WORLD War Two bomber command hero Edward Gordon has told of his death-defying missions in the skies - after taking delivery of a slightly more sedate set of ‘wings’ to help him get around his Sheffield neighbourhood in his senior years.
The 88-year-old, from Ecclesfield, went on 12 sorties to Berlin and also took part in bombings against other German targets, once returning safely to the UK despite part of his aircraft’s gun turret having been blown off.
Edward, who still has his old wartime flight log books, joined the RAF aged 17 in 1941, and was a gunnery leader who served in 100 and 625 squadrons of bomber command at bases in Lincolnshire.
He flew for only one tour of 30 missions in 1943 on Lancaster Bomber aircraft before he was prevented from further sorties after suffering pneumonia and completed the rest of the war in a training role. He was a Flight Lieutenant when he was demobbed.
Describing his missions over Germany, Edward said: “We did 12 raids of Berlin, and also went over other targets. We were very fortunate. One night, 76 Lancasters were lost and there were times when I thought I wouldn’t make it back.
“One night a shell took most of my gun turret and, on another, we got hit and dropped from 22,000 feet to 2,000 feet while carrying 18 tonnes of high explosive. We dropped the bombs and the upwards force of the explosions sent us back into the air.
“We flew to Woodbridge in Suffolk, where damaged planes were flown to and ended up landing without any brakes. The airfield had a very long runway so the plane rolled to a halt.”
After the war, Edward married his wife Eileen, who is now 82, and the couple had one daughter, who has given them two granddaughters.
He worked at the Hadfields steelworks, Meadowhall, and became a keen golfer. Edward is a life member at Tinsley Park Golf Club and an honorary member of Tankersley Golf Club.
But his dramatic days in the RAF seemed a long time ago when, having had a minor road accident, Edward had to give up driving. He said: “I was housebound. A friend of mine suggested I should see if I could get any help by contacting SSAFA, which supports veterans and they arranged for me to have a very nice scooter.”
SSAFA secured funding for the scooter from the RAF Benevolent Fund, and a further small grant of £390 from the RAF Officers’ Association for him to have a new washer-drier.
Col Richard Elliott, divisional secretary of SSAFA based at Endcliffe Hall, Sheffield, said: “Mr Gordon’s new wings have given him a renewed lease of life. He’s a nice chap who has served his country and it was good to be able to help him in return.”
SSAFA is appealing for more people to volunteer as case workers. Contact Col Elliott on 0114 2662279.