Newspaper cuttings - Robert Palmer award of Victoria Cross

SPalmerRAM115772v10024.jpg

Title

Newspaper cuttings - Robert Palmer award of Victoria Cross

Description

Three newspaper cuttings with varying accounts of background and actions of Robert Palmer leading to award of Victoria Cross. Note that he was missing after this operation which was his 111th operational flight. Headlines - Daily Mail the shy V.C. goes down in flames, tough job man and Gillingham born pilot wins V.C - missing on his 111th operational flight.

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Three newspaper cuttings on an album page

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SPalmerRAM115772v10024

Transcription

[inserted] DAILY MAIL [/inserted]

The SHY V.C. GOES DOWN IN FLAMES

'Tough jobs' man

ACTING Squadron-Leader Robert Anthony Maurice Palmer, R.A.F., V.R., 109th Squadron, 24-year-old double D.F.C., who was always selected for special operations against vital targets, has been awarded the V.C.

Palmer, whose home was at Gravesend, was reported missing after he made a superb and accurate attack in a blazing Lancaster on the marshalling yard at Cologne, undeterred by the double risk of fire and explosion.

His plane was last seen spiralling to earth in flames.

"It was known that he could be relied on to press home his attack whatever the opposition, and to bomb with great accuracy," said the citation. "He was always selected, therefore, to take part in special operations against vital targets."

The finest example of his courage and determination was on December 23, 1944, when he led a formation of Lancasters to attack the marshalling yards at Cologne in daylight.

He had the task of marking the target his formation had been ordered to bomb as soon as the bombs had gone from his aircraft.

Some minutes before the target was reached his aircraft came under heavy anti-aircraft fire, two engines were set on fire, and there were flames and smoke in the nose and in the bomb bay.

"Enemy fighters attacked in force. Nevertheless, he made a perfect approach and his bombs hit the target," the citation says.

'Very much liked'

"His aircraft was last seen spiralling to earth in flames. More than half of his formation failed to return."

"A shy boy – very much liked by everyone, but very, very quiet and reserved," was how Mr. Frank Jennings, chief clerk in the borough engineer's office, Gravesend, described the new V.C.

"When he came into the office one day with a nasty scar on his chin and I said 'What's been happening to you?' he replied: Well, I took another fellow's girl out and he happened to spot me.'

"His young brother, now a sergeant pilot, told me later that Bob had narrowly escaped being killed in a crash."

[photograph]
[italics] Squadron-Leader Palmer, V.C. [/italics]

[page break]

Gillingham Born Pilot's V.C. – Gillingham born Squadron Leader R. A. M. Palmer, D.F.C. and bar, 24 years-old elder son of Mr. and Mrs. A.R.F. Palmer, of 52, Bellman-avenue, Gravesend, won the 134th V.C. of the War. He was reported missing from his 111th operational flight. Squadron Leader Palmer took part in the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne in 1942, and was one of the first pilots to drop a 4,000 lb. bomb on the Reich. He joined the R.A.F.V.R. at Rochester Flying School in 1939.

[page break]

GILLINGHAM BORN PILOT WINS V.C.

Missing on His 111th Operational Flight

Gillingham – born Squadron Leader Robert Anthony Maurice Palmer, D.F.C. and bar, 24-year-old elder son of Mr. and Mrs. A.R.F. Palmer, of 52, Bellman-ave., Gravesend, who is missing from his 111th operation, has won the 134th V.C. of the war.

[photograph]

The citation announcing the award says that Sqd.-Ldr. Palmer, who was a member of the R.A.F.V.R., had completed 110 bombing missions. Most of them involved deep penetration of heavily defended territory; many were low-level "marking" operations against vital targets; all were executed with tenacity, high courage, and great accuracy.

He first went on operations in January, 1941, he took part in the first 1,000-bomber raid against Cologne in 1942; he was one of the first pilots to drop a 4,000lb. bomb on the Reich. It was known that he could be relied on to press home his attack whatever the opposition and to bomb with great accuracy. He was always selected, therefore, to take part in special operations.

The finest example of his courage and determination was on December 23rd, 1944, when he led a formation of Lancasters to attack the marshalling yards at Cologne in daylight. He had the task of marking the target, and his formation had been ordered to bomb as soon as the bombs had gone from his, the leading aircraft. Some minutes before the target was reached his aircraft came under heavy anti-aircraft fire. Two engines were set on fire and there were flames and smoke in the nose and in the bomb bay.

Enemy fighters then attacked in force. Squadron Leader Palmer disdained the possibility of taking avoiding action. He knew that if he diverged the least bit from his course he would be unable to utilise the special equipment to the best advantage. He was determined to complete the run and provide an accurate and easily seen aiming-point for the other bombers. He ignored the double risk of fire and explosion in his aircraft and kept on. With his engines developing unequal power, an immense effort was needed to keep the damaged aircraft on a straight course. Nevertheless he made a perfect approach and his bombs hit the target.

His aircraft was last seen spiralling to earth in flames. Such was the strength of the opposition that more than half of his formation failed to return.

Squadron Leader Palmer was an outstanding pilot. He displayed conspicuous bravery. His record of prolonged and heroic endeavour is beyond praise.

His father was in the Chatham Inland Revenue Offices, and Mrs. Palmer is well-known locally, where she and her husband have many friends. They moved to Gravesend when Squadron Ldr. Palmer was only six, and Mr. Palmer, a pilot in the last war is now with the Ministry of Labour at Gravesend.

Squadron Leader Palmer was educated at Gravesend County School, and entered the Gravesend Borough Surveyor's Office in 1937. He joined the R.A.F.V.R. at Rochester Flying School in 1939, was mobilised at the outbreak of war, and started his first tour of operations in January, 1941, taking part in all the early raids against Italy from this country and in many over the Ruhr.

He was mentioned in despatches and gained the D.F.C. and bar, all in 1944. He was awarded the V.C. for an operation almost at the end of the same year.

His younger brother, Douglas, also born in Gillingham, is training as a R.A.F. officer cadet.

Citation

“Newspaper cuttings - Robert Palmer award of Victoria Cross ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 15, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/38281.

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