Australians on the Dam's Raid killed before the end of the war.

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by spidge, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. spidge


    407380 Pilot Officer Frederick Michael Spafford DFC DFM from Guy Gibson's crew.................In the photo with Guy Gibson are four of his Dams Raid crew, Spafford, Hutchinson, Deering and Taerum would be killed together. The others died separately.

    The blue photo gives a good example of the differing blue uniforms. 1 & 3 RAF, 4 & 5 RCAF with 2 RAAF.

    John Pulford of that crew would die in a crash in England (13-03-1944) the day after the raid in Southern France on the Antheor Viaduct.
    Soon after on 31-03-1944, not long after moving to 97 Squadron, Richard Algernon Dacre Trevor-Roper was killed in Lancaster ND390 on an Op to Nuremburg.
    On 19-09-1944, Wing Commander Guy Gibson would also join the rest of his AJ-G ED932/G crew at their last airfield.

    From: A dictionary of biography.
    407380 Pilot Officer Frederick Michael Spafford DFC DFM, of Wayville, South Australia, at Overseas Headquarters RAAF. He took part in the highly successful raid on the German dams and was awarded the DFC for his share in that hazardous and difficult operation. On 16 September 1943 he was killed whilst on operations over Germany while serving with 617 Squadron, RAF. He is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery in Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen Cemetery.
    SPAFFORD, FREDERICK MICHAEL (1918-1943), air force officer, was born on 16 June 1918 in North Adelaide, only child of James Michael Burke (d.1923), tannery foreman, and his wife Vida Muriel, née Spafford (d.1926), both South Australian born. Little evidence survives of Fred's childhood and education. On 19 September 1929 he was adopted by his maternal grandfather Frederick Blaker Spafford, a 70-year-old ironworker, and given his surname. In time, he worked as a fitter.
    On 14 September 1940 Spafford enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force. His grandfather had died on 25 March that year and Fred named his uncle Walter James Spafford (1884-1962), South Australia's director of agriculture, as his next of kin. After training in wireless at Ballarat, Victoria, and in air gunnery at Evans Head, New South Wales, he arrived in England, under the Empire Air Training Scheme, in August 1941 as a sergeant air gunner.
    Sent to No.5 Bomber Group, Royal Air Force, in the East Midlands, Spafford spent short periods with a number of units. In May 1942 he was posted to No.50 Squadron, R.A.F., with which he flew in Manchesters and later Lancasters as a specialist bomb-aimer. The four-engined Lancaster bomber became the principal weapon in Britain's air offensive against Germany by night. Following fifteen sorties, Spafford was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in October for his skill and 'praiseworthy example'. He was commissioned in January 1943. Having survived his tour of thirty operations, he could have expected a respite from combat, but in March he was invited to join an elite R.A.F. squadron, No.617, being formed for a special mission against dams in the Ruhr and Weser valleys. (Sir) Barnes Wallis had designed a new type of mine or 'bouncing bomb' able to skip over defensive torpedo-nets and explode at depth against the wall of a dam.
    On the night of 16 May Spafford flew with Wing Commander Guy Gibson, who led a formation of nineteen Lancasters in attacks on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams. Bombs had to be released at the dangerously low height of 60 ft (18 m) at a set speed, line and distance from the wall of each targeted dam. Gibson regarded Spafford (whose nickname was 'Spam') as 'the best bomb-aimer there is'. The Mohne and Eder dams were successfully breached, flooding a large stretch of country. The daring and spectacular 'Dam Buster' raid was acclaimed as a triumph, boosting allied morale. Interviewed by the press and on the radio, Spafford described the secrecy and hazards of No.617's training for low-level flying, the elaborate briefings, and the attack which was carried out in bright moonlight against enemy fire. Gibson was awarded the Victoria Cross and, among the other decorations presented at Buckingham Palace, Spafford received the Distinguished Flying Cross. Five ft 8½ ins (174 cm) tall, stockily built and square shouldered, with a fair complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair, he had an open face and wore his cap at a rakish angle. Crew mates spoke of his nonchalance in the face of danger.
    Despite high losses in the dams raid—nine of the Lancasters which had set out did not return—No.617 Squadron was kept in commission for similar tasks. On the night of 15/16 September 1943 the British attacked the Dortmund-Ems Canal, using substantially the same tactics. In patchy fog and poor visibility, and against alert defences, five of the eight attacking aircraft were shot down. Hit by flak, Spafford's plane caught fire, crashed, and blew apart on the ground. There were no survivors. Spafford was posthumously promoted flying officer.
    Select Bibliography
    G. Gibson, Enemy Coast Ahead (Lond, 1946); P. Brickhill, The Dam Busters (Lond, 1951); C. Webster and N. Frankland, The Strategic Air Offensive Against Germany, 1939-1945, vol 2 (Lond, 1961); E. Fry, An Airman Far Away (Syd, 1993); Advertiser (Adelaide), 1 Apr, 22, 28 May, 9 Sept, 1 Oct 1943. More on the resources
    Author: Eric Fry
    Print Publication Details: Eric Fry, 'Spafford, Frederick Michael (1918 - 1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, Melbourne University Press, 2002, pp 282-283.
    407380 Flying Officer SPAFFORD, Frederick Michael DFC DFM
    AWM 237(65) NAA : A705, 166/38/279 Digitised Commonwealth war Graves records
    W R Chorley : RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War, Page 321, Volume 1943.
    Aircraft Type: Lancaster
    Serial number: EE 144
    Radio call sign: AJ – S
    Unit: 617 Sqn RAF
    On the 15/16th September 1943, Lancaster EE144 took off from RAF Coninsby at 2356 hours, tasked to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Kanal near Ladbergen, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base.
    RAF 103484 Sqn Ldr Holden, George Walton DSO, DFC and Bar, MID Captain (Pilot)
    RAF 644741 Sgt Powell, Dennis John Dean MID (Flight Engineer)
    RCAF J/16688 Flt Lt Taerum, Torger Harlo DFC (Navigator)
    RAAF 407380 FO Spafford, Frederick Michael DFC DFM (Air Bomber)
    RCAF J/17245 FO Deering, George Andrew DFC (Wireless Air Gunner)
    RAF 120854 Flt Lt Hutchison, Robert Edward George DFC and Bar (Air Gunner)
    RAF 118900 FO Pringle, Henry James DFC (Air Gunner)
    RAF 52913 PO Meikle, Thomas Alfred DFM (Air Gunner)
    EE144 when over Holland, was struck by light flak. The aircraft was at the time the leading aircraft in the formation and was flying at a height of approx 200 feet. The aircraft was on fire after it was hit, and it swerved violently to port and then came down at an angle of 35 degrees to crash at Altendorf, Germany. All on board were killed and they are buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Locality Kleve, Nordrhein Westfalen, Germany. The cemetery is 5kms south west of Kleve.
    RAF 103484 Sqn Ldr Holden, George Walton DSO, DFC and Bar, MID Captain (Pilot)
    Aged 30, Son of Frederick Charles Holden, and of Beatrice Holden, of Twickenham. Middlesex.
    RAF 644741 Sgt Powell, Dennis John Dean MID (Flight Engineer)
    Aged 21, Son of Easton Walter and Ada Winifred Powell, of Sidcup, Kent.
    RCAF J/16688 Flt Lt Taerum, Torger Harlo DFC (Navigator)
    Aged 22, Son of Guttorm Tonger and Hilda Ingeline Olson Taerum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
    His brother, Lorne Clifford Taerum RCAF, also died in service. (3.2.1945 age 18) R/278581 Flight Sgt air gunner 550sqn (RAF)
    RAAF 407380 FO Spafford, Frederick Michael DFC DFM (Air Bomber)
    Aged 25, Son of James Bourke Spafford and Vida Muriel Spafford.
    RCAF J/17245 FO Deering, George Andrew DFC (Wireless Air Gunner)
    Aged 24, Son of Samuel Deering and of Martha Deering (nee Ballagh), of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
    RAF 120854 Flt Lt Hutchison, Robert Edward George DFC and Bar (Air Gunner)
    Aged 25, Son of Robert George and Ada Louisa Hutchison, of Liverpool.
    RAF 118900 FO Pringle, Henry James DFC (Air Gunner)
    No NOK Listed
    RAF 52913 PO Meikle, Thomas Alfred DFM (Air Gunner)
    No NOK Listed

    spafford_3.jpg Spafford_FM 6.jpg Gibson_Spafford Blue Photo.jpg Reichswald Forest (4).JPG Reichswald Forest (8).JPG pulford_2.jpg Trevor-Roper_Fl Lieutenant Trevor-Roper_Richard Algernon Dacre Photo.jpg

    Citation :
    The Citation for the DFC awarded to Flt Lt Spafford is as follows
    “ Joint Citation for the Dam Busters raid on the Moehne, Eder and Scorp Dams in Germany on the night of 16 May 1943, with the award of DFC to the then PO Spafford, the award of DSO to Flt Lt D J Shannon, (RAAF) and to PO L G Knight (RAAF), a bar to DFC’s to Flt Lt R C Hay (see Page 405) and Flt Lt J F Leggo (RAAF) (see Page 408), the DFC to PO C L Howard, RAAF (see Page 108), and the DFM to Flt Sgt T D Simpson, RAAF.
    On the night of 16th May 1943, a force of Lancaster bombers was detailed to attack the Moehne, Eder and Scorp dams in Germany. The operation was one of great difficulty and hazard, demanding a high degree of skill and courage and close cooperation between the crews of the aircraft engaged. Nevertheless, a telling blow was struck at the enemy by the
    successful breaching of the Moehne and Eder dams. This outstanding success reflects the greatest credit on the efforts of the above personnel who participated in the operation in the various capacities as members of aircraft crews.(London Gazette 28/5/1943 P2361)
    The Citation for the DFM awarded to the then Flt Sgt Spafford of No 50 Sqn RAF, is as follows : “Sgt Spafford was posted to no 50 Sqn with effect from 24th April 1942. This Air Gunner re-mustered on the Squadron to Air Bomber, and he has consistently justified his selection for the position. He has now completed 15 operational sorties and on all these operations, this Sergeant has by his keenness, efficiency and enthusiasm, has materially assisted in the successful conclusion of their task. He has directed his pilot
    onto the target so successfully that at Saarbrucken, Bremen, Frankfurt and Munich, his photographs have proved the success of the attacks. Sgt Spafford is always cheerfully efficient and has set a very fine example to all the other Air Bombers in the Squadron and it is considered that he is well worthy of immediate recognition. I strongly recommend that he is granted an immediate award of the DFM. “
    The remarks by the Station Commander were : “This recommendation is strongly recommended. As the outstanding results achieved by FO Calvert’s crew, of which he is a member, are undoubtedly largely due to the skill and determination of Sgt Spafford as Bomb Aimer.”
    Fred Wilson likes this.

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