ALEXANDER, FS Edward Sudbury (R58623) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 22 May 1942 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 880-881/42 dated 12 June 1942. Born in UK, home in Montreal; bank clerk.
Home in Vancouver; enlisted there 3 September 1940. Trained at No.2 ITS (graduated 26 February 1941), No.3 AOS (graduated 26 May 1941) and No.2 BGS (graduated 7 July 1941) and No.1 ANS (graduated 4 August 1941). Commissioned 4 June 1942.
Invested at Buckingham Palace November 1942. Killed in action 14 January 1944 (Lancaster ND357, No.156 Squadron); buried in Holland. Photographs PL-9914 and PL-9915.
One night in April 1942, Flight Sergeant Alexander was observer of an aircraft detailed to attack Kiel. The attack was completely successful but on the return flight the aircraft was engaged by an enemy fighter. Damage was caused to the port airscrew
and the hydraulic system, and the rear turret was so severely damaged that the gunner was unable to open its doors. Flight Sergeant Alexander, although slightly wounded in the arm, forced the turret doors with an axe and helped the rear gunner out.
Although nearly all the instruments were unserviceable, Flight Sergeant Alexander's skilful navigation was mainly responsible for the safe return of the aircraft and crew. The courage and high sense of duty displayed by this airman has been an inspiration
to the other members of the crew.
ANNABLE, FS (now P/O) Harold Cecil (R214012/J89416) - Distinguished Flying Medal -
No.419 Squadron - Award effective 15 December 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and
AFRO 337/45 dated 23 February 1945. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, 1917; home in Lindsay, Ontario
(foundry worker); enlisted Toronto 18 December 1942. Trained at No.3 BGS (graduated 17 September 1943).
Commissioned December 1941. Award presented 18 October 1947. DHist file 181.009 D.3260 (RG.24 Vol.20637)
has recommendation dated 8 October 1944 when he had flown 33 sorties (158 hours), 22 May to 25 September 1944.
Recommendation has more details; raiding Aachen (24 May) aircraft attacked at intervals
by three enemy fighters; his oxygen failed but he stayed at post until overcome by lack of oxygen.
Attacking Bourg-Leopold (27 May) aircraft attacked three times by fighters but all were evaded
before they could open fire. Photo PL-34876 is a portrait.
As mid-upper gunner this airman has participated in a large number of sorties, including attacks on such targets as Dortmund, Brunswick, Bolmen and Kiel. He has at all times displayed the greatest determination and devotion to duty. On many occasions his aircraft has been attacked by enemy fighters. His timely combat manoeuvres and good shooting on these occasions have played a good part in the safe return of the aircraft.
ASHTON, Sergeant John Norman Stephen (RAF 1750283) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron
- awarded as per London Gazette dated 17 September 1943. Born in Manchester, 1911; home in Perthshire. Enlisted
1941. Air Ministry Bulletin 11582 refers.
This airman was flight engineer of an aircraft detailed to attack Munchen-Gladbach one night in August 1943.
Soon after leaving the target the bomber was hit by fire from an enemy fighter. Some batteries were set alight,
the flames sweeping back along the fuselage. Displaying great promptitude, Sergeant Ashton sprayed the flames
around the batteries with an extinguisher until they subsided. Having secured another extinguisher he went
to mid position and raised the bomb bay inspection panels to investigate further. Flames immediately blazed
up into his face. With his gloved hands he held and rotated the extinguisher in an opening in the floor so
that the wind in the slip stream sprayed the fluid around the bomb bay and thus the flames were put out.
By his promptitude and resource this gallant airman contributed materially to safe return of aircraft.
NOTE: The original recommendation, dated 21 May 1943 when he had flown eight sorties (62 hours 54 minutes),
was found in Public Record Office Air 2/5002 and reproduced by Ian Tavender in his book The Distinguished
Flying Medal Register of the Second World War (London, Savannah Press, 2000) which is an important work on
this award at this period.
On the night of 30th/31st August 1943, Sergeant Ashton was detailed to attack Munchen Gladbach as engineer
of a Halifax aircraft. Shortly after leaving the target, the aircraft in which he was flying was attacked
by a night fighter and the length of the fuselage raked by cannon and machine gun fire. Almost immediately,
the rear and mid-upper gunners reported flames sweeping back along the fuselage. Sergeant Ashton then
noticed that the batteries had caught fire and saw smoke and sparks rising in the rest position. Without
hesitation, he lifted a fire extinguisher and played it on the flames surrounding the batteries. Eventually
the flames began to subside and Sergeant Ashton left this fire extinguisher at this position and obtained
another. He then proceeded to the mid-position where he lifted the bomb-bay door inspection panels.
On doing so, the flames blew up in his face. Disregarding personal danger, with his gloved hands he
held and rotated the fire extinguisher in the opening in the floor so the fluid, with the assistance
of the slip stream, was thrown about the bomb bays and eventually extinguished the fire. This action
took place at an altitude of 18,000 feet and Sergeant Ashton was without the use of oxygen for the
entire period. His courage, devotion to duty and disregard of personal danger were undoubtedly
responsible for the safe return of the aircraft. In view of the above, I strongly recommend him
for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.
BRICHTA, FS Philip Sibbald Ogilvie (R72563) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 16 June 1942 as per London Gazette dated 22 September 1942 and AFRO 1653/42 dated 16 October 1942. Enlisted in Toronto, 12 August 1940. Trained at No.5 AOS, No.4 BGS, and No.1 ANS. Killed in action 16 September 1942 while on the strength of No.22 OTU; buried in Germany. Medal presented (not clear to whom) at Buckingham Palace, 22 April 1944.
This airman is an observer of exceptional merit. Throughout his operational tour he has displayed both efficiency and coolness which has been of the greatest assistance to his captain. One night in June 1942, during an attack against Essen, his aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire. It was also attacked by an enemy fighter. The underside of the fuselage from the front turret to the observer's table caught fire but in spite of the imminent danger to the whole crew and the possibility that he would fall through the badly burned bottom of the fuselage, Flight Sergeant Brichta immediately attempted to extinguish the flames. His subsequent accurate navigation played a large part in the eventual safe return of his aircraft to this country. Flight Sergeant Brichta's courage and coolness in the face of danger has at all times been of a high order. He has taken part in attacks on the enemy's industrial targets and dockyard installations.
Flight Sergeant Brichta has now completed his tour of operations with this squadron. On every operation he has displayed an efficiency as Observer which is above average and at all times his coolness under trying circumstances has been highly instrumental in the return of his aircraft. Of particular mention is Flight Sergeant Brichta's effort of the night of 16/17 June 1942, when attacking Essen. The aircraft was hit three times over enemy territory. When twenty miles east-northeast of Antwerp a particularly heavy piece hit the aircraft which was at the same time attacked by an enemy fighter. The underside of the fuselage, from the front turret to the observer's table, was on fire but in spite of the imminent danger to the whole crew, and the possibility that he would fall through the badly burned bottom of the fuselage, Flight Sergeant Brichta immediately tackled the task of stamping out the flames, completely disregarding his personal safety.
Flight Sergeant Brichta's accurate navigation played a large part in this particular instance, in assisting to bring the severely damaged machine safely back to England. Flight Sergeant Brichta's courage and coolness in the face of danger has at all times been of the very highest order and it is considered that his efforts over the whole of his tour merit recognition.
BURTON, Sergeant Paul (R208596) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 3 October 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 2637/44 dated 8 December 1944. Home in Beloit, Wisconsin. enlisted Winnipeg 25 November 1942. Trained at No.9 BGS (graduated 1 October 1943). Cited with Sergeant William F. Mann (RCAF, mid-upper gunner, awarded DFM). Award sent by External Affairs, 7 March 1947. Although his home was given as being in United States, he is otherwise identified as being "Canadian".
As rear and mid-upper gunners respectively these airman have participated in very many sorties and have displayed notable determination and devotion to duty throughout. On several occasions they have driven off enemy aircraft and, in so doing, have displayed great coolness and co-operation. One night in June 1944, when returning from an operation against Acheres, they shot down a Junkers 88.
CROSBY, FS Knowles Eugene (R65465) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 7 July 1942 as per London Gazette dated 10 July 1942 and AFRO 1097/42 dated 17 July 1942. Home in South Ohio, Nova Scotia; enlisted Halifax, 24 September 1940. Trained at No.2 ITS, No.2 WS and No.4 BGS (graduated 24 May 1941. Invested with award by the King, 24 November 1942.
One night in June 1942, Flight Sergeants Swanson and Crosby were captain and wireless operator respectively of an aircraft detailed to attack Essen. Whilst over the target area the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Despite this, bombs were released. On the return journey the aircraft was hit on several occasions by shell fire from the ground defences. On nearing Antwerp it was attacked by an enemy fighter, the fire from which set the underside of the fuselage on fire. Flight Sergeant Crosby rendered valuable assistance in extinguishing the fire, then attended to the second pilot who had been seriously wounded. Meanwhile the aircraft had lost height from 15,000 to 200 feet. The bomb doors had dropped open and the landing wheels were in the down position. With great resolution Flight Sergeant Swanson continued on his course and succeeded in flying the damaged aircraft back to its base. His skill and devotion to duty were largely responsible for the safe return journey, while the conduct and coolness of Flight Sergeant Crosby in harassing circumstances were highly commendable
FOSTER, FS (now P/O) Burns Wilfred (R155149/J88069) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 4 November 1944 as per London Gazette dated 14 November 1944 and AFRO 239/45 dated 9 February 1945. Born 1922 Leamington, Ontario; home Simcoe, Ontario. Drug salesman. Enlisted London, Ontario 7 April 1942. Commissioned 1944. Trained at No.5 ITS (graduated 7 April 1942), No.4 BGS (graduated 14 May 1943) and No.3 AOS (graduated 25 June 1943). No citation other than "completed...numerous operations against the enemy in the course of which [he has] invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty." DHist file 181.009 D.3260 (RG.24 Vol.20637) has recommendation dated 26 July 1944 when he had flown 32 sorties (161 hours 45 minutes), 7 March to 23 July 1944. DFM presented 15 April 1948.
Flight Sergeant Foster has completed many excellent operations while with this squadron and has shown remarkable keenness and enthusiasm to attack the enemy. His determination to press home his attack to the greatest advantage is well exemplified by the fifteen photographs which he has had plotted within 1/2 miles of the aiming point. I consider Flight Sergeant Foster's resolution and undoubted courage merit the non-immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.
FRASER, Sergeant Neil Cameron (R188973) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 19 June 1944 as per London Gazette dated 27 June 1944 and AFRO 1861/44 dated 25 August 1944. Born in Ottawa, 1924; home there (clerk). Enlisted in Ottawa, 12 October 1942. Trained at No.9 BGS (graduated 25 June 1943).
Sergeant Fraser, as air gunner, has participated in many attacks against vital and heavily defended enemy targets. In February 1944 he was rear gunner in an aircraft which was attacked by an enemy fighter. His accurate return fire and skilful directions largely contributed to the successful conclusion of the engagement although as a result of the combat his rear turret and guns had been rendered useless. Sergeant Fraser remained at his post after leaving the target. His aircraft was again attacked by an enemy fighter but once more through his skilful directions his captain was able to evade the attacker. At all times this airman has set a fine example of courage, skill and devotion to duty.
GRAY, FS Malcolm Francis (R106620) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 4 October 1943 as per London Gazette dated 15 October 1943 and AFRO 2610/43 dated 17 December 1943. Born in Edmonton, 1918; home in Vancouver (shipping clerk). Enlisted in Vancouver, 23 May 1941. Trained at No.4 ITS (graduated 16 August 1941), No.8 EFTS (graduated 7 October 1941) and No.3 SFTS (graduated 2 January 1942).
Despite some harassing incidents early in his flying career, this airman has continued to take part in operations in a most determined manner. On one occasion his aircraft suffered serious damage from anti-aircraft fire. Whilst engaged in mine laying, one engine was put out of action and the bomb doors could not be closed owing to damage to the hydraulic system. Despite these difficulties Flight Sergeant Gray was able to regain an altitude of fifteen thousand feet and hopes of reaching base revived when a little. Later, however, a second engine failed and the aircraft was forced down onto the sea. On this flight he displayed
HAMILTON, FS Francis Roy (R219718) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 18 October 1945 as per London Gazette dated 26 October 1945 and AFRO 133/46 dated 8 February 1946. Born 1923 at Waubaushene, Ontario; home there (farmer). Enlisted in Toronto, 2 February 1943. Trained at No.4 WS (graduated 27 June 1943) and No.10 BGS (graduated 11 February 1943).
This airman has participated in many attacks against heavily defended enemy targets including Duisburg, Cologne, Essen, Dortmund, and Stuttgart. In January 1945, during an attack against Hanover, his aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter. He precise instructions to his pilot enabled him to take successful evasive action. Flight Sergeant Hamilton has at all times proved to be a capable and courageous air gunner.
LANCTOT, FS Donald Hugh (R211088) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 20 April 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 918/45 dated 1 June 1945. Born 1922 in Quebec; home in Longueil or Montreal (surveyor). Enlisted in Montreal, 9 December 1942. Trained at No.10 BGS (graduated 24 December 1943.
This airman has taken part in numerous sorties and has proved himself to be a most reliable crew member. One night in November 1944, he was rear gunner in an aircraft which was attacked by two fighters. During the engagement, Flight Sergeant Lanctot defended his aircraft well but was wounded in the head and arm. In spite of this he remained in his turret and did not inform anyone of his injuries until the enemy aircraft had been driven off. His determination and devotion to duty were typical of that which he has shown on all occasions.
LEDFORD, Sergeant William Holt (R98963) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 21 January 1943 as per London Gazette dated 5 February 1943 and AFRO 757/43 dated 30 April 1943. Born 1920. Home in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (trucker); enlisted there. Trained at No.2 ITS (graduated 3 August 1941), No.3 AOS (graduated 10 November 1941), No.2 BGS (graduated 20 December 1941), and No.1 CNS. Killed in action with No.434 Squadron, 22/23 August 1943 (Halifax EB255). Buried in Belgium. No citation - "member of aircraft crew...displayed great gallantry and determination in attacks against targets in enemy occupied territory." Shot down on the night of 28/29 August 1942 by a night fighter, close to Franco-Belgium border (Wellington DF665, VR-Q). Appears to have evaded with Kropf; evasion report may exist. Award presented to next of kin, 24 April 1944. Ian Tavender records, in The Distinguished Flying Medal Register for the Second World War (London, Savanah Publications, 2000) the following recommendation as found in Public Record Office Air 2/4937.
Sergeant Ledford was the navigator of an aircraft which took off from Topcliffe at 2030 hours on 28th August 1942 to bomb Saarbrucken. The aircraft was hit by flak and the crew were forced to bale out. Sergeant Ledford landed safely and showed determination and courage in evading capture and eventually arrived back in this country. He is strongly recommended for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.
LOW, Sergeant Gordon Hansen (R105598) - Distinguished Flying Medal - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 4 October 1943 as per London Gazette dated 19 October 1943 and AFRO 2437/43 dated 26 November 1943. Born in Glevavon, Saskatchewan, 1920; home in Edmonton (painter); enlisted there 26 May 1941. Trained at No.8 BGS (graduated 30 March 1942) and No.2 WS (graduated 2 March 1942. Commissioned June 1943.
This airman has completed numerous bombing and mining sorties against the enemy. In February 1943 the aircraft in which he was flying was forced to alight on the sea owing to damage caused by enemy action. In this hazardous situation his skill and coolness played a major part in the subsequent rescue of the entire crew. Throughout his operational career Sergeant Low's technical ability, determination and fine fighting spirit have been most praiseworthy.
LOW, F/L Gordon Hansen, DFM (J18453) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.431 Squadron - Award effective 5 July 1945 as per London Gazette dated 17 July 1945 and AFRO 1507/45 dated 28 September 1945. DHist file 181.009 D.1941 (RG.24 Vol.20612) has recommendation dated 18 March 1945 when he had flown 20 sorties (131 hours 30 minutes), 7 May 1944 to 21 February 1945. NOTE: recommendation gives Christian names as Arthur Alfred!
Since the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal, Flight Lieutenant Low has continued to display great skill and courage in the face of the enemy. As signals leader in his squadron his high qualities of leadership and devotion to duty have been an inspiring example to all.