Wing Commander Jim Wright DFC.
Served on 61, 630 and 97 Squadrons during 1943-44.
He volunteered for Flying duties in May 1941 and was called up to Regents Park London in SEPTEMBER 1941. He was actually in uniform at this joining place and in Catterick RAF station for his ITW course in Decenber 41. He also remembers helping with snow clearing of Catterick runways and taxiways at that time because Catterick operated a night fighter squadron and the SWO thought as they were aspiring aircrew they should lead from the front during any snow clearing involved/ Jim recalls marching back to his sleeping place at nights, about 4 miles away, to see the doc afterwhich he was whipped into the army hospital nearby with a temp of 104 and bronchial pneumonia as a result. After he recovered he was granted 10 days sick leave.
He met and became a close friend of Mike Ward whilst training at 31 ANS (Air Navigation School) at Port Albert, Goodrich, Lake Huron, Ontario, Canada. They took top two places and were commisioned. They stayed together through various courses. Finally, at Upper Heyford OTU, they joined other 5 man Wellington crews. Their friendship continued and Jim spent many hours meeting Mike's family at their York garage business.
July 25th 1944. Stuttgart, Germany.
Sadly, whilst serving with 83 Pathfinder Squadron, Mike Ward DFC lost his life .
September 1943. joined 61 squadron Syerston for his part of his first tour.
This photo is of Ken Ames, who later became Jim's first tour skipper. He joined the RAFVR from Streatham, London in September 1941. After training in the UK he was sent to Georgia. USA to gain his pilot's wings and commission as a Pilot Officer. Following further pilot training in the UK he met Jim at OTU Upper Heyford in May 1943 to form the nucleus of their bomber crew. Ken was 21 years of age at that time.
Flight Lieutenant Ken Ames DFC. Jim's pilot, skipper and friend.
He received an Immediate Award of the DFC for his skill and courage in getting his aircraft and crew back for an emergency landing at Coltishall after being coned by search lights and shot up by 3 night fighters over Kassel on the 22nd October 1943. That being their fifth trip with 61 squadron from Syerston. He was awarded Bar to his DFC at the end of their first tour with 61 and 630 squadrons. (Citation London Gazette 30 june 1944).
December 1943. Moved to East Kirkby to become part of newly formed 630 squadron. Completed first tour.
Jim recalls that Jan.44 was a very interesting month, completing ops. to Leipzig, Stuttgart and Augsburg.
In March they went to Stuttgart, Charmand-Ferront, Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Nuremberg.
In April to Toulouse, Pillau Canal (Konigsberg), Tours and Juvisy.
In May he finished his first tour with a trip to Bourg.
He remembers that the winter of 1943/44 was very cold and miserable and that all squadrons suffered from a high chop rate.
1944. F/L K.Ames and crew with their ground staff. Ground staff names unknown.
Back row left to right.
W/O. Harvey (Tex) Glasby. Aussie WOP from Toowoomba. Commissioned Plt Off and awarded DFC after leaving 630 squadron. He was shot down and killed during a daylight raid to Cahagnes in France on 30 July 1944, whilst operating as a spare man with another 97 sqdn. crew ( pilot F/L Baker). He is buried at Bayeux war cemetery.
F/L Ken Ames DFC. Pilot and skipper.
F/Sgt R.S (Paddy) Parle. Rear Gunner. Awarded immediate DFM in April 1944 for his skill and determination in shooting down night fighters. He stayed with the crew to the end of their tour and was commissioned Plt Off.
There is a story about his DFM. Apparently it was stolen from him whilst serving in the Far East and was bought by a Java collector as a coin. He died in Nottingham on 11th March 1988. This DFM was recovered in 2006, completely refurbished by the 57 & 630 Squadrons Association and since July is cared for by the Panton brothers, Fred and Harold, in their Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre ar East Kirkby.
F/L Fred Spencer F/E. Our first F/E had been Sgt Vic Bickerstaff but after their Kassel experience he was invalided out of the RAF back to civvy street. as being no longer fit for service flying duties. When he was returned to civvy street Fred was awarded his DFC on competion of his tour with 630 in May.
3rd-4th-6th front row:
F/O J (Jim) Wright Navigator. Absent from crew after Kassel trip for 2 months recovered in hospital from frostbite and inoxia. He rejoined crew on 630 squadron at East Kirkby in time for trip to Berlin on 29 December 1943. There after he remained with this crew untl the end of second tour with 97.
F/Sgt Bill Leary DFM. Their MUG on 630
F/Sgt Tom Savage. B/A. Oldest member of crew at 32. Awarded DFM and commissioned at the end of second tour. He stayed at Coningsby until demob.
June 1944. They were then moved to Coningsby to join 97 'Pathfinder' squadron. After completing their tour with 97 squadron F/L Ames was posted to Wickenby for instructor duties.
2006: Book signing by WW11 veterans at East Kirkby Aviation Heritage Centre.
L to R:
Denis Slack of 158 squadron. Denis was shot down and remained a POW for the rest of the war.
Jim Wright DFC.
Ron Brown F/E. 218 and 75 squadrons. During Ron's 64th operation his aircraft was badly damaged and only just managed to make it back to the UK.
27th August 2006. The unveiling of the Memorial Ledger Stone to Men and Women of Bomber Command, Lincoln Cathedral.
Douglas Hudson DFC, who, jointly with ex WAAF Sylvia Watts, had the honour to 'open' the Ledger Stone. Doug wrote the book 'A Navigator's Story'.
Jim Wright DFC.
Wg Cdr Jim Wright has over many years worked tirelessly to promote the case for WW11 aircrew to be presented with a 'Bomber Command Medal'
For this, on behalf of all WW11 Bomber Command Aircrew, I would like give him our heartfelt thanks.