"The Boys"

 

 

The Boys

The four aircrew of this aircraft like all other RAF aircrew were not conscripts but volunteers.

They came from widely differing backgrounds and from all parts of the Commonwealth and beyond. Each was well educated, intelligent, fit and determined. All had undergone long, detailed and rigorous training, which in its self was fraught with death and danger to reach this point in their lives.

Even in 1941 they were acutely aware that their chances of survival were minimal; the future was the next operation, nothing further. Without doubt they were brave young men at the peak of their physical and mental prowess. All were twenty five or under. Of the 125,000 young airmen who flew for Bomber Command in WW2, “The Boys” is the story of four of the 55,500 airmen that never came home.

The crew of Hampden X3054 ‘S’ for Sugar on Friday, 21st March 1941, were:

Pilot Officer Robert David Wilson, known as David, joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve whilst still an undergraduate at Cambridge where he was reading ‘Engineering’. By all accounts he was a most popular student who excelled at skiing and in fact captained the universities team. By the summer of 1937 he held a Private Pilots Licence, something of a rarity in those days. On the evening of the 21st March 1941 he was the Pilot of Hampden, X3054.

After qualifying as a pilot himself, Sergeant Richard Leonard Ashburton Ellis, known as ‘Dick’ was acting in the dual role, as Navigator and Bomb Aimer for his pilot, R.D. Wilson that evening. After completing his formal education at Malvern College, he went on to study, ‘Engineering’ at Loughborough. He too had joined the volunteer reserve whilst still a student.

Sergeant Ronald Brames had joined the RAF at the beginning of 1939, shortly after volunteering for training as aircrew. After qualifying as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner, he undertook several operational missions and had become recognised as a very experienced wireless operator, the role which he undertook for this operation. On that Friday evening, Sergeant Brames left behind this enduring message,’….as the boy who tried to do his little bit for his country.’

Sergeant Charles John Lyon, and like his colleague, Ronald Brames, had volunteered for aircrew training and upon its completion, qualified as a Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; he had been on active service, flying in Bomber Command, for only a month prior to this operation. This was to be his fifth as an air gunner; the previous four had also been with David Wilson. Both Ronald and Charles were engaged to be married.

 


 

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'THE BOYS'
by John Lowe