War time bomber veteran Harry Irons tells Fenland National Service RAF Association of his bombing raid experiences

PUBLISHED: 17:28 22 October 2016

from left: Cliff Goakes, Tony Kiddle, Chris Cumming, David Cobbold, Harry Irons, Graham Wesley, Henry Wagner, David Forsythe and Maureen Wesley

from left: Cliff Goakes, Tony Kiddle, Chris Cumming, David Cobbold, Harry Irons, Graham Wesley, Henry Wagner, David Forsythe and Maureen Wesley

Archant

War time bomber veteran Harry Irons was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the National Service (Royal Air Force) Association.

The Bomber Command Memorial in LondonThe Bomber Command Memorial in London

Members gathered for a fish and chip lunch last Friday for the meeting where Harry, who was a rear gunner on Lancaster and Halifax bombers completing nearly 100 raids over Germany and Europe during WW2, outlined his experiences.

Among the guests was David Forsythe, a former Ministry of Defence worker, who helped organise the National Bomber Command Memorial at Green Park in London, which features Harry as one of the air crew figures.

He also spoke about the work he did to get the memorial built.

Henry Wagner from Wisbech, who was a navigator on Halifax bombers and was the sole survivor when his plane was shot down over Holland in 1944, was also at the meal at the Oliver Cromwell Hotel in March.

Harry explained the RAF were losing a squadron of bombers (around 14 or 15 aircraft each with over seven crew members) every month.

His survival of 97 raids - 37 on Halifax bombers and 60 on Lancasters, was down to “sheer luck”.

He said every bombing raid was like “flying into hell” with hundreds of anti-aircraft guns aimed their way with searchlights lighting up the skies around them.

“We just had to get in, unload our bombs and get out as fast as we could. The fact I was never shot down was sheer luck. I knew plenty of others who were not so lucky,” said Harry.


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