Tag Archives: V.C. Victoria Cross

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

 

Sgt. James Allen Ward, V.C. – new pictures of Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R

Close-up of the damage caused to Vickers Wellington Mark IC, L7818 'AA-V', of No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF, at Feltwell, Norfolk, after returning from an attack on Munster, Germany, on the night of 7/8 July 1941. While over the Zuider Zee, cannon shells from an attacking Messerschmitt Me 110 struck the starboard wing (A), causing a fire from a fractured fuel line which threatened to to spread to the whole wing. Efforts by the crew to douse the flames failed, and Sergeant James Allen Ward, the second pilot, volunteered to tackle the fire by climbing out onto the wing via the astro-hatch (B). With a dinghy-rope tied around his waist, he made hand and foot-holds in the fuselage and wings (1, 2 and 3) and moved out across the wing from where he was eventually able to extinguish the burning wing-fabric. His courageous actions earned him the Victoria Cross. He was shot down and killed while bombing Hamburg on the night of 15/16 September 1941, in another Wellington of the Squadron. CH 3223 Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION Royal Air Force official photographer

Close-up of the damage caused to Vickers Wellington Mark IC, L7818 ‘AA-V’, of No. 75 (New Zealand) Squadron RAF, at Feltwell, Norfolk, after returning from an attack on Munster, Germany, on the night of 7/8 July 1941. While over the Zuider Zee, cannon shells from an attacking Messerschmitt Me 110 struck the starboard wing (A), causing a fire from a fractured fuel line which threatened to to spread to the whole wing. Efforts by the crew to douse the flames failed, and Sergeant James Allen Ward, the second pilot, volunteered to tackle the fire by climbing out onto the wing via the astro-hatch (B). With a dinghy-rope tied around his waist, he made hand and foot-holds in the fuselage and wings (1, 2 and 3) and moved out across the wing from where he was eventually able to extinguish the burning wing-fabric. His courageous actions earned him the Victoria Cross. He was shot down and killed while bombing Hamburg on the night of 15/16 September 1941, in another Wellington of the Squadron.
CH 3223
Part of AIR MINISTRY SECOND WORLD WAR OFFICIAL COLLECTION
Royal Air Force official photographer

The picture above is a well known image of Wellington Mk.Ic L.7818 AA-R (not AA-V as the attached caption states), the Wellington that Sgt. James Allen Ward VC, famously crawled out of to extinguish a fire on the wing.

I am very excited to present a number of additional images of this aircraft that were taken on its return. The images were passed to me by an interested party. Whilst there is nothing written on the back of these images, the inclusion of a duplicative images of the photo above with the set, and the additional images showing the same or extra damage to the Wellington suggest very strongly that these are images of L.7818 after its return from Munster on the 7th of July 1941.

P1070756crctd

©Kerry Foster/ 75nzsquadron.com

The first images is as I said, is an almost exact replica of the first photograph from the Imperial War Museum. Interestingly, the various points of damage are annotated by hand and do not numerically relate to the order of damage on the IWM image.

P1070754crctd

© Kerry Foster/ 75nzsquadron.com

The second and first of the ‘new’ images shows the Wellington from a front 3/4 low view, showing the significant damage to the starboard side of the nose of the aircraft – the missing canvas showing the aircraft’s famous geodesic frame construction. I am in no doubt that this is a second image of the same aircraft in the first photograph – specific details on the front of the aircraft, upon closer examination clearly are the same when viewed from this new angle. For the first time, it is also possible to see the far more visible damage to the underside of the starboard wing.  Also, just below the circled damage of the underside of the wing, is a smaller circled detail annotated ‘note bullet hole’.

P1070755crctd

© Kerry Foster/ 75nzsquadron.com

The final photograph shows a much closer view of the underside of the Wellington’s starboard wing. There appears to be blackening or scorching to the bottom left of the photograph, on the edge of the hole burnt through the canvas of the wing, revealing again, the unique geodesic frame.

If anybody has seen these photographs before, or perhaps knows or others – I am sure we would all be fascinated to learn more of the aftermath of this famous event.

Read more about the events of that night here.
Watch a short interview with Sgt James Allen Ward V.C. here.

Film clip of Jimmy Ward V.C. – the right man, in the right spot, at the right time…….

James Ward VC © IWM (CH 3200)

Many thanks to Dave for posting a wonderful, albeit short movie clip of Jimmy Ward V.C. talking about his award, on the 75 Squadron, RAF/ RNZAF Association Facebook page. I had no idea that such a clip existed, but I think what is truly touching is that the modesty and perhaps slight awkwardness that has often been written about James and the spotlight he fell under is shown in this short clip, after his heroic actions on the night of the 7th July 1941 after a raid on Münster.

I reproduce text from ‘New Zealanders in the Air War’, by Alan W. Mitchell, that I posted originally about James Ward’s exploits…….

The din died. The sergeant pilot threw off his nervousness, and, in a boyish voice, edged with precision, he said:
We’ve got here to-night a number of chaps hiding themselves in a corner who’ve done more than we’ve ever done. They’re the ground-crews who look after our kites. They don’t get anything like this. There are no V.C.’s for them, but if they didn’t do a first-class job for us, as they all do, we wouldn’t get back. Those chaps—they keep our kites in first-class order.”

Then, as the cheering welled out again, he slipped away to a window. He sat on the ledge, his head bowed, half smiling nervously as the cheers gave way to the singing of “ For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

A jolly good fellow. It was an understatement. If any of those singing men had been asked at that moment what they thought of Sergeant Pilot James Allen Ward, New Zealand’s first V.C. of this war, they would have stared and said with intensity, “ He’s a bloody fine little chap. He’s got all the guts in the world.”

read the full chapter from ‘New Zealanders in the Air War’ here.

New aircraft profiles for the database pages

Wellington Ic, Stirling Mk.III and Lancaster Mk.III from 75(NZ) Squadron RAF.
artwork produced by Clavework Graphics © Bill Dady.

I have just received 3 fantastic examples of aircraft profile artwork to add to the relevant sections of the aircraft database section of the blog. A very big thanks to Bill Dady of Clavework Graphics for creating the custom artwork so quickly and to such a high quality.

If you are interested in perhaps getting a profile illustration of a relative’s aircraft, you can look through the Clavework website here and find out more about the costs of getting your own profile artwork produced here

Jimmy Ward, V.C. – ‘a bloody fine little chap’.

James Ward VC © IWM (CH 3200)

James Ward VC
© IWM (CH 3200)

What follows is the opening portion of a chapter in “New Zealanders in the Air War”, by Alan W. Mitchell, entitled ‘Sergeant Pilot James Allen Ward’. The full chapter can be read here, I have reproduced  the chapter on it’s own page, simply because its too long to easily present within a single post.

“Tobacco smoke fogged the Sergeants’ Mess. Officers and sergeants of 75 (New Zealand) Bomber Squadron standing on chairs or ringed round tables, shouted above the din of voices and the dance-music of the squadron’s band.

The High Commissioner for New Zealand, Mr W. J. Jordan, sat back on a sofa. He smoked a cigar, and his strong, homely face smiled his pleasure. Near him was Group Captain M. W. Buckley, who was shortly to give up his command of the station to return to New Zealand.

Amused, he looked at the back of the long room where officers and sergeants were climbing on table-tops, arms round one another’s necks. As he watched they began to chant. Soon the whole mess joined in. The band became inaudible.
We-want-Jimmy-Ward. We-want-Jimmy-Ward. We-want-Jimmy – Ward.”

Ofiicers and sergeants, pilots, air-gunners, observers, wireless operators—all took up the chorus, bawling from the table-tops, swaying, laughing, holding one another up. Suddenly the chant burst’ into cheering.

A short, slight boy stood by a microphone in front of the band. His head was bowed, his face pale, contrasting with his mat of dark hair. His sensitive mouth was twisted in an embarrassed smile as he looked at his feet and shuffled them. His thumbs were stuck in his trouser-pockets. Outside the pockets his fingers worked uneasily against his uniform. He wore a sergeant’s stripes, and tabs on his shoulders bore the words “New Zealand.” Under his wings he wore a scrap of maroon ribbon bearing a miniature bronze medal.

The din died. The sergeant pilot threw off his nervousness, and, in a boyish voice, edged with precision, he said:
“ We’ve got here to-night a number of chaps hiding themselves in a corner who’ve done more than we’ve ever done. They’re the ground-crews who look after our kites. They don’t get anything like this. There are no V.C.’s for them, but if they didn’t do a first-class job for us, as they all do, we wouldn’t get back. Those chaps—they keep our kites in first-class order.”

Then, as the cheering welled out again, he slipped away to a window. He sat on the ledge, his head bowed, half smiling nervously as the cheers gave way to the singing of “ For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow.”

A jolly good fellow. It was an understatement. If any of those singing men had been asked at that moment what they thought of Sergeant Pilot James Allen Ward, New Zealand’s first V.C. of this war, they would have stared and said with intensity, “ He’s a bloody fine little chap. He’s got all the guts in the world.”

read the rest of the chapter here