My grandfather was instrumental in me making some of my life choices. He was a brave man, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II for his actions. His constant positive attitude and wisdom helped me get where I am today.
My grandfather served in two squadrons during the war. The first, 420 Snowy Owl Squadron was an RCAF squadron with some British crew members.
Aircrews suffered a high casualty rate: of a total of 125,000 personnel, 57,205 were killed (a 46 percent death rate), a further 8,403 were wounded in action and 9,838 became prisoners of war. Avro Lancaster bomber crews were no different.
A total of 75,446 airmen (60 percent of operational airmen) were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. A memorial in Green Park in London was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 June 2012 to highlight the heavy casualties suffered by the aircrews during the war.
Robert 'Bob' White, DFC.
The Distinguished Flying Cross is an operational gallantry award given to all ranks of the services in recognition of exemplary gallantry during active operations against the enemy in the air.
The Avro Lancaster is a British Second World War heavy bomber. It was designed and manufactured by Avro as a contemporary of the Handley Page Halifax, both bombers having been developed to the same specification, as well as the Short Stirling, all three aircraft being four-engined heavy bombers adopted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the same wartime era.
The Lancaster has its origins in the twin-engine Avro Manchester which had been developed during the late 1930s in response to the Air Ministry Specification P.13/36 for a capable medium bomber for "world-wide use".
Originally developed as an evolution of the Manchester (which had proved troublesome in service and was retired in 1942), the Lancaster was designed by Roy Chadwick and powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlins and in one version, Bristol Hercules engines.
It first saw service with RAF Bomber Command in 1942 and as the strategic bombing offensive over Europe gathered momentum, it was the main aircraft for the night-time bombing campaigns that followed. As increasing numbers of the type were produced, it became the principal heavy bomber used by the RAF, the RCAF and squadrons from other Commonwealth and European countries serving within the RAF, overshadowing the Halifax and Stirling.
A long, unobstructed bomb bay meant that the Lancaster could take the largest bombs used by the RAF, including the 4,000 lb (1,800 kg), 8,000 lb (3,600 kg) and 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) blockbusters, loads often supplemented with smaller bombs or incendiaries.
The versatility of the Lancaster was such that it was chosen to equip 617 Squadron and was modified to carry the Upkeep "Bouncing bomb" designed by Barnes Wallis for Operation Chastise, the attack on German Ruhr valley dams.
Although the Lancaster was primarily a night bomber, it excelled in many other roles, including daylight precision bombing, for which some Lancasters were adapted to carry the 12,000 lb (5,400 kg) Tallboy and then the 22,000 lb (10,000 kg) Grand Slam earthquake bombs (also designed by Wallis). This was the largest payload of any bomber in the war.
In 1943, a Lancaster was converted to become an engine testbed for the Metropolitan-Vickers F.2 turbojet. Lancasters were later used to test other engines, including the Armstrong Siddeley Mamba and Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops and the Avro Canada Orenda and STAL Dovern turbojet.
Avro Lancaster bomber