Earlier this month a rare man passed. Let's give him his due.
Les Sayer flew in a 120mph part-fabric Swordfish biplane which crucially damaged the 50,000-ton vessel, the most feared in the world with eight 15-inch guns.Did you catch that? In an age where people claw for attention, exaggerate their contribution, or blame their service for their every trouble - this is why he is so rare.
Mr Sayer was a telegraphist air gunner on the plane flown by Lieutenant Percy Gick when they found the warship in the North Atlantic in May 1941 after Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill had ordered: “Sink the Bismarck”. In a night attack, Gick and Gunner Sayer were the only Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm crew to score a torpedo hit.
Forty-eight hours later another Swordfish jammed Bismarck’s rudder and it was finished off by the Royal Navy.
Last night, Mr Sayer’s widow Valerie, of Wakes Colne, Essex, paid tribute to the former Barnardo’s boy, who died on November 1.
Mrs Sayer said: “It was not something he would boast about. He remembered dropping the torpedo and hitting the Bismarck, causing an oil leak. “But as they pulled away the Bismarck couldn’t hit them with her guns because they were so low, so they were putting shells into the water. One splash caused the fabric to split. So Les sat looking down at water.”
Mr Sayer won the Distinguished Service Medal for the mission. After the war he spent more than 30 years in civil aviation and was awarded an MBE.
Mrs Sayer said: “It was not something he would boast about."That is a warrior, a Sailor. Nothing to prove. BZ and rest in peace.
Hat tip SL.