William Baker recommendation for award of Distinguished Flying Cross



William Baker recommendation for award of Distinguished Flying Cross


Relates actions on operation to Berlin on 30/31 January 1944. Baker was wounded during night fighter attack. Finding wireless operator dead, the rear gunner unconscious and navigator wounded, he then manned the rear turret despite no communications or oxygen and intense cold. He remained in the turret apart from leaving to fight a fire before returning to his post.




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Christian Names: William Benjamin Surname: BAKER
Rank: Pilot Officer Official No: 170023
Command or Group: No. 1 Group. Unit: No. 626 Squadron.

Total hours flown on operations – 95.55

Number of sorties – 18

Number of sorties since receipt of previous award – N/A

Total hours flown on operations since receipt of previous award – N/A

Recognition for which recommended – D.F.C.

Appointment held – Mid Upper Gunner.

Particulars of meritorious service for which the recommendation is made, including date and place:

Pilot Officer Baker carried out twelve sorties on his first tour of operations and was the Mid Upper Gunner of a Lancaster bomber detailed to attack BERLIN on the night of 30/31st January, 1944, on the sixth sortie of his second tour of operations. On the bombing run up to the target, the aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter. The initial burst of fire killed the Wireless Operator and severely wounded the Rear Gunner. Pilot Officer Baker was himself wounded in the right side of his face by a canon shell which burst in his turret, removed the right hand ear piece of his helmet and rendered him unconscious.

Three more attacks were made on the aircraft during which time Pilot Officer Baker remained unconscious and when he eventually regained consciousness the aircraft had just left the target area. On taking stock of the situation Pilot Officer Baker discovered that he had no inter-communication, no oxygen, and his turret was unserviceable.

Climbing out of his turret he found the Wireless Operator dead, the Rear Gunner unconscious on the rest bed and the Navigator seriously wounded, realising that the aircraft was unprotected Pilot Officer Baker immediately made his way to the rear turret and manned it. He was bleeding profusely from the face, was inadequately dressed for the position in the rear turret, had no means of inter-communication with his Captain nor had he any oxygen.

In spite of the conditions to which this Officer was subjected, his personal physical suffering from his wounds, the intense cold and lack of oxygen, Pilot Offi[missing letters] Baker throughout the long return flight remained at his post in the rear turret, maintaining a vigilant look-out. On landing Pilot Officer Baker had to be treated for frost bite to his hands, and wounds to his ear and face.

Over the North Sea fires broke out in the aircraft due to a complete breakdown of the electrical system. Pilot Officer Baker immediately left his turret and helped to extinguish them returning once again to his post afterwards to continue the watch.

Pilot Officer Baker's unconquerable spirit of determination and devotion to duty evokes praise of the highest order and I have no hesitation in recommending that this Officer's gallantry and outstanding example of courage be rewarded by the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Date: 3rd January, 1944.

Wing Commander, Commanding,
[underlined] No. 626 Squadron, Wickenby. [/underlined]


OC 626 Squadron, “William Baker recommendation for award of Distinguished Flying Cross,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 21, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/36087.

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