Stephen Dawson's memoir notebook



Stephen Dawson's memoir notebook


The notebook contains written accounts of 32 operations to targets in Germany, Italy and France between June and November 1943 and a list of his crew. Accounts include bomb loads and descriptions of operations including Pathfinder operations while on 97 Squadron. This is followed by Royal Air Force joining paperwork including attestation, photographs of himself and others while training. Next are photograhs and cockpit details of Hampdon aircraft as wells as newspaper articles on mine-laying and rescue operations using Lindholme gear. Included is a booklet on the responsibilities of prisoners of war. There is correspondence and other details of awards of a Distinguished Flying Medal, Distinguished flying Cross and his Pathfinder badge. There is an article on the dropping of the first Grand Slam bomb as well as an annotated article on weapons trials at the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Royal Air Force Boscombe Down. Also included is a poem, a letter concerning his old crew and articles about some of his friends.

Temporal Coverage



Notebook with handwritten text, newspaper cuttings, documents and b/w photographs


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 and




S.O. Book 136
Code 28-73-0
[in a lozenge]
[page break]
Pilot.. F/Lt S.R. (Squib) DAWSON.
Navigator. F/Lt B.J. (Bunny) STARIE.
Flight Engineer. F/Sgt. ROY SHAW.
Bombardier. F/Sgt. REG (Junior) PIKE.
Wireless Operator. F/Sgt. JIMMIE (Mac) McLEISH.
Mid Upper Gunner. F/Sgt. ARCHIE BARROWMAN.
Rear Gunner. F/Sgt. BEN (Robbie) ROBERTS.
[page break]
Krefeld June 21/22. (44)
1/ 4,000lb. 12/S.B.C. (90 X 4lb incend.)
Took off at 2350 in D’ & climbed over ‘drome to 20,000. Straight to target. No trouble crossing coast; gentle weaving all the way to the target. Had to waste several minutes before going in. Saw quite a lot of kites, mostly four engine jobs – no fighters. Flak over target looked bad from a distance but saw none while attacking. Went in with three other Lancs. ahead of us. Saw a kite shot down over the target. Came out with bags of revs & boost, weaving to avoid searchlight cone. No more excitement until nearly at coast when we saw kite attacked by fighters. Plenty of tracer floating around & bomber caught fire, slowed up & then dived burning furiously. Saw it crash into deck. Crossed coast without trouble & back to base O.K. Nearly formation flying with two Lancs near enemy coast.
Landed at 0400.
[page break]
Mulheim June 22/23. (35)
1/ 4,000 lb. 12/S.B.C. (90 X incend)
Took off at 2250 in ‘D’ 7 climbed over Base to 20,000. Trouble with pot Outer engine, fluctuating revs& boost at 2850 r.p.m. causing rear turret to be sticky. Flew on George to enemy coast, then gentle weave & corkscrew to target area. Saw three kites go down in flames on the way. Large concentrations of searchlights & bags of heavy flak along Northern Ruhr so increased revs & boost to step up airspeed and started more violent weaving. Through searchlights without being caught. Saw first T.I. go down and several loads of bombs. Bombed second T.I. and flew steady for photoflash to explode. Just as camera red light came on heard yell from gunners; looked out to starboard and saw four engine plane heading for us at full bore about 100feet away on same level. Did violent dive and he missed us by about six feet – going directly over our heads. Photoflash failed to drop but we wouldn’t have got photo anyway. Turned right off target & flew directly over Duisburg (as ordered!) managed to avoid more searchlight cones although caught twice for a few seconds. Fires at Krefeld still burning all over town as we passed. Saw three more kites shot down in flames; two exploded on ground third disintegrated in mid – air. Moderate weave & corkscrew all way from target to coast, losing height in 2000 ft steps. Just as we levelled out from one step a green cartridge or rocket appeared above us – probably from a foxed fighter. Crossed coast on track & E.T.A. & set course for home. Engaged George half way across. On reaching base & switching on R/T heard first seven kites call up for permission to land in about fifteen seconds. Green light on U/C failed to come on so I reported U/C failure. Only needed switching over to duplicate bulb! Landed O.K. at 0330.
[page break]
Wuppertal June 24/25. (33)
1/ 4,000lb. 12/S.B.C. (90 X 4lb incend.)
Took off 2240 in ‘E’ climbed over base to 20,000ft, through several layers of cloud giving quite severe icing. Magnetic compass different from D.R. when setting couse so steered magnetic. No trouble until position west of Cologne where we had to orbit to lose time. Saw T.i. go down 7 circled, fighter whipped underneath our tail and a Lancaster also orbiting, must no bead on us as we set course for target (north of Cologne).Bags of searchlights & flak as we crossed defended belt – but flew in & out of cloud to fox them. Saw first T.I. go down and were third onto target Target. Camera failed to turn over and flash failed to drop. Heading south away from Ruhr opened bomb-doors and jettisoned – one can of incendiaries and photoflash went. Went round defences of Cologne, weaving and corkscrewing all the way. No trouble anywhere, crossed coasts (enemy & own) on track and were first to land at Base. Saw one kite in flames over Target.
[page break]
Cologne June 28/29 (25)
1/ 4,000lb. 12/S.B.C. (90 X 4lb incend)
Took off 2300 in ‘B’ & climbed over base to 20,000ft, through layer of low stratus. No trouble on way in, steady weaving from enemy coast. Kept on track and E.T.A. all the way, lost two minutes by alteration of course before running in to target. Track marker dropped behind us, heavy barrage & predicted flak just before E.T.A. target area. Hit by small pieces of flak. On E.T.A. no T.I’s or Sky markers so carried on. T.I’s dropped behind us at zero +8!! Turned right round target area and made second run up on required heading on second T.I’s at zero +20. Through heavy flak again. Markers out so bombed on Flare. Cookie hit bomb doors. Steady weave all the way out – plenty of air – speed. Arrived at base at 4,000ft over 10/10ths cloud. Broke cloud when told over R/T but couldn’t find drome for some minutes, landed O.K.
Believe saw Mosquito (1st T.I. marker) shot down – no P.F.F. late. Saw four kites shot down; & one fighter had a go at four kites on Stbd bow on my way back. (Flak holes in both Stbd engine nacelles, dent in bomb doors. Strip of wood along bomb doors knocked off by cookie.)
[page break]
Cologne July 3/4 (32)
1/ 4,000lb. 12/S.B.C. (90 X 4lb incend)
Took off in ‘B’ & climbed over base to 20,000ft. Stbd outer overheated, very slow climb owing to high air temp & low pressure. S/C at 16,500 & climbed on track. On track & E.T.A. to target. Saw P.F.F. kite shot down (T.I’s exploding.) Gentle weaving & corkscrew all the time. Bombed first T.I. – only two or three kites before us. Flak very heavy over target & were hit by small pieces (three). Came back long route over north France & crossed English coast at Dungeness. Very uneventful all the way.
[page break]
Cologne July 8/9 (8)
1/ 4,000 lb 15/ S.B.C. (90 X4lb. incend)
Took off at 2310 in ‘B’ & climbed over base to 16,00ft – climbed on track to 20,00ft. On track & E.T.A. to target. Usual weaving & corkscrewing all the time. Flak over the target only medium – no hits. Long route back over N.France & crossed English coast at Dungeness. No GEE or George on way back. Very uneventful all the way. Saw three kites shot down.
[page break]
Gelsenkirchen July 9/10
1/ 4,000 lb. 13/S.B.A. (90 X 4lb. incend.)
Took off at 22.55 in @B’ & climbed over base to 20,000 feet. Went round by Texel 7 back across N.France, crossing coast at Beachey Head, to reading & Base. Steady weave all the time over enemy territory, climbing & diving to avoid flying in cloud layers. 10/10ths cloud all the time at different layers up to 23,00 ft. Just managed to see Sky Markers at target. Very little flak at us, a fairly quiet trip – no excitement. No cloud over England on return so no difficulty returning to Base.
[page break]
Hamburg July 24/25 (12)
1/ 4,000 lb. 4/ 1000 lb. 1/S.B.C. (12 X 20 lb. Frag.)
Took off at 2200 in ‘B’, climbed over base & climbed on track to 20,000 ft. Long sea crossing, dropped “Windows” from 50 miles past Danish coast to 50 miles past German coast on way back. Steady weave all the time over enemy territory. Four minutes late on target owing to T.I’s being late. Searchlights & flak – though heavy – were no much good. No fighters seen & no kites shot down. Came back at 175 kts I.A.S. all the way, second back to Base. Easy trip.
Photo plotted on target.
[page break]
Essen July 25/26 (25)
1/ 4000 lb 2/ 1000 lb 5/ 500 lb.
Took off at 2200 in “B” & climbed over Base to 15,00 ft & on track to 20,000 ft. Dropped “Windows” over enemy territory. Steady weave all the way. Target well defended by searchlights & guns but went in to attack between four cones with kite each held and had no trouble. Nearly pranged by another kite:- Dived to miss one from starboard to port and didn’t see other below first one – he dived to miss us. Dropped 500 lb bombs on defences on way in & out of target. First back to base. Easy trip by Ruhr standards. Saw two kites shot down, one just in front of us by night fighter – only about 600 yards away.
Fire tracks on photo.
[page break]
Hamburg July 27/28 (18)
1/ 4000 lb. 3/ 1000 lb 5/ T.I. Green.
Took off at 22.15 in ‘B’ and climbed on track to 20,00 ft. long stooge over sea. Dropped “Windows” over enemy territory. Steady weave as well. Two minutes early on target. Nearly pranged by another Lancaster weaving over target – we climbed and he went below us. Nice easy trip. Second back to Base – (trouble with Burns about our speed!) Saw two kites shot down.
Photo plotted on target.
[page break]
[underlined] Hamburg July 29/30 [/underlined] (28)

1/4000 lb. 3/1000 lb. 5/T.I. Green. 1/T.I. Red.

Took off at 22.15 in “B” & climbed over base to 5,000 feet & on track to 20,000 feet. Stooged on “George” to “Windows” area & then slight steady weave until out of area and back on “George”. No trouble attacking, flak very ineffective & slight; hundreds of searchlights but not predicted. Lovely straight & level run-up until photo-flash went but only got “fire-tracks”! More defences on coast north of Bremen on way out than before but no trouble. Backed up track marker near coast on way out. Back to Base fourth (Bums first & pleased about it) because of orders for Boost & Revs. on return!
Saw four kites shot down.

[page break]

[underlined] Hamburg Aug 2/3 [/underlined] (30)

1/4000 lb. 3/1000 lb. 4/T.I. Green.

Took off at 2345 in “B” & set course over Base at 5000 ft, climbing on track to 20,000 feet. Windows & weaving 50 miles from enemy coast. Crossed coast due North of Bremen and ran into violent thunderstorms (as per Met !!) On NC right up to 30,000 ft with amazing lightning. Course was 140°M but had to steer 240°M to get round cloud. Eventually back on course but found ourselves in centre of storm and had to come out on reciprocal courses. Dropped H.E. on heavy flak defended area estimated to be Bremen. Fires in whole area of N.W. Germany. Only saw about three kites all night. Starboard Outer engine went U/S through coolant leak and had to be feathered. “George” U/S on return journey so had to fly back all the way. Flight Engineer, Roy Shaw, took over for two periods of twenty minutes. I.A.S. 145 knots on return, last back to base by 15 mins. Brought T.1.’s back. Only one crew claimed to have bombed Hamburg out of twenty.

[page break]

[underlined] Nurnberg Aug 10/11. [/underlined] (18)

1/4000 lb. 2/5000 lb. 2/250 (incend.) 5/T.I. Green.

Took of at [missing word] in “B”, climbed over base, and on track. routed over N. France & past Mannheim in S. Germany. Saw two combats over France but quiet trip rest of way except just north of Mannheim. Plenty of searchlights & fair amount of flak there. Had to do violent evasive action before running over cloud & foxing S/L’s. Target covered by cloud and no T.1’s down, so combed estimated centre of fires & brought T.1.’s back. Incendiaries were route markers on way back, saw none to back up because of cloud so dropped them in forest area in S.W. Germany. A pretty quiet trip – not a very good attack.
Fire tracks on photo, with plenty of cloud.

[page break]

[underlined] Milan. Aug 12/13. [/underlined] (7)

1/4000 lb. 3/500 lb. 4/T.I. Green.
Took off at 21.35 in “B”, climbed over base to 5,000 ft and on track to 18,000 ft. Lost height through fighter belt south of Paris and then climbed to 20,000 feet. Saw four machines shot down over France. Not surprising – full moon almost and only 2300 when we crossed the coast so not fully dark. Quiet trip rest of the way, stooged on “George”. Plenty of pin points by moon light. Had seventeen minuits [sic] in hand at Lake Bourget so flew round lakes for quarter of an hour before crossing Alps. Whole crew stopped work and admired Mont Blanc and other mountains by moonlight. Quite a lot of snow on higher mountains. Lost height after crossing Alps to 15,000 feet & attacked at this height. Target poorly defended, vey few searchlights (one picked us up & promptly went out) and only slight flak. Turin burning on way back. Very quiet on way back, took our time & were last back to base.
Fire tracks on photo, with cloud and/or smoke.

[page break]

[underlined] Leverkusen. Aug 22/23. [/underlined] (5)

1/4000 lb. 6/1000 lb. 5/T.I. Green.

Took off at 2135 in “B” & climbed over base to 12000 ft and on track to 20,000 ft. Hardly any cloud on way out and very little opposition. Cloud became 10/10 tho [sic] over Ruhr area but found Cologne by flak bursts. Target covered by cloud and no T.I.’s visible so bombed on E.T.A. retaining T.I.’s. Saw loads of incendieris [sic] burning all over the place under the cloud. Returned faster than we expected.
Saw two machines go down in flames.
Photo’s of fields!

[page break]

[underlined] Berlin Aug 23/24. [/underlined] (58)

1/4000 lb. 3/1000 lb. 4/T.I. Gren 1/Red Spot Fire.

Taxied out in ‘P @ at 2040, rear turret went u/s so had to take reserve. Took off at 2108 in “W” – 23 mins late. Set course eight minutes behind minimum time. No trouble on way there. Cut off corner at last turning point and bombed 2 mins late! Target surrounded by searchlights & fighters but no flak. Ran off target alongside cone of S/L’s holding Stirling. Rather close to Rostock on way out and had to put nose down through S/L belt – 220 knots on clock, about 350 m.p.h. Saw S/L’s at Flensberg but all went out before we got there. Weaving steadily when one S/L came on and caught us and one shell hit us at same time. Hit F/E’s intercom socket and spattered everyone with bakelite. Knocked two port boost gauges U/S and ruined both gunner’s & W/Op’s oxygen. Came straight down thro’ S/L belt as 220 knots I.A.S. again. While stooging home tested undercarriage & tires and flaps.
Flying on George with Nav lights on, and smoking and drinking coffee when German intruder

[page break]

had a packet at us near Norwich. Missed us, all went about 10 feet above but full length of fuselage. Shook us up quite a bit as we had had no air-raid warning.
Went into land, nice touch down at beginning of flare path. No brakes! Called to F/E to cut outer engines, then inners. Told W/Op to tell Control we were overshooting before we ran off runway. Crossed road, through corn field, over ditch & through hedge into next field. Tail wheel shoved up through fuselage by ditch & finished up on bottom of rear turret & rudders.
Nothing much said about it.
Fire tracks only on photo.

[page break]

[underlined] Manheim [deleted] Aug [/deleted] [inserted] Sept [/inserted] 5/6 [/underlined] (34)

1/4000 lb. 6/500 lb. 4/T.I. Green. 1/T.I. Red. 1/Red Spot Fire.

Took off at 2000 in “L” & climbed to 7,000 round base and to 20,000 on track. Quiet trip all way. Backed up track markers – on way in Red T.I., on way back Red Spot. Caught by master S/L on bombing run but got away by violent evasive action, dropping bombs at same time! Violent weaving off target from 21,000 to 16,000 feet. Quiet trip back although surrounded by fighters. “George” U?S all the time.
Fire tracks on photo.

[page break]

[underlined] Munich [deleted] Aug. [/deleted] [inserted] Sept. [/inserted] [/underlined] (14)

1/4000 lb 2/1000 lb. 4/T.I. Green.

Took off at 2020 in “L” & climbed over base to 6,000 and on track to 20,000 feet. Routed over London – saw dozens of “V”s being flashed from ground so replied likewise. Quiet trip all the way, pretty well on track. Target area lit by dozens of S/L’s shining on cloud as well as by fires. Saw T.I.’s during run up but couldn’t see them when we bombed, so brought back T.I.’s. Fighter above our tail made us drop early but as we took violent evasive action saw he was after another Lancaster above us. Long stooge back across France with strong head wind. “George” nearly U/S (had to watch & correct it all the time) and “G” U/S. Had to get M/F fix after leaving French coast. Passed over Isle of Wight & Southampton on way to Reading. No excitement at all.

[page break]

[underlined] Hanover Sept 22/23. [/underlined] (26)

1/4000 lb. 6/1000 lb. 4/T.I. Green.

Took off at 1900 in “B” & climbed on track to 20,000 feet. No trouble on way in, but kept wandering off track. Held by searchlights over target and had to do violent evasive action to shake them off. Bombs dropped during evasive action so brought back T.I.’s. Photo showed fire tracks only. No trouble on way back.

[page break]

[underlined] Mannheim Sept 23/24 [/underlined] (32)

1/4000 lb 5/1000 lb. 4/T.I. Green. 1/Red Spot Fire.

Took off at 1945 in “B” & climbed on track. Had to climb hard to reach 20,000 before crossing enemy coast. No trouble on way to target. Used “Y” for pin-points but bombed visually. Nice steady run up through searchlights – caught but not held. No trouble on way back except that we turned too early on last leg and crossed North French coast 30 miles east of correct position.

[page break]

[underlined] Hannover. Sept 27/28. [/underlined] [underlined] Boomerang. [/underlined]

6/2000 lb.

Took off at 1900 in “B” & climbed on track to 20,000 feet. Trouble with rear turret as we crossed English coast, fixed it and carried on but it went again over North Sea. Jettisoned bombs in sea and turned back as turret was completely U/S with bad oil leak.

[page break]

[underlined] Munich Oct 2/3. [/underlined] (9)

1/4000 lb. 5/1000 lb.

Took off at 1900 in “B” & climbed on track to 20,000 feet. Went as Main Force, Blind Marker U/T, so carried no T.I.’s. Arrived at last turning point, after very quiet trip, 5 1/2 mins early so orbited twice. Lost time somewhere on last leg before timed run and bombed 8 mins late. Held by searchlights so photo showed wavy fire tracks and no ground detail. Quiet trip back to English coast, but took us longer than expected. Bandit Alert so stooged back without nav. lights. Height to fly over base was 7900 feet! Someone started panicing [sic] about low petrol state and half of them joined in. We took our turn and landed 60 gallons left! (15 mins flying.) On approach starboard under carriage wouldn’t lock down, bombadier [sic] paniced [sic] out of nose! Got it down and did steep glide approach & landed O.K.

[page break]

[underlined] Frankfurt Oct 4/5. [/underlined] (12)

1/4000 lb 5/1000 lb.

Took off in at [sic] 18.30 in “B” & climbed to 10,000 feet over base and to 20,000 feet on track. Very quiet trip, no weaving all the way to target. Went as Main Force, Bland Marker U/T so carried no T.I.’s. Weaved violently through searchlights but did perfect straight run up and got ground detail on photo. Out of target very nicely and very quiet trip back without weaving. Tail trimmer {stuck, froze} and had to push against wheel for 2 ½ hours before it unfroze. Bandit Alert over England so stooged back at 4000 feet without Nav lights. First back to base and made approach from 4000 ft! Aiming point photo.
[underlined] Freidreichaven Oct 7/8 [/underlined]. (23)
1/4000 lb. 2/1000 lb. 1/T.1.Red. 1/T.1.Yellow 8/S.B.C.
(4 White Flares)
Took off at 2050 in “B” & climbed to 10,000 ft over base and to 20.000 feet on track. Quiet trip most of time but did some weaving over France. Rear gunner reported gun flashes directly underneath us when we were straight & level so did steep diving turn to Starboard. Several shells arrived exactly where we [deleted] had [/deleted] would have been. We heard them explode and felt them. No damage. Run up to target was very hot with flak but not a lot of searchlights. Hit somewhere over target and damaged brake pressure line, consequently “blower” disengaged and we came back at ‘0’ boo[deleted]a[/deleted]st. Reported low brake pressure on arrival at base and told to wait. Aircraft landed with bust tyre & blocked runway. All diverted to Gravely – kept us circling for short time first. Two aircraft logged at Gravely so diverted to Oakington. First to land there – back to base by transport. “B” U/S with flak hole – through rear of port wing and
[page break]
out at leading edge, cutting main spar in half on way.
“L” & “F” bombed our T.I. and got aiming point photo, we got same smoke screen but couldn’t be plotted.
Freidreichaven was “Spoof” target while main force went to Stuttgart, only 16 aircraft on and target hotter than main target. We were Blind Markers for first time.
[page break]
[underlined] Hannover Oct 8/9. [/underlined] (31)
1/4000 lb. 4/1000 lb. 2/T.1. Yellow. 6/S.B.C. (4 White Flares)
Took off at 2245 in “Z” & climbed to 8,000 ft over base and 20,000 feet on track. Quiet trip all way but had to lose a lot of time on route – five orbits. One person dropped flares just as we were running up somewhere well to East, other blind markers in same place as us. Held by master searchlight during run-up but got away. Over a hundred S/L’s at first but they all went out ten minutes after raid began.
Uneventful trip back and landed without difficulty despite local mist.
Photo 2000 yds from aiming point
[page break]
[underlined] Frankfurt Oct 22/23 [/underlined] (44)
1/4000 lb. 4/1000 lb. 2/T.1. Yellow 6/S.B.C. (4 White Flares)
Took off at 1820 in “B” & climbed to 17,500 ft on track. Bad misting on inside of all cockpit windows which turned to ice above freezing level. Couldn’t get rid of it and consequently couldn’t see out at all. Ran into heavy CuNb and started heavy icing, which started making us lose height at 2850 revs, + 8 boost. Jettisoned 2/1000 lb bombs but it made no difference. Decided to boomerang and jettisoned H.E., retaining T.1.’s & flares, whilst loosing height.
Frankfurt was spoof target for Kassel.
[page break]
[underlined] Cologne Nov 3/4 [/underlined]. (7)
1/4000 lb 6/1000 lb. 4/T.1. Red
Took off at 1720 in “B” & climbed to 8,000 ft over base and to 20,000 ft on track. No trouble all the way, fighters probably grounded through fog. Gained time and had to orbit just outside target area. Held by searchlights during bombing run and then coned. Gunners paniced [sic] and we dropped bombs about 15 seconds early. Straight & level for photograph – forgot searchlights would ruin it! Coned all the way across the target and only got out by outdistancing the searchlights. Quiet trip all the way back.
It was only just dusk when we crossed coast in and quarter moon made it even lighter.
60 aircraft on Cologne, spoof for Dusseldorf with over 500 on.
[page break]
[underlined] Modane Nov 10/11 [/underlined] (NIL)
7/1000 lb. 6/S.B.C. (4 White Flares)
Took off at 21.05 in “B” & climbed to 20,000 ft on track. No opposition all the way over France and [underlined] none [/underlined] over the target either. Saw the Alps by moonlight for the second time. Map read on last leg to target and dropped flares on aiming point [inserted] dead on time [/inserted] Did a complete circuit and bombed the T.1.’s dropped by Visual Markers after our flares. No opposition all the way back. Stayed up at 20,000 ft & crossed a very active warm front at 24,000 ft. Lost it all over base.
Aiming point photograph.
[page break]
[underlined] Cannes Nov 11/12 [/underlined]. (7)
1/4000 lb. 6/500 lb. 1/T.1. Yellow 5/S.B.C. (4 Flares)
Took off at 1830 in “B” & climbed on track to 15,000 ft. No opposition all the way over France. Saw Alps by moonlight for third time. Got to port of track on long leg to coast and came out over Cannes itself – and one light flak gun opened up! Plenty of time in hand so headed back for turning point for timed run onto target. Half way there decided to run in on “Y” only so turned for target. Moonlight visual markers dropped their T.1.’s so bombed those straight away & brought back our flares and T.1. Bombed dead on time. Defences were three small searchlights and two light flak guns.
No trouble at all on way back but saw two aircraft shot down to starboard of us over North France.
Aiming point photos.
[page break]
[underlined] Ludwigshaven Nov 17/18 [/underlined]. (5 [deleted] [indecipherable number] [/deleted])
5/2000 lb.
Took off at 1705 in “D” & climbed to 20,000 ft on track. Severe internal icing all the way, started at freezing level (2000 ft) and didn’t clear until we descended on way back. I kept my cockpit windows free by continually wiping them with a handkerchief soaked in glycol. The mid-upper gunner, [inserted] was [/inserted] hardly able to see out of his turret the whole trip. The rear gunner’s oxygen froze up and his guns wouldn’t depress. But we carried on! Low cloud during the whole trip but it cleared over the target and we were able to get a photo. Opposition was negligible, we saw no fighters & very little flak. Searchlights caught us once but couldn’t hold us.
80 P.F.F. aircraft only on raid.
Aiming point photo.
[page break]
[underlined] Berlin Nov 18/19 [/underlined] (33)
1/4000 lb 3/1000 lb. 4/T.1. Red.
Took off at 1715 in “B” & climbed to 20,000 ft on track. No opposition all the way there & back & very little over the target. 10/10 [indecipherable word] low cloud all the time, probably kept the fighters grounded & made searchlights hopeless. Only a comparatively few guns on target and flak not concentrated. [deleted] [indecipherable letter] [deleted] Kept gaining time on way there & had to do several orbits. Winds changed coming back and we were an hour later at French coast than Flight plan times. Also 40 miles off track! Nine aircraft out of 450 missing (all Lancaster raid).
Mannheim was other target, we saw fires burning on way back. Aircraft all over Germany on way back, some went right over Ruhr!
No photo because of cloud.
[page break]
[underlined] Berlin Nov 22. [/underlined] (25)
1/4000 lb. 3/1000 lb. 4/T.1.Red. 4/T.1. Green 4/Sky-Red + Green.
Took off in “ “ & climbed to 20,000 ft on track. Thick cloud and fog on ground all the way there and back with only occasional breaks. Hardly any opposition all the way. Flak over target did not start until first aircraft dropped bombs & was not concentrated or heavy even then. I did plenty of weaving all the way, especially coming off the target. Kept pretty well on track all the way & did the trip in 5 1/2 hours although airborne a little longer. First back to base.
No photo because of cloud.
[page break]
[page break]
[inserted] Notice to a Royal Air Force Volunteer Reservist to join for Service in the Royal Air Force
745833. SGT. DAWSON. S.R.
You are hereby required to join the Volunteer Reserve Town Centre at SOUTHAMPTON
on (date) [underlined] 1 – SEP 1939 [/underlined]
1. Should you not present yourself on that date, you will be liable to be proceeded against.
2. You will report in uniform, if in your possession, and bring with you any remaining items of uniform, and small kit.
3. You should also bring with you:-
(i) National Health and Pensions Insurance Card.
(ii) Unemployment Insurance Book, or Unemployment (exempt persons) Book, or Official Receipt Card (U.I.40) in lieu of either.
(iii) If you are married: your marriage and birth certificates of children (if any), if these have not already been officially recorded.
4. You must not, however, delay rejoining [sic] because any of the foregoing are not in your possession.
[date stamp] [italics] Official Stamp (Dated) of Mobilizing Authority. [/italics] {/inserted]
[page break]
Form 1866.
Signature of applicant receiving the Notice paper [underlined] [signature] [/underlined]
NOTICE to be given to the applicant at the time of his offering to join the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
Date [underlined] 26th April [/underlined] 1939..
The general conditions of the Contract of Enlistment that you are about to enter into with the Crown are as follows :-
1. You will engage to serve His Majesty (as a special reservist) for a period of five years in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, provided His Majesty should so long require your services.
2. You will be liable to be called out for training as explained in Question 21 on page 3 of this Form.
3. You will be liable to be called out on permanent service as explained in Question 22 to 24 on page 3 of this Form, and to be called out to aid the civil power in the preservation of the public peace. When called out on permanent service you will form part of the Regular Air Force.
4. When called out for training or for service as explained in Questions 21 to 24 on page 3 of this Form you become subject to the Air Force Act.
5. You will be liable when called out and if medically fit, to go into the air whenever required to do so.
6. If you are in receipt of a service or disability pension you are not eligible for enlistment.
7. You will not be permitted while serving in the Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve to join the Royal Navy, Army, or Royal Marines, the Militia, the Territorial Army, the Auxiliary Air Force, or the Reserves of those forces.
8. You will be required by the Attestation Officer to answer the questions printed on pages 2, 3 and 4 of this Form, and take the oath shown on page 4, and you are hereby warned that if you wilfully or knowingly make, at the time of your attestation, any false answer you will thereby render yourself liable to punishment.
Signature and rank of Officer or N.C.O. serving the Notice Paper [underlined] [signature] [/underlined]

[underlined] Certified Copy of Attestation [/underlined]

[underlined] No. [blank] Name [blank] [/underlined]
[underlined] Questions to be put to the Recruit before enlistment into the Pilot Section of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. [/underlined]

You are hereby warned that if, after enlistment, it is found that you have wilfully or knowingly made a false answer to any of the following questions you will be liable under the Air Force Act to a maximum punishment of two years' imprisonment with hard labour.

1. What is your name ? 1. Christian Names Stephen Rayner Surname Dawson.
2. Where were you born ? 2. In the parish of Hessle in or near the town of Hull in the county of Yorkshire
3. What was the date of your birth ? 3. 27th April 1920.
4. Are you married? 4. No
5. What is your full postal address ? 5. "Hesslemount" Beechmount Road, Bassett, Southampton
6. Are you a British subject by birth ? 6. Yes
7. Are you of pure European descent ? 7. Yes
8. Are your parents both British subjects by birth ? If not, state separately their nationality at birth. 8. Yes
9. Are you, or is either of your parents, a naturalised British subject ? 9. No
10. If so, state the date(s) of the naturalisation certificate(s). 10. [blank]
11. What is your profession or calling ? 11. Shipping Clerk
12. What is your religious denomination ? 12. Methodist
13. Are you willing to be enlisted (as a special reservist) in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve for five years provided His Majesty should so long require your services ? 13. Yes
14. Have you been convicted by the civil power? If so, give particulars and dates of all convictions. 14. No
15. Do you now belong to any of the regular or non-regular Naval, Military or Air Forces of the Crown in this or any other country, or to any Police Force ? If so, state to what unit or corps you now belong, your official number, what rank you now hold, and whether it is substantive or acting. 15. No

[page break]

16. Have you ever served in any of the regular or non-regular Naval, Military or Air Forces of the Crown in this or any other country, or in any Police Force ? If so, state the unit in which you have served, your official number, the cause of your discharge, the rank you held on discharge, and whether it was substantive or acting. 16. No
17. Have you truly stated the whole of your previous service, if any ? 17. Yes
18. Have you ever been rejected as unfit for any of the Naval, Military or Air Forces of the Crown ? If so, on what grounds ? 18. No
19. (a) Have you ever been awarded a disability pension, a gratuity or any temporary or conditional allowance for disability ? 19. (a) No
(b) Are you now in receipt of any such pension or allowance ? (b) No
20. Did you receive a notice and do you understand what it means ? Who gave it to you ? 10. Yes. Name Flight Lieut. S.F.W. Laidlaw
21. Are you aware that you will be liable to be called out for 15 days' training (involving continuous whole-time attendance) annually, and also to attend for training at week-ends, in the evenings, or at other times, as may be required ? 21. Yes
22. Are you aware that you will be liable to be called out on permanent service in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, ashore or afloat, in cases of imminent national danger or of great emergency, and also will be liable to be called out to aid the civil power in the preservation of the public peace ? 22. Yes
23. Are you aware that you will be liable (whether or not the Air Force Reserve is called out on permanent service) to be called out and to serve within the British Islands in defence of the British Islands against actual or apprehended attack : it being understood that service on any flight of which the points of departure and intended return are within the British Islands or the territorial waters thereof is to be deemed to be service within the British Islands, notwithstanding that the flight may in its course extend beyond those limits ? 23. Yes
24. Are you aware that, if called out under paras. 22 and 23 above, you will be liable to be detained in Air Force service for the unexpired portion of your service in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, and for a further period not exceeding 12 months, if so directed by the competent Air Force authority ? 24. Yes

[page break]

[bookmark MDawsonSR142531-160516-010024 is a duplicate of bookmark MDawsonSR142531-160516-010022]

[page break]

[inserted] End of "V.R." Days. - and Beginning of "R.A.F" [/inserted]

No. 745833 Rank. SERGEANT Name. Dawson S.R.
This is to certify that the above named R.A.F. Volunteer Reservist has been issued with all Flying Kit and has been cleared of all outstanding liabilities on Posting from this School.

C.F.I. [signature]
Date. 16.9.39

[underlined] DEFICIENCIES [/underlined] [blank]

Signed. [signature]
Squadron Leader,
Chief Instructor,
No. 3 ELEMENTARY FLYING TRAINING [underlined] SCHOOL. [/underlined]

[page break]

[Photograph of three RAF men in uniform]
Sgt. Pilots U/T. [Under Training] DAWSON. WILLIAMS. RAMSEY
SEPT 1939.

[page break]

[inserted] COME INTO THE OFFICE - H.P. HAMPDEN COCKPIT. [/inserted]

[Photograph of H.P. Hampden Cockpit]

[page break]

[Photograph of H.P. Hampden Cockpit with hand drawn diagram showing all instruments/levers etc., numbered with each item named.]
[page break]
[inserted] [two newspaper cuttings] [/inserted]
[page break]
[inserted] [two newspaper cuttings] [/inserted]
[page break]
[inserted] [one newspaper cutting] [/inserted]
FEB 9th 1941
[page break]
[inserted] [two newspaper cuttings] [/inserted]
[page break]
[duplicate bookmark]
[page break]
[inserted] Air Publication 1548 THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF A PRISONER OF WAR [/inserted]
[page break]
[inserted] Sergeant Dawson was posted to No. 50 Squadron in December 1940. His first 14 operational flights were done as Navigator to F/O Gylls D.F.C. These two form an outstanding team. Throughout the sever winter weather conditions they attacked many highly defended targets in [deleted] fact [/deleted] the face of intence [sic] fire and searchlight[deleted]s[/deleted] defences. The could always be relied upon to attack the primary target successfully and largely due to the skill and courage of Sgt. Dawson, the safe return of the aircraft was always ensured. Sgt. Dawson continued to display the same gallantry and courage after conversion to Captain One night in June he was Captain of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in Kiel. Extremely bright donditions [sic] prevailed because of the moon and the northern lights. On the way to the target whilst crossing [deleted] the [/deleted] Denmark the aircraft was held in a cone of searchlights and attacked by 3 M.E. 110. using cannon and machine gun fire. Displaying great coolness and courage Sgt. Dawson successfully evaded the three fighter aircraft and the searchlights. He then proceeded to the target which was bombed successfully and a fire started.
Just see what you have done Steve, you clever little boy. Anyway you deserve it. [/inserted]
SEPT. 1941. {/inserted]
[page break]
[duplicate bookmark]
[page break]
H.Q No. 5 Group,
Royal Air Force,
23rd November, 1941.
Dear Dawson
I was very glad to see your Distinguished Flying Medal in the Gazette the other day. Many congratulations on a very well earned decorations [sic]. Well done.
Yours sincerely
J C Slessor

Sgt. S. R. Dawson, D.F.M.,
No. 15 B.A.T. Flight,
R.A.F. Station,
Swanton Morley.

[page break]


[newspaper cutting – award of DFM]

[page break]


NOW 15-15 Bat Flight boys Took off upon a spree,
They taxied out and took the air And headed out to sea.

The air was still, the sun was bright So forming in a Vee
They roared along at zero feet
As happy as could be.

Now Johnson was the first to get
Just a little daring,
So diving on the leading kite
He set the pilot swearing.

Flight Sergeant Gordon found the wreck
So dived to show us whether
It could be done, he thought it could
But now he’s gone for ever.

Old Peter Woolfe at wave top height
Was banking much too steep,
His wing-tip hit the briny mass
Poor Pete’s now fast asleep.

Johnson and Smith were having fun
Flying in formation,
Their wing-tips hit and now they lie
Pending their cremation.

Flight Sergeant Dawson, D.F.M.
Was practising stall turns,
He did them good, in fact too good
For now in Hell he burns.

[page break]


The Squadron Leader of the Flight
Turned round and flew for home,
A Boston cut across his path
And pranged him on the ‘Drome.

Now Donald Craik, a married man
Thought all the boys insane,
So working hard both day and night
Promotion quickly came.

To A.O.C. at Two Command
It came as such a blow,
So in the Auth’risation [sic] Book
Is Duty NOT C.O.

The moral of this story is
Time you must not squander,
Just stick to Beams and then it seems
You’ll be a Wing Commander.


[page break]


[Certificate – Award of Path Finder Force Badge]

[page break]

Path Finder Force,
Royal Air Force.
12th September, 1943.


Pilot Officer S.R. Dawson. (142531)
[underlined] AWARD OF PATH FINDER FORCE BADGE. [/underlined]

You have today qualified for the award of the Path Finder Force Badge and are entitled to wear the Badge as long as you remain in the Path Finder Force.
2. You will not be entitled to wear the Badge after you leave the Path Finder Force without a further written authority from me entitling you to do so.

Air Commodore, Commanding
[underlined] Path Finder Force. [/underlined]

[page break]


97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron,
Royal Air Force,
26th July, 1944.

Dear Dawson,
Thank you for your letter enquiring about your old crew. I very much regret to inform you that the following signal has been received:-

“13/7 Telegram from IRCC quoting German information states 15/3 seven dead 1039039 F/Sgt T R Shaw 124514 F/Lt W A Meyer (DFC) 161470 P/O R C Pike (DFM) 133485 A/F/Lt B J Starie (DFC) Can/R147703 W?O2 A Mc Barrowman and two unknown. Named reclassified missing believed killed. Reclassification of the unknown pending further confirmation. Kinformed all personnel”.

It is very sad, they were such a decent bunch of fellows. We are all very proud of the wonderful job they have done.
I hope you are doing well and like your station – when will you be calling in this way? There are very few of the old Bournites left, but w ewould like to be back there.

The best of luck!

Yours sincerely,


Flight Lieut. & Adjutant,
[underlined] No. 97 Squadron. [/underlined]

[inserted] [underlined] MY CREW. [/underlined] [/inserted]

[page break]


R.A.F Form 1924 [underlined] POSTAGRAM. [/underlined] Originator’s Reference Number:-
To: 142531 A/F/L Dawson, S.R. DFM. DFC., Date:- 13th February 1944
Officers’ Mess, 14 OYU,

From: Officer Commanding No. 97 (Straits Settlements) Squadron.

Congratulations on the award of the DFC.

Originator’s Signature [signature] F/Lt. Time of Origin 10.00
[Post Office crest]



573 4.10 HULL Q 20



[page break]


[underlined] London Gazette dated 11th February, 1944. [/underlined]

[underlined] Distinguished Flying Cross. [/underlined]

[underlined] Acting Flight Lieutenant Stephen Rayner DAWSON, D.F.M., [/underlined]
[underlined] (142531) R.A.F.V.R. No.97 Sqdn. [/underlined]

As pilot and captain of aircraft Flight Lieutenant
Dawson has completed numerous operations against the enemy,
in the course of which he has invariably displayed the
utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty.

[page break]


[newspaper cutting re S.R. Dawson]

[page break]


[various newspaper cuttings re award of the DFC to S.R. Dawson]

[page break]

[newspaper cutting 9 DAYS’ DIGGING TO FIND

[page break]


[newspaper cutting ‘MIRACLE’ OF NEW BOMB]
[page break]


[newspaper cutting Aeroplane and Armament Demonstration]

[page break]


[newspaper cutting NOVEMBER 23, 1945 599 THE AEROPLANE]

[page break]


[newspaper cutting THE AEROPLANE 600 NOVEMBER 23, 1945]
[page break]
[inserted] [one newspaper cutting] [/inserted]
[page break]
[inserted] [one newspaper cutting] [/inserted]
[page break]
[underlined] FRIENDS [/underlined]
[inserted] [two newspaper cuttings] [/inserted]
[inserted] RAY MARLAND P.O. DAVIS RAMSEY [/inserted]
[page break]
[inserted] [two newspaper cuttings] [/inserted


Stephen Dawson and Aeroplane Magazine, “Stephen Dawson's memoir notebook,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 24, 2024,

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