British Type C leather flying helmet
Worn by Flight Lieutenant Henry Luke ('Harry') Britton DFC, an Air Gunner (rear gunner) who served with 460 Squadron RAAF in Europe, flying in Lancaster bombers, and again in the 1950s with 1 Squadron RAAF in Malaya, flying in Lincolns. On 20 October 1943, Flight Sergeant Britton (as he then was) flew as rear gunner on a mission to Leipzig in Lancaster W4783 'G for George', the aircraft now belonging to the Australian War Memorial. This raid, Britton's 25th, was carried out in appalling weather, and was not considered successful.
"G For George" Avro Lancaster
27,500 Australian airmen served in 300 different RAF squadrons. Australians served in Bomber Command, Fighter Command, Coastal Command, Transport Command and Training Command.
10,000 Australians served in Bomber Command more than one in three lost their lives.
Of the 55,000 aircrew who ‘failed to return’ or were ‘missing air operations’ during World War II, 3486 were Australians of Bomber Command, These men represented 20% of all Australian service personnel ‘killed in action’ in all theatres of the war.
The Avro Lancaster was one of the most effective bombers of the Second World War. It possessed excellent range and speed and could carry a massive bomb load, twice that of its American counterpart, the B-17 Flying Fortress.
"G for George", the Australian War Memorial's famous Lancaster, was constructed in mid-1942 by Metropolitan-Vickers Ltd in Manchester, England. Upon completion, "George" was delivered for operations to 460 Squadron, RAAF, based at Breighton in Yorkshire. Its first mission took place on 6 December 1942 against the Germany city of Mannheim.
During the next sixteen months, "G for George" carried out some 90 bombing operations against Germany, Italy and occupied Europe. These included the famous raid of 17 August 1943 against the secret German Vergeltungswaffe (vengeance weapons - V-1 and V-2) facilities at Peenemünde on the Baltic coast, as well as 15 raids against Berlin. "G for George" was an incredible survivor of the worst part of the bomber offensive and no crew members were lost in the aircraft (although 40% of them were later killed in action). The bomber's last mission was flown against Cologne on 20 April 1944; it was withdrawn from service the following day.
"George", marked AR-G, was regarded as a "lucky" aircraft, returning from eighty nine bombing operations over Europe during 1942-44. However over thirty of its former crew members were killed when flying other aircraft.
460 Squadron RAAF; back row 1-r: Sergeant D G Champkin of the RAF, flight engineer; Pilot Officer Thomas Lynch, rear gunner; Flying Officer Hector Harrison, wireless operator; Flying Officer Ronald Neal, mid upper gunner; front row l-r: Flying Officer Marmion Carroll, navigator; Squadron Leader Eric Jarman, pilot; Flying Officer Francis Jackson, bomb aimer.
Bomber crew is a group portrait of a Lancaster bomber crew representing the young Australians involved in the air war over Europe during the Second World War. In her capacity as an official war artist, Stella Bowen was stationed with the Royal Air Force at Binbrook, Lincolnshire, where No. 460 Squadron was based. This was the most highly decorated Australian squadron in Bomber Command, but had suffered the highest casualties. Bowen was commissioned to paint a typical crew that flew Lancaster bombers on the intense bombing raids over Germany and occupied Europe.
On 27 April 1944 she began a series of pencil sketches of a bomber crew comprising of six Australians and one Englishman. Preoccupied with their flight preparations, the men expressed no particular interest in Bowen's attempt to draw them, but their bravery and youth captivated the artist. That night their operation took them over Friedrichshafen, a vital industrial centre on the shores of Lake Constance. By morning, Bowen's subjects were reported missing. The artist had only made preliminary sketches of the crew, but she returned to her London studio to complete the painting, working from pencil sketches and official photographs. She later wrote to her brother: "It was horrible having to finish the picture after the men were lost. Like painting ghosts."
One of the men, Pilot Officer Thomas Lynch, who was presumed to have perished with the rest of the crew, was eventually discovered in a German prisoner-of-war camp. He reported that the bomber was shot down in the vicinity of Lahr, near the Swiss border. The crash saw him unconscious until 4 May, when he awoke as a patient in a German air force hospital in Baden-Baden. A German doctor told him the remaining crew had been killed. Lynch himself was badly injured and spent many weeks in various hospitals. Following amputation of his right leg and more time in hospital, he was posted to Stalag IXC to await repatriation.
Bomb release button plugs into a socket on the bomb aimer's switch panel inside right side of the aircraft's nose. Removed from Lancaster W4783 'G for George' of 460 Squadron RAAF after this aircraft had completed 79 sorties. It is estimated that this button released 632,000 pounds (287 tonnes) of bombs on enemy targets. The aircraft flew to Australia after completing some 90 operations over enemy territory.
Some of the RAAF aircrew who flew in George all where KIA.
Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) James Alexander 'Alec' Saint-Smith, 460 Squadron RAAF, seated in the cockpit of the Avro Lancaster bomber 'G for George'.
Flying Officer (FO) James Alexander 'Alec' Saint-Smith DFM, RAAF
As the first regular captain 'G for George' (W4789), he flew the aircraft on its first operational sortie to Mannheim in Germany on 6 December 1942. Flt Sgt Saint-Smith flew the aircraft on another 12 occasions, using it as his regular aircraft for the remainder of his tour, which ended in March 1943. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal in March 1943 for gallantry in a mission over Berlin. Later promoted to the rank of Flying Officer, Saint-Smith undertook a second tour of operations with 627 Squadron RAF. During his 73rd operation, Saint-Smith was killed in action on 29 June 1944 when his Mosquito IV (DZ516) crashed near Vaulx, Belgium. He and his navigator, Flying Officer (FO) Geoffrey Ernest Heath DFC, DFM, RAAF (who as an NCO had served as Saint-Smith's navigator throughout his first tour of operations, with 460 Squadron) are now buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension in France. FO Saint-Smith was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross on 24 August 1944 for his ‘conspicuous gallantry and determination' in successfully completing numerous sorties over Germany and France with 627 Squadron.
Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) John Francis Worley, 460 Squadron, RAAF and his fiancee, Joan Kelly.
Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) John Francis Worley, 460 Squadron RAAF, Rear Gunner.
Flt Sgt Worley in Lancaster J Johnny took off from RAF Binbrook at 1725 hours on 27 January 1944 to bomb Berlin. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eighteen aircraft form the squadron took part in the raid. Three of these aircraft including JB637 failed to return. war it was established from German records that the aircraft was shot down in the vicinity of Werder, Germany south west of Berlin. A German resident of Stuecken about 24 miles south west of Berlin stated that on the night of 27 January 1944 a Lancaster crashed on his land and all the crew of seven were killed. This aircraft was established as being JB637. All the crew are interred in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.
Pilot Officer Rose RAAF no known grave.
Enlisted in the RAAF in April 1941, AC Rose trained as a pilot in Australia and Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS). After being posted to 460 Squadron RAAF in March 1943, he flew Lancaster bombers including G-George during an operational sortie over Duisburg on 27 April 1943. In 1943 Rose was commissioned and transferred to 156 Pathfinder Squadron RAF, where he was recommended for the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) for his "high reputaion as an operational pilot which has since been enhanced by his skill and determination with which he has pressed home attacks on varied targets in Germany, Italy and occupied territory" in October. On the night of 22/23 November 1943, Pilot Officer Rose was killed during an operational sortie when his Lancaster was shot down over Berlin, aged 22. He has no known grave, however a watch worn by PO Rose was uncovered by a German farmer after the war and forwarded to his next of kin.
Flight Lieutenant Allan Francis McKinnon, DFC, at the controls of G George
Bomber crews used specific symbols to record who flew particular operations. Visible on G george's bomblog are Cherries the symbol for 413528 Flying Officer (FO) Harold George 'Cherry' Carter and crew; Saint figures refer to 403380 Flight Lieutenant (Flt Lt) James Alexander 'The Saint' Saint-Smith who was killed during a flying battle over Belgium on 29 June 1944; Red stripes refer to Flight Sergeant (Flt Sgt) Jack Murray; Blue 'V' refers to FO James Henderson. Flt Lt McKinnon flew G George on two occasions and was killed in action on 25 March 1944 during a raid on Berlin. Also appearing on the side of the bomblog are Medal Ribbons awarded to George by crew members as unofficial awards after 30 completed operations, visible are the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) and the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM).