Doug Davies

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Click here to go to the report on my visit to Plugar where Dad crashed

And the official RAF report of what happened to ED549

 

Flight Sergeant Douglas Davies, RAFVR

Sergeant Gunner

RAF Bomber Command 1940 – 1945

My father was an electrician and was just 19 when he joined RAF Bomber Command Volunteer Reserve in 1940. Until 1942 he worked as ground crew using his electrical expertise but then decided to retrain and ended up as a sergeant gunner on Lancaster and Wellington bombers. He soon was in the air, mainly as a tail gunner but frequently in the mid upper turret.

On March 4th 1943 at 1832 hrs, he was the mid upper gunner on Lancaster Bomber ED549 which took off from RAF Waltham, a satellite of Binbrook in Lincolnshire. They were involved in a ‘gardening’ operation  which involved 4 aircraft and was to drop mines outside the Nazi U-Boat base at St, Nazaire, France.

The crew  were Sgt. G R Avey RCAF Pilot, Sgt B T Hallett RAFVR Flight Engineer, Sgt A F Spence  RAFVR Navigator, Sgt G D Cumberbach Barbadian Volunteer Air Bomber, Sgt J Robinson RAFVR Wireless Operator,  Sgt D S Davies RAFVR Mid Upper Gunner, Sgt R R Landry RCAF Rear Gunner.

Doug Davies on volunteering in 1940

The flight crew of Lancaster ED 549 early 1943

After having completed their task they flew back to a fog-bound Lincolnshire where, after failing to land at 2 fog bound airfields they tried to land at RAF Langar in Leicestershire. But, and there are various theories about fuel shortage, shellfire damage and mechanical problems, the aircraft crash landed at 0308 hrs just a few hundred yards from the runway near the village of Plungar in Leicestershire.

The ARP warden and team rushed to the crash site where they found a wrecked Lancaster Bomber. The only survivor of the crash was my father DS Davies – the rest of the crew had been killed on impact. Dad was severely head injured and transferred to a specialist medical unit. Perhaps a significant fact relating to the cause of the accident - no fire, which supports the theory of fuel shortage.

After being discharged back to active duty some 3 months later, he was examined by the squadron medical officer who referred him to a civilian psychiatrist. I still find the diagnosis that was made by that unempathetic psychiatrist deeply and disgustingly offensive – LMF – lack of moral fibre !! Perhaps they should have put that psychiatrist in a cold and noisy airplane, made him stand behind a set of guns for 8 hours then crash landing and see 6 of your best friends killed. I’m sure he would have had second thoughts about flying again!!!

Fortunately for my father, the squadron leader intervened immediately and quashed the psychiatrist’s diagnosis. As a flying man himself the squadron leader knew exactly what my father had been through and understood his predicament. Dad was retrained as a gunnery instructor and spent the rest of the war teaching youngsters the intricacies of aircraft guns.

During the second World War 55,573 men – all in their 20s and 30s - were killed flying with Bomber Command, many of them as volunteers fighting for their country. Even now, some 70 years later, it has taken enormous amount of effort and funding to erect a memorial in London’s Green Park in their honour. Yet they are not even considered worthy of a medal for their efforts – many to have given their lives in the service of their country.

 

Barrie Davies
11th November 2012

 

Gunnery Instructor

 

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