Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

 

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Airmen awarded the BEM for gallantry 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: -

642032 Sergeant Frank Bennetts Woolcock, Royal Air Force.

Sergeant Woolcock was the coxswain of a pinnace which was standing by in the Suez Bay, when he received a message that a Beaufighter aircraft had crashed some 20 miles away. He proceeded at full speed and, aided by aircraft, located two men who were by their dinghy on a desolate part of the coast. Owing to, coral reefs, he was unable to approach closer than 250 yards from the shore. The air crew members endeavoured to reach the pinnace in their dinghy but were too exhausted to succeed in this and the wind blew them back to the shore. Sergeant Woolcock then tried to send a lifebuoy on a line to the dinghy but the line caught in the coral. Although he knew that sharks were common in these waters Sergeant Woolcock, after instructing a senior deck hand to take charge of the pinnace, dived overboard and guided the launch as close to the reef as possible and then swam to the dinghy on the shore. The two airmen then got in the dinghy and paddled while Sergeant Woolcock swam behind and pushed. Having assisted the airmen safely on board the pinnace, Sergeant Woolcock swam back to the reef and freed the buoy line. He was in the water for approximately three-quarters of an hour and displayed fine courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette – 14 January 1944)


1468096 Corporal Alfred William Bloom, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in September, 1943, Corporal Bloom was non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the Fire Tender when an aircraft crashed on an airfield and burst into flames. Corporal Bloom led his party in an attempt to rescue the pilot who was  trapped in the blazing wreckage. Ignoring the imminent danger from the fire and exploding ammunition Corporal Bloom persisted in his efforts to release the pilot and after some 15 minutes the latter was successfully extricated and his life saved. Corporal Bloom has, by his prompt action on other occasions, saved crashed aircraft from becoming total losses. He has, at all times, displayed courage and devotion to duty of a high standard.

(London Gazette – 14 January 1944)


1191444 Corporal John Henry James Davey, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One morning in September, 1943, a Baltimore aircraft, whilst taking off, crashed into a double pen in which two Blenheim aircraft were parked. One of the Blenheims and the Baltimore immediately caught fire. Corporal Davey, a fitter, hurried to the scene and, displaying complete disregard for his own safety, led three other airmen in a successful attempt to release the trapped pilot in the Baltimore aircraft. Corporal Davey's prompt and gallant action undoubtedly saved the pilot's life.

(London Gazette – 14 January 1944)


157559 Corporal Gerald Christopher Harcourt, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In May, 1943, an aircraft, which was attempting to land, crashed on the edge of an airfield and burst into flames. Corporal Harcourt, a member of the service police, immediately gave orders for a fire tender to be brought to the scene. He then proceeded to the aircraft which was burning furiously; the cannon shells in the wings were also exploding. Nevertheless, displaying complete disregard of his own safety Corporal Harcourt, with the assistance of an army officer, extricated the pilot from his cockpit, and got him clear of the wreckage. He then endeavoured to strip him of his clothing which was soaked in petrol and was burning. Corporal Harcourt, by his initiative and courage, set a magnificent example.

(London Gazette – 14 January 1944)


957672 Leading Aircraftman Ronald Douglas Christopher Carter, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In August, 1943, when a grass fire started near to a Technical Stores Leading Aircraftman Carter, who was in charge of the fire tender, at once proceeded to the scene. The fire soon surrounded a large store of gelignite and other explosives; one heap of gelignite was already burning. Despite the grave danger of an explosion occurring Leading Aircraftman Carter conducted the fire fighting, working very close to the burning explosives. After the work had proceeded for about five minutes the burning gelignite exploded, injuring all the fire crew and rendering the fire tender unserviceable. In dangerous conditions Leading Aircraftman Carter displayed leadership and ability of a high order.

(London Gazette – 14 January 1944)


992138 Corporal Charles Valentine Burton, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One afternoon in July, 1943, an aircraft crashed on landing and caught fire. The pilot and a passenger, who were the only occupants, were both thrown out of the cockpit and trapped beneath the wreckage of a wing. Corporal Burton, assisted by two other airmen, attempted to rescue the occupants but all we're driven back by the heat. Undeterred, Burton made another attempt alone and this time succeeded in partially lifting the burning wreckage of the wing and he then dragged the pilot clear. Flying Officer Dunlop, a medical officer, had arrived at the scene of the accident and on being informed that the passenger was still under the wreckage, attempted to release him. Whilst this was being done an explosion occurred but Flying Officer Dunlop continued his rescue efforts and dragged the passenger clear of the aircraft. This officer and airman displayed considerable bravery.

Flying Officer Robert Dunlop, M.B., B.Ch. (138359), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded the MBE for his part in this action.

(London Gazette – 14 January 1944)


1387153 Corporal William John Lush

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.

Flying Officer Geoffrey Howard Dhenin, M.B., Ch.B., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P. (138354), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded the GM for his part in this action.

(London Gazette – 14 January 1944)


535488 Flight Sergeant Thomas Hall, Royal Air Force.

In November, 1943, a Beaufighter aircraft, carrying a normal load of explosives and ammunition, crashed and burnt into flames. Flight Sergeant Hall, who was working in a nearby building, immediately went to the scene of the accident and endeavoured to rescue the pilot who, although he had struggled half way out of the hatch, was dazed and unable to get clear. Flight Sergeant Hall was driven back by the flames but, persisting in his efforts, he eventually succeeded in pulling the pilot out of the aircraft and in assisting him to safety. In so doing Flight Sergeant Hall sustained .severe burns to his face. His prompt and courageous action, which was performed with the knowledge that the aircraft was carrying explosives and ammunition, undoubtedly saved the pilot's life.

(London Gazette – 14 March 1944)


1389699, Sergeant Eric Victor Sharp, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One morning in November, 1943, Sergeant Sharp was the wireless operator (air) of a Wellington aircraft which crashed and caught fire. The aircraft was fully fuelled and carrying ammunition and pyrotechnics. The crew, with one exception, managed to extricate themselves. Sergeant 'Sharp was just about to jump off the leading edge of the mainplane when the wing petrol tanks caught fire. At this moment, realising that one of his comrades was still in the aircraft, he returned through the fire and succeeded in pulling him out of the astro-dome on to the ground. In so doing he sustained in juries which necessitated treatment at hospital but his gallant action saved his comrade's life.

(London Gazette – 14 March 1944)


771102 Corporal Ernest Marmaduke Bower, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

 On two occasions this airman, while in charge of the crash tender, has shown outstanding gallantry in his attempts to save the lives of pilots by quelling the flames of burning aircraft. The first incident occurred in August, 1943, when two Typhoon aircraft, which had collided in the air, burst into flames on impact with the ground. The second took place in November, 1943, when an aircraft landed from an operational sortie with a bomb which had failed to release; the bomb fell off during the landing run, exploded, and set the aircraft alight. In the face of great danger from exploding cannon shells and petrol tanks Corporal Bower, on both occasions, showed fine courage and devotion to duty by approaching, without hesitation, very close to the burning aircraft to enable his extinguisher to reach the flames. His excellent example encouraged the other airmen engaged in the fire fighting and enabled the flames to be subdued in a very short time.

(London Gazette – 14 March 1944)


1250011 Corporal Sidney John Mathews, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in December, 1943, this airman observed a Lancaster aircraft crash in a field. He immediately ran across several ploughed fields to reach the aircraft which was by then burning fiercely. Corporal Mathews succeeded in extricating the wireless operator and in pulling two other members of the crew from the blazing wreckage. Then after attending to the rear gunner who had been thrown clear and was dazed, Corporal Mathews went to a telephone and reported the crash to his base. Later, he directed the fire tender and the ambulance to the scene. By his prompt and courageous action this airman saved the life of the wireless operator and rendered valuable assistance in most harassing and difficult circumstances.

(London Gazette – 14 March 1944)


549750 Leading Aircraftman William Henry Goode, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in October, 1943, a Lancaster aircraft, returning from an operation, crashed on a beach. A crash tender was quickly on the scene, Leading Aircraftman Goode being a member of its crew. The aircraft was found to be burning fiercely. Despite the danger from ammunition, which was continually exploding, the crew of the tender successfully extinguished the fire. There being no sign of any occupants of the bomber, an extensive search was made of the aircraft and also in the neighbourhood of the beach. The search in this latter area was a particularly hazardous operation as the locality is heavily mined and personnel had been warned off in orders. Throughout the fire fighting work and during the subsequent search, which was undertaken in complete darkness, Leading Aircraftman Goode showed a conspicuous example of courageous and enthusiastic leadership, displaying complete disregard for his own safety. On a more recent occasion, he displayed similar courage and leadership when an aircraft crashed on a runway of his station and burst into flames. He made a prolonged attempt to save the pilot from the flames and, although unsuccessful, he eventually was able to recover the body.

(London Gazette – 14 March 1944)


1182257 Leading Aircraftman Terence James Bysshe Shelley Giles, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. (Royal Air Force Regiment.)

1454796 Aircraftman 1st Class Leonard John Waites, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. (Royal Air Force Regiment.)

In December, 1943, an Albemarle aircraft crashed when approaching to land on an airfield. The wreckage blazed furiously. Leading Aircraftman Giles and Aircraftman 1st Class Waites, who were employed in a gun post 200 yards away, immediately ran to the scene. Disdaining the intense heat and exploding ammunition they climbed on to the fuselage to reach the seriously injured wireless operator (air) and succeeded in extricating him from his broken and burning turret and in carrying him away to safety. After removing the airman's burning shoes, Aircraftmen Giles and Waites returned to the blazing wreckage but were unable to find any other occupants of the aircraft. These airmen displayed high courage.

(London Gazette – 14 March 1944)


431477 Corporal Alice Holden, Women's Auxiliary  Air Force.

One night in October, 1943, a Wellington aircraft crashed about 150 yards from the flying control room at an airfield. Corporal Holden who was on stand by duty as a radio telephone operator, immediately ran towards the burning wreckage. Just before she reached it the petrol tanks exploded and fragments were hurled near to her. In spite of this she continued on hearing cries for help and she ultimately discovered the rear gunner trapped in his turret and enveloped by the flames. After some difficulty Corporal Holden managed to open the escape door but the gunner, whose clothing and harness were burning, was unable to get clear unaided. Ignoring the danger from the exploding ammunition and the intense heat Corporal Holden persisted in her rescue efforts and eventually succeeded in dragging the airman clear of the aircraft and in escorting him to an ambulance. She displayed courage and devotion to duty of a very high standard and but for her gallant

(London Gazette – 14 March 1944)


1052946 Sergeant Ernest Roberts, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in February, 1944, Sergeant Roberts was the mid-upper gunner of an aircraft which crashed and burst into flames when reaching base after an operational flight. Although suffering from shock and a heavy blow on the chest, this airman immediately proceeded to extricate the rear gunner who had sustained a broken arm and was trapped in his turret. After freeing the air gunner, Sergeant Roberts attempted to enter the fuselage to rescue other members of the crew, knowing full well that the petrol tanks might explode at any moment. There was also the risk of ammunition and pyrotechnics exploding. He was, however, compelled by the flames to abandon his efforts. He then found the flight engineer, who had been thrown clear and did what he could for him until the airman died. Sergeant Roberts, in his disregard of the risk of sustaining further injuries, showed great courage and devotion to duty in his attempt to rescue his companions.

(London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


1588527 Sergeant Thomas Vernon Shaw, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One morning in February, 1944, Sergeant Shaw was the flight engineer of an aircraft which, when approaching to land after an operational sortie, crashed and immediately caught fire. Three members of the crew of the Lancaster managed to extricate themselves. Sergeant Shaw, who was suffering from shock and was badly shaken, was escaping through his window when he noticed that, although the propellers were broken off, the engines were still running. Disregarding his personal safety Sergeant Shaw made his way back into the burning bomber and succeeded in switching off the engines, thereby making any rescue work less dangerous. With the assistance of a medical officer, Sergeant Shaw then succeeded in extricating the bomb aimer who had been trapped in the fuselage. Another member of the crew (the midupper gunner), who was burned on the face and hands and blinded by blood, was making his way to the end of the aircraft which was burning. Sergeant Shaw re-entered the aircraft and, despite the intense heat, smoke and fumes, he succeeded in getting the mid-upper gunner to safety. Sergeant Shaw's unselfish and courageous actions undoubtedly contributed to a greater saving of life than would otherwise have been effected.

(London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


1179394 Corporal John Douglas Simmons, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In July, 1943, a Whitley aircraft crashed into a Hampden in which an airman was working. Corporal Simmons immediately went to the rescue of  the trapped airman whose clothing was on fire and, removing his own tunic, he smothered his colleague's burning clothing. He then raced to another aircraft some 20 yards away and removed it to safety just before the depth charges exploded in the Whitley and Hampden aircraft. On 21st December, 1943, regardless of personal danger, Corporal Simmons climbed into the cockpit of a Dakota aircraft which had crashed and had lost a propeller. The crew had left the Dakota but one of the engines was still running and smoke was pouring from it. Corporal Simmons switched off the engine, turned off all petrol cocks and so prevented a fire from breaking out. His prompt and courageous actions have thus saved an airman's life and prevented the probable destruction of 2 aircraft.

(London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


1151859 Corporal Frederick William STYLES, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in November, 1943, a Catalina aircraft crashed when alighting on the water and immediately submerged with the exception of its tail. Corporal Styles was duty coxswain of the control boat on the flare path and he at once proceeded to the scene. Diving overboard, he brought to safety 2 men who were afloat. Learning that 6 members of the crew were still in the aircraft, Corporal Styles opened the blisters and swam around inside the aircraft in an attempt to locate them. He was unable from the inside to penetrate to the front of the Catalina. After ascertaining that nobody was left in the tail, he swam round to the front and repeatedly dived in an attempt to enter the Catalina from its nose.  After 20 minutes Corporal Styles was forced to abandon his attempts owing to the icy cold water. Returning to his launch, he took the aircraft in tow but the line parted and the Catalina ultimately sank. Corporal Styles displayed bravery in circumstances of great difficulty. On a previous occasion, in September, 1943, when on duty, this airman dived into the sea and rescued a 10 year old boy who had fallen into the water and had disappeared below the surface.

(London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


1518936 Leading Aircraftman Emile Hamilton TARRY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In January, 1944, during an enemy air attack, two bombs were dropped on a small explosives storage unit and one of the missiles hit a storehouse containing explosives. The senior N.C.O. was injured and dazed by falling debris. Aircraftman Tarry, taking charge of subsequent proceedings, was instrumental in applying all available fire-fighting appliances and, later, in guiding the National Fire Service crew to the most advantageous positions from which to deal with the fire. Although fully aware of the dangerous nature of the contents of the storehouse, Aircraftman Tarry, on more than one occasion, entered the building in order to direct operations more efficiently. Many of the weapons in the storehouse were split open and became ignited. Aircraftman Tarry's great powers of leadership, courage and initiative contributed materially to the saving of much of the valuable stores. He set an excellent example throughout.

(London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


1271437 Leading Aircraftman Sir Joseph Arthur Charles WEBB, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night, in February, 1944, a Wellington aircraft, on returning from a cross country training flight, crashed in a thick spinney in the vicinity of an airfield. The crash tender, with Leading Aircraftman Webb as the leader of the crew, quickly arrived on the scene. The aircraft was burning from end to end. Leading Aircraftman Webb, having got the tender into operation, heard the rear gunner, who was trapped in his turret, calling for help. Ignoring the danger from exploding ammunition, Leading Aircraftman Webb stood in front of the guns, kicked in the panels between them and then smashed the perspex in an endeavour to extricate the airman who was trapped by his feet. Owing to the broken brushwood around Leading Aircraftman Webb it was impossible for anyone to approach near enough to render assistance. The air gunner went limp, but Leading Aircraftman Webb, by calling to him, encouraged him to rally himself sufficiently to release his feet. Both airmen eventually managed to roll clear. Leading Aircraftman Webb's disregard of danger and his courage and devotion to duty undoubtedly saved the gunner's life.

(London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


1155743 Aircraftman 1st Class Magnus Evan ANDERSON, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In March, 1944, Aircraftman Anderson was a member of the crew of a High Speed Launch which was attacked from the air and set on fire with the exception of Aircraftman Anderson all the motor boat's crew were injured by gunfire. Aircraftman Anderson launched the Carley float unaided, dragged the 1st coxswain to the side and then succeeded in lifting him into it. By this time the launch was burning furiously from stem to stern' and ammunition was exploding there was also the grave danger of the fuel tanks exploding. Nevertheless, Aircraftman Anderson went into the wireless cabin, wheelhouse and bridge to ascertain if anyone remained who was alive. One member of the crew who was in the wheelhouse had sustained a shattered arm and leg and, although conscious was unable to move. Aircraftman Anderson was responsible for saving this airman's life. It was not until he had ensured that no further members of the crew were alive that Aircraftman Anderson got into the Carley float. Then, showing presence of mind, he pulled away from .the launch to avoid the spread of burning petrol. Throughout, this airman displayed great courage and devotion to duty.

 (London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


944525 Leading Aircraftman Joseph Therwell Wray, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in February, 1944, Squadron Leader Pettit was the officer in charge of night flying at a Royal Air Force Station when an aircraft, whilst attempting an emergency landing, overshot the end of the runway and overturned. The aircraft immediately caught fire. Squadron Leader Pettit rushed to the spot and, with the assistance of the fire party led by Leading Aircraftman Wray, quickly released two members of the crew who had been trapped in the fuselage. Squadron Leader Pettit then found that the rear gunner was seriously injured and trapped upside down in his turret. By this time the aircraft was burning furiously and the petrol tanks had started to explode. In spite of this and of the further danger from exploding ammunition and pyrotechnics, Squadron Leader Pettit decided to attempt the extremely difficult task of removing the rear turret completely from the fuselage as all other attempts to reach the trapped gunner had failed. By strenuous efforts he was ultimately able to get into the turret while a party, headed by Leading Aircraftman Wray, wrenched at it from outside. Eventually the gunner was extricated alive and without any addition to the severe in juries which he had sustained in the crash. Squadron Leader Pettit's coolness, courage and initiative and Leading Aircraftman Wray's determination and devotion to duty in dangerous circumstances were of a very high order and were instrumental in saving the lives' of three members of the crew of the aircraft.

Acting Squadron Leader Wilmot Reginald Pettit, D.F.C. (Can/J. 15517), Royal Canadian Air Force was awarded the MBE for his part in this action .

(London Gazette – 26 May 1944)


1586158 Sergeant John Noel Rumsby, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in March, 1944, Sergeant Rumsby was a member of the crew of a Wellington aircraft which crashed through a tree on to a barn and proceeded through the top storey of a farm building, finally resting on the roof of another building containing livestock. The tangled wreckage burst into flames, Sergeant Rumsby, although badly bruised and shaken, managed to extricate himself from the wreckage and fell off the roof of the building into the midst of many pedigree bullocks in a stall below. After releasing the animals who were wild with fear, Sergeant Rumsby climbed back on the roof to search for his companions. He found the pilot of the aircraft injured and 1 with his clothes on fire. Sergeant Rumsby put out the flames and assisted the pilot from the roof and to the farm house. He then, returned to the blazing wreckage and made a further search, disregarding the danger from the, explosion of fuel tanks in the aircraft and the collapse of the roof of the building. He displayed great gallantry and undoubtedly saved the life of his pilot.

(London Gazette – 22 August 1944)


820012 Corporal John Stokes O’Shea, Auxiliary Air Force.

During a low flying, attack on our aircraft operating behind the Japanese lines, an aircraft on the ground was set on fire and its pilot was seriously injured. Disregarding the, attackers and the fire, Corporal O'Shea left his slit trench and ran to the aid of the pilot, whom he assisted from his burning aircraft. Later, with help from another airman, Corporal O'Shea carried the pilot a distance of 30 yards and applied a torniquet to stem the flow of blood.

(London Gazette – 22 August 1944)


955634 Leading Aircraftman Edward George William Hall, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In February, 1944, an aircraft crashed and caught fire. The crew were badly injured and trapped in the blazing wreckage. Leading Aircraftman Hall who was the first to arrive at the scene of the accident, immediately, plunged into the flames in an endeavour to rescue the injured airmen. Despite the danger from the exploding ammunition and petrol tanks he succeeded in dragging two of the airmen to safety. Leading Aircraftman Hall's gallant and prompt action' undoubtedly saved 2 lives.

(London Gazette – 22 August 1944)


1444303 Corporal George Greenwood, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In February, 1944, a Mosquito aircraft crashed and caught fire when approaching to land. The pilot was killed instantly but the observer was  alive and rescue parties tried in turn to extricate him from the blazing wreckage. Party, after party failed and each attempt became more difficult owing to the increasing heat of the fire in the cockpit area of the wreckage. Eventually, Squadron Leader Brown, the Station medical officer, and Corporal Greenwood made a final and desperate effort as the situation had become critical because the supplies of foam were exhausted temporarily and the fire remained, unchecked for some minutes. If their effort failed it was clear that immediate amputation of the observer's leg was the only way by which he could be released. Displaying extreme courage, Squadron Leader Brown and Corporal Greenwood withstood the intense heat of the flames and, by the skilful use of the tools at their disposal, succeeded in breaking away the wreckage which was trapping the observer's leg. They then removed the airman to the ambulance. While first aid was being rendered, Squadron Leader Brown returned to the wreckage to make certain that the pilot was not alive. This officer and airman displayed outstanding courage and determination.

Squadron Leader Ernest Reginald Brown (78224), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded the MBE for his part in this action.

(London Gazette – 22 August 1944)


1577262 Flight Sergeant John Greasley, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In June, 1944, Flight Sergeant Greasley, a flying instructor, was flying a Tiger Moth, having a pupil navigator on board, when he noticed an aircraft blazing on the ground. He immediately came down low and circled the aircraft. Seeing no assistance being rendered, he landed about 100 yds. away from the crash. The crashed aircraft was burning furiously and one of the petrol tanks had been thrown clear and was on fire. There was imminent risk of the tank exploding and of the remaining tank an the aircraft doing likewise. Nevertheless, disregarding his own safety. Flight Sergeant Greasley searched the blazing wreckage and, with the help of his pupil, he dragged the navigator clear and beat out the flames on his burning clothing. The navigator, however, was dead. Flight Sergeant Greasley returned to search for the pilot, but was unsuccessful in discovering Him. Flight Sergeant Greasley showed great presence of mind, coolness and courage. He had to make a hazardous landing and then took a considerable risk in carrying out rescue work when there was a possibility of petrol tanks exploding.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


548634 Flight Sergeant William Woodro McQueen, Royal Air Force.

As acting master of a high speed launch Flight Sergeant McQueen was, one night in April, 1944, directed to proceed to the assistance of a Catalina aircraft which had come down on the sea. Extremely heavy weather prevailed at the time, but after several unsuccessful attempts had been made, the aircraft was finally taken in tow by the launch and brought safely back to base without damage or casualties. During the fourteen hours at sea in waters within easy reach of enemy aircraft, Flight Sergeant McQueen remained on the bridge directing the operation. It was entirely due to his initiative and excellent seamanship that the aircraft and crew were successfully rescued. He has served as coxswain on many air/sea rescue sorties during the past five years but this was the first sortie in which he was in command of a high-speed launch.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


1353035 Acting Flight Sergeant George Frederick Wotton Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

During live hand grenade practice at a range in April, 1944, Flight Sergeant Wotton was instructing airmen in the final stages of a course.  An airman made a false throw and the grenade, after hitting the parapet, fell back into the throwing pit. The pupil had jumped to the narrow passage leading from the pit and the grenade rolled between his legs. With great presence of mind Flight Sergeant Wotton pulled the pupil to the ground behind some sandbags and picked up the grenade, throwing it clear of the pit. It exploded after travelling five yards. By his prompt and courageous action Flight Sergeant Wotton saved the life of the pupil. There was insufficient time for the pupil to be pulled round the traverse of the pit as this involved turning two corners.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


1370101 Sergeant James Strathie Eadie, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In February, 1944, an aircraft in which this airman was serving as wireless operator (air) collided with a high tension cable and crashed in flames. Two of the crew were killed and seven were injured, Sergeant Eadie, however, escaped injury. Although he was soaked in engine oil, he gallantly re-entered the blazing aircraft and rescued a crew member who was trapped and unconscious. He passed him out of the aircraft to a civilian who had arrived to help in removing the injured. Sergeant Eadie again entered the aircraft, and, with the assistance of the civilian, helped three other members of the crew to safety. He did not leave the wreckage until the whole of the crew had been accounted for. During this time the aircraft was burning furiously and ammunition was exploding.  Sergeant Eadie's courage and complete disregard for his personal safety were of a very high order.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


517999 Sergeant John Arthur Farnath, Royal Air Force.

One night in April, 1944, a Wellington aircraft crashed on take off. The crew abandoned the aircraft but the starboard engine was left running. When Sergeant Farnath reached the scene petrol was pouring from the starboard wing tanks and two 500 lb. bombs were lying beneath the starboard inner plane. Realising the danger to other aircraft and personnel in the vicinity should an explosion occur, Sergeant Farnath entered the cockpit in an endeavour to stop the engine. The controls, however, were jammed. He then went to the back of the engine and, with great difficulty, owing to the terrific slip-stream and heat coming from the engine which was running at   some 3,000 r.p.m., he managed to remove the side cowling and, by operating the cut-out control, was able to stop the engine. This operation took 20 minutes to complete. His initiative and disregard for his own safety undoubtedly saved a number of aircraft from blowing up or being burnt out. He has previously exhibited similar initiative and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


1088349 Corporal Ernest Leslie Bond, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In April, 1944, a Wellington aircraft crashed at the end of the runway shortly after becoming airborne. Corporal Bond was first on the scene and immediately assisted the rear gunner out of his turret. By then the fuselage was burning furiously. Shouts were now heard from inside and Corporal Bond realised that the only means of escape was through the rear turret. He received assistance from another airman and, together, they grabbed the guns and managed to revolve the turret dead astern thus enabling an air crew member who had been trapped inside the fuselage to enter the turret. The air crew member locked the turret doors and attempted to turn the turret to port. He found that it would not move so Corporal Bond instructed him to hold the lock up and operate the manual control. Whilst the turret was then being turned round to port a large explosion occurred. Corporal Bond was not deterred, however, and he finally held the air crew member's harness and dragged him to safety. By his courage and promptitude, he saved the life of a colleague.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


1329955 Corporal Reginald Philip Miller, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In April, 1944, an Oxford aircraft crashed and caught fire; the pilot was trapped by his feet and unable to release himself!  Corporal Miller, who was in the vicinity, hurried to the scene of the accident and immediately endeavoured to extricate the airman who was surrounded by the flames. Whilst the rescuer, was thus engaged, an explosion occurred, followed by several minor explosions. Despite .this and the intense heat, Corporal Miller persisted in his rescue efforts but was unable to free the pilot. Meanwhile, 2 American officers had arrived on the scene with a fire extinguisher taken from their car. Corporal Miller then went back into the flames and aided by the officers and an American soldier (a driver), he succeeded in extricating the pilot. Corporal Miller displayed fine courage and his prompt and. gallant action undoubtedly save the pilot's life.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


916502 Corporal Ronald Edmund Roberts, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In May, 1944, at Anzio, Corporal Roberts was nursing orderly in an air-sea rescue launch which was despatched to assist in. a rescue operation at a position only three miles from the German held coast line. The launch was attacked by enemy fighter aircraft and Corporal Roberts was hit by .5 calibre bullets, in the hand, thigh and hip. Despite his injuries he dragged a wounded gunner from his gun turret and dressed his wounds. Only when his work was finished did he mention the fact that he himself was wounded. The calmness and courage of this airman were of the highest order and he set a fine example to others.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


918736 Corporal Kenneth Batten Bassett-Thomson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1485611 Leading Aircraftman Stanley Goodacre, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In June 1944, these airmen were working on an airfield when a Wellington aircraft, in an attempt o make a forced landing, crashed outside the airfield and burst into flames. They immediately ran to the scene and, by the time they arrived the flames were spreading towards the pilot's cockpit. Ammunition was exploding in the central turret. The pilot was unconscious and trapped inside the aircraft. Corporal Bassett-Thomson and a civilian assisted Leading Aircraftman Goodacre to climb on to the wing in an effort to reach the pilot. Leading Aircraftman Goodacre then saw a break in the perspex and, thrusting his head and shoulders through, he was able to seize the unconscious man and, twisting him round, he freed him. He then took off his parachute harness. Meanwhile, Corporal Bassett-Thomson had smashed a hole in the side of the cockpit. Leading Aircraftman Goodacre was able to lift the pilot out through this hole to Corporal Bassett-Thomson and the civilian, both of whom dragged him clear. As soon as this had been done the petrol tanks exploded and the aircraft became completely enveloped in flames. The presence of mind and outstanding courage of these airmen, who acted with total disregard for their own safety, was most praiseworthy.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


1563144 Leading Aircraftman Robert Sadler, Alexander, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

631449 Aircraftman ist Class Robert Walter Chapman, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

In April, 1944, a refueller, containing about 600 gallons of aviation fuel, caught fire whilst alongside a Catalina aircraft. An attempt was made to put out the fire and so save the aircraft from catching alight. The above airmen were in the party which went alongside the refueller in the marine tender to make this attempt but it was found impossible to subdue the fire as the refueller was red hot and the fuel blazed again as soon as the extinquishers had been expended. An attempt to save the aircraft was then made by trying to tow the refueller away. It was fastened to a buoy, however, and a line had to be taken from the marine tender to the refueller which, when pulled, moved the refueller about 5 or 6 feet from the aircraft. Alexander and Chapman dived through this space into the water to disconnect the cable securing the refueller to the buoy but had to abandon their efforts as the heat from the red hot sides of the refueller was too great. These two airmen finally made an attempt to set the aircraft adrift. They dived and managed, to unshackle the Catalina from the buoy; it was then towed to safety. Both airmen showed considerable courage in dangerous circumstances. The aircraft which might have caught fire, carried depth charges and had just been refuelled, facts of which they were aware.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


625825 Leading Aircraftman John Judge, Royal Air Force.

One night in March, 1944, a Beaufighter aircraft crashed on take-off and burst into flames. The pilot was killed. Aircraftman Judge, a member of the airfield crash party, rendered sterling services by assisting to break into the fear of the fuselage, and climbing forward in an endeavour to free the observer. He was unable to free the latter but kept him sprayed with water. Ultimately the rescue party, working from the outside, were able to cut their way through and extricate the observer. This airman's action undoubtedly helped to save the observer's life. During the whole of his efforts, the aircraft was blazing with cannon and .303 ammunition exploding in all directions.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


1576927 Leading Aircraftman Desmond Arthur Wilkinson, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Leading Aircraftman Wilkinson was a member of the crew of a high speed launch standing by for rescue work at Anzio in April, 1944. At about noon a pilot was seen to abandon his aircraft and fall into the sea. The launch immediately proceeded to the rescue. A very heavy sea was running with waves about 10 feet high. When the pilot was seen it looked as though the attempt at rescue would have to be abandoned as none but an exceptionally strong swimmer could have faced the water and. The launch could not get close enough to be of any use. Leading Aircraftman Wilkinson, however, volunteered to jump overboard and attempt to bring the pilot in. At great personal danger, he dived into the heavy sea with the end of a heaving line and, with its aid, succeeded in bringing the pilot aboard. Leading Aircraftman Wilkinson then applied artificial respiration all the way back to port but unfortunately the pilot succumbed. The bravery and devotion to duty displayed by Leading Aircraftman Wilkinson were of a very high standard.

(London Gazette – 20 October 1944)


1396426 Flight Sergeant Lewis John Smith Spicer, R.A.F.V.R.

In July, 1944, Flight Sergeant Spicer was the observer of a Beaufighter aircraft which, owing to engine failure, crashed into some high tension cables shortly after taking off for a training flight. The aircraft burst into flames on reaching the ground. Flight Sergeant Spicer was uninjured and, smashing his way through the cupola of his cockpit, he quickly got clear of the wreckage. The pilot of the aircraft was seriously injured and trapped in his cockpit which was enveloped in flames. Although suffering from shock, Flight Sergeant Spicer returned to the wreckage and endeavoured to release his companion but was at first overcome and forced to retire. Despite the intense heat and exploding ammunition he made a second attempt. He went into the wreckage and eventually dragged the pilot out of his cockpit. With the assistance of two women landworkers, who had by this time arrived on the scene, Flight Sergeant Spicer then managed to carry the pilot away from the crash to safety. In effecting this rescue Flight Sergeant Spicer sustained first and second degree burns to his head. His courage saved the pilot's life.


536800 Sergeant John Arnold Breadner, R.A.F. (since deceased).

While in charge of a unit which landed in Normandy early on "D" day, this airman displayed outstanding courage, coolness and devotion to duty at all times and was undoubtedly personally responsible for the efficient and successful work of the unit under conditions of exceptional difficulty and danger. This airman was killed on 27th July, 1944, while salvaging a crashed aircraft within range of enemy fire. He had ordered his party to disperse to safety but continued working himself, with one other airman.

(London Gazette – 5 January 1945)


971857 Sergeant Frederick William Hutchinson, R.A.F.

In July, 1944, a Blenheim aircraft, which was attempting to land, crashed and immediately caught fire. Sergeant Hutchinson, who was in the vicinity of the airfield, scrambled through the perimeter wire and made his way to the aircraft. The starboard tank and wing were burning furiously. Going to the port side, he observed that one of the occupants (a Belgian officer) was trapped by his foot and unable to free himself. Sergeant Hutchinson succeeded in extricating him and, with the assistance of another airman who had arrived on the scene, the officer was dragged clear of the wreckage. Sergeant Hutchinson then went to the other side of the aircraft in an endeavour to rescue another member of the crew (an R.A.F. officer). The starboard tank and wing were still blazing furiously and he was driven back by the intense heat. Undeterred, Sergeant Hutchinson, with the aid of a fire extinguisher, enabled two other personnel to enter the wreckage and they managed to extricate the officer. Sergeant Hutchinson's gallantry and initiative was most praiseworthy and he was undoubtedly instrumental in saving two lives.

(London Gazette – 5 January 1945)


1334138 Acting Corporal Arthur George Thomas Hornblow, R.A.F.V.R.

Corporal Hornblow arrived in France the day after the invasion of Normandy commenced. From the nth to the 13th July, 1944, he was on special point duty south west of Caen and, during this time, he was without relief and under heavy shell and mortar fire from the enemy. A nearby slit trench was hit by a shell and two Canadian soldiers were buried. With the assistance of a stretcher bearer Corporal Hornblow, by digging with his bare hands, succeeded in extricating one soldier. Whilst he was trying to rescue the other soldier another shell hit the trench. Corporal Hornblow was buried and the soldier in the trench was killed. Throughout, Corporal Hornblow displayed exceptional courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette – 5 January 1945)


1215520 Leading Aircraftman James Henry Mortley, R.A.F.V.R.

In February, 1944, a Mitchell aircraft, which was returning from operations with one of its engines on fire, attempted to land at an R.A.F. Station. When making the approach the remaining engine failed and the pilot, 'in turning to avoid buildings, crashed down a hillside and through a stone wall. The bomber immediately caught fire. The pilot, being unable to escape from the front of the aircraft, had crawled to the tail dome. Aircraftman Mortley immediately entered the flames disregarding exploding ammunition and pyrotechnics. Seeing the airman in the tail dome, Aircraftman Mortley proceeded to smash the perspex with his bare hands, tearing at it until he had made a hole large enough to pull the airman through to safety. He then went to the front of the bomber to render assistance to the remaining members of the crew. Owing to this airman's prompt action and high courage three of the four crew members were saved.

(London Gazette – 5 January 1945)


1903523 Aircraftman 2nd Class Charles Lonergan, R.A.F V.R.

One night in July, 1944, a Lightning aircraft overshot a runway and crashed in an upside down position the pilot being trapped inside. Smoke was pouring from the aircraft and petrol and oil were running over the hot engines and fuselage. Aircraftman Lonergan, who is employed in the Fire Section at the station, went to the scene and, after digging under the aircraft for approximately ten minutes, succeeded in extricating the pilot Aircraftman Lonergan displayed courage and devotion to duty of a very high order as there was grave danger of fire and explosion.

(London Gazette – 5 January 1945)


1601271 Sergeant Richard Peter Sutton, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in February, 1943, Sergeant Sutton was the mid-upper gunner of a Lancaster aircraft engaged in an attack on Turin. During the return flight engine trouble developed. The aircraft crashed in the French Alps, and the .pilot was thrown out of the aircraft. The wreckage caught fire and (burned furiously. Sergeant Sutton succeeded in rescuing one member of the crew however and then, despite the heat and exploding fuel tanks, he entered the aircraft, clambered over the main spar to the pilot's cockpit and dragged out the unconscious wireless operator. Sergeant Sutton displayed great courage and disregard of his own safety and undoubtedly saved the lives of two of his companions.

(London Gazette - 23 March 1945)


1277445 Corporal Francis Battersby, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (since deceased).

In October, 1944, Corporal Battersby and six other airmen commenced work at a town in Belgium on the clearance of hotels and houses required for occupation by the Royal Air Force.  They were engaged in buildings comprising about 1,000-rooms and the enemy had drawn the window shutters and removed the electric lighting system.  The party worked with hand torches. On the following day 3 of the party were badly injured and a fourth member received severe shock from the explosion of a charge which was detonated by the fouling of a concealed trip wire. Corporal Battersby took charge of the remaining members of the party, until the arrival of his Flight Commander, and continued the work until 1400 hours on the seventh day when the hotels were finally cleared. During this period So enemy mines and prepared charges, ingeniously hidden and laid to be functioned by one or more trip wires, were recovered, neutralised and disposed of. On a previous occasion Corporal Battersby was required to continue this form of work after casualties had occurred among his party. He has displayed high courage and leadership.

(London Gazette - 23 March 1945)


504852 Corporal Henry William Greenbank, Royal Air Force.

1136342 Leading Aircraftman Fred Ponsonby; Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

One night in October, 1944, three aircraft crashed when attempting to land at an airfield on an improvised flare path, formed by trucks placed along the runway. The aircraft which first came in to land crashed into a truck, injuring the driver and killing an officer standing nearby, and immediately burst into flames. Corporal Greenbank and the fire crew under his charge got the fire under control and were attempting to rescue the pilot when a second aircraft collided with the first aircraft and also burst into flames, striking Corporal Greenbank as it landed. Ignoring his injuries and the fact that other aircraft were heading for the scene of the crash, he extinguished the second fire and then extricated the pilot of the first aircraft. As he did so the third aircraft crashed over the heads of the rescuers. Meanwhile Leading Aircraftman Ponsonby, an ambulance driver, had been attending to the driver of the truck on which the first aircraft had crashed. The latter had been trapped in his vehicle with fractures of both legs.  Despite the fact that the two other aircraft were heading for the scene he towed the truck away in time to avoid a collision. Corporal Greenbank saved the life of a pilot and averted the total destruction of two aircraft, whilst Leading Aircraftman Ponsonby saved the life of the driver of the truck. They displayed courage in dangerous circumstances. On previous occasions, both had shown devotion to duty and courage of a high order.

(London Gazette - 23 March 1945)


1071150 Corporal Sidney Benjamin ROCK, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1202817 Corporal James Sim PETERS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

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 burst open. 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 for his part in this action.

Acting Wing Commander Donald Leslie KINGS (72222), iRoyal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and Flight Lieutenant John Preston LEWIN (31337), Reserve Air Force Officers were awarded the George Medal for their part in this operation.

(London Gazette – 10 April 1945)


946413 Acting Flight Sergeant John Urwin MARTIN, Royal Air Force.

For a period of 6 weeks in 1944, Flight Sergeant Martin was senior N.C.O. in charge of about 60 Bomb Disposal personnel engaged in mine clearance at an airfield. During this period, working without a break, he led his various sections in breaching, uncovering, neutralising and disposing of a total of 8,000 mines of all types. Many of the mines were booby-trapped, buried in ditches, under water, in thick, heavy undergrowth, tall grasses and in wooden enclosures in the vicinity of the hangars. These difficulties were surmounted with determination and in spite of many mines being in a very dangerous condition, all were detected and recovered with remarkable speed and efficiency and with no loss or accident to personnel. Flight Sergeant Martin has shown leadership and courage of the highest order and, by his example to those under his control, he has had a direct influence on the success of this very hazardous operation. He contributed greatly to the task of bringing this important airfield into full operational use ahead of schedule. Flight Sergeant Martin has been engaged continuously on bomb disposal duties since February, 1941.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


515666 Corporal Edward CHEETHAM, Roval Air Force.

In November, 1944, at an airfield Corporal Cheetham and another airman were the first to arrive at a crashed and burning aircraft. Together they rescued one member of the crew, entering the flames in order to do so. Five days later, Corporal Cheetham ran to an aircraft which had crashed a quarter of a mile from the airfield, and, single handed, extricated two of the trapped members of the crew, afterwards assisting in the release of another. Whilst the wreckage of the aircraft was raised by makeshift levers, which continually slipped, Corporal Cheetham remained under the debris alone, and after sawing away part of the steucture, removed the fourth member of the crew. In December, 1944, an aircraft crashed and caught fire at the airfield. Corporal Cheetham ran to the aircraft and made two attempts to free the navigator. During this time a petrol tank and an oxygen bottle exploded and ammunition detonated in all directions. Corporal Cheetham only leased his efforts when, forcibly removed to hospital by two medical orderlies; he was suffering from shock, burns and eye injuries. On these three occasions he displayed great courage in dangerous circumstances.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


1276335 Corporal Stanley Arthur John CONNOLLY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Corporal Connolly has been engaged on bomb disposal duties since December, 1941. In October, 1944, he and his section were detailed to clear mines and booby traps from six 'hotels in Blankenberghe.  One day, a trip wire was fouled and three of his section were badly injured. Immediately after the casualties had been evacuated Corporal Connolly continued with his hazardous work, which was completed five days later. For a period of six weeks in 1944, this airman was continuously engaged in mine clearance at an airfield and, because of his exceptional courage, he was selected to lead breaching parties to locate the mine belts and their patterns. He found numerous Schumine, Tellennine, " S " mine and Holzmine belts and volunteered for any operation of a specially hazardous nature. In December, 1944, whilst working on an irregularly laid minefield in tall grass, he fouled the igniter of an " S " mine which fired. After warning other personnel Corporal Connolly lay down in time to see the "S" mine ejected from its casing and thrown into the air. Fortunately the mine failed to detonate and after exchanging his detector, which was damaged by the mine, Corporal Connolly continued his work completely unperturbed. Has example and personal bravery, shown throughout the operations, have been an inspiration to all.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


929828 Corporal Jack Raymond DENTON, Royal Air Force.

In October, 1944, Corporal Denton was detailed with others to clear hotels in Blankenberghe of mines and booby traps. One day an explosion occurred when a trip-wire was fouled and some members of the party were badly wounded. Immediately after the casualties had been evacuated Corporal Denton and 2 other non-commissioned officers continued with their hazardous work until its completion some 5 days later. For a period of 6 weeks in 1944, Corporal Denton was engaged continuously on mine field clearance at an airfield. Throughout this period he and his section detected, neutralised and lifted large numbers of anti-tank and anti-personnel mines, many of which were booby-trapped and buried in marshy land, flooded ditches and thick undergrowth. In November, 1944, a captured enemy tank was used to push and pull a heavy roller over unchecked areas between the mine belts which had already been located and cleared.  Corporal Denton volunteered to drive the tank and continued to do so for several days. Although no anti-tank mines were functioned by the tank, he was fully aware of the risk of serious injuries or death. Corporal Denton has been employed on bomb disposal duties since January, 1941.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


1153832 Corporal Charles Douglas LOVELL, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In June, 1944, 3 American Thunderbolt aircraft crashed at a Royal Air Force Station. Each aircraft carried bombs, some of which exploded and killed numerous R.A.F. personnel, including the entire station fire crew. In view of the serious situation the crash tender was called from an adjacent station. On arrival, the crew of this tender set to work on an aircraft which had been burning for some time and contained a fused H.E. bomb which was in imminent danger of exploding. Corporal Lovell, with no thought of his, personal safety and without aid, manned the nozzle of a hose from the foam tender until-the foam was exhausted. He then -helped to re-service the tender, returned to the scene, of the crash and remained with the hose very near to the unexploded bomb, until he had extinguished the fire. Corporal Lovell set a fine example of devotion to duty in dangerous circumstances. 

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


1556525 Corporal Edmund Robert Cox MELVILLE, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Corporal Melville has been engaged in bomb disposal duties since October, 1941. He landed with the invasion forces on "D" day and assisted in clearing mines and other enemy munitions from sites which were urgently required for special purposes.  All types of mines and many bombs and grenades were successfully dealt with. On one occasion Corporal Melville and his section received information that a mine had exploded and had caused casualties. Without hesitation they proceeded to the scene and cleared a lane of mines, recovering 4 dead persons and rescuing a young boy who was seriously injured. In September, 1944, whilst working on mine clearance of an area required for use as a glider strip, an "S" mine exploded within ten yards of Corporal Melville, causing 5 casualties of which 1 was fatal. Although he had a narrow escape and suffered from shock, Corporal Melville was ready, when called upon, to continue his hazardous duties.  During a period of 6 weeks when an airfield was being cleared of mines, he set an example to all ranks by the speed and efficiency with which he located and neutralised all types of enemy mines.  Leading a section of 3 men, he cleared 2,062 antipersonnel Schu-mines, apart from many other mines of different types. On one day his section recovered and rendered safe as man y as 336 Schu-mines. The rapid completion of the work was materially helped by his skill, leadership and determination. Corporal Melville is an exceptional courageous and determined worker and is completely unperturbed by any of the disturbing circumstances which frequently arise in the course of his hazardous work.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


1173558 Corporal William Henry MORRIS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

998304 Corporal William Kelly REID, Royal Air Force.

For a period of 6 weeks in 1944, Corporals Reid and Morris were engaged with a section in breaching minefields in order to locate the patterns of the mine belts and to assist in the general mine clearance. In spite of the worst conditions of weather they continued the work until all mine patterns had been discovered and general clearance could commence. The section detected and neutralised over 400 anti-personnel "S" mines alone, many of these being hidden in inaccessible and unexpected positions. Many "S" mines were buried in marshy ground, under water, necessitating feeling for and neutralising the igniters with hands numbed by the cold. Corporals Reid and Morris worked together as a team, the former detecting and the latter neutralising mines. Each has shown the greatest confidence in the ability of the other and their work contributed largely to the successful disposal of many anti-tank mines.  They both showed exceptional skill, courage and leadership in dangerous circumstances.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


958613 Corporal George Henry ROSE, Royal Air Force.

In September, 1944, Corporal Rose and others were engaged on mine clearance in a cornfield adjacent to a glider strip at Austerham. When an "S" mine exploded, causing 5 casualties including the flight commander, Corporal Rose, who was about 25 yards away, rendered first aid until the arrival of a Medical Officer and afterwards continued his work.  For a period of 6 weeks, he and others were detailed to clear mines from an airfield.  Though still affected by his previous experience Corporal Rose did not hesitate to continue his hazardous duties in a courageous and efficient manner, thereby setting an example to his comrades. The section he led dealt with over 2,000 Schu-mines, many of them in a dangerous condition owing to partial functioning by cattle.  Other mines which were dealt with had been laid in thick undergrowth and wooded country.  Corporal Rose also dealt with stock-mines in woods and all types of mines in swampy land and rough country. This airman has been engaged in bomb disposal duties since March, 1941.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


1241052 Corporal Thomas Charles WOODHEAD, Royal Air Force- Volunteer Reserve.

One afternoon in November, 1944, an aircraft, whilst attempting to make a forced landing on an airfield, crashed and burst into flames.  Corporal Woodhead who was working in the vicinity ran to the scene of the accident in company with other airmen. By the time they arrived one wing was burning fiercely and the fire was spreading to the cockpit and fuselage. Disregarding the flames and the ammunition which had started to explode, Corporal Woodhead and his helpers jumped on to the port wing and the cockpit perspex canopy and tried to break into the cockpit but they were unable to release the emergency roof exit or to  get at the crew. They could see that the pilot was bent over the control column and that the navigator was on the floor.  By this time a fire engine had arrived and commenced to play foam jets on to the cockpit, but the heat had become so intense that all were forced to retire. A few moments later the navigator's head and shoulders appeared through a hole which had been made in the side of the fuselage. Despite the intense heat and danger from exploding tanks, Corporal Woodhead immediately dashed into the flames and dragged the injured man to safety. Corporal Woodhead then attempted to return and search for the pilot but was driven back by the heat which was by then too great to allow of any further rescue attempt to be made. Corporal Woodhead had shown complete disregard of his personal safety and his action in finally rescuing the navigator from the blazing wreckage was one requiring great courage.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


805558 Leading Aircraftman Roland Norman GARRED, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1666507 Leading Aircraftman Samuel William READ, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

These airmen were employed continuously on minefield clearance at an airfield for a period of 6 weeks in 1944.  They have been of the utmost assistance to the N.C.O. in charge of the section in his work of breaching minefields and locating and neutralising mines. Both have been outstanding amongst about 25 airmen below the rank of corporal who have been engaged on the minefield and they have never hesitated to perform work far beyond that which could be expected of them in view of their classification and training.  They have shown keenness and courage on work of a hazardous nature and have contributed much to the success which has been achieved.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


1406476 Leading Aircraftman Patrick CROWLEY, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, Royal Air Force Regiment.

After the explosion of a bomb in January, 1945 this airman, assisted by a Flight Sergeant, crawled beneath a huge piece of reinforced concrete which had fallen on top of an officer. The concrete was precariously supported by loose bricks and rubble and was in imminent danger of crushing Leading Aircraftman Crowley as he worked beneath it. Failing to extricate the officer at the first attempt, this airman made a further effort by burrowing under the concrete from the opposite side.  The officer was later found to have died whilst the rescue attempts were being made and was extricated by a heavy rescue party, who cut through the concrete. Leading Aircraftman Crowley made persistent and gallant efforts to rescue the officer although he had set himself an impossible task.  His services were outstanding, even amongst other acts of gallantry displayed in connection with this incident.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


158734 Leading Aircraftman Francis Frederick SPRULES, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

In January, 1945, a Fortress aircraft, in attempting to land at an airfield, crashed into a hangar. Leading Aircraftman Sprules, who was the only airman in the vicinity, was working at a point about 100 yards away from the accident and ran to the scene, where he assisted 7 members of the crew to escape from the furiously burning aircraft. Although the ' crew warned him that the aircraft was loaded with bombs he continued to help the injured. The bomb load (3,800 lbs.) exploded about 5 minutes after his arrival, showering debris around him, but his only thought was for the men who needed medical attention. He took some of the casualties to the sick quarters in a lorry which drove up to the scene after the explosion had occurred, afterwards returning to the-scene of the crash to give any farther help which might be required. Until the arrival of many helpers after the explosion, Leading Aircraftman Sprules had worked alone with courage, coolness and a complete disregard for his own safety. He was fully aware that a devastating explosion was likely to occur. He was shocked by the concussion but continued to render all the assistance he could in spite of ammunition which was exploding around him. Had it not been for his efforts it is probable that the fatalities would have been more numerous. In fact, only 2 of the crew lost their lives.

(London Gazette – 27 April 1945)


Flight Sergeant Fred WHITWORTH (750159) - No.1 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit

This airman has been in charge of a section of the Repair and Inspection Squadron for the past two years. He has been employed on major inspection and major repairs of Anson aircraft. Flight Sergeant Whitworth has at all times shown energy, initiative and zeal, combined with a very efficient application of his technical skill. He has contributed much to the serviceability and high standard of aircraft servicing which has been maintained. He has also acted as Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of the Mountain Rescue Party. During many rescue operations in the local mountains Flight Sergeant Whitworth has shown outstanding resourcefulness and endurance under extreme weather conditions. He has set a fine example to his men.

(Announced - London Gazette - 14 June 1945; citation courtesy Steve Brew)


Flight Sergeant John HANSBURY (1547050) - attached Aircrew Mountain Centre
 

Is attached to this unit as Mountaineering and Trekking instructor. He has shown fine leadership and great courage in perilous situations. On one occasion in November 1944 he was in charge of a party of five aircrews on trek. When at Matayan in Ladakh they were running short of food and fodder for their animals. Heavy snow had fallen but, as no further food could be brought and conditions had improved, he decided to risk the crossing of the Zoji La (11,250 feet). While crossing the pass they were caught in a blizzard of unparalleled severity for the time of the year. Two of the baggage ponies fell down in a snow slope into a river while the other two lay down from severe exhaustion and refused to move; one subsequently perished from cold. The track to Baltal was covered with three to four feet of soft snow making progress almost impossible. In addition, a fierce wind was blowing and the temperature was below zero. Despite these difficult and dangerous conditions, Flight Sergeant Hansbury brought his party through to safety without any hurt other than minor front bite, although at times the pony men and some of the aircrew were in a state of the most extreme exhaustion. His gallantry and fortitude were worthy of the highest praise.

(Announced - London Gazette - 14 June 1945; citation courtesy Steve Brew)


Flight Sergeant John HABSBURG (1547050) - Aircrew Mountain Centre, Srinagar


Flight Sergeant Habsburg has been attached to this unit as mountaineering and trekking instructor. He has shown fine leadership and great courage in perilous situations. On one occasion in November 1944, he was in charge of a party of five aircrews on trek. When at Matayan in Ladakh they were running short of food and fodder for their animals. Heavy snow had fallen but, as no further food could be brought and conditions had improved he decided to risk the crossing of the Zoji La (11,250 feet). While crossing the pass they were caught in a blizzard of unparalleled severity for the time of the year. Two of the baggage ponies fell down a snow slope into a river while the other two lay down from severe exhaustion and refused to move - one subsequently perished from cold. The track from Baltal was covered with 3 to 4 feet of soft snow, making progress almost impossible. In addition, a fierce wind was blowing and the temperature was below zero. Despite these difficult and dangerous conditions, Flight Sergeant Habsburg brought his party through to safety without any hurt other than minor frost bite, although at times the pony man and some of the aircrew were in a state of the most extreme exhaustion. His gallantry and fortitude were worthy of the highest praise.

(Announced - London Gazette - 14 June 1945; citation courtesy Steve Brew)


1331525 Flight Sergeant Philip Henry Thornton CLAY, D.F.M., R.A.F.V.R.

During the morning of 1st January, 1945, the airfield from which 130 Squadron was operating was attacked by enemy aircraft, resulting in an R.A.F. aircraft catching fire. Flight Sergeant Clay, with complete disregard for his own safety and whilst the airfield was still being attacked, taxied two other aircraft away thus saving them from certain destruction. Ammunition from the burning aircraft was exploding at the time. He then directed the fire tender crew in their fire fighting operations and. by his efforts, over 200 gallons of petrol were saved. Flight Sergeant Clay set a fine example of courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette – 3 July 1945)


1540329 Sergeant James DONE, R.A.F.V.R.

Sergeant Done was the rear gunner of a Wellington aircraft which crashed and caught fire whilst engaged on a cross-country flight one night in January, 1945. He was thrown in his turret some distance from the blazing aircraft. Although suffering from shock and lacerations of the head, he extricated himself with difficulty and hurried to the assistance of the other members of the crew. Despite the heat and the danger of exploding ammunition and flash bombs Sergeant Done managed to extricate the wireless operator and the mid-upper gunner but the intense fire made any efforts .to rescue the remainder of the crew impossible. Sergeant Done made the wireless operator comfortable and then ran for nearly two miles down a cart track to obtain help, but the wireless operator died, before medical aid arrived. Sergeant Done acted with courage and initiative, showing complete disregard for personal safety in going to the rescue of his comrades.

(London Gazette – 3 July 1945)


985314 Leading Aircraftman Alexander Gray HERON, R.A.F.

On 1st January, 1945, after enemy aircraft had attacked an airfield, Leading Aircraftman Heron observing an Anson aircraft on fire, proceeded at once to the scene with an extinguisher and played the foam into the flames. Very soon he noticed an airman inside the aircraft with his head on some burning parachutes. Leading Aircraftman Heron immediately dashed into the flames and dragged the severely burnt airman away from the aircraft. He then hailed a passing ambulance and had his comrade taken to sick quarters. The injured airman died the next day as the result of extensive burns and wounds he had received from enemy cannon fire. Leading Aircraftman.  Heron showed coolness and resourcefulness in his endeavour to fight the flames and a complete disregard for his personal safety in entering the aircraft to rescue his comrade, knowing that the fire might spread to the -petrol tanks whilst he was engaged on his work of rescue.

(London Gazette – 3 July 1945)


1416276 Leading Aircraftman Eric Edwin Charles WEEKES, R.A.F.V.R.

In January, 1945, a crippled B.17 aircraft crashed into the hangars in which this airman was working and commenced to burn. Three members of the crew escaped from the aircraft and warned bystanders that there were ammunition and bombs on board. Leading Aircraftman Weekes, in spite of exploding ammunition rescued an unconscious member of the crew who was lying near the burning aircraft. He then returned and rescued another member who was lying unconscious inside the aircraft. Only when the fire gained hold beyond control and it was seen that the bomb load was liable to explode did this airman seek shelter. The bombs exploded two minutes later and razed the hangars to the ground. Leading Aircraftman Weekes set a high standard of bravery and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette – 3 July 1945)


1592504 Aircraftman 2nd Class Philip Richard Howard GILBANKS, R.A.F.V.R.

One evening in October, 1944, a Beaufighter aircraft crashed immediately after take-off and burst into flames. Aircraftman Gilbanks ran to the scene and entered the burning wreckage to rescue the pilot who was unconscious. He freed the pilot from his flying equipment and tore away obstructions. Then, with the aid of another airman who had arrived, he extricated the pilot and carried him to a place of safety. The pilot of the aircraft owes his life to the prompt action of Aircraftman Gilbanks in entering the blazing wreckage with complete disregard of his personal safety and knowing that the fuel tanks were liable to explode at any time. They did explode shortly after the pilot was dragged clear.

(London Gazette – 3 July 1945)


1109300 Acting Flight Sergeant Harold BAXTER, R.A.F.V.R.

The demolition of a partially blasted German ammunition dump was in progress near San Severo airfield. Italy, when, in July, 1944, an explosion occurred, killing 7 airmen. Considerable quantities of shells, mines and bombs were scattered over an area of about 20 acres. Many of these missiles had been damaged by the force of the explosion and had become extremely sensitive and highly dangerous to handle. It was, however, necessary to proceed with the demolition owing to the proximity of San Severo airfield which was seriously endangered. The task was undertaken by Squadron Leader Batten, the Commanding Officer of No. 5136 (B/D) Squadron, assisted by Flight Sergeant Baxter and another non-commissioned officer. Work commenced on nth August, 1944, and was completed on 18th August, resulting in the demolition of 7,550 88 m.m. shells, 1,140 40 m.m. shells, 2 H.E. Bombs of 250 kgs. and 6 Tellermines. The condition of many of these dangerous objects, of a varying and uncertain degree of sensitiveness, was such that detonation at the slightest touch was probable if they were improperly handled. There was also the added risk of possible spontaneous explosions. Squadron Leader Batten was largely responsible for the complete success of the operations and he showed courage and fine leadership in circumstances of great danger. Flight Sergeant Baxter showed similar courage in handling and examining dangerous missiles and he contributed much to the result.

Acting Squadron Leader Frederick Charles BATTEN (106782), R.A.F.V.R. was awarded the MBE for his part in this action

(London Gazette – 3 July 1945)


1771111 Leading Aircraftman Fred SPEDDING, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

2218692 Aircraftman (First Class) James MACLEAN, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the I7th December, 1944, the officers' mess of the 2nd Tactical Air Force Base Censorship Unit was demolished by a long range missile of the V.2 type. Several officers and airmen were killed outright and others were injured. The mess was part of a five storey hotel but after being struck, only about 15 feet above ground remained of the structure. Flying Officer Carter, a censorship officer, hurried to the scene and worked continuously for 41 hours without a break and with complete disregard of his personal safety, searching amongst the crumbling masonry for casualties and removing the wounded and the dead. After a short rest this officer, for a period of three weeks, attended the demolition operations daily and assisted, often at great risk, in the salvage of a great quantity of personal effects. He volunteered for this duty in spite of mental distress until ordered to hospital. Leading Aircraftman Spedding, a nursing orderly also was quickly on the spot and performed many heroic acts of rescue and rendered first aid under dangerous and trying conditions. He worked for 40 hours until ordered to rest. His conduct was all the more noteworthy as he had, on the previous day, helped in tending the wounded among the ruins of a Cinema which had been destroyed by enemy action. This 'he did at no small risk to himself.  Aircraftman 1st Class Maclean, an aircrafthand, immediately volunteered to assist as a member of the rescue party working at the Officers' Mess. Soon after his arrival at the scene a volunteer was called for to support the roof of a tunnel that had to be opened.  Someone with a strong back was required and; Aircraftman 1st Class Maclean undertook this arduous duty although fully aware of the danger of being buried alive.

His great effort was instrumental in the rescue of two Royal Air Force Officers.

Flying Officer Geoffrey Owen CARTER (178660), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve was awarded the MBE for his part in this action.

(London Gazette – 14 August 1945)


814914 Sergeant Laurence Vincent JAMES, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Since his arrival at Knocke on 10th November, 1944, Sergeant James has shown coolness and courage whilst, engaged on mine demolition work.  Although several casualties have been incurred during the operations his devotion to duty and excellent example have helped in maintaining the morale of others similarly employed. On 29th January, 1945, at Knocke Airfield, Sergeant James, together with a corporal, recovered the body of a woman from a minefield. There was a layer of 4 inches of snow at the time and the ground was frozen to a depth of 7 inches which meant they were unable to probe for mines.  Nine mines were, however, located along the path they took and three others were a few inches from the woman (but there was just sufficient room to lift her clear and carry her back along the same path. Unfortunately the woman was dead when they reached her. This dangerous work was coolly and cleverly performed and is only one instances of the courage and fortitude displayed fey Sergeant Vincent.

(London Gazette – 14 August 1945)


1030518 Leading Aircraftman Reginald Harold DANN, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the night of 11th March 1945, a Mosquito aircraft, whilst attempting a landing with only one engine functioning, overshot the airfield, crashed and burst into flames, spreading burning petrol over a wide area. Leading Aircraftman Dann, who had only been discharged from Sick Quarters the day before, witnessed the accident and rushed to the scene of the crash. In order to reach the aircraft, Leading Aicraftman Dann had to go through the burning petrol and smoke and, on his first attempt to help the crew, found he was at the tail of the aircraft. He quickly ran round to the nose and saw an arm amidst the flames. He entered the burning area and, tearing away impeding parts of the aircraft, he got the occupant, who proved to toe the navigator, out of the wreckage. He dragged him clear of the fire and then pulled off his burning parachute harness. By this time three more airmen had joined Leading Aircraftman Dann and, together, they extricated the pilot after tearing away more pieces of the burning aircraft. Unfortunately the pilot died two hours later from injuries sustained on the original impact. By his prompt and courageous action Leading Aircraftman Dann undoubtedly saved the navigator's life.   He showed little regard for his own safety in his determination to rescue the crew.

(London Gazette – 14 August 1945)


571056 Flight Sergeant Joseph Lister SHERRARD, Royal Air Force

During May, 1943, Flight Sergeant Sherrard was dropped by parachute into Greece to assist in the running of a W/T school and workshop, and in October, 1943, became solely responsible for the station. Almost immediately, his station became the principal objective of a determined German drive. He was without any armed support and his last contact with Cairo was completed under German mortar fire. Despite this, Flight Sergeant Sherrard successfully evacuated all his party and buried all equipment before escaping. He subsequently became senior operator at the principal station in Greece where the technical and administrative problems, of the staff were often almost entirely his responsibility.  His consistent good work and devotion to duty were of the highest order.

(London Gazette -


958326 Sergeant Jesse BAKER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the 22nd of April, 1944, Sergeant Baker, whilst on the road outside Reykjavik airfield, saw a. Ventura aircraft, which had just taken off, crash and burst into flames. He was the first on the scene and, disregarding personal danger, made repeated efforts to enter the aircraft, despite fierce fire, and exploding ammunition. Although he became slightly scorched and blackened by the fumes, he continued his efforts until ordered by an officer to retire. On the 22nd October, 1944, Sergeant Baker received a report that an American aircraft had crashed in the mountains. With a party of British and American Service policemen, he proceeded by car to a point as near as possible to the scene of the crash. Although the party were without greatcoats or protective clothing, Sergeant Baker led them through the mountains for 12-15 miles, often waist deep in snowdrifts, before locating the aircraft. As darkness approached, a search was made for the crew and eventually five bodies were found. The arduous return journey over snow-covered rocks was commenced in the failing light and when half the party were unable to proceed owing to exhaustion, Sergeant Baker left them in the shelter of an overhanging crag. Then, with a corporal, by great determination and persistence, he reached an American camp where he was able to obtain assistance. Sergeant Baker eventually reached his Unit in an exhausted state. On both occasions he showed great devotion to duty and splendid courage.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1615722 Sergeant Leslie Arthur POTTER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the 16th March, 1945, a Lancaster aircraft crashed near Blyton airfield, 'fire breaking out immediately in the wing tanks and fuselage and enveloping the cockpit. Sergeant Potter, the Flight Engineer, escaped from the port side window and assisted Flight Sergeant Scott, the pupil pilot, who was injured, to leave by the same window. The cockpit was now burning furiously. Sergeant Potter, despite his injuries which included damage to a knee and severe cuts and burns on the face and hands, crossed to the other side of the aircraft, entered a window and, by a great effort, rescued the screened pilot and engineer, who were both unconscious. This necessitated two trips into the burning aircraft before the rescued men could be dragged to safety.  By his cool, courageous conduct and complete disregard for his own personal safety Sergeant Potter undoubtedly saved three of the members of this aircraft from a perilous situation.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1164461 Sergeant Lionel Bertram VOLLER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

Sergeant Voller was dropped in Greece by parachute in May, 1943, and was in charge of the W/T communications of West Macedonia until November, 1944. He developed a great sense of responsibility and his technical and organising ability was well illustrated by the fact that his station handled a volume of traffic unsurpassed by any other station in the field in Greece. At one period Sergeant Voller worked in the open under repeated enemy pressure. His initiative and ability are above the average and he has proved himself to be an outstanding W/T operator.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1064881 Sergeant Walter George SHAW, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

816092 Corporal George Herbert EDGAR, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On 2nd April, 1945, a Typhoon aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was approaching the runway in an attempt to make a forced landing. The aircraft (with a 500 Ib. incendiary bomb attached to each mainplane and with the air intake on fire) crashed into a clearing of felled trees and immediately caught fire, burning rapidly.  Sergeant Shaw and Corporal Edgar were working about 150 yards from the accident and, although realising the possibility of the bombs exploding, they ran. to the scene of the accident. By this time the 20 m.m. cannon shells were exploding in all directions but, undaunted, they extricated the pilot who was in a dazed condition and incapable of coherent thought or action. The pilot then had to be .carried over the felled trees to safety, whilst there was the possibility of the bombs exploding at any minute. This difficult feat was successfully accomplished. The quick action, coolness and gallantry of Sergeant Shaw and Corporal Edgar undoubtedly saved the pilot's life.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1448758 Corporal James Esmond BROWNE, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the morning of 24th April, 1945, an aircraft, carrying a full bomb load, crashed and burst into flames immediately after taking off. Corporal Browne, who was in charge of the fire party, immediately ordered the fire tender to proceed to the scene of the crash which was only 100 yards from the W.A.A.F. site and a number of civilian houses. On arrival he unhesitatingly commenced to spray foam on the fiercely burning wreckage although he knew that the bombs were liable to explode at any moment. Very soon a 500 Ib. bomb exploded, throwing the fire party off their feet and stopping the pump. Corporal Browne at once re-started the pump and was continuing to attack the fire when a second bomb exploded and scattered the blazing wreckage over a wide area. The fire party was undeterred, however, and under the cool and determined direction of Corporal Browne, continued their efforts to bring the fire under control, refusing to withdraw to safety until ordered to do so by their Station Commander. This occurred just before a further two bombs exploded. The standard of discipline and the devotion to duty shown by Corporal Browne, in difficult and dangerous circumstances, were of the highest order, and he set an excellent example to all.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1194699 Corporal James SPENCER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1639530 Leading Aircraftman Frederick Thomas BIRCH, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the 13th April, 1945, these airmen were on duty at an Aviation Fuel and Ammunition Park at Weeze, when it was reported that a soldier in an adjoining minefield had been injured by a mine.  They both proceeded to the scene and, on arrival, found that two mines had exploded, practically severing the foot of the soldier. Despite the great risk involved, these airmen endeavoured to reach the injured man by crawling towards him across an old door found nearby. Being unable to cover the whole distance in this manner, they took the further risk of walking through the  mined area with a stretcher. On reaching the injured man, Leading Aircraftman Birch rendered first aid after which he and Corporal Spencer lifted the soldier on to the stretcher and removed him to the ambulance which was waiting nearby. In entering the minefield, knowing full well the danger involved, Corporal Spencer and Leading Aircraftman Birch showed a high degree of courage and devotion to duty.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1459403 Corporal Frederick George Herbert WOOLVEN. Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the night of the 25th March, 1945, a Mosquito aircraft crashed on taking off and burst into flames. Corporal Woolven, although off duty at the time and therefore without protective clothing, was near the crash and was first on the scene. He immediately entered, the flames and attempted to rescue the pilot and navigator who were both trapped in the blazing wreckage.  Cannon and machine gun ammunition was exploding and there was the added danger of the petrol tanks, flares and practice bombs exploding.  Corporal Woolven quickly extricated the pilot who was unfortunately dead. Then, with the assistance of the Medical Officer and the Crash Party and with a crane, he attempted to release the navigator.  In order to do this it was necessary to remove the burning tail unit of the aircraft which was resting across the cockpit. During the operation, Corporal Woolven was hit in the head and partially stunned by an exploding cannon shell case, but he refused to relax his rescue efforts until the navigator's body had been recovered.  Throughout the rescue, although only wearing a pair of leather gloves as protective clothing, Corporal Woolven displayed great bravery and complete disregard for his personal safety.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1059633 Leading Aircraftman Dennis WHITAKER, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the 16th April, 1945, Leading Aircraftman Whitaker was a member of the crew of a high speed launch engaged in attempting the rescue of personnel from a burning oil tanker. Ammunition was continuously exploding on the tanker and the sea in the immediate vicinity was ablaze with burning petrol, except for a confined space round the bows of the tanker. Nevertheless, this airman made unceasing efforts to get a lifeline to reach the crew, and eventually, with complete disregard for his own safety, he entered the water himself to help to achieve this. As a result of his efforts, one seaman was saved. The cool courage and devotion to duty of Leading Aircraftman Whitaker set a fine example to his fellow crew members.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1903044 Aircraftman 1st Class Terence SULLIVAN, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1675967 Aircraftman 1st Class George Albert WATKINSON, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

On the 18th April, 1945, a Hamilcar glider crashed on the airfield at Bentwaters. A 15cwt. vehicle, with petrol tanks filled, which was being carried in the glider, caught fire and the two occupants of the vehicle were trapped inside and surrounded by flames. Aircraftmen Sullivan and Watkinson, members of the crash tender crew, immediately on arrival at the crash and before the hoses had been brought into action, ran straight to the fiercely burning vehicle to rescue its occupants. They ignored the danger of becoming entrapped in a general conflagration of the glider and strove valiantly to release the trapped men.  They managed to get both occupants half out of the vehicle before the hoses subdued the fire sufficiently to enable them to draw the two men completely clear. Aircraftman Sullivan sustained, burns to his face and Aircraftman Watkinson suffered from shock as a result of the action.   Both showed considerable courage in dangerous circumstances.

(London Gazette – 14 September 1945)


1298006 Corporal Ronald Merlin HARRIS, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

1125326 Corporal Ernest WINSHIP, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.

 

On the 1st May, 1945, whilst a 950 gallon petrol tender was being refuelled at Evere airfield, it burst into flames. Without thought for their own safety these two non-commissioned officers immediately disconnected the petrol tender and closed the safety valves, thus localising the fire and saving the installation from serious damage. On 11th May, 1945, another petrol tender burst into flames. Although covered in blazing petrol, Corporal Winship made a gallant effort to disconnect the tender, before being beaten back, severely burned about the head, arms and body. Corporal Harris raced from the Guard Room in time to drag- Corporal Winship to safety, disconnect the tender and close its valves. He sustained burns to his hands in so doing. These airmen displayed high courage and disregard of their personal safety on these two occasions in preventing the spread of fire and in saving equipment.

 

(London Gazette – 27 November 1945)

 


1019205 Corporal Kenneth James HARVEY, Royal Air Force Volunteer

This Non-Commissioned Officer is a Fitter Armourer. At the Royal Air Force Station Croft, on the morning of November 17th, 1945, a Mosquito aircraft of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service (
No.13 Operational Training Unit, Fighter Command) swung violently off the runway whilst taking off and crashed into another Mosquito, the aircrew cutting into the wing petrol tanks of the parked aircraft, causing them to explode and throwing blazing petrol in all directions, enveloping both aircraft in flames. Corporal Harvey, showing complete disregard of the fire and the imminent danger of further explosions, jumped onto the Dutch plane and pulled the pilot from the wrecked and burning cockpit. With the help of three other airmen, who showed equal complete contempt of danger, Corporal Harvey was able to carry the pilot to a safe distance in the nick of time before the explosion of the remaining petrol tanks. The pilot, though badly injured and burned, undoubtedly owes his life to the exceptional courage of rescuers, especially Corporal Harvey, who acted instantly without thought for his own safety.

(London Gazette – 13 Jun 1946, Citation - Public Record Office Air 2/9668, courtesy of Tom Thorne)


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