G Cruickshank Memoir



G Cruickshank Memoir


Describes life with family from 1918. Joined Army – 4th Queen's Own Hussars on 2nd January 1936. Joined RAF 1938 and trained as balloon operator then applied as air gunner, arriving at RAF Swinderby in December 1941. Took part in 50 Squadron operations to St Nazaire, Rostock and Cologne. Mentions Leslie Manser V.C. Took part in daylight operation on Le Creusot then Milan, Wismar and Genoa. Mentions postagram re DFM - from A.T. Harris, Bomber Command. Took part in “S” Sugar on Hamburg and on the 24th April 1944, operation on Munich. Many mentions of his crew and colleagues.






15 page handwritten exercise book


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Both my Mother [sic] and Father [sic] were married twice, my Mother [sic] a widow with eight children – and my Father [sic] a widower with three – the oldest George being killed in action during the 1914/18 war.
When my Mother [sic] met Father [sic], who was [smudged] Scottish [/smudged], stationed then at the Verne Portland Dorset, with the Army - they married, and had three more children, I was the middle one – now the youngest, the other dying when aged about 2 years.
Born at Portland November 25th 1918, my life was hard – during my school days I had gardening to do – then go out and sell to people localy [sic], on leaving school my first job was to help my brother-in-law with his window cleaning – later I got myself a shop assistants job in Weymouth, some 5 miles away cycling everyday – my pocket money was 2/- [?] per week.
It was late 1935 when I applied to join the Army – 4th Queens Own Hussars and January 2nd 1936 I was sworn in – and was to be stationed at Warbury Barracks Aldershot, after 6 months foot drill – and 9 month [sic] horse riding I became a trained trooper.
After my Fathers [sic] death – my Mother [sic] claimed me out on compassionate grounds being the only son in England at that period, my other brothers in the Royal Navy overseas
My life soon changed, and during the crisis of 1938 I rejoined the services – this time the R.A.F.
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After completing my training to become a Group II Balloon operator A.C I later after a short trade test became L.A.C. the war was on, we were busy putting the Balloons up around London – later I was posted to Felixstowe.
Having then being made Corporal, but keen on more action I applied for airgunnery [sic] – and in 1941 was accepted – being posted to Evanton Scotland for the Airgunnery {sic] course, after 4 weeks – not forgetting my 7 hrs flying time I became a Sgt Airgunner – my pay of 6d aday [sic] more than I had been getting as a Corporal.
My next station was 11 O.T.U. Abingdon – when my flying hrs increased by 5 hrs and became fully trained, and now ready for operations – but where?
It was December of 41 when my posting came through!! 50 Sqdn, then stationed at Swinderby – Near [sic] Lincoln, Having [sic] packed my kit – said my farewells to my friends, we, that is those who were also going to the same Station [sic] – Ginger Dacey, Colin Gray – Vic Greenwood, Smithy who was going to Binbrook.
Very late when we arrived at Swinderby – 8 miles to Lincoln, 8 miles to Newark, blimey what a dump!!
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We had been sent for crewing up on the Manchesters, but 50 Sqdn still had Hampdens – and still had for 3 more months after {smudged] arrival [/smudged].
Things got very boring waiting around, and more so depressing when detailed for bearers of one of our fellow aircrew who had been killed & was to be buried nearby at Bassingham
Then the Manchesters started arriving, Colin Gray & myself were crewed up with Norman Goldsmith D.F.C, Terry Tuerum [sic] was nav, later he flew with Gibson on the now famous damn [sic] raids, after a few hours of flying together we were ready for operations – and my grand total was now 32 hrs.
On the 15.4.42 my first operation – St Nazaire Height 800FT 4 [one indecipherable word] for gardening, time 6.15 very quite [sic] nothing unusual, 4 more days later – another gardening raid Ameland, 22.4.42 Gardening [sic] Kiel Bay Ht 1,000 3 [one indecipherable word]. On 24.4.42 Manchester L5786 – Second pilot Leslie Manser, who later won the V.C.
We set off for our first bombing operation target Rostok [sic], [encircled] 14 [/encircled] 250 inc[en]d[iary] bombs Ht 5000 ft.
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Good raid and plenty of Rostok [sic] hit – time 7.45.
This was most of the crews last trip – Colin & myself needed a new pilot ex [sic], would we be with Leslie Manser? no, we were to be crewed with Roy Calvert, Alan Conner, Lew Austin, Bert Branch ex.
It was 2 months later before we came operational – this time Lancasters, but first let me tell you of Leslie Manser, one of the greats – who gave his life without question.
On May 30th of 42 the crew lists up, a buss [sic] around it being a large raid – it was the first 1,000 bomber raid, and the target – Cologne.
Unfortunately Les, Jack Mills, Ben Naylor, and others got caught by enemy searchlights on approaching the target area – then it happened, hell let loose, when hit by intense & accurate anti aircrafts fire, the rear gunner wounded, they pressed on in great difficulties to bomb there [sic] objective – still cault [sic] in the searchlights & flak, when fire broke out, after awhile [sic] this was mastered with efforts of all – but it had left its mark.
A badly burnt wing & the engines
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Failing the Manchester began loosing [sic] height, Less [sic] held on & give orders for his crew to bail out at a very low height 1,000 ft.
Desdained [sic] the alternative of parachuting to safety himself – held on for all to get safely out, but to [sic] late for himself it plunged to earth and burst into flames with a man of great courage and strength
Flying Officer Leslie Manser was awarded the V.C. Posthumously [sic].
And the crew – well all but one , came back to England via the underground in “aprox” 21 days and today are still alive & kicking
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The boys of 50 Sqdn were a grand lot – who kept changing as the lose’s [sic] increased – Such men as Micky Martin, Spam Spafford – Toby [one indecipherable word], Dan Shannon, Boy Wonder Everett, Roy Beattle Oxly, Trevor Roper, Dave Abercrombie King Cole & a host of others.
Time, when not on flying – consists of bar drinking – cards, tossing the coins, or [one indecipherable word] playing – but the raids still kept coming, Frankfurt – Bremen, Wolholmshaven [sic], Essen, Wismar!!
Then Low [sic] level training, not forgetting Beatle Oxley’s remark at briefing, now lads remember don’t [sic] go mingling with the traffic in the streets when you goover [sic] the towns or Cities [sic]
It was now 17-10.42 [sic] briefing over, the daylight exspected [sic] on – a low level raid on Le Creucot [sic], 94 Lancasters[sic], to be led by Wing Commander Gibson – good quite [sic] raid, time 10 hrs 20 mins.
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Shortly afterwards another low-level Daylight [sic] this time Milan (Italy)
After crossing France at tree tops we started to climb for crossing over the Alps – this was a lovely sight – once over we started coming down for a low-level attack on Milan – we did drop our fire bombs at a very low height with great success afterwards shooting up a train & gun post with great success – but not a fighter in sight.
Time 9hrs 20 mins.
Around this period we were busy bombing Wismar, Genoa and I cannot recall ever bombing over [smudged] 10,000 [/smudged] FT – sometimes after droping [sic] the bombs putting the nose down and heading home at tree top level to dodge radar, I didn’t [smudged] mind [/smudged] this for flying rear and being around 14 Stone [sic] couldn’t get in the rear with full flying cloths [sic] – so hence I used the top parts – flying boots & a blanket around my legs this way I felt much freeor [sic]- and happier!!
My friend [smudged] Dacey was [/smudged] posted missing, Ken Smith, Vic Greenwood, to my dismay were killed in action.
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It was November 5th of 42 when I received a postagram
My Warmest [sic] congratulations on the award of your Distinguished Flying Medal
Signed H.T. Harris
A.C.C. Bomber Command.
It was on November 9th 1942 when I looked up the crew list & saw our crew were on.
So making my way out to our Aircraft[sic] – “S” for sugar & Give [sic] my turret and Brownings the once over – a short NFT with the crew and later atending [sic[ briefing.
The Target Hamburg with 100 Lancasters of Bomber Command.
It was dusk when we climbed aboard, Skipper Roy ran up the engines – I closed the fuselage door, climbed back to my turret, got in and closed doors, pluged [sic] in intercom – connected oxygen, reported rear gunner OK Skipper.
We set off for the runway in use & given the all clear – engines cleared, and steady increasing speed we were on our way for a perfect
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take off.
3,000 ft oxygen on – and after pin pointing we set course for enemy territory, once over the sea – Crooky, here Skipper!! OK? to test guns, all clear for shipping Nav – nothing around here Skipper!! OK Crooky test your guns, with a couple of bursts reported back OK Skipper guns OK.
From then on one keen look out for fighters – enemy coast ahead Skipper, OK bomb aimer, sharp look out now everyone.
It was not long before we approached the target area – which was 7/10 cloud, things seemed quite [sic], this was broken by the nav, target on your right Skipper – new course, bomb aimer getting ready up front, OK Skipper all set – plenty of searchlights about must be Hamburg below!!
OK Skipper bomb doors open – Left[sic] – Left [sic] Steady [sic], but that was it, hell let loose, - where am I upside down or the right way up
God I dont [sic] know – but I do know
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thiers [sic] a hell of lot of holes in us.
And an intense smell of cordite around – no intercom & both turret and guns out of action, all I could do was to hold on and pray – which I did.
Those boys on the ground certainly had us for target practice – and I was still looking for fighters – why I dont [sic] know, it was some 2 hrs before a knock on the rear door – Alan with a note come up front.
Say what a mess – holes back, left & centre I wondered how we made it, Alan said Roy’s wounded and the Nav also Lew, badly wounded, we learnt later he had been killed instantly.
Real cold now – [smudged] no [/smudged] windows in and I was nursing Lew not knowing he was dead
Then word we were well over the North Sea – then a sudden up lift, whats [sic] that – bombs away? [smudged] Blimey [/smudged] dont [sic] say we went through all that lot with a full bomb load – afraid we did Chum
Shall be damned glad to have my two feet again on firm ground
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Good old England soon [smudged] came [/smudged] up – no wireless or nothing, but with flying a [smudged] triangle [/smudged] up poped [sic] searchlights showing us the way for a crash landing.
O.K. lads here we go – crash positions, this is it – down – down – down to a perfect crash landing – good show Roy, what a crew.
After my leave found me stationed at Westcott an O.T.U., there I met Bob Weathershall, George Cleary, Rory Calhoun, Patteson, & a grand lot from another group – Bob was later crewed with Sqdn /Ldr Frazer [sic] Barron [smudged] DSO [/smudged] DFC DFM but I heard all got killed in a head on crash with another bomber over Paris.
Soon I was iching [sic] to be back – and late 43 found myself crewed with Flying Officer Flynns [sic] crew – a new crew who had never been on ops before lacking a mid upper gunner – we were posted to 44 Sqdn under Nettleton V.C.
He went missing on one of Italian raids
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Our new C.O. came, Wing commander Bows [sic]
Had Pat Dorhill in 44 Sqdn here for his [one indecipherable word] now with B.O.A.C.
[one indecipherable word] crew were fated in the first raid “Cassel” approaching enemy coast – when Nav shouts out, Sorry Skipper I cannot coup [sic], Pilot to Crooky whats [sic] the gen!! well Skipper how much off route – and our timing! I’ll check, well off route & running late, best to turn round Skipper – drop our bombs in the sea make our way back the best we can, we did, Nav was court martialed [sic] L M F on records and reduced to the ranks.
We had a succesful [sic] raid on Dusseldorf = another Berlin, and the next Berlin a near repeat of the first
My Warrant Officer through – about [smudged] the [/smudged] first airgunner W/O in the RAF unheard of before,
Terry said – sorry Crooke I am taking a complete new crew, felt sorry at the time – but learnt later he went missing on his 19th trip.
My good wife was relieved.
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Heard Roy Calvert was returning to ops – I’ll give him a ring, OK Crooke I’ll fix you up, and a few days later we were at 630 Sqdn East Kirkby – Alan Conner too, three of the regulars
Titch Freeman, Moody ex [sic] made up the crew.
Operations began rolling in Berlin – Schweinfurt, Stuttgart, Clermont Ferrand, Stuttgart Frankfurt – Berlin & Essen.
Then Briefing [sic] for Nurberg, on approaching enemy coast reported dozens of aircraft being shot down – your [sic] seeing things Crooke, but I knew different!! they did next morning when told about 144 [smudged] Lancs [/smudged] had been downed – us and another crew were only ones back from our lot, we lose [?] 10 aircraft
Sorry Crookes – but I’ll never forgive them. The losses were getting to [sic] high for my liking – wont [sic] be sorry to see my last trip – which was getting near now – so I was keeping my fingers crossed.
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After Toulouse-Montraudan, Danzig – Paris & Brunswick, this raid we were shot up by a night fighter – right action & timing we got away with slight damage and my 50th raid.
Had heard that Terry Taerum , Trevor Roper ex [sic] Gibson VC s crew had gone down on a raid on the Dortmund Ems Canal, Micky Martin & crew returning only out of 4 from 617 Sqdn
One of our crews had tried to take off without success – after leaving the ground plunged to the ground the rear turret breaking off and the rest blowing to pieces over a large Area [sic] – and the rear gunner the only one alive – later I learnt on returning off a raid – the pilot ordered bail out lads your [sic] over England, on going for his chute found it in complete ribbons – the other gunner said never mind we’ll go together with {smudged] [two indecipherable words] [/smudged] – but on pulling the cord the sudden jerk he let go & fell to his death below.
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Munich was always known to be a hard target to hit – [smudged] Cheshire [/smudged] said, give me one sqdn of PFF and 5 Group I’ll show you it can be –
He did 24.4.44 when we were briefed for Munich – we were in the last raid.
And on approaching the target – which was well ablaze now, we had our own run in and just released our bombs when caught by searchlights & four enemy night fighters, with good evasive action we downed one & damaged another down & down we went – say Skipper we dont [sic] want to be mixed up in these fires below, or the people [smudged] either [/smudged], dont [sic] think we’ll be welcomed [sic] guest right now
O.K Nav give me a course for home – soon we was clear of Munich and on the way once again for home – a very good raid, Lenord [sic] Cheshire awarded V.C. after that raid.



G Cruickshank, “G Cruickshank Memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 13, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/17786.

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