Friday, November 30, 2012

Fullbore Friday

Admit it, we all would want to see the video, if it existed:
"This is June 1942 and the real dark days of war for the French and this was to demonstrate that the Germans weren't invincible."

Wg Cdr Gatward was chosen for the sortie as he had demonstrated a skill for accurate flying during low-level attacks on enemy positions after Dunkirk.

The British had been informed the Germans held daily parades down the Champs-Elysees and he was asked to strafe the parade.

He and his navigator, Flight Sergeant George Fern, took off from Thorny Island, near Portsmouth, on June 12.

After reaching Paris, he flew at just 30ft before Ft Sgt released the flag down the flare shute and over the Arc de Triomphe.

Mr Grinter said: "It is an amazing story - one of those that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

"He flew down the Champs-Elysees at second floor window height. It was an incredible act of bravery and a real audacious attack.

"He attacked the Gestapo HQ and SS troops were seen to run for their lives. As he turned for home the Germans came out and shook their fists at him.

The mission report was, in a word, sublime:
After returning unscathed to Britain, Wg Cdr Gatward wrote in his logbook: "Paris - no cover - 0ft. Drop tricolours on Arc Triomphe & Ministrie Marine. Shoot up German HQ.

Little flak - no E.A. Bird in STBD oil radiator.

"Returned Northolt and on to command 61 photos. Heavy rain over England. France fair to light."

The bird in question was a French crow that clattered into Wg Cdr Gatward's Beaufighter plane as he approached Paris.

Upon his return to England, he removed the dead bird and laid it to rest at RAF Northolt.

Wg Cdr Gatward was awarded a second DFC in September 1944 for taking part in an aeriel attack on a German convoy in Norwegian waters.

He spent 30 years in the RAF before retiring. He lived in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, with wife Pamela and died in 1998 aged 84.
 Here is the sad part, well, I think it is sad.
Wg Cdr Gatward's medal set, that includes his DFC with bar and a Distinguished Service Order, have now been put up for auction after the recent death of his widow.

Being sold with it are the pilot's log books and the wooden commemorative Champagne case inscribed with the words 'In Remembrance of Your Flight Over Paris'.

A souvenir booklet featuring a sketch of the moment Wg Cdr Gatward and his observer dropped the Tricolor over the Arc de Triomphe with German army trucks on the ground is also being sold.

His medals and other items are expected to sell for £8,000 at the auction on Friday. 
I guess he has no family left to keep and honor his service, and that instead it will be sold off.

Well, from the front porch Wing Commander Gatward; for you service, well played and fullbore.

Hat tip JK.

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