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Author Topic: Dover Channel Dash Memorial has two new squadrons added  (Read 228 times)

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Offline nodrog44

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Dover Channel Dash Memorial has two new squadrons added
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2017, 21:25:40 »
As many of you will know, 2017 is the 75th anniversary of Operation Fuller (the Channel Dash) and a Service of Remembrance is being held on 30th September at the Dover Channel Dash Memorial to mark the occasion.

This year's Service of Remembrance will be the last one, but the service is also important for another reason because, for the first time, No. 12 and No. 83 Squadrons, Bomber Command, will appear on the Dover memorial to mark their roles in Operation Fuller, roles which led to the award of the DFC to three of the pilots involved, Pilot Officer Norman Richardson (RAAF) of No. 12 Squadron, Pilot Officer Maurice Smith of No. 83 Squadron and Pilot Officer Robert McFarlane, also of No. 83 Squadron. In the last case, the award was a Bar to the DFC Pilot Officer McFarlane had been awarded in January, 1942. Sadly, Sergeant Leonard Garth Whibley (RAAF), the rear gunner in Pilot Officer McFarlane's Manchester bomber, died of wound sustained during the operation.

No. 83 Squadron, flying Manchester bombers, took off from RAF Scampton and flying at less than 1,000 feet located and attacked the German ships. Pilot Officer McFarlane, flying Manchester bomber L7389, was attacked by two Messerschmitt 109 fighters which were successfully driven off after three attacks, but then faced intense anti-aircraft fire as he attacked the German ships, only to find that the hydraulic systems of the aircraft had been damaged and the bomb doors were jammed shut when he attempted to drop his bombs. The aircraft turned for home and was further damaged by anti-aircraft fire but eventually landed safely, despite the severe damage it had suffered. Sadly, Sergeant Leonard Garth Whibley RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), the aircraft's rear gunner, was seriously wounded during the operation, and died shortly after the aircraft returned to England. Pilot Officer McFarlane was awarded a bar to the DFC he had been awarded some weeks earlier for a raid over Germany.

The aircraft of Pilot Officer Smith, also of 83 Squadron, was attacked by three German fighters, two of which were shot down, although the rear gunner of Pilot Officer Smith's aircraft was wounded in the chest and hand. The aircraft had been seriously damaged during the attacks, but Pilot Officer Smith managed to bring it safely home to base, for which he was awarded the DFC.

No. 12 Squadron, flying Wellington bombers from RAF Binbrook, attacked shortly after 83 Squadron. Pilot Officer Norman Richardson, RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force), leading the attack went in below 400 feet and his bombs damaged the Gneisenau enough to buckle some of the ship's plates and allow seawater to rush in, despite Pilot Officer Richardson being temporarily blinded and also wounded in one arm by a bursting shell on the approach run to drop his bombs. He was awarded the DFC for his actions.

It is unclear how 12 and 83 Squadrons were initially omitted from the Dover memorial as the Channel Dash Association carried out considerable research on the British forces involved and had their results checked by the relevant authorities. However, as the result of an approach by Mr David McFarlane (the son of Pilot Officer McFarlane) the two squadrons have now been added to the Dover Channel Dash Memorial in time for the forthcoming 75th anniversary service of remembrance at Dover on September 30th. David is grateful to the Channel Dash Association for responding to his approach for the memorial to be amended and to The Stone Shop of East Fairleigh for making the changes.

Mr McFarlane and Mr Morley-Brown (the son of RAF Scampton's Intelligence Officer who was on board Pilot Officer McFarlane's plane during the action) and his family will be attending the memorial service on 30th September. It had been hoped that two nieces of Sergeant Whibley (the rear gunner from Pilot Officer McFarlane's aircraft who died as a result of the action) would be able to travel from Australia for the memorial service but, sadly, family matters have prevented this.


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