Tag Archives: Joe Lawton

Jimmy Ward meets the Prime Minister

Image from the Jack Way personal album collection. A group of, believed to be No. 75 Squadron aircrew, gathered in front of a Wellington to meet the New Zealand High Commissioner Bill Jordan. Unknown location. NB. The Wellington is not a No. 75 Squadron aircraft. – Air Force Museum of NZ ref. ALB88125123b098.

From Chris…..

Just recently the Air Force Museum of New Zealand’s Keeper of the Photographs, Matthew O’Sullivan has published a wonderful online collection of beautiful photographs from the Museum’s archives:

Amongst them is this photo, showing a visit by NZ High Commissioner Bill Jordan to 75(NZ) Squadron at Feltwell.

However, the gentleman in the dark suit shaking hands right of centre is clearly the New Zealand Prime Minister of the time, Peter Fraser. Jordan appears to be at far left, also in a dark suit.

A bit of searching of newspaper reports from 1941 has revealed more information.

NZ Prime Minister the Right Hon. Peter Fraser NZ and High Commissioner Bill Jordan visited the NZ Bomber Squadron at Feltwell on 13 August 1941, as reported in The Press:

“Arriving at their station a few hours after their aeroplanes returned from plastering Hanover, Mr Fraser visited the New Zealand bomber squadron.

Among the men he saw was Sergeant Pilot J. A. Ward, V.C..

Mr Fraser said: “New Zealand is very proud of you. I congratulate you heartily on your well deserved honour.”

Mr Fraser was introduced to members of Sergeant Pilot Ward’s crew, including Sergeant Gunner A. R. T. Box, D.F.M., of Auckland, and Sergeant Observer L. A. Lawton, of Wellington.

The squadron paraded in a hangar, and Mr Fraser walked down the lines, shaking hands with every man. He talked with the men in the sergeants’ mess. His audience included more than a dozen winners of D.F.C.’s and D.F.M.’s, who have distinguished themselves over Germany.”

In the photo, Bill Jordan is 2nd to left, and next to him is Sgt James Ward V.C., and then two of his crew mates, skipper S/L Reuben “Ben” Widdowson DFC RCAF (with moustache) and rear gunner Sgt Allan “Shorty” Box DFM RNZAF. Another crew mate, navigator Sgt Joe Lawton RNZAF is identifiable five along from Box, standing at the rear.

In the official party in the foreground, 2nd from left is Station Commander W/C Maurice Buckley, performing one of his final duties before being posted out from Feltwell. PM Fraser (in dark suit) is shaking hands with an unknown airman.

Several other airmen are identifiable – Sgt Joe White (Wireless Specialist, in front of Joe Lawton, looking back towards Ward & Jordan), unknown, F/O Graham Parker (pilot), Sgt Alec Rowe (rear gunner, Parker crew), and (F/O?) Ted Williams (squadron Signals Leader, with moustache, behind W/C Buckley).

Mr Jordan had also been at Feltwell two nights earlier, when the squadron held a special smoking concert in Jimmy Ward’s honour.

James Allen Ward photograph from Gwyn Martin post – some more names

VC for Jimmy Ward

VC for Jimmy Ward
© David Martin

A follow up to my recent post presenting material relating to Gwyn Martin and his crews. Within Gwyn’s second crew Op history are 2 images of Jimmy Ward, relating to the award of his VC. Gwyn and  crew mate Ray Curlewis returned from leave to discover the news of Jimmy’s award of the Victoria Cross:

“We returned to a Feltwell agog with excitement and celebration. Jimmy Ward had received an immediate award of the V.C. for climbing out on to the wing of his aircraft to put out a fire in the starboard engine. The aircraft was under attack by a Ju. 88 night fighter at the time, and he was unable to wear his parachute. They were at 13,000 feet over the Zuider Zee. The rear gunner, Alan (Shorty) Box, won a D.F.M. and the pilot, Ben Widdowson, a D.F.C. Joe Lawton, the navigator, was overlooked in the handout of awards, in spite of his having made a significant contribution to the success of Jimmy’s brave wing walk.”

At the time of receiving the above photograph, I knew I had not seen it before and this feeling was at least also confirmed by Chris when he saw the post.

Thanks to Chris we also now have a few more names for the individuals in the photograph. Based on my original caption (which is now updated in the Saunders Op’s page), here is a new caption with input from Chris:

“A second picture commemorating Jimmy Ward’s VC.
From L to R where identified: (3) Gwyn Martin, (4) Ray Curlewis, (5) Jimmy Ward, (6) Joe Lawton, (7) Charlie Black, (8) W/C Cyril Kay, (9) Allan Box possibly, (10) G/C John ‘Speedy’ Powell possibly, (12) John Breckell.”

Another addition to the Ward story arrived from Gwyn’s son, David this morning – a menu of the celebratory meal described in an extract from “New Zealanders in the Air War” by Allan W. Mitchell which was posted 3 years ago, which can be read here.

As David notes – ” everything that any self-respecting Airman could possibly want!”

VC Award Menu

VC Award Menu
© David Martin