Sergeant Eric Booth

Eric Booth was Born 16/06/2 and Died 22/04/16 age 94

January 1939 - joined the RAF.

Trainee flight mechanic at Scampton then moved to Cranwell Collage as ground crew until early 1941. From there to 600 squadron as an engine fitter as they were converting from Blenheim Mk1V’s to Beaufighters.

In early 1942 he volunteered for training as a Flight Engineer, did an Air Gunners course at RAF Walney Island on Defiants followed by an air frame course at Avro’s Manchester and a Rolls Merlin course at RAF St. Athan.

Finally posted to 61 squadron and the crew of John Harrad. One fateful night as he was preparing to take off he was suddenly replaced and that night John Harrads crew were shot down over Spain (all killed).

Joining 61 squadron in early August 1942 his first operations were on detachment to RAF St Eval for maritime patrol. Returning to RAF Syerston endof August. His operations with the squadron were as follows;

13 August 1942    P/O J Harrad              Pilot                  Shipping Patrol    Lancaster R5661     Sgt E Booth               Flight Engineer                                                                                 P/O T L Wilson           Navigator                                                                                         Sgt V J Watson           1st W/Op                                                                                         Sgt J J Cadd               2nd W/Op                                                                                         Sgt T L Boland            1st A.G.                                                                                           Sgt R H Linton            2nd A.G.                                                             

16 August 1942    P/O J Harrad              Pilot                  Shipping Patrol    Lancaster R5724   Sgt E Booth               Flight Engineer                                                                                 P/O T L Wilson           Navigator                                                                                         Sgt V J Watson           1st W/Op                                                                                         Sgt H Allen                 Air Bomber                                                                                       Sgt T L Boland            1st A.G.                                                                                           Sgt R H Linton            2nd A.G.

18 August 1942    P/O J Harrad               Pilot                   Shipping Patrol                        Lancaster R5724     Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer                                                                                 S/Ldr Cawthorne                                                                                                               P/O T L Wilson           Navigator                                                                                         Sgt H Allen                 Air Bomber                                                                                       Sgt V J Watson           1st W/Op                                                                                         Sgt T L Boland            1st A.G.                                                                                           Sgt R H Linton           2nd A.G.

19 August 1942    F/Sgt N E Turner         Pilot                    Shipping Strike                        Lancaster R5679     Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer                                                                                 Sgt J R Anderson        Navigator                                                                                         Sgt D C Davies           Air Bomber                                                                                       Sgt H J Coombes        1st W/Op                                                                                         Sgt T L Cass               1st A.G.                                                                                           Sgt V G Osterloh        2nd A.G.

20 August 1942    S/Ldr D S Forsyth       Pilot                  Shipping Strike                        Lancaster R5742     Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer                                                                                 P/O E A Baldwin          Navigator                                                                                         P/O V J Davis              Air Bomber                                                                                     Sgt J Wright                1st W/Op                                                                                         F/Sgt S F Underwood   1st A.G.                                                                                           P/O H Peel                  2nd A.G. 

24 August 1942    Sgt P C Joslin              Pilot                    Frankfurt                            Lancaster R5682     Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer                                                                                 F/Sgt J C Webster       Navigator                                                                                         F/Sgt E J May             Air Bomber                                                                                       F/Sgt B A Farmer        1st W/Op                                                                                         P/O N D Mullins          1st A.G.                                                                                           F/Sgt J F Cooper         2nd A.G.

28/29 August 1942   Sgt P C Joslin              Pilot                    Nuremberg                      Lancaster R5682          Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer                                                                                F/Sgt J C Webster       Navigator                                                                                        F/Sgt J W Patterson    Air Bomber                                                                                      F/Sgt B A Farmer        1st W/Op                                                                                          P/O N D Mullins          1st A.G.                                                                                            F/Sgt J F Cooper         2nd A.G.

1/2 September 1942 Sgt P C Joslin              Pilot                       Karlsruhe                  Lancaster R5682          Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer                                                                                F/Sgt J C Webster       Navigator                                                                                        F/Sgt J W Patterson    Air Bomber                                                                                      F/Sgt B A Farmer        1st W/Op                                                                                          P/O N D Mullins          1st A.G.                                                                                            F/Sgt J F Cooper         2nd A.G.

2/3 September 1942 Sgt P C Joslin              Pilot                         Bremen              Lancaster R5682          Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer                                                                                Fl/Lt T J Beach            Navigator                                                                                        Sgt R Skinner              Air Bomber                                                                                      F/Sgt B A Farmer        1st W/Op                                                                                          F/Sgt G J Willis          2nd A.G.                                                                                            P/O N D Mullins         2nd A.G.

4/5 September 1942   Sgt P C Joslin              Pilot                          Bremen                      Lancaster R5682            Sgt E Booth                Flight Engineer           Nothing further was                                          Sgt P J Bridgeman      Navigator                    Heard after T/O                                              F/Sgt E J May             Air Bomber                                                                                      F/Sgt B A Farmer        1st W/Op                                                                                          P/O N D Mullins          1st A.G.                                                                                            F/Sgt J F Cooper         2nd A.G.

After joining Peter Joslin’s crew his luck ran out in the early hours of September 5th 1942 when they were hit by flak and got finished off by a night fighter over Holland on their way to Bremen, he baled out and ended up in a prisoner of war camp in September 1942 - Lamsdorf – Stalag V111B/344 POW number 27054. – In total four survived, 3 were killed (one was still MIA).

Food was in short supply, mainly swede soup and black bread if they were lucky. They relied on the parcels that would arrive from the Red Cross but sometimes the Germans would not pass them onto the prisoners.

In January 1945 they were taken on the “Long March” walking over 600 miles with little food and temperatures of -30C.

During this march he was caught passing a cigarette to another prisoner by a German guard and had a gun pressed against my head and after much yelling at him, he walked away - maybe he decided there were too many witnesses.

He was released in April 1945 and on May 30th 1945 married Peggy Stapleford in Melton Mowbray church, He was discharged from the RAF on January 7th 1946. (Peggy died on the 8th February 2016 aged 93 they had been married for 70 years).

After leaving the RAF he worked in a Government depot engineering workshop at Old Dalby before He went to work at Chappies (now called Mars) dog food factory in Melton Mowbray.

Eric on ANZAC day in 2011

In 1966 he was asked to go to Australia as engineer to help in the construction of a new factory that Mars were building in Wodonga, so off we went with the family, they stayed in Australia until 1968 but returned to Australia in 1969.

He retired from Mars in 1983. In retirement he did voluntary work for Technical Aid for the Disabled and travelled back to England every couple of years.

In 2017 work was started to find the remains of R5682, the aircraft from which Eric baled out from. Work was authorised by the Frisian authorities and undertaken by Leemans Special Works, led by Dutchman Evander Broekman. All remains recovered were put on display in a local museum.

In April 2018 a memorail to the crew was unveiled with relatives of all the crew present. The memorail wall built from brick is the length of the Lancaster wing span and houses 256 cavities, the number of aircrat on the same raid as R5682. Withing the walls were installed 12 time capsules representing the number of aircrat lost on the raid.