THE LANCASTER EDITION
Flt. Lt. Russell R Waughman DFC AFC Ld’H
Russell “Rusty” Waughman volunteered at 17 and trained as aircrew in Canada before returning to upgrade to Lancasters. By November 1943 he was posted to 101 [Special Duties] Squadron. These specialised craft carried radio counter measures [ABC] jamming German night fighter transmissions and were especially vulnerable to counter attack. The squadron had the highest casualty rate in the command.
On the notorious raid on Nuremberg of 20 March 1944 over 96 aircraft were lost. 101 sent 26 aircraft and lost seven - nearly a quarter of the squadron.
On an earlier raid to Mailly-le-Camp an aircraft blew up under Rusty’s Lancaster and effectively turned his aircraft upside down, making Rusty the first, and perhaps the only, man to barrel roll a Lancaster in combat.
Rusty flew 30 sorties and after his final operation on the eve of D-Day he was told by his CO that his was the first crew to finish a tour for almost six months.
Flt. Lt. Reg Barker
Reg Barker volunteered on his 19th birthday and at the start of the war was sent to the USA to train pilots.
‘When they told me my heart sank, I thought - I’m going to miss the war - I wanted to get back home and fight the Germans’.
Eventually Reg returned to fly Lancasters with 635 Pathfinder Squadron. He had completed 21 sorties when, on the night of 26 August 26 1944, his aircraft was hit and he found himself pinned against the cockpit roof as his aircraft plunged earthward, engines racing, at 1000 feet per second. He regained consciousness to see his blazing aircraft coming down beside him and just in time to pull his ripcord. Amazingly five of his seven crew survived. Of the 16 Lancasters dispatched by 635 Squadron that night, three were shot down with a loss of 21 crew, 12 were killed and nine became POWs.
After the war the Irwin Parachute Company presented Reg with a golden caterpillar he wears it to this day, ‘with gratitude and humility’.
Air Commodore C. Clarke OBE
Charles joined the RAF straight out of school as a 17-year-old and went to 619 Squadron, at Woodhall Spa, Lincs, flying Lancasters. He flew 19 trips as a bomb aimer, six to Berlin.
‘The losses were so high. The night I was shot down, 40 other aircraft were also shot down. That is roughly 300 men. I had never thought it would happen to me. You are young and just don’t think that way. On my last operation, in February 1944, we were hit by a fighter. It all happened so quickly. Suddenly, the aircraft was on fire and the wing was dropping off. Along with three others I parachuted out. The three others were killed. There was deep snow where I landed and I didn’t think I would get out. Eventually, I was picked up by the Germans and ended up at the notorious Stalag Luft III of “Great Escape” fame.’
Among his many post war appointments Charles has been President and Chairman of the RAF Ex-Prisoner of War Association and was Chairman of the Bomber Command Association which succeeded in delivering a memorial to Bomber Command in London’s Green Park in 2012.