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28th Sep 1941 Aircraft Lost
28th Oct 1941 Aircraft Lost
15th Nov 1941 Aircraft Lost
20th Sep 1942 156 Squadron Wellington lost.
20th Feb 1944 156 Squadron Lancaster lost
5th Jun 1944 Mosquito Lost
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Sqd.Ldr. Leonard James Saltmarsh DFC and bar. 7 SquadronLeonard Saltmarsh served before and after the war in the Surrey Constabulary and I am working on the history of that force. In December 1942 he trained in a Tiger Moth and went on to fly Wellingtons and Lancasters with 7 Squadron, Pathfinders. He was awarded the DFC for actions on the 26th of August 1944 in a raid over Kiel. He flew 99 Operational sorties.
D.F.C. London Gazette 3 October 1944. The original recommendation states:
‘Flying Officer L. J. Saltmarsh has so far completed 17 successful sorties as Pilot and Captain of Lancaster aircraft, and has been most conspicuous at all times for his extremely high standard of courage and resoluteness. On two difficult occasions during daylight attacks on Vaires on 12 July 1944 and on Emieville on 18 August 1944, he observed a crippled bomber proceeding at a very reduced speed away from the target. On both occasions he dropped behind the main bomber stream in order to escort the damaged bomber safely back to England. On 15 August, during a daylight attack on the airfield at St. Trond, one of his engines became unserviceable on the way to the target and the propellor had to be feathered. But inspite of the fact that he was getting behind the main stream, owing to his reduced speed, he pressed on and bombed the target, and secured an aiming point photograph. On the way back from the target another engine became unserviceable but did not deter Flying Officer Saltmarsh from proceeding to and bombing an alternative airfield target with a bomb that had failed to be released over the primary target, and once more he secured an aiming point photograph. He eventually arrived safely over base and made a perfect two-engined landing. It was not until after he had landed that he reported the fact that two engines had become unserviceable during the sortie. This very gallant pilot is strongly recommended for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.’
Bar to D.F.C. London Gazette 16 November 1945. The original recommendation states:
‘This officer has completed 53 operational sorties, of which 28 have been carried out in the squadron, in the Path Finder Force, 18 of them as Captain of a Marker Crew. Flight Lieutenant Saltmarsh is an efficient and skilful pilot who has always shown a strong devotion to duty and a cheerful confidence which has always inspired a high standard of morale in his crew. He has always displayed exceptional fearlessness in the face of danger, complete disregard for personal safety and has pressed home his attacks against the enemy with the utmost determination.’
Leonard James Saltmarsh commenced pilot training at No. 31 E.F.T.S. at De Winton, Alberta in December 1942, and graduated from No. 34 E.F.S. at Medicine Hat in June 1943. Back in the U.K., he attended No. 11 A.F.U. at Shawbury, prior to joining No. 26 O.T.U. at Little Harwood in early January 1944, where he gained experience on Wellingtons, and then attended a conversion unit for Lancasters at Waterbeach, at which place he joined No. 514 Squadron that June.
Thus ensued his first tour of operations, commencing with a strike against L’Hey on the 23 June and ending with another against Emmerich on 7 October, the intervening period witnessing him attack numerous French targets in support of the Allied invasion, but also a number of heavily defended German targets, including Bremen, Dortmund, Saarbrucken, Stettin and Stuttgart. And as confirmed by the recommendation for his D.F.C. after 17 sorties, several of these trips were not without incident, his flying log book further stating that his Lancaster received flak damage during strikes against enemy panzers and transport at Villiers Bocage on 30 June and against a supply depot at Beauvoir on 2 July. Similarly, too, during a visit to Bremen on the night of 18-19 August.
In October 1944, Saltmarsh attended the Path Finder Force’s training centre at Warboys, as a result of which he was transferred to No. 7 (P.F.F.) Squadron at Oakington in the following month, flying his first such sortie on the night of the 11th-12th, against Dortmund. A daylight strike against enemy communications at Julich, in support of General Patton’s troops, followed on the 14th and a night operation to Sterkrade on the 21st, Saltmarsh’s flying log book again noting flak damage. Then on the 29th he flew as support aircraft to the Master Bomber on a raid to Dortmund, a role that he would fulfil with growing regularity over the coming months. Such heavily defended targets as Duisburg, Essen (twice) and Karlsruhe formed the backbone of his operational agenda in December, while January 1945 saw him attacking, among other locations, Hanover, Magdeburg, Munich and Stuttgart, his flying log book noting an encounter with a Ju. 88 on the Munich run. February witnessed his Lancaster carrying out strikes against Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen, Ludwigshaven and Pforzheim, in addition to participating in the famous “firestorm” raid on Dresden on the 13th, an action that Saltmarsh would robustly defend in years to come.
March saw him completing five more sorties to German targets, three of them in daylight, and April another four, two of these in daylight, including Bremen on the 21st, which latter operation marked the end of his operational tour. He did, however, fly three “Cook’s Tours” to the Rhur in May, and ended his career with an appointment in Transport Command in December 1945. Over and above all of this, however, it would appear that he flew 56 “unspecific” sorties of a secret nature, evidence for which is to be found in the following endorsement from “Bomber” Harris. He also flew: Diversions, experimentation of special equipment, including radar, photographic reconnaissance, these top secret sorties and others. In May 1945 he was selected and volunteered to form a new squadron for the continuation of hostilities against Japan.’
Any information on Mr Saltmarsh DFC and Bar would be appreciatedRobert Bartlett
Sgt. James Walter Gilbert 156 Sgd (d.24th Feb 1944)My father, Sgt James Walter Gilbe, was rear gunner in Lancaster JB479. Serial GT-K piloted by Sgd/Ldr Eric Porter. On the evening of 24 Feb.1944 they'd left their base at R.A.F. Warboys. They were the lead Pathfinders on the raid at Schweinfurt. They marked the target but were shot down, believed by a night fighter. There were no survivors. Their collective grave was found in 1952 and they were re-buried at the Durnbach War Cementery.
My father's birthday was the day before he died and he had just found out that he was going to be a dad (that was me). If anyone had any information of if there are any relatives or friends of the crew please let me know.Peter Gilbert
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