Extract from London Gazette 17 March 1944

SWrightBC1627924v20013.jpg

Title

Extract from London Gazette 17 March 1944

Description

Pilot Officer J H Catlin for Distinguished Flying Cross. Sergeant Barry Collin Wright for Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. Sergeant William Birch for Distinguished Flying Medal. Gives account of action for operation to Leipzig in February 1944. Describes attacks by enemy fighters, damage to aircraft and wounding of four crew and subsequent actions leading to awards. Added note 'The aircraft was so badly damaged that the salvage crew broke it up where it stood'.

Date

1944-03-17

Temporal Coverage

Spatial Coverage

Language

Type

Format

One page printed document

Publisher

London Gazette

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Contributor

Identifier

SWrightBC1627924v20013

Transcription

[underlined] THE LONDON GAZETTE. [inserted] 17TH MARCH ’44 [/inserted] [/underlined]
[underlined] DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS. [/underlined]
Pilot Officer James Henry CATLIN (168836), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 166 Squadron.
[underlined] CONSPICUOUS GALLANTRY MEDAL (FLYING)
1627924 Sergeant Barry Colin WRIGHT, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve No. 166 Squadron.
[underlined] DISTINGUISHED FLYING MEDAL [/underlined]
2206989 Sergeant William BIRCH, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 166 Squadron.
1226285 Sergeant Thomas Paul Hall, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, No. 166 Squadron.
This officer and these airmen were pilot, flight engineer, rear gunner and wireless operator (air) respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Leipzig one night in February 1944. When nearing the traget [sic] area the aircraft was intercepted by 2 fighters. One of them attacked from close range and the bomber was raked along the whole length of the fuselage by the enemy’s bullets. Four of the crew were wounded, including Sergeants Hall and Wright, the latter being very severely injured. The Aircraft sustained extensive damage, making it impossible for the pilot to take evasive action. Then, to add to the trials of the harassed crew, the bomber became fully illuminated in consequence of a short circuit occurring in the electrical system. The second fighter flew in to the attack but, although forced to operate his turret manually, Sergeant Birch met the attacker with a devastating burst of fire and the enemy aircraft burst into flames and dived to the ground out of control. Only 2 of his guns were now operating but Sergeant Birch used them most effectively and drove off the other attacker. Pilot Officer Catlin then set course for home. Meanwhile Sergeant Hall set to work to repair some of the damaged equipment and later succeeded in making the intercommunication system serviceable. Badly wounded as he was, Sergeant Wright retained consciousness and could not be dissuaded from attempting to fulfil his duties. He was deprived of the use of the instrument panel which has been shot away. while 1 of the petrol tanks was empty. Nevertheless he continued to keep the engines running at their maximum power. In his efforts, Sergeant Wright had to be supported by a comrade and 3 times fainted through loss of blood but he never wavered. In the face of heavy odds, Pilot Officer Catlin reached an airfield where he effected a masterly landing. His skill, courage and determination were beyond praise. Sergeants Wright, Hall and Birch proved themselves to be valiant members of aircraft crew and did everything within their power to assist their pilot in his endeavours to bring the crippled bomber home.
[inserted] THE AIRCRAFT WAS SO BADLY DAMAGED THAT THE SALVAGE CREW BROKE IT UP WHERE IT STOOD [/inserted]

Collection

Citation

“Extract from London Gazette 17 March 1944,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 10, 2022, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/26794.

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