Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Airmen awarded the BEM for gallantry 1942-1943


This section contains the citations that appeared in the London Gazette in 1942 and 1943, although some of the actions for the awards were  made took place earlier: -

506993 Sergeant John William EMMETT.

In the early hours of a day in September, 1941, this airman saw an aircraft having difficulty in landing at an aerodrome. Anticipating a crash he took charge of the fire tender, although not officially on duty, and arrived at the scene of the accident within three minutes. The aircraft, which had been broken in two by the impact, was burning furiously and two members of the crew could be seen alive in the flames below the fuselage. Sergeant Emmett, protected only by asbestos gloves, dashed into the burning wreckage and extricated one of the crew. Before he could return for the second man, the petrol tank split and the fierce heat of the blazing petrol then prevented any near approach. Sergeant Emmett tried repeatedly to extricate the other living member of the crew by means of a grab hook but without success. In spite of a violent explosion, Sergeant Emmett continued to direct the work of his fire party until the fire was completely extinguished and the remaining bodies were recovered. Unfortunately the rescued airman has since died of his injuries. Sergeant Emmett on this occasion displayed great devotion to duty and courage and disregard for his own safety. He has been in charge of the station fire fighting personnel for the past 9 months and has shown considerable fortitude and presence of mind at many flying accidents on and near the station.

(London Gazette 6 January 1942)


1255790 Sergeant Francis Beaumont MITCHELL.

Sergeant Mitchell was the wireless operator air gunner of an aircraft which, whilst engaged on a navigation flight, crashed into a hill side in sparsely populated mountain country. The pilot was killed and the remainder of the crew seriously injured. Sergeant Mitchell, though suffering from serious and painful injuries, crawled on his hands and knees for a distance of 2 to 3 miles, over treacherous country side and during thick fog in order to obtain assistance. The time taken was about 3 hours. As a result of this airman's courage and devotion to duty, the rescue of the other members of the crew was made possible by nightfall. There is no doubt that, but for his action, they would have succumbed to their injuries.

(London Gazette 6 January 1942)


404216 Sergeant John James PLUNKETT.

In August, 1941, an aircraft crashed into the sea. Many gallant attempts, both collective and individual, were made to rescue the three members of the crew, but conditions were such that all lost their lives, together with eleven of the would-be rescuers. Among numerous Royal Air Force personnel concerned, Sergeant Plunkett has been chosen for recognition as having shown outstanding gallantry. He swam out 300 yards in the raging sea and brought back an unconscious airman whom he attempted, with the help of others, to revive by artificial respiration. Unfortunately the airman died later. In addition to his efforts at artificial respiration, Sergeant Plunkett succeeded in bringing three other persons to the shore, and these owe their lives to his courage and determination.

(London Gazette 6 January 1942)


1169029 Sergeant Jack PURCELL.

Sergeant Purcell was the front gunner of an aircraft which, whilst carrying out an attack on Ostend, received a direct hit from heavy anti-aircraft fire. Although an attempt was made to bring the aircraft back to England, it eventually crashed in the sea some ten miles from the coast. On impact, the captain was thrown down into the bomb compartment but, after being submerged in fifteen feet of water, he eventually escaped, in a semi-drowned condition, through the broken off tail of the aircraft. Sergeant Purcell, who was suffering from burns about the face and hands, had helped the captain to climb out from the wreckage and then supported and encouraged him for about half an hour until it was possible to reach the dinghy. In spite of the captain's continual suggestions that Sergeant Purcell should eave him and get to the dinghy himself, the sergeant refused to do so. There is little doubt that the captain's life was saved as a result of the determination and bravery shown by Sergeant Purcell. He subsequently displayed courage, cheerfulness and powers of endurance during the three days which the crew spent floating in the dinghy.

(London Gazette 6 January 1942)


1173343 Leading Aircraftman Leslie Frederick HAMSHERE.

One night in September, 1941, an aircraft caught fire in the air and crashed. Leading Aircraftman Hamshere was the first on the scene and made several attempts to reach the body of the pilot but was driven back by the intense heat. Ammunition was exploding rapidly, constituting great danger. Nevertheless, Leading Aircraftman Hamshere proceeded to unload the guns and removed the ammunition to a place of safety. His coolness and courage in endeavouring to extricate the pilot and, later, in unloading the guns were of the highest order, more particularly as he, an accounts clerk, has only a very limited knowledge of either aircraft or guns.

(London Gazette 6 January 1942)


533281 Leading Aircraftman Jack HAYNES.

In February, 1941, this airman was a passenger in an aircraft which crashed in a rubber plantation in Malaya and burst into flames. Leading Aircraftman Haynes, who had sustained superficial injuries only, quickly extricated himself from the aircraft, ran round to the front cockpit, which was enveloped in flames, and observed the pilot endeavouring to extricate himself but apparently prevented from doing so by the framework of the cockpit. Although the fuselage was burning with great intensity, and the petrol tanks had not then exploded, Leading Aircraftman Haynes immediately attempted to rescue the trapped pilot. He tried to lift the framework but found it too hot to handle. By using the branch of a tree, however, he succeeded in pushing away the cockpit framework and was  thus able to assist the pilot and drag him to safety. Leading Aircraftman Haynes, who received severe burns to his hands and arms, displayed great bravery, determination and a complete disregard for his own safety in his efforts. Unfortunately the pilot has since succumbed to his injuries.

(London Gazette 6 January 1942)


1268479 Aircraftman 2nd Class Edward Charles UMPELBY.

In August, 1941, a fully loaded aircraft was taking off when it crashed and immediately burst into flames near the aerodrome boundary. Aircraftman Umpelby and two soldiers who were near the scene immediately endeavoured to extricate the occupants, all of whom had been killed instantaneously. The aircraft was burning fiercely but Aircraftman Umpelby and the two soldiers continued their efforts at great risk until compelled to desist by the intense heat. Although his endeavours proved unavailing, this airman showed great courage and a complete disregard of the fact that the petrol tanks might have exploded at any time.

(London Gazette 6 January 1942)


1100103 Sergeant James Bremner, Royal Air Force.

In October, 1941, Sergeant Bremner was wireless operator in an aircraft engaged in exercises over the sea. When some 10 miles from the coast, one engine failed. The pilot then turned the aircraft towards land after having released his bombs into the sea and, when endeavouring to make a forced landing, the aircraft crashed in a field and caught fire. Sergeant Bremner was stunned but, recovering quickly, immediately went to the assistance of the 3 other members of the crew who were completely incapacitated. He succeeded in removing from the aircraft the second wireless operator and the navigator, both of whom were unconscious. He then attempted to extricate the pilot who was strapped in the cockpit although, it is believed, he was already dead. Whilst so doing, Sergeant Bremner saw people in the distance, shouted for help, and then collapsed. He had received concussion and shock as a result of the accident and had not other help arrived when he collapsed, he and his comrades whom he had saved, might have been in further grave danger from exploding petrol tanks. This airman displayed great courage and initiative in dangerous circumstances and was undoubtedly the main factor in rescuing two of his comrades. Unfortunately one of them succumbed to his injuries the same night.

(London Gazette 30 January 1942)


1165459 Corporal John Taylor, G.M., Royal Air Force.

One morning in January, 1942, an aircraft crashed. Corporal Taylor who was on duty in the vicinity, immediately went to the scene of the accident. Just before he reached the aircraft, it burst into flames and, although he was warned that the building on which the aircraft had crashed was a hand grenade store, he unhesitatingly plunged into the flames in an attempt to rescue the crew. First, he extricated one member, whose clothes were burning furiously; he then re-entered the wreckage and dragged out another member. Borrowing another pair of gloves, his own having been burnt off. Corporal Taylor, assisted by another airman, made further attempts to save the remaining members of the crew and succeeded in extricating 2 further bodies. By now his hands, feet and clothing were badly burned and he was in an exhausted condition but, even so, it was with great difficulty that others prevented him from re-entering the burning aircraft. Shortly afterwards he was admitted to sick quarters suffering from severe burns. Throughout, Corporal Taylor displayed great gallantry and a complete disregard for his own safety.

(London Gazette 24 March 1942)


560326 Flight Sergeant Leslie Bastable.

This airman has been senior N.C.O. in a flight in Malta for a considerable time and has been responsible for the refuelling and despatch of aircraft, as well as for their inspection and dispersal. He has completed this work under heavy and prolonged enemy air attacks, refusing to take cover during the raids when our own aircraft have been on the aerodrome or approaching to land. The magnificent example he has set and the keen devotion to duty he has displayed have contributed largely to the smooth running of the flight.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


745024 Flight Sergeant James Battersby, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Shortly after taking off one day in January, 1942, an aircraft crashed in a pool of mud. On impact the port engine caught fire and flames spread from the pilot's cockpit down the port side of the fuselage, including the door of the cabin. Flight Sergeant Battersby, the observer, left his position beside the pilot and entered the cabin where there were 2 passengers. Shortly afterwards the starboard petrol tank exploded and at the same time the ammunition from the front guns began to explode. As a result, the whole area became enveloped in flames. Flight Sergeant Battersby and the pilot extricated the passengers and rolled them in the mud and water to extinguish the flames on their clothing. In so dealing with the passengers both Flight Sergeant Battersby .and the pilot were severely burned as they paid no attention to their own condition. The action of Flight Sergeant Battersby was largely instrumental in saving the lives of the two passengers.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


513054 Flight Sergeant (now Warrant Officer) Frank Hanford.

One day in August, 1941, Flight Sergeant Hanford was in charge of a Bomb Disposal Squad which was sent to a landing ground following a report that a number of unexploded enemy time bombs had been located there. On arrival, he found eleven bombs lying partially buried in the ground, spaced across a gunpost and dispersal points. Flight Sergeant Hanford immediately issued orders for the gunpost to be evacuated. Although fully aware that casualties had occurred during a recent attempt to deal with this type of bomb elsewhere, Flight Sergeant Hanford refused to allow other members of his party to accept danger and continued alone to deal with them. Three he exploded in situ, placing a small detonating charge in contact with them, though they were dangerous to touch. The remaining bombs appeared to be safer, and these he rendered harmless. Displaying great devotion to duty, this airman risked serious injury, if not his life, to make the area safe for others.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


937269 Flight Sergeant John James Townsend.

One evening in December, 1941, an aircraft, when nearing an aerodrome, hit the top of a belt of trees and ploughed its way through them. In the process, the wings were torn away and the engine became detached; the perspex from the pilot's cockpit cover and the turret cupola were also torn away. The aircraft was finally stopped by an almost head-on crash into a large tree, which was demolished, and the fuselage came to rest 10 yards beyond the tree, lying on its starboard side with the engine a few feet ahead. The engine and the fuselage caught fire, the flames rising to 10 or 12 feet. The flames did not last long as the petrol tanks had fallen out in the wood. Although suffering from severe shock and in a collapsing condition Flight Sergeant Townsend (the air gunner) at once crawled from his turret and assisted his pilot who, though conscious, was suffering from severe head injuries. The rescuer released the pilot's harness and, with some difficulty as the pilot's legs were jammed in the rudder pedals, he managed to extricate him. In his dazed condition Flight Sergeant Townsend did not know that the petrol tanks had fallen out and his anxiety was therefore increased because of the fire near the aircraft's bulkhead. He had just dragged the pilot clear when a civilian arrived who assisted him to carry the injured pilot from the aircraft. With great forethought, Flight Sergeant Townsend inflated and inverted the dinghy to serve as a bed for the injured pilot and wrapped him in his parachute for warmth. Securing the first aid kit from the fuselage, he administered morphia to the pilot, who was suffering acutely, and applied bandages to his head wounds. He then ensured that the guns, which were apparently undamaged, were made safe. Throughout, this .airman, .without any thought for his own welfare although suffering from cuts over the eye and severe shock, displayed most praiseworthy conduct.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


628747 Acting Flight Sergeant John James Haggett Harding.

Flight Sergeant Harding is employed in the equipment section at a Royal Air Force Station in Malta. During heavy and almost continuous air attacks on the aerodrome he has displayed courage and fortitude of a high standard by continuing on duty until the enemy were practically overhead. During a recent attack the equipment section was destroyed and Flight Sergeant Harding, who was sheltering in a trench a very short distance away, immediately proceeded to organise the salving of valuable equipment. He had narrowly escaped injured whilst in the trench and was badly shaken but this did not deter him. The continuous devotion to duty displayed by Flight Sergeant Harding has inspired others and has contributed largely to the high standard of morale maintained in the section.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


651142 Acting Flight Sergeant Hugh Shelley Stammwitz.

947276 Corporal Thomas Barkas.

One evening in March, 1942, an aerodrome in Malta was attacked and heavily bombed by about 50 enemy bombers and fires were started including those on a petrol bowser, an aircraft and an ammunition lorry which were close together. Flight Sergeant Stammwitz and Corporal Barkas immediately went to the scene and dealt with the fires, continuing to do so despite the heavy bombing, until all the fire extinguishers were empty. Corporal Barkas, with other members of the fire party, then proceeded to a site where a large number of incendiary bombs were burning (some of them were of the explosive type) and extinguished many. The leadership and courage displayed by these airmen set an excellent example.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


758062 Sergeant Ian George Fadden, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In October, 1941, fire occurred in the port engine of the aircraft in which this airman was flying over the desert. The aircraft was becoming uncontrollable and Sergeant Fadden, who had more experience than the pilot, took over the controls. Although the aircraft was in a semi-stalled position, he succeeded in obtaining partial control but was unable to prevent it from crashing. On impact, the starboard engine caught fire. Sergeant Fadden coolly remained in the pilot's seat until he thought everyone was safely clear but, when informed that the pilot was still in the aircraft, he went to him and found that he had both legs broken and was unconscious. With the assistance of 2 members of the crew, Sergeant Fadden dragged the injured pilot clear. The aircraft was now burning fiercely and in a short time was burnt out completely. This airman displayed great gallantry and presence of mind in an extremely trying and dangerous situation.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


1187562 Leading Aircraftman Reginald Boddy.

During recent heavy bombing attacks on an aerodrome in Malta this airman, who is employed on aerodrome duties, has set a magnificent example by his complete disregard of danger. Whilst intensive and prolonged air attacks have been in progress, he has continued his work and refused to take cover. He has been, wounded twice and on both occasions returned to his work with the same courage and keenness after discharge from hospital. One evening in April, 1942, during an enemy air attack on the aerodrome, our aircraft, which were then landing, had to be dispersed. Leading Aircraftman Boddy remained on the aerodrome and assisted the crew out of the last aircraft and directed them to cover only a few seconds before it received a direct hit. Had it not been for the courage and devotion to duty displayed by this airman the crew would most likely have been seriously injured or killed.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


615408 Leading Aircraftman Harold Benjamin Venn.

One day in March, 1942, Leading Aircraftman Venn, as a member of a fire tender party, assisted in extinguishing a fire in an aircraft, which had been caused by an enemy raider and he was instrumental in saving a considerable part of the aircraft. On 3 occasions, on one day in March, 1942, the aerodrome was attacked and heavily bombed. Fires were caused in petrol bowsers and aircraft, and, while the raids were in process, Leading Aircraftman Venn, with complete disregard of danger, again assisted in extinguishing the fires. The courage and devotion to duty displayed by this airman, have been outstanding.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


1211341 Leading Aircraftman John Henry Whitehorn.

Leading Aircraftman Whitehorn, a despatch rider, has shown complete disregard for his own safety during a long period of persistent enemy attacks at Malta and, although injured on two occasions when delivering messages, he has continued and completed his missions. The courage and devotion to duty displayed by Leading Aircraftman Whitehorn have contributed largely to the high standard of morale maintained by his fellow airmen. He has shown a willingness to undertake any job.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


967198 Leading Aircraftman Alexander Williamson.

1155981 Leading Aircraftman Ernest John Clarke.

One day in February, 1942, an aircraft crashed and caught fire on impact. Aircraftmen Williamson and Clarke immediately attempted to render assistance. Pulling their scarves over their faces and their balaclavas over their hands, both these airmen entered the blazing wreckage and dragged out a member of the crew. Small arms ammunition and flares were exploding all around, but Aircraftmen Williamson and Clarke re-entered the aircraft and attempted to remove other members of the crew. Both these airmen displayed great courage and disregard of danger.

(London Gazette 8 June 1942)


1351434 Corporal George Henry Freeman, Royal Air Force.

Corporal Freeman, a member of the Royal Air Force Regiment, is-employed as non-commissioned officer-in-charge of an-anti-aircraft flight at a relief landing ground. In April 1942, he was in a machine gun emplacement when a Spitfire crashed about 400 yards away from him and burst into flames. Corporal Freeman, having a bicycle at hand, hastened to the scene of the crash where he found the pilot lying in the blazing wreckage. He immediately went into the flames, dragged the pilot clear of the burning aircraft and, with the assistance, of another airman, extinguished his burning clothing. Corporal Freeman sustained burns to his hands and face. He displayed courage and initiative of a high order.

(London Gazette 10 July 1942)


628449 Corporal James Jones (since deceased), Royal Air Force.

Corporal Jones has displayed high courage and devotion to duty whilst employed on work of a special character in Malta. He has shown a complete disregard for his own safety.

(London Gazette 10 July 1942)


561487 Acting Flight Sergeant Herbert George William Cagby, Royal Air Force.

An aircraft was set on fire during an enemy air attack on an aerodrome in Malta. Whilst a second wave of bombers were diving to attack Flight Sergeant Cagby, displaying complete disregard for his own safety, removed about fifty 40 lb. bombs from the vicinity of the aircraft. His courageous and prompt action prevented an explosion and thereby saved valuable property. He has, on many other occasions, displayed courage and devotion to duty which has set a fine example.

(London Gazette 28 July 1942)


636720 Sergeant William Royston Smith, Royal Air Force.

Sergeant Smith has displayed courage and devotion to duty of a high standard during intense and almost continuous enemy air attacks on Malta. He has shown complete disregard for his personal safety and set an excellent example.

(London Gazette 28 July 1942)


644403 Corporal Charles Edward Casey, Royal Air Force.

In April, 1942, a Henley aircraft was forced to alight on the sea some 800 yards from the shore. The aircraft turned over on to its -back on alighting and the dinghy was lost. One member of the crew was apparently unable to swim, and, supported by his life jacket, was soon in an exhausted condition some two or three hundred yards out. Corporal Casey swam out towards the airman and, when he had nearly reached him, an uninflated dinghy was dropped nearby from an aircraft. Corporal. Casey swam to the dinghy but, not know how to inflate it; was compelled to abandon it. He then swam on to the airman who by now had ceased to show any signs of life. Corporal Casey persisted in his rescue efforts however and was later joined by another airman who had swum to his assistance. Between them they were able to tow the unconscious airman towards the shore. Despite strenuous efforts against the strong currents, the attempt proved almost beyond their strength and it was only with the further assistance of an officer that their unfortunate comrade was brought to the shore. The attempt to save his life proved unsuccessful but Corporal Casey took, a very great risk in going to his assistance on a stretch of coast notorious for dangerous currents, and showed a high example of gallantry.

(London Gazette 28 July 1942)


996888 Corporal John Fergusson, Royal Air Force.

89301 Corporal Arthur Edward Gwynne Roderick, Royal Air Force.

1426815 Aircraftman Second Class Henry Alfred Simpson, Royal Air Force.

In April, 1942, an Oxford aircraft which was taking off collided with another and immediately caught fire. It was extensively damaged and was broken hi two just in front of the door, thus completely cutting off the retreat from that exit. The pilot was unable to move, however, as he was rendered unconscious by the crash. The petrol tanks of both aircraft were pierced and the escaping petrol which ignited immediately enveloped the whole of the aircraft. Despite the fierceness of the fire Corporals Ferguson and Roderick and Aircraftman Simpson climbed on to the wing of the aircraft and with their bare hands; broke open the window. Their efforts to rescue the pilot were greatly handicapped as he was strapped in the machine and wearing a jacket-type, parachute harness which was attached to his seat type parachute. Nevertheless these airmen succeeded in extricating him and undoubtedly saved his-life by their prompt and gallant action.

(London Gazette 28 July 1942)


576550 Leading Aircraftman Peter Nigel Rowland, Royal Air Force

One night in May, 1942, an aircraft crashed on the edge of an aerodrome and immediately burst into flames. Squadron Leader Mogg (the station medical officer), accompanied by Leading Aircraftman Rowland, hastened to the scene and found that three members of the crew had been thrown clear of the main part of the wreckage and killed; a fourth member had managed to extricate himself from the tail turret. A wireless operator was, however, trapped in the blazing fuselage, being entangled by his harness and flying clothing which was burning. Showing complete disregard for their own safety, Squadron Leader Mogg, clad only in overalls over his pyjamas, and Leading Aircraftman Rowland went into the blazing wreckage to rescue the unfortunate airman. By lying flat on the floor and using a greatcoat as a shield Leading Aircraftman Rowland was able to afford some protection for the medical officer whilst the latter administered morphia to the injured operator. Leading Aircraftman Rowland afterwards assisted Squadron Leader Mogg in cutting the airman free and in extricating him from the aircraft. During the time that this officer and airman were working in the wreckage two oxygen bottles exploded within a few feet of their heads and there was grave danger that others might have done so at any time. Squadron Leader Mogg was badly scorched and sustained burns to his hands and wrists but, despite this, he accompanied the dying, wireless operator' during the journey by ambulance to hospital some 6 miles away. He then fainted and had to receive medical attention. Leading Aircraftman Rowland was also burned on the hands and wrists. Both rescuers displayed gallantry of a high standard.

Squadron Leader Frank George Mogg (90028), M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., Auxiliary Air Force was also awarded the MBE for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 28 July 1942)


1002805 Sergeant Albert Hill, Royal Air Force.

Sergeant Hill was the rear gunner of a Wellington aircraft which crashed and caught fire during an afternoon in July 1942. Although injured in the crash this airman managed to free himself. from the wreckage. He then ran immediately to the front of the aircraft to assist other members of the crew to escape. All entrances to the aircraft were obstructed but with the assistance of a civilian who had arrived on the scene part of the wreckage were removed and he was able to pull an injured and unconscious member of the crew out of the wreckage before he himself collapsed. During this operation the aircraft was blazing furiously and the petrol tanks exploded very soon after Sergeant Hill had effected the rescue. This airman displayed gallantry and initiative of a high order.

(London Gazette 1 December 1942)


1162788 Leading Aircraftman William George Laker, Royal Air Force.

One night in May, 1942, a Beaufighter aircraft crashed in an upside down position on an aerodrome and burst into flames. Leading Aircraftman Laker, an ambulance driver, and another airman were the first to arrive on the scene.  The pilot's cockpit was so badly damaged that nothing could be done to extricate the pilot. Leading Aircraftman Laker proceeded to rescue the observer but found that the observer's hatch was jammed. The heat was intense and ammunition was exploding but, with the aid of foam which was sprayed over him from the fire tender, Leading Aircraftman Laker was eventually able to open the hatch. He entered the aircraft, removed the unconscious observer's entangled parachute and other safety appliances, and passed him out to safety. By his prompt and gallant action Leading Aircraftman Laker saved the observer's life.

 (London Gazette 1 December 1942)


1243376 Aircraftman 1st Class James John McCarthy, Royal Air Force.

One day in March, 1942, a Master aircraft crashed on an aerodrome and immediately burst into flames. With only his tunic over his head to act as a protection, Aircraftman McCarthy dashed into the flames in an effort to rescue the pilot but was forced to withdraw when his tunic caught fire. He then seized a fireman's asbestos headpiece and made a second attempt to effect a rescue. Showing complete disregard of the flames which enveloped the unprotected part of his body, and ignoring the danger which would arise if the petrol tanks exploded, he succeeded in extricating the unconscious pilot from the cockpit of the fiercely burning wreckage. Throughout Aircraftman McCarthy showed great courage and determination. Unfortunately the pilot died two days, later.

(London Gazette 1 December 1942)


1253399 Flight Sergeant Bertie Couchman, Royal Air Force.

One night in September, 1942, Flight Sergeant Couchman was the navigator of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in the Ruhr. During the attack the aircraft was intercepted by an enemy aircraft and sustained damage which rendered it impossible to release the flares. On arrival back at base the captain accomplished a successful emergency landing, but unfortunately some of the flares ignited. Ammunition began to explode and the aircraft was set alight and was in great danger of being blown up. Displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Flight Sergeant Couchman remained in the aircraft and assisted three members of the crew, two of whom were injured, to safety. In so doing he was twice thrown on to the flames when the floor collapsed, sustaining severe burns, but it was largely due to his courage and devotion to duty that his comrades were able to leave the aircraft safely.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


937723 Flight Sergeant Peter William Hewitt, Royal Air Force.

In June, 1942, Flight Sergeant Hewitt was the 2nd pilot of a flying boat which crashed whilst alighting in a heavy swell, and sank. The crew were in shark-infested waters, 180 miles from land, with one rubber dinghy and four life belts. The captain of the aircraft was injured, and the dinghy would support only two people. Flight Sergeant Hewitt, finding that one of the crew was drowning, managed to get him on to the damaged dinghy and spent the whole of one night swimming alongside, holding the man's head out of the water, until he died. Even then Flight Sergeant Hewitt made strenuous efforts to effect resuscitations, to his own detriment and exhaustion. Later, when dinghies with food and water were dropped by an aircraft, Flight Sergeant Hewitt was the first to swim out to collect those within range. The crew were on the water for 70 hours before they were rescued, and it was largely due to the magnificent example of self-sacrifice and endurance of Flight Sergeant Hewitt and his cheerfulness in spite of the apparently hopeless situation, that only one of the crew was lost. When rescued he was in a far worse physical condition than his companions.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1206642 Flight Sergeant John Philp, Royal Air Force.

Can/R 73037 Sergeant George Kenneth Reardon, Royal Canadian Air Force.

912925 Sergeant Louis Victor Fossleitner, Royal Air Force.

Flight Sergeant Philp and Sergeants Reardon and Fossleitner were captain, front gunner and navigator respectively of an aircraft which attacked Munich one night in September, 1942. On the return flight the engineer reported that there would only be sufficient spare fuel to operate for 15 minutes on arrival at base. Flight Sergeant Philp therefore obtained permission to land at a nearer airfield. When nearing the airfield, however, one of the engines failed and it was necessary to descend on to the sea off the coast. Although the aircraft was kept level, it broke in four parts on impact with the water and these three airmen, together with the wireless operator and the mid upper gunner, were thrown into the sea. Flight Sergeant Philp, who is a strong swimmer, volunteered to swim to shore alone to get help. He abandoned this intention, however, as it was necessary to help the mid-upper gunner, and in company with Sergeant Reardon, started to swim to shore, taking the mid-upper gunner with them. They were picked up by a fishing boat after Swimming for 3 hours, but unfortunately the gunner was found to be dead. In the meantime, Sergeant Fossleitner, although badly shaken, had volunteered to remain behind on one of the wings and support the wireless operator, whose spine was fractured. He supported him for 2 hours, until eventually both were picked up by an Air/Sea Rescue Launch. The courage and fortitude displayed by Flight Sergeant Philp and Sergeants Reardon and Fossleitner were of the highest order.

 (London Gazette 29 December 1942)

 


1379591 Sergeant Eric Wade, Royal Air Force.

One night in September, 1942, Sergeant Wade was taxying an aircraft, prior to taking off, when an aircraft crashed on the flare path and burst into flames. Three fuel tanks exploded, Verey cartridges and ammunition commenced to detonate and there was a danger of a fourth petrol tank exploding. Sergeant Wade unhesitatingly entered the blazing fuselage and, finding the wireless operator in a dazed condition, helped him to safety just before the remaining petrol tank exploded and the fuselage collapsed. Sergeant Wade's prompt and gallant action undoubtedly saved the wireless operator's life.

 (London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1101543 Corporal Stanley Banks, Royal Air Force.

Corporal Banks was second coxswain on a High Speed Launch on 19th August, 1942. He showed great coolness under fire and after the crew abandoned ship he swam around encouraging them and on at least two occasions inflated the life jackets of members of the crew who were too exhausted to help themselves. Corporal Banks has been in air/sea rescue launches since February, 1941, and has always been one of the keenest airmen in his unit.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1331108 Leading Aircraftman Albert Dargue, Royal Air Force.

Leading Aircraftman Dargue was Nursing Orderly on a High Speed Launch during the combined operations on 19th. August, 1942. In spite of wounds, he endeavoured to carry out first-aid to the wounded until he was picked up in a seriously wounded condition. The courage and valuable services rendered by Leading Aircraftman Dargue are typical of the high qualities displayed by the nursing orderlies, who have carried out hazardous operations in High Speed Launches which play an essential part in air/sea rescue.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


543864 Leading Aircraftman Arthur John Henry Hale, Royal Air Force.

1211303 Leading Aircraftman Stephen Albert Stepto, Royal Air Force.

Leading Aircraftmen Hale and Stepto have been employed in an airfield clearance party at Malta . for several months. They have both performed their duties with the greatest zeal, often displaying complete disregard for their personal safety when clearing runways while heavy raids on the airfield have been in progress. They have set a magnificent example.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1003857 Leading Aircraftman William Tames Hitchcock, Royal Air Force.

In May, 1942, a Wellington aircraft crashed in flames on a landing ground and the occupants were killed. Leading Aircraftman Hitchcock displayed outstanding courage in removing most of the bodies from the blazing wreckage. Again, in August, 1942, a Kittyhawk aircraft crashed in flames on the same landing ground. Leading Aircraftman Hitchcock rushed from the fire tender with a hose, disappeared into the flames and shortly reappeared carrying the body of the pilot. With the assistance of another' member of the crew, he managed to get the body clear of the burning wreckage. Leading Aircraftman Hitchcock has displayed the greatest courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1169787 Leading Aircraftman Clifford James Jenkins, Royal Air Force.

1331128 Aircraftman 1st Class George Hogg Poppleton, Royal Air Force.

These airmen are nursing orderlies, who have always displayed the utmost courage and devotion to duty. One evening in October, 1942, they were on duty on an airfield with their ambulance during a heavy air attack on Malta, when they observed an aircraft, which was in difficulties, coming in to land. It crashed and immediately burst into flames. Despite the imminent danger of ammunition and petrol tanks exploding, Leading Aircraftman Jenkins and Aircraftman 1st Class Poppleton rushed into the burning wreckage and succeeded in extricating the wounded and semiconscious pilot and in moving him to safety. Their prompt and gallant action saved the pilot's life.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


755120 Aircraftman 1st Class Michael Nunn, Royal Air Force.

On the 19h August, 1942, Aircraftman 1st Class Nunn was wireless operator in a High Speed Launch. During operations the launch was severely attacked by enemy aircraft. He remained at his post until his wireless equipment was shot away and on going on deck, found he was the only member of the crew uninjured, the other members being either killed or wounded. He showed great presence of mind by first endeavouring to stop the engines until he was almost overcome by fumes. He then ran to the wheel and continued to steer the launch for the British coast until some time later he was taken aboard another launch. Shortly afterwards both launches were sunk by the enemy. Aircraftman Nunn has served with High Speed Launches since December, 1941, and has carried out numerous operations with skill and efficiency.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1113512 Aircraftman 2nd Class Frank Brown, Royal Air Force.

996631 Aircraftman 2nd Class Thomas Welsh, Royal Air Force.

H.M. Minesweeper "Changteh" sailed from Singapore in February, 1942, carrying 40 officers and men of the Royal Air Force, among others, and was sunk the next day by air attack, with heavy loss of life. Forty men escaped in the only undamaged boat, the proper complement of which was 22. After being nearly swamped in heavy weather, they reached land near the mouth of a river a few days later, but found no fresh water. Thirty survivors were picked up next day. Aircraftmen Brown and Welsh never faltered throughout a severe ordeal and set a magnificent example to all the rest.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1282121 Aircraftman 2nd Class Denis Arthur Wellesley, Viscount Dangan, Royal Air Force.

In August, 1942, a refueller was being started up by two members of its crew, when there was a terrific explosion, and it burst into flames. There were four refuellers moored in pairs, bow to stern. One member of the crew was blown into the water and the other was killed. Aircraftman Wellesley rushed to the refuelling pier, dived into the water,  in which there are barracuda and alligators, swam to the two refuellers that were not alight and immediately commenced casting off. He had nearly completed his task when reinforcements arrived. They were inspired by his example and the two refueller's were got away safely from the conflagration. Aircraftman Wellesley displayed courage and steadfastness of a high standard.

(London Gazette 29 December 1942)


1315955 Sergeant Richard Anthony SYMES, Royal Air Force.

Can/R.74646 .Sergeant Arthur William NICHOLS, Royal Canadian Air Force.

One night in November, 1942, Sergeants Symes and Nichols were the pilot and engineer respectively of an aircraft engaged on anti-submarine patrol duties. On the return journey engine trouble developed and Sergeant Symes was compelled to make an emergency landing. In so doing the aircraft struck a hut and burst into flames. All the crew, with the exception of the wireless operator, who was trapped by the legs, managed, to extricate themselves. Knowing that the petrol tanks might explode at any moment, Sergeants Symes and Nichols re-entered the blazing aircraft and succeeded in extricating the wireless operator; a few seconds later the petrol tanks exploded. The courage and devotion to duty displayed by these sergeants undoubtedly saved their comrade's life.

(London Gazette 26 February 1943)


1055558 Corporal Henry Douglas Houghton, Royal Air Force.

Corporal Houghton, who is employed as an armourer, has displayed outstanding zeal and devotion to duty. On one occasion during, a period of intensive operations, Corporal Houghton was in charge of the bomb loading crew of a Lancaster aircraft when he observed a light under the bomb cell of another aircraft about 200 yards away. He saw some airmen leaving the spot and, knowing the aircraft to be loaded with bombs, he ran to it and found that a container of 90 incendiary bombs had been released. Displaying courage and initiative Corporal Houghton picked up and threw away some 30 of the incendiaries, clearing those which were burning near to the wheels of the aircraft and others which were ejecting sparks into the bomb cell. The remainder were in one mass and burning fiercely. Corporal Houghton procured a steel sheet and covered the burning incendiaries with it. Having got this dangerous situation temporarily under control, he called to the ground crew who assisted him to push the aircraft clear. Under his direction the crew ultimately managed to subdue all the incendiaries. The aircraft concerned had on board several hundred incendiary bombs and one 4,000 lb. high explosive bomb. Corporal Houghton's gallant action undoubtedly saved a valuable aircraft and prevented damage to others in the vicinity. He sustained several burns on both hands which necessitated medical treatment for a considerable time.

(London Gazette 2 April 1943)


750469 Corporal Herbert Leonard Sparks, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

This airman is a clerk in the station orderly room. During more than two years service in Malta he has displayed courage and determination, carrying put his duties under difficult conditions in a praiseworthy manner. Twice during heavy enemy air attacks, in March and April, 1942, the orderly room sustained severe damage, yet Corporal Sparks assisted in removing documents without thought of his personal safety. On one occasion he returned to his office to remove documents while a large unexploded bomb was within 50 yards of the building. Shortly afterwards the bomb exploded and destroyed the building. During a night in July, 1942, this airman was an occupant of a tent when one adjoining it, only five yards away, received a hit by an anti-personnel bomb. Although injured in five places by bomb splinters, Corporal Sparks crawled back into his tent which was on fire in an effort to extinguish the flames and rescue a companion who had been killed. Before he was taken to hospital he attempted to rescue another occupant of the tent who was injured. Corporal Sparks has displayed courage and devotion' to duty which have been an example to all who have worked with him.

(London Gazette 2 April 1943)


1318594 Leading Aircraftman Kenneth George Coles, Royal Air Force.

One night in December, 1942, Leading Aircraftman Coles was undergoing training as a navigator in an aircraft detailed for a navigation exercise. The aircraft crashed into the top of a hill and all members of the crew were seriously injured. Leading Aircraftman Coles, although suffering intense pain and being very weak, having sustained a compound fracture of the left arm with multiple  abrasions and severe shock, dragged one of his helpless comrades out of the aircraft and clear of the wreckage. He then assisted the remaining two airmen to safety. During the whole of this time there was a grave danger of fire due to escaping petrol. Leading Aircraftman Coles displayed courage and devotion to duty of a very high standard.

(London Gazette 2 April 1943)


1281343 Sergeant Sidney Peter Johnson, Royal Air Force.

One day in January, 1943, Sergeant Johnson was the pilot of a Master aircraft which crashed and burst into flames after taking off. Sergeant Johnson, although suffering from a broken leg, severe facial burns and with his clothing on fire, managed to extricate himself from the burning wreckage. The petrol tanks were ablaze and likely to explode at any moment, but, knowing that his instructor was trapped in the cockpit. Sergeant Johnson returned to the aircraft and, despite his injuries, succeeded in releasing his companion. This heroic act undoubtedly saved the instructor's life.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)


552166 Corporal Gerard James McQuaide, Royal Air Force.

1102677 Leading Aircraftman Sam Halstead, Royal Air Force.

One evening in October, 1942, during an enemy air attack, a fire occurred in an aircraft. Knowing the aircraft to be loaded with bombs, these airmen attempted to release the bombs while the aircraft was burning. Being unable to do so they obtained a fire extinguisher and persisted in their efforts to extinguish the fire until ordered to cease. The bombs exploded a few minutes later. During the whole of this time enemy bombs were falling in the vicinity. Corporal McQuaide and Leading Aircraftman Halstead have, at all times, displayed a high standard of efficiency, courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)


1164525 Leading Aircraftman Cecil Arthur Layton. Royal Air Force.

One afternoon in October, 1942, a transport aircraft crashed and in the resulting fire was totally destroyed, its 13 occupants being killed. Leading Aircraftman Layton, who was working in the kitchen of the officers' mess, unhesitatingly ran to the burning aircraft and attempted to rescue the occupants. In the face of an inferno of flame and the danger of exploding petrol tanks and flying fragments, this airman, after several attempts, succeeded in dragging a body from the burning wreckage. In so doing he sustained severe burns and had to be removed to hospital. The courageous conduct of Leading Aircraftman Layton on this occasion is worthy of the highest praise.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)


1515644 Leading Aircraftman Ian Joseph McCrae, Royal Air Force

One morning in February, 1943, a Tiger Moth aircraft collided with a stationary aircraft and burst into flames immediately. Pilot Officer Hall and Leading Aircraftman McCrae, who were in another aircraft taxying along the boundary of a nearby airfield witnessed the accident and immediately ran to the scene in an endeavour to rescue the pilot who had been rendered unconscious. Pilot Officer Hall and Leading Aircraftman McCrae succeeded in unfastening the pilot's harness and were then driven back by the flames. Displaying complete disregard for their personal safety this officer and airman climbed on to the fuselage and re-entered the flames. The starboard wing was burnt out and the wreckage heeled over, throwing McCrae to the ground. Nevertheless he renewed his efforts and assisted Pilot Officer Hall in dragging the unconscious pilot to safety. This officer and airman displayed high courage.

Pilot Officer Keith James Hall (134744), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded the BEM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)


1635851 Aircraftman 1st Class Joseph Pickering, Royal Air Force

One day in January, 1943, Flying Officer Morgan and Aircraftman Pickering were master and nursing orderly respectively of the air/sea rescue pinnace which was repeatedly attacked by enemy aircraft from very close range. During the first attack Flying Officer Morgan's left elbow was shattered by shell splinters and a bullet passed through his right calf. The shock rendered him unconscious for a time. Aircraftman Pickering was also wounded and in subsequent attacks one member of the crew was killed and six others were wounded. Immediately he regained consciousness Flying Officer Morgan, refusing medical aid until all other members had been treated, resumed his position commanding the vessel and directed defensive measures. Aircraftman Pickering, although suffering great pain, continued to tend other injured members of the crew. Throughout the action Flying Officer Morgan and Aircraftman Pickering conducted themselves with great courage, skill and resource. The excellent example set by this officer and airman inspired and encouraged the other members of the crew during the return of their sinking vessel.

Flying Officer Edwin Morgan (118683), Royal Air Force was awarded the MBE for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)


1544738 Leading Aircraftman Arthur George Miles. Royal Air Force.

1047210 Aircraftman 2nd Class Herbert Fletcher, Royal Air Force

One night in February, 1943, a bomber aircraft crashed in a field on return from an operational night during which damage had been sustained to the elevator controls. The aircraft broke in two at the rear of the mid-upper turret, and the whole wreckage caught fire. Five members of the crew were able to step out through the gap where the fracture took place, whilst the pilot escaped through his window. Squadron (Leader Fisher and Pilot Officer Hill, who had both landed in another aircraft just before the crash, having been on a sortie of 5 hours duration, were in the immediate vicinity and rushed to the aircraft. Aircraftman Fletcher, who was on duty with the airfield controller, and Leading Aircraftman Miles, who was engaged at a dispersal point some 100 yards away, also hurried to the scene. Aircraftman Fletcher was the first to arrive and he entered the fuselage, thinking that all members of the crew had been trapped therein. (He was joined by Squadron (Leader Fisher and Leading Aircraftman Miles, but owing to the intense heat, all were forced to retire. The flight engineer was then found hanging from the pilot's window and unable to move owing to a broken thigh. Aircraftman Fletcher climbed along the port wing in order to render assistance to him. Squadron Leader Fisher, Pilot Officer Hill and Leading Aircraftman Miles all helped, the work being directed by Squadron Leader Fisher. Despite the intense heat and the danger from exploding petrol tanks and ammunition they succeeded in extricating the flight engineer, who had been trapped in the pilot's cockpit. The initiative and heroic efforts displayed by these officers and airmen undoubtedly saved their comrade's life.

Acting Squadron Leader Geoffrey Wilson O'Neill Fisher, D.F.C. (42560), Royal Air Force was awarded the OBE (Military Division) for his part in this action.

Pilot Officer Farnham Hill, D.F.C. (134661), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded the MBE (Military Division) for his part in this action

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)


1479714 Leading Aircraftman Beric Vaughan Icke, Royal Air Force

One night in March, 1943, an aircraft crashed on a Royal Air Force Station and immediately burst into flames. Squadron Leader Moore (the duty medical officer) saw the accident and, accompanied by Leading Aircraftman Icke, a medical orderly, proceeded to the scene. Squadron Leader Moore directed the removal of the rear gunner, who was dazed and sitting amongst the burning wreckage, to a place of safety. The aircraft was now enveloped in flames and ammunition was exploding. Nevertheless, despite the intense heat and the danger from exploding oxygen bottles this officer and airman entered the burning wreckage in an attempt to rescue another member of the crew who was pinned down. Without any protective clothing they lifted aside the burning wreckage and, with great difficulty, succeeded in extricating the injured man. Squadron Leader Moore rendered first aid to the rescued man. Squadron Leader Moore sustained burns to his chest and hands in carrying out the operation. This officer and airman both displayed courage and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Royal Air Force.

Acting Squadron Leader Frederick Thomas Moore, B.S., F.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (23417), Reserve of Air Force Officers was awarded the MBE for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 14 May 1943)


921207 Sergeant (now Pilot Officer) Henry Charles Sharpe, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

In October, 1942, Sergeant Sharpe was wireless operator of a Whitley aircraft which, owing to engine trouble, was forced to alight on the sea approximately 300 miles west of Lands End. Owing to the accurate bearing sent out by him the crew were quickly rescued. The captain and other members of the crew were shaken and dazed as a result of the forced descent, but this airman promptly launched and equipped the dinghy, later diving overboard and assisting 2 injured comrades into it. Sergeant Sharpe showed courage and resource and, on his own initiative, took charge of the crew until the captain recovered sufficiently to assume command.

(London Gazette 6 July 1943)


1313503 Sergeant Alexander Barrie, Royal Air Force.

One night in April, 1943, a Blenheim aircraft crashed and burst into flames. The aircraft had been seen to dive by Sergeant Barrie, who hurried across fields to the scene three-quarters of a mile away. He scrambled down a steep cutting to get to the aircraft and as he reached it an explosion occurred which broke it in two. He then saw the pilot, who was in the wreckage. Sergeant Barrie took off his own tunic and, after wrapping it round his head, entered the burning wreckage. He was able to drag the badly wounded pilot away to safety. Sergeant Barrie then returned to the blazing wreckage and searched for other survivors until he was satisfied that there were no others who could still be alive. This airman showed complete disregard for his own safety, which was jeopardised by fire, exploding tanks and pyrotechnics. His unselfish heroism was responsible for saving the pilot's life.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


1110323 Leading Aircraftman George Henry Chastney, Royal Air Force.

A Bisley aircraft, carrying mails, crashed when taking off and immediately burst into flames. Leading Aircraftman Chastney rushed to the scene of the accident and found the wireless operator trapped in the burning wreckage. Displaying complete disregard for his own safety whilst working for several minutes directly beneath a burning petrol tank, which was liable to explode, he succeeded in releasing the wireless operator. Leading  Aircraftman Chastney's courage and devotion to duty undoubtedly saved the airman's life.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


1303228 Leading Aircraftman Harold Garforth, Royal Air Force.

1504547 Leading Aircraftman Edward Joseph White, Royal Air Force.

One night in April, 1943, a Wellington aircraft was returning from operations and when landing on the airfield, bombs which had not been released exploded, causing the bomber to disintegrate in flames. Leading Aircraftmen Garforth and White, who were on duty at the station as ambulance driver and nursing orderly respectively, proceeded to the scene. Leading Aircraftman White immediately went to the rear turret and succeeded in extricating the gunner, who was badly injured and whose clothes were smouldering. In the meantime Leading Aircraftman Garforth had prepared his ambulance and brought a stretcher up to the blazing wreckage. Their prompt action in entering the area of the burning wreckage is worthy of high praise and undoubtedly enabled them to save the life of the air gunner. Neither of the rescuers was deterred by the possibility of further explosions occurring.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


1054476 Aircraftman 1st Class Christian Gabriel Borrowdale Kapp, Royal Air Force.

In March, 1943, a Beaufighter aircraft crashed. Aircraftman Kapp, who was on leave,  left his house and was the first to arrive at the scene. The aircraft was on fire and the pilot, who was injured, was trapped in the wreckage by his parachute harness. Despite the fire and consequent risk from exploding petrol tanks. Aircraftman Kapp heroically persisted until he succeeded in extricating the pilot, whose clothing had by then caught fire. He displayed courage and initiative of a high order.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


1665738 Aircraftman 2nd Class Harry Kay, Royal Air Force.

One afternoon in May, 1943, a Beaufighter aircraft crashed and caught fire when landing on an airfield. Aircraftman Kay immediately drove his ambulance to the scene and endeavoured to rescue the pilot, who was trapped and badly injured. As the heat was intense, this airman put on his cap and coat and finally succeeded in extricating the pilot; in so doing Aircraftman Kay sustained burns to his forehead. After receiving treatment for the, burns, Aircraftman Kay returned to his ambulance and took the injured pilot to hospital. In effecting the rescue, in spite of the intense heat of the fire, this airman showed high courage and a complete disregard of personal injury, which he might have sustained from the explosion of petrol tanks and oxygen bottles.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


1349855 Aircraftman 2nd Class John Kennedy, Royal Air Force.

In March, 1943, a Wellington aircraft crashed on an aerodrome and caught fire. Aircraftman Kennedy, accompanied by two other members of his gun post, immediately went to the scene of the accident. On arrival, Aircraftman Kennedy climbed on to the rear of the fuselage and, after breaking away the perspex of the rear gun turret, he succeeded in extricating the air gunner. Aircraftman Kennedy then went to the front of the aircraft and, assisted by his two comrades, succeeded in extricating another member of the crew who was unconscious. By this time the aircraft was enveloped in flames and Aircraftman Kennedy was compelled to abandon his rescue efforts; this he did just before the starboard petrol tanks exploded. The courage and initiative displayed by this airman undoubtedly saved two lives.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


1197934 Leading Aircraftman Albert French, Royal Air Force

One night in March, 1943, Sergeant Clark was the wireless operator/air gunner in a Fortress aircraft which crashed and caught fire on the top of a hill, in conditions of poor visibility. Sergeant Clark and three other members of the crew escaped with minor injuries and Sergeant Clark realised that three further members of the crew were in the wreckage. Despite the blazing petrol tanks and the presence of explosives which-he knew were in the aircraft, he immediately re-entered the fuselage and, with the assistance of. Leading Aircraftman French, who had arrived at the scene after having seen the flames from his bedroom, dragged the three airmen from the wreckage. Some time afterwards an explosion occurred, shattering the aircraft .and breaking glass a quarter-of a mile away.

1128327 Sergeant James Farquhar Clark, Royal Air Force was awarded a George Medal for his part in this action

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


628577 Sergeant Philip Gough, Royal Air Force

One night in April, 1943, a Whitley aircraft crash-landed and burst into flames. Flying Officer Verney (navigator) was thrown clear, but received superficial wounds on the face, head .and legs and suffered from shock. Sergeant Gough (air gunner) managed to extricate himself from the rear turret and proceeded to the front of the aircraft where he found the pilot and bomb aimer lying together in the wreckage. The bomb aimer was on fire, but was pulled to safety and passed to another member of the crew by Sergeant Gough. This airman then returned to assist the pilot who was pinned, from the waist downwards. Ignoring his own safety, Sergeant Gough made heroic attempts to release the pilot, despite the flames and. ammunition which was bursting in the front turret. He only desisted in his efforts when his harness, flying suit and hair were burning. Flying Officer Verney, who was suffering considerably, made several valiant attempts to go to the aid of Sergeant Gough, but became exhausted by his efforts and finally collapsed, being dragged away by another member of the crew. He was taken to a nearby residence where he displayed commendable coolness and fortitude in making his report of the accident and in attending to the needs of the other survivors.

Flying Officer John Verney (131568), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was also awarded the BEM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette 27 July 1943)


365343 Flight Sergeant Edwin Henry SPEIGHT, Royal Air Force.

1331514 Acting Corporal Edward Sidney WEATHERLEY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1534400 Leading Aircraftman John Douglas Bowerbank FIDLER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

A Baltimore aircraft, loaded for a long distance flight and carrying a very large quantity of petrol, crashed whilst taking off and burst into names. The pilot and wireless operator were killed instantly and a third member of the crew was pinned beneath the burning wreckage. Flight Sergeant Speight, Corporal Weatherley and Aircraftman Fidler, displaying complete disregard for their own safely, immediately endeavoured to rescue the trapped airman. After a considerable time and under great difficulties they succeeded in extricating him. The courage and devotion to duty displayed by the rescuers, undoubtedly saved their comrade's life.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)


341877 Corporal Daniel FITZPATRICK, Rcyal Air Force.

In August, 1943, a Spitfire aircraft crashed on a landing ground and immediately burst into flames. Corporal Fitzpatrick, who was in a truck nearby immediately jumped out and, without hesitation, went to the burning aircraft. Regardless of personal safety, he extricated the pilot even though while so doing more petrol ignited and the fire raged furiously. In effecting the rescue Corporal Fitzpatrick sustained burns but, nevertheless, having got the pilot clear of the aircraft, he persisted in removing his comrade's burning clothes. In dangerous circumstances Corporal Fitzpatrick showed great initiative and courage.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)


610334 Corporal Terence Henry KING, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In September, 1943, an aircraft, which was taking off with a load of bombs, crashed into two houses on the edge of an airfield and burst into flames. Corporal King hurried to the scene and, although fully aware that high explosive bombs were likely to explode at any moment, he went to the cottages a few yards from the burning aircraft to warn the occupants of their imminent danger and render assistance. An injured man was found and whilst Corporal King, with the help of a civilian, was taking him to safety a bomb exploded. The bravery shown by Corporal King was instrumental in saving a life, and many more lives might have been lost had it not been for his prompt action in helping to warn occupants of the nearby houses.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)


1026019 Corporal Alexander REILLY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In May, 1943, a Boston aircraft crashed and burst into flames while landing. Four of the crew were trapped in the burning wreckage and Corporal Reilly, on arrival at the scene of the accident, immediately dashed into the flames and dragged one of the crew clear. He then did all in his power to extinguish the flames that enveloped the airman, himself sustaining severe burns to his face, hands and arms. Although his gallant action failed to save the life of the airman, Corporal Reilly showed complete contempt for danger and disregard of his own safety.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)


 942533 Aircraftman and Class Raymond FRAZER, Royal Air Force (with effect from 29th December, 1942).

This airman was one of a draft of Royal Air Force personnel which left Singapore, in one of 2 small steamships, at dusk one evening in February, 1942. The next day the ships were sighted by Japanese aircraft and, after being bombed and set on fire, they eventually sank off Pompong Island. After swimming ashore, this airman, although wounded in the head, voluntarily assisted in manning a life-boat in which it was intended to return to one of the stricken ships, which was then fully ablaze and sinking, in order to rescue women and children on board. The strong tide prevented the life-boat from reaching the ship which drifted into an area crowded with drowning and wounded people. Aircraftman Frazer still bleeding from the wound to his head, dived into the shark-infested water time and again and assisted some 20 women and children to safety in the lifeboat. A landing was eventually made on the island of Kebat. This airman, displaying great courage and fortitude, continued -to assist in making others comfortable until the party was picked up three days later.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)


2026866 Leading Aircraftwoman Lilian Sarah ELLIS, Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

In May, 1943, Leading Aircraftwoman Ellis was in charge of a Balloon Site when an enemy air attack developed. Despite the intensity of the raid this airwoman supervised the balloon operation and ensured its completion. At the same time she took every precaution for the safety of the personnel not engaged in flying the balloon. When the operation was complete the site was hit by a bomb which killed 3 and wounded 4 of the airwomen. Although Leading Aircraftwoman Ellis was one who was severely-hurt she took charge of the situation and maintained the balloon in its operational position until assistance arrived. She also organised relief parties and, by so doing, undoubtedly saved the life of at least one airwoman who might have died without first aid treatment. Throughout the raid, Leading Aircraftwoman Ellis displayed outstanding leadership, coolness and courage.

(London Gazette 24 December 1943)


1436050 Flight Sergeant Harry Ernest HALL, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in August, 1943, Flight Sergeant Hall was pilot of an aircraft which was returning from operations. When approaching the South Coast of England the aircraft ran out of fuel and dived almost out of control into the sea. The crew were temporarily knocked out by the impact and the aircraft filled rapidly with water. Flight Sergeant Hall was the first to recover and his first thoughts were for the safety of his crew. He found the wireless operator injured and floating just below the astro-dome, and in spite of the rapidly rising water and with complete disregard for his own safety, he succeeded in extricating him from the aircraft and securing him safely in a dinghy. He then returned to the aircraft to search for the navigator and flight engineer who were missing. Five members of the crew were subsequently picked up by an air/sea rescue launch. In a desperate situation, aggravated by darkness, Flight Sergeant Hall displayed extreme courage and coolness throughout.

(London Gazette 12 November 1943)


Aus.412666 Flight Sergeant William John NEILSEN, Royal Australian Air Force.

Aus.412649 Flight Sergeant Henry Alexander MCDONALD, Royal Australian Air Force.

516813 Sergeant Roland Walton COULSTON, Royal Air Force.

One night in June, 1943, one of a number of aircraft which had been loaded with bombs in readiness for an operation, caught fire. The bombs on board exploded and flaming masses of debris were hurled in all directions setting fire to 2 other aircraft and much of the dry grass in the vicinity. Flight Sergeants McDonald and Neilsen, a pilot and an air gunner, respectively, immediately ran to a bomber which was almost surrounded by burning scrub and, after starting the engines, taxied it to safety. Sergeant Coulston, a pilot, rushed to a bomber which was standing by the 2 which had caught fire, and although fully aware that the 2 burning bombers were likely to explode, proceeded to start its engines, thereby enabling the aircraft to be taxied away to safety. Flight Sergeants McDonald, and Neilsen and Sergeant Coulston displayed courage and complete disregard for their personal safety and undoubtedly saved several valuable aircraft from destruction.

(London Gazette 12 November 1943)


1394967 Sergeant Harold John RHODA, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In June, 1943, Sergeant Rhoda was the wireless operator-air gunner in an aircraft which was forced down into the sea. This airman managed to extricate himself from the almost submerged aircraft but, realising that some members of the crew were missing, re-entered the aircraft and successfully extricated the 2nd pilot who was unconscious and trapped. Sergeant Rhoda, being uncertain whether the navigator had escaped, then searched the fuselage but was unable to locate him. Throughout, Sergeant Rhoda displayed high courage and undoubtedly saved the 2nd pilot's life.

(London Gazette 12 November 1943)


650030 Sergeant Norman Andrew WORKMAN, Royal Air Force.

On 5th June, 1943, Sergeant Workman was a member of the crew of an aircraft which crashed when alighting on the sea. The flying boat, which was about half mile from the flare path burst into flames. Although suffering from burns, bruises, cuts and shock, Sergeant Workman, disregarding his own safety, managed to lift one member of the crew into a gun position and to help another to a float. When the flames prevented him from rendering further assistance. Sergeant Workman made his way to shore in an endeavour to secure help. The half-mile journey involved wading through water waist deep, whilst hampered by weeds and mud. This airman displayed great determination and fortitude in his efforts to assist his companions but unfortunately Sergeant Workman was the only survivor.

(London Gazette 12 November 1943)


1291419 Leading Aircraftman Harry Thomas COLLINS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One morning in July, 1943, while a petrol bowser was being re-fuelled, the pumping motor backfired and started a fire in the bowser, which contained about 850 gallons of 100 octane fuel and which was surrounded by a large number of 40 gallon drums filled with petrol. The bowser burned fiercely and showed signs of exploding and igniting the entire fuel dump. Leading Aircraftman Collins ran to the scene and assisted in rolling the nearest drums to a safe distance. Then, despite the great heat, he crawled under the lorry where the rear tyres were burning, unhooked the towing bar and then drove the lorry away. In so doing Leading Aircraftman Collins prevented the conflagration from spreading to the main fuel dump and saved the lorry from destruction. He displayed great gallantry and a complete disregard of his own safety.

(London Gazette 12 November 1943)


1028731 Leading Aircraftman George Roper THOMPSON, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In August, 1943, this airman was working in an aircraft which had .been fuelled and loaded with depth charges. An explosion occurred which set fire to the starboard side of the fuselage. Leading Aircraftman Thompson immediately left the aircraft and, having procured a fire extinguisher, re-entered it and succeeded in quelling the flames. This airman's prompt and gallant action in returning to the aircraft, knowing that it was loaded with high explosives, is worthy of high praise.  He saved a valuable ai/craft and averted serious damage to others which would have occurred had the fire caused the detonation of the explosives.

(London Gazette 12 November 1943)


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