Wednesday, 28 August 2013

16. Charles Green - mid-under gunner

    F/O Charles Frederick  Green D.F.C.
    When Flying Officer Charles Frederick Green (R.A.F.V.R. 178730) was posted to Mepal on the 16th January, 1945 he had already completed one tour of thirty four operations. He had come, along with another gunner, P/O Gwyn Duglan (R.A.F.V.R 179240), from RAF Feltwell, the home of No. 3 Lancaster Finishing School, where they had been trained in the use of the larger 0.50 calibre machine guns and the mid-under gun. He went on to complete a total of fifty operations and on the 25th September 1945 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

    Charles was born in Peckham, south east London, on the 28th October 1921 but the family moved out to what was then the rural haven of Dagenham in Essex in 1930 and Charles eventually attended the newly opened Eastbrook Senior Boys' School. After leaving school in 1935 he worked for a commercial printer in London and has vivid memories of the delays he and his father experienced travelling to work during the Blitz.

    He volunteered to join the Air Force in January 1941 while he was still only 19 and while waiting for his call-up he attended the local Technical College to further his education. He was accepted by the R.A.F. but had to wait a full twelve months before being sent for on 26th January 1942. There followed more than eighteen months of training, including a spell at the Air Gunnery School at R.A.F. Dalcross in Inverness where, a year later, Denis Eynstone would spend three months.

    His posting then was to No. 429 Squadron at R.A.F. Leeming in North Yorkshire, coincidentally the same squadron where S/L Alban Chipling had been awarded the D.F.C. in 1943. Charles was a
    Charles with his crew at No. 429 Squadron
    Halifax mid-upper gunner with the squadron from September 1943 until July 1944. His first operation was on Christmas Eve, 1943 and he went on to complete thirty four operations before becoming 'tour expired' in July 1944. He then had a fairly easy time of it, taking long leaves and carrying out routine jobs on the base, until he was recalled to R.A.F. Feltwell in December and then posted to Mepal in January 1945.

    Whilst at R.A.F. Mepal Charles completed sixteen more operations, bringing his total to fifty, flying with any crew that happened to be assigned to one of the Lancasters fitted with a mid-under turret. Charles is under the impression that there were only two of these but the O.R.B. suggests there were about ten or twelve, although all of his operations were in the same aircraft, AA-L (HK562). His sixteen operations were with at least nine different crews, including three with the Mallon crew and one with the Zinzan crew, whose bomb aimer was Bob Sommerville, so it is not surprising that he doesn't remember anyone from that period - apart from Marjorie.

    Officers' Mess staff, 1945 Marjorie is 2nd from the right.
    Picture from "Dying for democracy" by Grant Alan Russell D.F.C.
    Charles had met Marjorie, a W.A.A.F. working in the Officers' Mess, shortly after arriving at Mepal and they continued seeing each other after the war. In July 1945 Charles was sent on an 'admin course' and there followed a series of administrative jobs at R.A.F. Coningsby and R.A.F. Padgate, including interviewing personnel prior to 'demob' and later taking charge of his own 'Flight' of new recruits undergoing basic training.

    Marjorie and Charles, 1945

    Marjorie lived with her parents in the village of Dore, near Sheffield, and when Charles was demobbed he found work as a printer with the Sheffield Star. They married in 1949 and the four of them continued to live in the old cottage in Dore, which was gradually becoming more and more dilapidated. In 1960, after a holiday in Blackpool, they decided that a move to a newer house by the seaside would benefit them all. Charles applied successfully for a job at the Blackpool Evening Gazette and they all moved to Poulton-le-Fylde, to a house where Charles still lives.

    Charles insists that he is not a 'hero' and that he doesn't want to be embarrassed by anything I write about him. He "was only doing what everyone else was doing. We all did our bit" he said. I respect his wishes, of course, so I will do no more than repeat the words of his D.F.C. citation. "This air gunner has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed the utmost fortitude, courage and devotion to duty."

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