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Thread: Decorations to crippled bomber crew

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    Default Decorations to crippled bomber crew

    Hi all,

    this is just a question on general level, if there would be available any particular examples, I will be pleased to read them.
    Plenty of times crippled bomber has returned back to the UK and some crew members has been awarded DFM/DFC for their actions.
    I expect that the decorated were always those who proved the biggest bravery, effort, etc.
    So sometimes it might be a pilot only, sometimes pilot and navigator, sometimes flight engineer and pilot etc.

    But few questions (to make it easier I would limit the period for Halifax and Lancaster crews in 1944-1945):
    1. were there any cases when the entire crew was decorated? (does not matter if immediate on non-immediate)
    2. was there any cases when the entire crew except one member was decorated?

    TIA

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    On 12 September 1944 a No.428 Squadron crew (Lancaster KB793) brought their bomber home through a memorable team effort. The rear gunner, F/L J.J. Flood, was killed (which pretty well rendered him ineligible for a decoration, though a mention in dispatches might have been possible). Otherwise, the following were decorated as per London Gazeete of 3 November 1944):

    CURTIS, F/L Russell Edward- DSO (pilot)
    MARSHALL, F/O Robert George - DFC (WAG)
    McDONELL, F/O Joseph Lawrence - DFC (AG)
    McGILLIVRAY, F/O Dougal A, - DSO (bomb aimer)
    PATTEN, F/L Gordon Wallace - DFC (AG)
    SMITH, F/L Hugh Frederick - DFC (WAG)
    WATTIE, F/O Charles Forbes - DFC (Navigator)

    Many years ago I was in correspondence with a man who was outraged that his brother had not been decorated, although every other member of his crew received an award on the conclusion of their tour. I have forgotten the names involved, but I was able to determine that the brother had never been recommended (no explanation possible) and nobody was going to raise a recommendation 55 years after the event.

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    Hi Hugh,

    many thanks for your post.
    You have point out one thing which I have not considdered before - as an example: if half of crew got their immediated decorations and the second half was recommended for non-immediate ones and one of them would got killed before the decorations were approved - he would get it or not? (RAF/RCAF were not awarding DFM/DFC posthumously as far as I know).
    And can be recommendation for such proposed but not awarded decoration held in the TNA?

    TIA

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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    There are many cases of aircrew recommended for non-immediate decorations, then being killed, and subsequently the award being gazetted - usually "with effect" from the day before he became a casualty. The crucial here was timing - that the recommendation had been drafted before he went missing. Moreover, the deed or deeds for which the recommendation was drafted could NOT refer to the sortie or circumstances in which he was killed. I believe there were cases when an enterprising CO "fudged" the document - but I cannot quote chapter and verse.

    You are correct - there were no posthumous DFC/DFM awards (the British system was changed about 1980). The only awards that could be made posthumously were the Victoria Cross, George Cross and Mention in Despatches - the two highest honours and the very lowest. I describe the ins-and-outs of this process in my 2006 book, "Valour Reconsidered."

    As to unsuccessful recommendations being in the files at Kew - I am sure there are, but I have not been there for ten or twelve years. Perhaps others who have plunged into the AIR 2 files can confirm or correct me.
    Last edited by HughAHalliday; 21st July 2018 at 18:42.

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    As an example of “with effect” awards, I note that the London Gazette of 28 July 1944 includes the following:

    EDMONDS, James William, P/O, awarded DFC for services with No.466 Squadron, with effect from 2 July 1943 (killed in action 4 July 1943)

    PEXTON, Harold Cass, F/L awarded DFC for services with No.35 Squadron, with effect from 28 July 1943 (killed in action 30 July 1943)/

    But just to confuse things, in the same issue of the London Gazette I find the following who were NOT killed but did become POWs:

    GALLOWAY, Archibald, WO, awarded DFC for services in No.51 Squadron, with effect from 10 August 1943. Listed as a POW in Ross McNeill’s list for RAF Commands.

    RUSSELL, Charles Bowmer, F/L, awarded DFC for services in No.35 Squadron, with effect from 9 August 1943. Listed as a POW in Ross McNeill’s list for RAF Commands.

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    Hugh, thank you for your comprehensive asnwers, really much appreciated.
    I got the point and I will see next time when visiting the Kew.

    Pavel
    Czechoslovak Airmen in the RAF 1940-1945
    http://cz-raf.webnode.cz

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