RAF Bomber Command Clasp

214 Flight Engineers. My father is seated 1st on left.

214 Flight Engineers. My father is standing 5th from left at the back

My father flew as a flight engineer in RAF Bomber Command from December 1942 until the end of WWII. He was demobbed in August 1946 as a Warrant Officer, given a striped “demob suit” and the princely sum of £17.

He was proud of having “done his bit” and those 4 years marked a high point in his life. He was happy in the air force, and would have liked to continue serving after the war, but was told that in spite of having risen to the rank of WO, in peacetime he would have to start again at the bottom. To a man who had put his life on the line time and time again, with over 370 flying hours, more than 50 operational sorties, sometimes arriving back in a crippled aircraft that could barely limp onto the runway, that was too humiliating and so he returned to his former job in Civvy Street. But the close-knit camaraderie and brotherhood remained of those aircrew who had shared the cramped, freezing and frightening conditions in the aircraft, rekindled at regular meetings of old pals and the annual squadron reunion.

Boeing_Fortress_ECM_aircraft_214_Sqn_RAF_at_Prestwick_1944

Boeing_Fortress_ECM_aircraft_214_Sqn_RAF_at_Prestwick_1944

Dad flew mostly in Flying Fortresses as a member of 214 Squadron, which was also part of 100 Group. This was engaged in early electronic warfare, jamming German radar, dropping WINDOW and carrying a German-speaking wireless operator to give false commands to enemy aircraft. They flew with the bomber stream, exposed to the same flak and attacks by Messerschmitts as the bombers.

Horrible things happen in wars. After WWII, Bomber Command got a bad press. The bombing of Königsberg, Berlin and Dresden in particular left a nasty taste. And so Fighter Command got the glory and a medal, while Bomber Command received only the 1939-1945 Star. Now, with the erection last summer of a memorial to Bomber Command in London and the issue of a Bomber Command Clasp, their role in World War II has finally been acknowledged. Of course, it can be argued that this is too little too late. Certainly too late for most of the 125,000 who earned it. Some veterans have even spat in disgust at the notion of a Clasp rather than a medal: “Not worth the metal it’s made of,” headlined one Plymouth paper.Bomber Command clasp

My father died at the age of 85. Had he survived to claim the Clasp to which he is now entitled, intended to be worn with the Star, he would have been 99. We are claiming the clasp in his name, but it is with a distinct sense of regret and resentment at the fact that the bravery and achievements of Bomber Command were not recognised during his lifetime.

Bomber Command memorial, London

Bomber Command memorial, London

For more on RAF Bomber Command, click here.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “RAF Bomber Command Clasp

  1. Thanks for highlighting Grandad’s contribution!! We’re lucky that he talked about his time in the RAF and with such fondness for his mates and was able to live to tell those tales that we can pass on; many men didn’t and their descendants have no idea.

  2. Fascinating. I had no idea there was even a difference between Fighter Command and Bomber Command. Bless your dad for all he did. My dad was of an age to serve as well, but ended up staying stateside for the duration of our part in the war, training mechanics, I think – he didn’t talk about it much. But the family scuttlebutt was that he and some of his “mates” were horsing around, and Dad ended up with a broken arm, so he couldn’t ship out with his unit when they headed to Europe, and he got reassigned. No idea if that’s totally true – but it sure sounds like something Dad would’ve done at that age. I am looking forward to more of your posts, especially any glimpses of your dad’s logbook. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Sue – nice to hear from you again! Yes, there’s a post forming in my head (sounds very uncomfortable …but you know what I mean!) There’s a photo of Captain Clark Gable and his crew among my Dad’s snaps – he was based near to my Dad’s lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s