- RAF Newton during the Second World War -
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Sergeant George Houghton (d.16 Jun 1941)Sergeant George Houghton was one of a six-man crew aboard a Wellington N2849 on June 16, 1941, when it crash-landed in the city of Hamont-Achel. All six men died and their bodies were laid to rest in the local cemetery. At that time, only five crew member was positively identified by the German authorities. The local Belgian people paid tribute to the airmen's sacrifices, flowers were laid on their graves and crosses erected. After the war all six of the bodies were identified, and they are now at the Commonwealth War Cemetery of Heverlee, Belgium.
On June 20, 2009, the Oorlogsherdenkingen RAF Memorial group will unveil a memorial plaque in Hamont-Achel. René Winters, committee member of the group, is keen to hear from relatives of Sergeant George Houghton. He said: "We hope to trace any family members because we would like to invite them to attend our dedication service on June 20. "The service marks our work with this long overdue, but never forgotten, historical project."
Sergeant George Houghton was the second radio-operator and air-gunner aboard the Wellington from 103 Squadron. He and his crew took off on the night of June 16/17, 1941, from RAF base Newton, Nottinghamshire, to bomb harbour installations at the Rhine in Duisburg. René added: "In the target area the visibility varied from good to moderate. A thin ground fog hampered the accurate aiming for the bombing load. Because bomb-aiming was not yet accurate in 1941, not one Wellington could drop its bombs right on the target. As a result of this, civilian targets in the city of Duisburg were also hit and there were civilian casualties. The Wellingtons were caught in search lights and they encountered heavy flak. Beside that, they were attacked by several German night fighters. The Wellington went out of control and crashed at 2.25am. It is highly probable that the plane broke apart."
Anyone with information about Sergeant George Houghton please email René at email@example.comNoel Van Elsen
W/O Norman Alister "Jock" Cameron MID. Air Gunner W/Op 103 Sqd.An extract from "Determination" the biography of 755390 W/0 Norman Alister Cameron (by his daughter, Dani Miles nee Cameron)
Norman was born in 1917 and raised in Aycliffe Village. He knew that he wanted to fly from the age of 6 and he began to work out his dreams by making excellent model aeroplanes from that early age. Apparently he was inspired by the early aviation pioneers, flying circuses and such names as Owen Cathcart Jones and Alan Cobham. His guardian encouraged him in his ambitions. He did a succession of jobs whilst he made attempts to join the RAF. Meanwhile, until he truly earned his wings, he owned Norton and Brough Superior motorbikes on which he could fly up an down the A1 and A66.
On March 1st 1936, after numerous attempts, he was accepted into the Auxiliary Air Force; 608 Squadron RAF Thornaby, where he flew in, amongst others, Westland “Wapitis”, Hawker “Harts”, Hawker “Demons” and Avro “Tutors”. As his subsequent flying career was punctuated by at least nine “near-death” recorded accidents, as well as spending hours under fire in various Bombers, his survival can truly be described by that most abused expression - as attributable to having “Nine Lives”. Soon after he started flying, he used up his first two lives with crashes in which he sustained injuries which could killed him. At Muggleswade, Consett, as a passenger with a pilot practicing aerobatics, his ‘plane crashed with engine failure, in fields full of hay and hit a hay-rick, which caused it to turn over. The occupants were left hanging upside down in their straps, and he fell on his head and cut it open. The scar gave his hair an interesting parting. The smell of petrol and fear of fire remained with him for the rest of his days.
On 11th July 1937, flying in formation with his Commanding Officer as pilot, the machine’s engine cut, and the ‘plane crashed at RAF Thornaby. He was knocked out and came round in an ambulance, suffering from concussion. Undeterred he transferred to the Volunteer Reserves on 27 June 1936.
When war broke out he was posted to Newton, Notts., where he joined the famous 103 Squadron of Bomber Command and was involved in many hair-raising operations collecting two mentions in despatches. Most notably he survived a crash landing in the mountains in Wales in January 1941 and a month later, a ditching in the North sea in February, where he floated for three days before being picked up by a Danish ship. Whilst he was missing. A wake was held for him and his crew at Newton.
As the result of frost bite and his injuries he was unift to go back to Bomber Command and he was posted to 276 Sqd Air Sea Rescue where he went on to have more spectacular exploits, being shot at in Walruses whilst rescuing others. The state of some of the bodies they pulled out of the sea, gave him nightmares for the rest of his life.
After the war he baled out of a burning Wellington that had been struck by lightening, over Pocklington on 5th November 1949. He was now a member of the Caterpillar Club as well as the Goldfish Club. About this time he gained a PPL at Middleton St. George where he gave his daughter her first flight, aged 2, in an Auster. He went on to serve in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he bought his own Tiger moth. He survived a crash in an Anson in the Bush. On his return to England in 1955 he was posted to Watton, Norfolk with 192 Sqn, Central Signals Establishment on Radar Counter-Measures, flying in Lincolns. Its main role was to listen–in and record Warsaw Pact electronic activity.
Eventually his various war injuries caught up with him and he was "grounded" and so opted to leave the RAF in 1959. He spent many months in Roehampton and other hospitals, in great pain for the rest of his life. He became increasingly disabled and was nursed by his devoted wife, Anne, until his death aged 64.
Max Hastings articulates that which my father felt keenly, a considerable degree of bitterness and a perception of an ungrateful nation: “It is one of life’s unfairnesses that the public to this day cherishes the RAF’s war time Fighter Pilots, the defenders, with an uncomplicated enthusiasm that does not extend to the bomber crews, who showed equal courage and suffered far heavier losses. …the boys who were risking everything to frustrate Hitler’s demented ambition.” (Telegraph May 11 2003) “It is understandable that Bomber Command veterans harbour a sense of hurt and injustice. Over half their number, some 55,000 men in their teens and early twenties were killed. It’s a staggering statistic yet it rarely gets a mention. Just taking off with tons of high explosive weapons and fuel on board took incredible bravery, then to cope with memories of the screams of crew members injured or dying, of bodies so shattered they had to be hosed out of turrets, of hours of boredom, cramp and excruciating cold followed by 20 minutes of terror over the target – was superhuman.” (William Ivory, Radio Times Feb 2002).Dani Miles
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