ANDERSON, F/L John Alan (J25399) - Distinguished Service Order - No.419 Squadron - Award effective 6 February 1945 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 508/45 dated 23 March 1945. Home in Winnipeg; enlisted there 22 April 1942. Trained at No.7 ITS (graduated 25 September 1942), No.19 EFTS (graduated 18 December 1942) and No.2 SFTS (graduated 16 April 1943). In postwar period took a North Star course and flew with MATS. Also commanded No.408 Squadron. DSO presented 1 April 1949. Killed in crash of an Argus aircraft, No.404 Squadron, 23 March 1965. Photo PL-13912 shows him receiving wings from his brother, F/O Brodie Anderson; PL-35706 shows him shaking hands with F/L Bud Adams at Repatraition Depot, Lachine; PL-39735 taken at investiture; PL-57769 is a 1953 portrait; PL-62094 shows him at controls of RCAF Comet transport.
This officer has displayed a high degree of gallantry and devotion in operations against the enemy. He has completed very many sorties and has set the finest example in pressing home his attacks, often in the face of fierce opposition. On one occasion in September 1944 he was pilot and captain of an aircraft detailed to attack Bottrop. When over the target, intense anti-aircraft fire was encountered. Flight Lieutenant Anderson's aircraft was hit repeatedly by fragments of shrapnel. Both the port engines were put out of action. The hydraulic system was rendered unserviceable. The controls were so damaged that it became necessary for two members of the crew to assist their captain by pulling manually on the rudder controls. In spite of this, Flight Lieutenant Anderson executed a good bombing run. He afterwards flew the severely damaged aircraft to base where he effected a masterly landing. In most difficult and dangerous circumstances this officer displayed outstanding coolness and great courage. NOTE: This award began as a recommendation for a Victoria Cross, submitted by Wing Commander D.C. Hagerman, 23 October 1944 when he had flown 22 sorties (127 hours 25 minutes), as follows:
Flight Lieutenant Anderson has completed 22 day and night operations against the enemy, during the course of which his outstanding devotion to duty and complete contempt of personal danger have been most remarkable. His determination to press home his attacks in spite of the fiercest opposition the enemy can put up has earned him the utmost admiration from all ranks.
On no fewer than ten attacks his aircraft has been badly damaged by enemy action but his enthusiasm to operate remains undiminished.
On July 28th, 1944, when detailed to attack Hamburg, his starboard inner engine failed when crossing Flamborough Head en route to the target. Although Flight Lieutenant Anderson was aware that he would probably lose height and be late on the target, he nevertheless, without hesitation, carried on, arriving on the target six minutes late and bombing from 8,000 feet below the main stream. On the return journey, when thirty miles off Heligoland, his aircraft was attacked by two FW.190s, one dropping fighter flares while the other made no fewer than five attacks. These were all successfully evaded and the attacking aircraft was so badly damaged by his gunners that it broke off the attack and was last seen in flames going down in a steep turn. This officer then brought his aircraft safely back to base, still on three engines. On 25th August 1944, when detailed to attack Russelheim, his aircraft was badly damaged by flak on the way into the target. Many holes were made in the fuselage; nevertheless he pressed home his attack and, on his return, was diverted to Great Orton after ten hours 50 minutes flying. Again, on 27th August 1944, when attacking Mimoyecques, his aircraft was again hit by heavy flak over the target area, no fewer than 37 large flak holes being counted on his return to base. On 29th August, when attacking Stettin, his GEE and H2S equipment became unserviceable while crossing the English coast on the way out, but he proceeded on D/R navigation to the target, where he again suffered heavy damage from flak. While in the target area, his aircraft was coned for some considerable time while on the bombing run and was attacked by a Ju.88. Nevertheless he brought his aircraft safely back to base.
On 6th September 1944, when attacking Emden, his aircraft was hit by heavy flak while on the approach, but this did not prevent him from making an excellent bombing run and returning with a first-class picture of the aiming point. On 12th September, when attacking Dortmund, his aircraft was hit by concentrated heavy flak, many large holes being torn in the fuselage, but again he returned safely to base. On the 6th October, while attacking Dortmund, his aircraft was again hit by flak while on the bombing run and, after bombing, he was attacked by no fewer than five fighters, all of which were successfully evaded. On the 8th October, when attacking Bochum, 27 large flak holes were torn in his aircraft and, during an attack by two fighters, a cannon shell exploded in the fuselage, short-circuiting the entire electrical system and causing all the navigation lights to burn. With great skill and coolness, he successfully evaded the fighters which were attracted by his lights and successfully returned to base with his aircraft in a badly damaged condition. On the 14th October, when
attacking Duisburg in daylight, his aircraft was again hit by predicted flak and a "scarecrow" but again he succeeded in returning to base with a badly damaged aircraft.
This officer's most outstanding feat was performed during a daylight attack on the oil refinery at Bottrop on the 27th September. On arriving at the target it was found that this was obscured by 9/10th cloud cover. The target was sighted through a gap in the clouds too late to afford an accurate bombing run. Anti-aircraft fire was very heavy, but without hesitation, Flight Lieutenant Anderson decided to do an orbit to ensure an accurate bombing run be made. At the beginning of the orbit, the aircraft was repeatedly hit by shell fragments and both port outer and inner engines were put out of action. The port outer engine was also set on fire, the hydraulic system was rendered unserviceable and the controls were damaged to such an extent that he had to call on the assistance of two members of his crew to pull manually on the rudder controls. With complete disregard of the heavy opposition, and the difficulty in controlling his crippled aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Anderson completed the orbit and made a steady bombing run, enabling his Air Bomber to attack the target very accurately.
Shortly after leaving the target, it was found that the starboard inner engine had also been badly damaged and was giving less than half power. Through superb planning, crew co-operation and flying skill, Flight Lieutenant Anderson successfully flew his crippled aircraft back to this country, with only full power from the starboard outer, half power on the starboard inner engine, and made a masterly landing without causing further damage to his aircraft or crew.