger.

1387153 Corporal William John Lush was awarded the BEM.

 (London Gazette 14 January 1944)

970770 Corporal Norman Gouldin, B.E.M., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1265287 Corporal Frank Robert North, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1484334 Leading Aircraftman Frederick Alfred Withers, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In August, 1943, four soldiers entered a minefield; three were killed instantly and the fourth was seriously wounded. Corporals Gouldin and North, who are nursing orderlies, and Leading Aircraftman Withers, who is a motor driver, immediately proceeded to the scene of the accident. To reach the injured soldier it was necessary to cross a canal and pass through barbed wire. Corporal Gouldin, although unable to swim, entered the canal and with his two companions waded across. After crossing the barbed wire the rescuers penetrated about 16 feet into the minefield and reached the soldier, to whom they rendered first aid. Afterwards, carrying him on a stretcher, these airmen recrossed the canal, with water up to their armpits and insecure footholds, and brought the soldier to safety. Throughout they showed great fortitude and initiative and complete disregard of their own safety.

(London Gazette 14 January 1944)

1344410 Flight Sergeant Alastair Walter McGinnis, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1063270 Sergeant Henry Webster, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In September, 1943, these airmen, who were in the vicinity of an airfield, observed an aircraft overhead with its starboard engine and main plane on fire. The aircraft passed from view and crashed behind neighbouring trees. Commandeering a passing car, Flight Sergeant McGinnis and Sergeant Webster proceeded to the scene of the crash. The aircraft was burning furiously and ammunition was exploding. In spite of this and of the danger that the bombs, which they could see in the wreckage, might explode at any moment, these airmen approached the aircraft to search for the crew. They found the wireless operator (air) in the rear of the aircraft and succeeded in extricating him and in beating out the flames on his clothing. They also extricated another member of the crew who was lying in the burning wreckage but was unfortunately dead. Flight Sergeant McGinnis and Sergeant Webster then carried the wireless operator (air) away from immediate danger and commenced to render-first aid to him. While they were thus engaged one of the bombs exploded and both airmen were thrown to the ground and hit by falling shrapnel. Undeterred, they continued to tend to their comrade. They laid him in a ditch further away and stayed with him until an ambulance arrived. In circumstances of great danger Flight Sergeant McGinnis and Sergeant Webster displayed coolness and outstanding gallantry and undoubtedly saved the life of one member of the crew.

(London Gazette 14 March 1944)

949144 Acting Corporal John Andrew Sinclair, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In July, 1943, Corporal Sinclair was a passenger in a Wellington bomber which caught fire whilst taking off. A forced landing was made with the aircraft in flames and it became a total wreck. Although the petrol tanks were exploding and all had been ordered to stand clear, Corporal Sinclair, displaying complete disregard for his personal .safety, re-entered the blazing aircraft and was instrumental in rescuing two passengers who were trapped in the rear turret. In effecting the rescue Corporal Sinclair sustained severe burns on the head and arms, and was subsequently in hospital for six weeks. He displayed great bravery in saving the lives of the two trapped passengers.

(London Gazette 14 March 1944)

1332060 Flight Sergeant Bernard McDonagh, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In January, 1944, an aircraft caught fire in the air Flight Sergeant McDonagh, an air gunner (under training), was instructed by the captain to come forward from the rear gun position but, whilst so doing, the aircraft crashed; he was rendered unconscious and thrown up into the fuselage. The aircraft was blazing furiously Flight Sergeant McDonagh regained consciousness and was able to extricate himself from the blazing wreckage. Although badly dazed and suffering from abrasions to his legs and body, he immediately went to the front of the bomber where he found the pilot who was unconscious in the flames and still strapped in his seat. Flight Sergeant McDonagh succeeded in releasing the pilot and in dragging him to safety. He then returned to the aircraft on two more occasions and rescued the navigator and the air bomber. The latter was, unfortunately dead. Flight Sergeant McDonagh's outstanding courage and complete disregard for danger undoubtedly saved two lives.

(London Gazette 28 April 1944)

1399275 Sergeant Leslie William Preston, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One morning in January, 1944 Sergeant Preston was the navigator of an aircraft which crashed into an electrical transformer and burst into flames. Sergeant Preston sustained facial burns but was thrown clear of the aircraft. The pilot, who was left in the cockpit sustained a broken leg and, although he had released his straps, he was unable to get out unaided. His cockpit was soon enveloped by the flames. Displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Sergeant Preston returned to the blazing aircraft and, working in the flames, succeeded in dragging the pilot to safety. In so doing Sergeant Preston sustained second degree burns. His gallant and prompt action saved the pilot's life. Sergeant Preston was also involved in a similar accident in November, 1943, when he succeeded in dragging the pilot clear. On this occasion the aircraft did not catch fire but there was a constant possibility of its doing so.

 (London Gazette 28 April 1944)

Flying Officer John Maclaren Galbraith (129258), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

947962 Flight Sergeant Neil Donaldson Forbes, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In January, 1944, this officer and airman were the pilot and flight engineer respectively of an aircraft which stalled and caught fire when attempting to land on return from an operational sortie. Although suffering from shock, cuts and bruises they both managed to get out of the wreckage. Realising that 3 members of the crew were missing they immediately entered the burning aircraft, which was carrying a full load of bombs, in an endeavour to rescue their comrades. Flight Sergeant Forbes located the rear gunner who had sustained injuries and whose clothing was alight. After beating out the flames he assisted the gunner clear of the wreckage and then to safety. Flying Officer Galbraith found the navigator unconscious and lying in the wreckage of the nose of the aircraft. Assisted by Flight Sergeant Forbes, who had again returned to the aircraft, Flying Officer Galbraith freed the navigator and then passed him to another member of the crew who had been able to extricate himself when the crash occurred. One member of the crew still remained in the blazing wreckage. Flight Sergeant Forbes seized a fire extinguisher and managed to subdue and control the flames sufficiently to enable Flying Officer Galbraith to enter and search the tail of the aircraft. Unfortunately the remaining member of the crew was dead when found. Flying Officer Galbraith although severely wounded on the chin displayed high qualities of leadership, courage and unselfish heroism. Flight Sergeant Forbes also showed great bravery in circumstances of considerable danger.

(London Gazette 26 May 1944)

1125669 Sergeant Conrad Cannan, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This airman, who is employed in the Fire Section, has shown exceptional fortitude when performing exacting and dangerous work attending crashed aircraft. On a recent occasion he took charge of the crash tender when a Halifax aircraft, carrying one large H.E. bomb, failed to gain height when taking off and crashed in a ploughed field outside the airfield boundary. The bomb did not detonate on the impact but the aircraft burst into flames. The crash tender quickly reached the scene, followed by the ambulance. Three of the crew of seven had been thrown clear and were safe. Incendiary bombs started to detonate but Sergeant Cannan and two other airmen went into the fire area and helped to safety 2 of the crew who were trying to extricate themselves. Flames on their clothing were extinguished and the two rescued airmen were handed over to the staff of the ambulance. As one of the crew was still missing Sergeant Cannan returned to search the wreckage. Eventually he found the pilot, who had been thrown out of the bomber, partially hidden in a furrow in the field. He was stunned and Sergeant Cannan carried him 20 yards from the fire where he was assisted by a medical orderly. .Sergeant Cannan displayed great courage, working in the full knowledge that a major explosion from the bomb might occur at any moment.

(London Gazette 26 May 1944)

Flight Lieutenant William Edward Speirs (88579), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In March, 1944, a party of airmen was fusing 500 lb. bombs. One or more of the bombs exploded, causing a number of casualties (3 of which were fatal) and rendering a large number of the remaining bombs dangerous. Flight Lieutenant Speirs, the Wing Armament Officer, was near the fusing area and had been severely shaken by blast but immediately rushed o the scene and helped an injured man to safety. He then commenced to disperse the remaining bombs, although he knew that some of them might detonate at any moment. Having dispersed them e proceeded to make a detailed examination of each of the suspected bombs and, on his advice, the dump was declared closed for 24 hours. After this lapse of time, Flight Lieutenant Speirs again examined each bomb and recommended the further closure of the dump. Six hours later 4 more bombs exploded, and during the following 24 hours other bombs detonated. It then became essential to examine the remaining bombs as the woods in their vicinity were burning furiously. Flight Lieutenant Speirs undertook this examination and, as a result, an area was declared safe and the fire in the woods was dealt with, thereby saving a considerble  number of trees from destruction. After a further period of waiting, this officer again examined all bombs in the area and on his decision that they were sufficiently safe, he supervised their demolition. Thirty bombs were rendered innocuous. This officer displayed high courage and leadership throughout.

(London Gazette 22 August 1944)

991199 Leading Aircraftman' James McKay McCabe, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1177914 Leading Aircraftman Leonard Maynard Williams, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One evening in February 1944, these airmen displayed exceptional courage and devotion to duty when an aircraft, carrying a full bomb load, crashed and caught fire. Leading Aircraftman Williams, who was nearby, was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the accident, and, in spite of exploding ammunition arid the danger of the bombs exploding, he succeeded in rescuing the rear gunner. Then, with the assistance of 2 others, he proceeded to take the gunner to safety; the first bomb exploded when they were only 50, yards away. Leading Aircraftman McCabe, a nursing orderly, arrived in the ambulance within 4 minutes of the aircraft crashing. The first bomb had exploded and, although fully aware that others were likely to detonate at any moment, he continued to the aircraft and located a member of the crew who was, unfortunately, dead. Leading Aircraftman McCabe helped to remove the body to a place of safety. When only 30 yards away from the aircraft, a second bomb exploded and no further rescues could be effected. These airmen displayed high courage and complete disregard of their personal safety.

(London Gazette 22 August 1944)

Flight Lieutenant Alfred George Spencer (89044), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Flying Officer Albert Arthur (145518), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One day in February, 1944, an aircraft, carrying a 500 lb. bomb and incendiaries, crashed near a Royal Air Force Station, and immediately caught fire. Flying Officer Arthur, a gunnery instructor, was soon on the scene and, despite the great heat and exploding ammunition, he attempted to rescue the crew. Shortly afterwards he was joined by Flight Lieutenant Spencer, the station medical officer. The wreckage was blazing from end to end and several times these officers were compelled to break off their rescue attempts. Flying Officer Arthur entered the burning aircraft no less than four times, with a handkerchief tied round his nose and mouth. At the fourth attempt, he was driven back by the heat and flames, his eyebrows being burnt off and his right trouser leg and pocket burnt. Flight Lieutenant Spencer stayed close at hand and searched in the wreckage for possible survivors. It was not until the bombs were red hot and Flight Lieutenant Spencer, was certain that the crew must be dead from the heat that these officers abandoned their efforts. They then warned the fire party to withdraw and cleared the area of spectators just before the 500 Ib. bomb exploded. Although the attempts of these officers to rescue the crew were in vain, they displayed high courage and a complete disregarded of their, own safety.

 (London Gazette 1 September 1944)

Wing Commander Basil Gibson Carroll (37003), Royal Air Force.

Flight Lieutenant Wilfred Turner (48336), Royal Air Force.

In July, 1944, two Typhoon aircraft and a petrol dump were set on fire during an enemy air attack against an airfield. Fire tenders were brought into action and, under the supervision of Wing Commander Carroll, the fire in one aircraft was extinguished quickly. A second aircraft loaded with cannon shells arid also carrying rocket projectiles, was burning furiously. Ammunition, petrol tanks .and rockets were exploding in all directions. Two rockets, which were pointing towards other aircraft and a dispersal area, remained in the starboard wing. Realising that it was impossible to extinguish the fire, Wing Commander Carroll and Flight Lieutenant Turner donned asbestos gloves and endeavoured to remove the rockets. This necessitated crawling under the wing and, had the starboard oleo leg collapsed, both officers would probably have been crushed to death. Undaunted by the intense heat and grave danger, these officers succeeded in removing the rockets. Wing Commander Carroll also assisted to roll away two 5oo-lb. bombs which were near the fire. Throughout the whole operation Wing Commander Carroll and Flight Lieutenant Turner displayed courage and determination of a very high standard and set an excellent example. By their action they nullified a very great potential danger to personnel and aircraft in the vicinity.

(London Gazette 20 October 1944)

Squadron Leader Leonard William Waldron Modley, O.B.E. (24098), Reserve of Air Force Officers.

One night in November, 1943, this officer displayed courage in assisting ashore the survivors of the crew of a Wellington aircraft which had crashed on a heavy sea. He was one of a party .of helpers who managed to climb out on to some rocks at a point about 50 yards from the airmen who were then in their dinghy. Squadron Leader Modley volunteered to swim to them with a rope but the heavy seas rendered the chance of success unlikely and he was dissuaded from this. Eventually a weighted rope was thrown to the nearest airman in order that it might be secured to the rocks which the survivors had now reached. In order to obtain sufficient length of rope to enable the airmen to fasten the rope to the rocks at their end, Squadron Leader Modley tied the other end around his waist and clung to the furthermost point of the rocks on which the rescue party was stationed. In this position, with heavy seas breaking over him, he was able to act as an anchor.  The survivors were able to cross the sea by using the rope and, with Squadron Leader Modley's assistance they were pulled to safety. On another occasion in May, 1944, a Spitfire aircraft dived into the ground from a height of about 100 ft.; the pilot sustained severe injuries and was rendered unconscious. The fire tender arrived on the scene within 30 seconds of the crash and Squadron Leader Modley, who was in command at the airfield, arrived almost simultaneously. He saw the pilot amongst the wreckage, and, with the assistance of two members of the fire crew, immediately endeavoured to rescue him. Whilst the three men were lifting the pilot out of the cockpit, a violent explosion occurred which threw them to the ground. The petrol tanks had exploded and the aircraft became enveloped in flames.  The pilot remained face downwards over the side of the fuselage. Squadron Leader Modley, completely undaunted by the explosion, at once rushed back into the flames and resumed his rescue work. He was successful in dragging the pilot clear. Meanwhile, two members of the fire crew brought the fire hose into action and assisted Squadron Leader Modley to extinguish the flames on the pilot's burning clothes. Unfortunately the pilot died of his injuries. In effecting this rescue Squadron Leader Modley sustained burns to his hands, face and ankles.

(London Gazette 20 October 1944)

Acting Squadron Leader Samuel James Davies, M.B.E. (45085), Royal Air Force.

In May, 1944, this officer was in the vicinity when an aircraft, shortly after taking off on an operational flight, crashed and burst into flames. Squadron Leader Davies immediately drove to the scene and observed the rear gunner collapse in an attempt to get out of the aircraft. Heedless of the danger from the ammunition which was exploding, and also being aware that the aircraft carried bombs, he climbed on to the wing to extricate the rear gunner whose head and shoulders were hanging over the side of the cockpit. He had to free the latter's harness which had become entangled in some part of the aircraft, but he finally managed to lift him, out of the cockpit and drag him clear of the burning wreckage. Squadron Leader Davies then attempted to lift the body of the pilot out of the blazing front cockpit but was unsuccessful in doing this owing to the smoke and flames. He could see that the pilot had been killed in the crash. After warning all personnel of an imminent explosion he, with assistance from another airman, carried the gunner to the sick quarters. Less than two minutes after he had left the scene; two 500 lb. bombs exploded completely destroying the aircraft. The timely and courageous action of Squadron Leader Davies had saved the life of the rear gunner.

 (London Gazette 20 October 1944)

Acting Warrant Officer James Trevor Seward Stevens (618154), Royal Air Force.

In February, 1944, an aircraft returned from operations with ten bombs fused with three types of long delay fuses. When work was in progress to remove the bombs from the aircraft, seven fell from the bomb racks and, in view of the nature of the fuses, they were quickly segregated by the Station Ordnance Officer. Special equipment was necessary to remove the fuses and, later, Warrant Officer Stevens, accompanied by another officer, reported at the station with apparatus, which he had designed to deal with these types of fuses by remote control. Although a safety period had occurred equal to twice the normal delay of the fuses, Warrant Officer Stevens knew that, in the cold weather which prevailed, the behaviour of such fuses is quite unpredictable and that detonations might occur whilst he was still working on the bombs. In spite of this he carried out his task and, after two hours, had successfully withdrawn the fuses from the bombs. He was using his apparatus for the first time and it had not been subjected to any previous test. He showed complete disregard of danger throughout. Warrant Officer Stevens has. displayed great devotion to duty whilst employed on bomb disposal work for the past three years and, in conjunction with, other officers, has taken part in some 16 bomb disposal operations, a good proportion of which have been of an experimental nature in which apparatus made by him has been employed.

(London Gazette 20 October 1944)

1115625 Leading Aircraftman William James Clarke, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This airman has -been employed as an ambulance driver for 12 months. These duties have led him into dangerous experiences during which he has acted with great coolness and disregard of his own safety. In November, 1943, Leading Aircraftman Clarke took his ambulance right up to an aircraft which had crashed and caught fire. Disregarding the probability of bombs and ammunition exploding, he rescued a member of the crew who was lying beside the aircraft seriously injured. In April, 1944, he again drove his ambulance up to a blazing aircraft which was loaded with bombs and, with the assistance of a nursing orderly, extinguished flames on the clothes of 3 members of the crew by rolling the airmen, in blankets. He then got them away from the scene just before the bombs exploded.

(London Gazette 3 November 1944)

1500759 Leading Aircraftman Robert Emrys Williams, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This nursing orderly has been employed on ambulance duties for 1.8 months and has displayed considerable gallantry and devotion to duty. In June, 1943, an aircraft, on taking off, crashed into another aircraft,. and both caught fire. Just before the ambulance reached the scene, some of the bombs in the first aircraft exploded. Despite the danger of further bombs detonating, this airman went direct into the wreckage and rescued one member of the crew and undoubtedly saved his life. In February, 1944, an aircraft, fully loaded with bombs, crashed in flames. When the ambulance arrived at the accident many bombs had not exploded. With great gallantry, Leading Aircraftman Williams searched all round, the blazing wreckage for members of the crew, knowing full well that bombs might explode at any moment.

Again, in April, 1944, this airman and an ambulance driver were soon on the scene when a bomber aircraft, which was carrying a full load of bombs, crashed and caught fire. Three of the crew of the bomber had been splashed with petrol as they left the aircraft and their clothing was alight. Leading Aircraftman Williams and his companion extinguished the flames by rolling the three airmen in blankets and succeeded in getting them away in the ambulance just before the bomb load exploded. Leading Aircraftman Williams has .set an example of courage which has been an inspiration to all members of the squadron.

 (London Gazette 3 November 1944)

1559187 Flight Sergeant Thomas Edward Holmes, R.A.F.V.R.

One night in May, 1944, Flight Sergeant Holmes was observer in a Beaufighter aircraft detailed for bombing practice. Soon after the take off one engine failed and, when a forced landing was attempted at a nearby, airfield, the aircraft crashed in a wood and burst into flames. Flight Sergeant Holmes was burnt about the face and his harness was on fire before he was able to fight his way out of his compartment. Trees had fallen over the aircraft and were blazing furiously. The airman climbed first along the port side and then along the starboard side of the aircraft in an attempt to rescue his pilot, but was prevented from doing' so by the burning trees and the fire in the aircraft. Flight Sergeant Holmes then forced his way through the woods to the front of

the Beaufighter but again was unable to get to his companion because of the dense and blazing undergrowth. This airman displayed great courage and persistence in his gallant attempt to rescue the pilot in the face of exploding cannon shells, practice bombs and petrol tanks which had been torn from the aircraft and were blazing nearby.

In August, 1944, Flight Sergeant Holmes was again involved in a crash of another aircraft in which he was flying as observer. Despite severe cuts to his head and face he quickly left his compartment, climbed up the wing of the blazing aircraft, and helped his pilot from the cockpit, thereby enabling him to escape with only minor burns.

(London Gazette 5 January 1945)

Acting Wing Commander Donald Leslie KINGS (72222), iRoyal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Flight Lieutenant John Preston LEWIN (31337), Reserve Air Force Officers.

 On Monday, November 27th, 1944, an explosion on an immense scale occurred in a mine forming the R.A.F. bomb storage depot near Burton-on-Trent. The depot, which consisted of tunnelled workings into low hills, was divided into two parts, known as  the Old and New Mines, by a solid wall partly of native rock and partly of artificial construction. The explosion occurred in the small (New Mine where some 4,000 tons of bombs and other explosives were stored, including over 1,500 four-thousand pound bombs. This part of the depot -was completely obliterated, a crater 350 yards by 600 yards being formed with an enormous open rent in continuation to the north-west. Serious damage was also done to the Old Mine, alongside where some 8,000 to 10,000 tons of bombs were stored. Here blast caused dangerous roof falls and cracks and scattered bombs and other explosives over the floors whilst poisonous fumes generated by the explosion percolated from the New Mine. Apart from the damage to the depot, a nearby commercial mine was completely wrecked by huge quantities of rock and sodden earth thrown up by the explosion and by the escaping waters of a small lake which had Over 60 people lost their lives. 

Wing Commander Kings was temporarily commanding the R.A.F. Unit on the spot. He was the first to enter the mine, some 10 minutes after the explosion, had occurred. All the lights had been extinguished but with the help of a handlamp operating intermittently, Wing Commander Kings made as full a search of the underground area as was possible before he was affected by dangerous fumes and had to retire. He then took control of the emergency work above ground, including the control of stacks of incendiary bombs which had been set alight outside the mine entrance. He arranged for further help and took steps to determine the extent of the casualties and damage. On arrival of the National Fire Service with oxygen apparatus, Wing Commander Kings, with Foreman Salt and three National Fire Service men, again searched the mine, concentrating particularly on the areas where the roof had fallen. He continued this search until for the second time he was forced to retire by the effects of noxious fumes. Thereafter Wing Commander Kings made every effort to keep the situation under control, accepting and co-ordinating offers of assistance as they came to hand. Throughout, he acted with conspicuous gallantry and resource, and showed fine leadership.

Flight Lieutenant Lewin on his own initiative, and alone, entered the mine some 20 minutes after the explosion and carried out a prolonged search in the underground workings. He later entered a second time with Foreman Coker and remained underground for about an-hour searching most of the roads in an endeavour to find the missing persons. The fumes had by this time become more dangerous and while Foreman Coker persisted as long as he could, he had in the end to be carried out by Flight Lieutenant Lewin who then re-entered the mine alone to continue his endeavours. .He did not abandon his search until the arrival of teams of the Mines Rescue Organisation with oxygen apparatus. Flight Lieutenant Lewin then went to the nearby commercial Mine and descended the airshaft several times to a dangerous gas-filled area to remove casualties. Finally he assisted Wing Commander Kings in organising overground relief measures. Throughout he acted with gallantry, initiative and complete disregard for his own safety. Flight Lieutenant Shuttleworth accompanied Foreman Salt into the mine on his first re-entry, some half-hour after the explosion, when conditions underground were still unknown and there were all manner of possible risks - further explosions, fire, roof falls, noxious fumes. With Foreman Salt he helped rescue an injured man. Later Flight Lieutenant Shuttleworth played an important part' in maintaining control and, by his fine example, greatly encouraged other rescue workers.

Whilst these rescue operations were developing in the Old Mine, Corporal Rock and Corporal Peters made their way to an airshaft in the New Mine, which they reached about an hour and a quarter after the explosion. They had found twenty workmen cut off in this part of the mine. They had endeavoured to make their way out by a road passing the ventilating shaft, but ran into noxious fumes and five of them died. The remainder retraced their steps to the ventilating shaft. Their calls for help were heard by Corporals Rock and Peters. Both repeatedly went down the iron ladder in the shaft into the gas-filled chamber, rescued the men who were still alive, and recovered a number of dead.

Flight Lieutenant Harold John SHUTTLEWORTH (61452), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded the MBE

1071150 Corporal Sidney Benjamin ROCK, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and 1202817 Corporal James Sim PETERS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve were awarded the BEM

(London Gazette 10 April 1945)

526815 Sergeant Richard Frederick DYSON, Royal Air Force.

One night in November, 1944, Sergeant Dyson was rear gunner of an aircraft detailed for a bombing attack and carrying a load of' incendiaries, including those of the explosive type.  Shortly after taking off, the aircraft crashed, broke up and burst into flames. On impact Sergeant Dyson was thrown, whilst still in the rear turret, 50 yards from the aircraft and, although badly shaken, was able to release himself with an axe. On hearing, cries for help Sergeant Dyson at once went to the aid of his 'fellow' crew-members, despite the fact that the aircraft wreckage was scattered over the area, and as burning furiously, with incendiaries exploding and unexploded bombs lying both in and about the wreckage. He first went, to the mid-upper gunner, who had been thrown, clear of the aircraft in his turret. Sergeant Dyson was able to-assure himself that this gunner was in no immediate danger. Sergeant Dyson next turned his attention

to those of his comrades who were nearer the fuselage. He dragged the pilot from the immediate danger area around the aircraft and then ran back to continue his search for other members of the crew. He found the navigator, who was seriously injured and with his clothing on fire, about 15 yards from the aircraft, Sergeant Dyson put out the fire with his hands receiving burns to both hands whilst doing so. Seeing assistance coming, he called out to attract attention to the navigator and himself. He was later found by rescue parties wandering around, suffering from shock. It was eventually found that more than half the bomb load had ignited. The danger was at times so great that members of the rescue parties were obliged to park vehicles 200 yards away and wait until the explosions and fires had moderated. Sergeant Dyson showed outstanding gallantry by his persistent efforts to help his comrades and undoubtedly saved the life of his pilot.

(London Gazette 27 April 1945)

Acting Flight Lieutenant William Cross FITCH, D.F.C. (143764), R.A.F.V.R. (Since deceased.)

One night in February, 1945, a Mosquito aircraft crashed into some farm buildings at New York, Lincs, setting them on fire. Flight Lieutenant Fitch was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the crash and started searching the blazing buildings despite the fact that cannon and machine gun ammunition and signal cartridges were exploding. On hearing cries corning from a corner where the flames were fiercest, he went into the inferno, crawling over fallen masonery, and found the farmer inside, trapped by fallen brickwork and beams. He quickly freed him and commenced to carry him away before further assistance arrived. Unfortunately the farmer died in hospital some hours later. Flight Lieutenant Fitch showed complete disregard for his own safety and his gallant but unavailing efforts to save a civilian's life, in conditions of great danger, are worthy of the highest praise.

(London Gazette 3 July 1945)

1056093 Leading Aircraftman James Hughes ROBB. R.A.F.V.R.

One night in November, 1944, an aircraft crashed on to the roof of a farm house adjoining an R.A.F. airfield, setting the house and the surrounding farm buildings on fire. Leading Aircraftmen Robb and Fox at once ran to the scene. Leading Aircraftman Robb entered the house by the front door, which had been broken open by a civilian, with whom, he went up the partly wrecked staircase. They found a girl trying to help an elderly man, who was slightly injured, out of bed. Leading Aircraftman Robb and the civilian assisted the pair down the stairs into the open. On being informed that 2 old people were still upstairs, (Leading Aircraftmen Robb and Fox and other helpers managed to get through the window of the bedroom by scaling up the outside wall of the house. They were driven back by smoke and fire, but after a hose had been played into the window, they were able to re-enter the bedroom by means of a ladder which had been brought to the scene. After the rescuers had removed the rubble which had fallen on the victims from the burning roof and collapsed walls, the 2 old people were found.  They were then lowered down the ladder to helpers on the ground. In the meantime the girl, who had been previously helped out of the house went into a blazing cow-shed in an endeavour to release the cattle. Leading Aircraftman Bannister had come upon the scene in the crash tender and, seeing her danger, he went into the shed and led her to safety, releasing some of the animals himself at the same time. Leading Aircraftman Bannister next entered the farm house, which was by now well alight, to attempt to rescue the other occupants. He groped his way up the partly demolished and obstructed stairs and, in spite of the smoke and flames, found a bed, but as the bed was covered with debris, he was unable to find anyone there. He then climbed back over the stairway into another bedroom, which he searched, also without success.  As he left the room, the remains of the burning roof caved in. Leading Aircraftman Bannister then proceeded to help fight the fire with the crew of the crash tender. Leading Aircraftmen Bannister, Robb and Fox, by their courage, set a fine example to all those who were present at the incident.

1523183 Leading Aircraftman George Edward BANNISTER, R.A.F.V.R. and 1670252 Leading Aircraftman Horace Fox, R.A.F.V.R. were awarded BEMs

(London Gazette 3 July 1945)

1345818 Warrant Officer Alexander Alistair Robertson MCGARVEY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In August, 1943, this airman was pilot of an aircraft returning from an attack on Hamburg.  His aircraft was hit and became uncontrollable.  At approximately 0200 hours he gave orders to abandon the aircraft. He alighted in the sea near to his navigator, who was a poor swimmer and had been wounded. Despite his own wounds, which rendered his legs almost useless, Warrant Officer McGarvey swam towards the navigator, who was blowing his whistle. Searchlights were being played on them and they tried to swim to the nearest shore position, Warrant Officer McGarvey towing the navigator who, after a time, could barely help himself along and relapsed into periods of unconsciousness.  When dawn broke they set course for a light vessel which could be seen in the distance.  The tide was, however, carrying them- away from the vessel. The navigator was only just conscious and Warrant Officer McGarvey, discarding his "Mae West," swam to the light vessel to obtain assistance. At 10.30 hours the navigator was rescued in an unconscious condition but recovered after artificial respiration had been applied. Warrant Officer McGarvey had assisted him for 83 hours, eventually saving his life in most difficult and dangerous circumstances. Five other members of' the crew were drowned. 

(London Gazette 14 August 1945)

Flight Lieutenant Reginald BULLEN (125303), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the night of the 19th April, 1944, this officer was navigator of a Wellington aircraft which crashed on landing and burst into flames. The aircraft was totally destroyed and four members of the crew were -killed. Flight Lieutenant Bullen was thrown through the side of the aircraft as it burst open and sustained fractures of the left leg and right arm, and a slight fracture of the spine. The heat was intense and ammunition was exploding." There was also the additional danger that eight depth charges might explode at any moment. Despite this and his severe injuries Flight Lieutenant Bullen made his way inside the blazing aircraft to the wireless operator and dragged him to a safe distance, clear of the flames.  When the ambulance arrived on the scene Flight Lieutenant Bullen was in great pain and was quickly removed to sick quarters. His very brave and gallant action, performed when suffering such intense pain from his own injuries, undoubtedly saved the life of the wireless operator.

(London Gazette 14 September 1945)


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