George Tabner – 576 Sqn
This item was submitted to me years ago by the late George Tabner. I met him and his travelling companion when they came to England in 2008. I much enjoyed their company. George was a very amusing chap with a very dry sense of humour.
“Halfway through our tour we went on leave, and the rear gunner, Nick, got into a fight and got his eyes blacked, and was grounded for three trips. So ultimately, we got to the magic number of thirty trips, and we were called into the Flight Commander’s office and told that, “You, you, you, you, you, you are finished. You’ve done your thirty trips, good bye you.”
Pointing to the rear gunner he said, “You owe us three trips.”
So they sent Nick (the rear gunner) with a new crew. We thought that was a really dirty trick, because new crews, lacking in experience, are most likely not to survive. And here was Nick with twenty-seven trips, recommended for the Distinguished Flying Medal, and a commission.
So the six of us went into the Flight Commander’s office and said, “We’re here to do two trips. We want to finish up Nick. He took care of us, and we’re going to take care of him.”
So volunteering, all six of us without any dissent, did two more operations against Germany.
One was actually not against Germany – mine laying off the French coast near La Rochelle. We flew underneath the radar at a height one hundred feet. The Lancaster has a wingspan of a hundred and two feet, so it didn’t leave a lot to spare. That was our thirty-first trip.
And our thirty-second trip was very interesting. It was without any pathfinders – the people who marked the route and the target. It was strictly a radar trip. It was to Brunswick, and we did it all using the H2S – that was the radar that gave us a picture on the cathode ray tube of the ground underneath it.
We got to Brunswick, circled over the target for twenty minutes, peaceful and quiet. Maybe they were figuring if we don’t shoot at them, they’ll go away. But on the word from the Master Bomb Aimer (which was a code word), I dropped the bombs using the H2S, without the bomb aimer doing anything at all.
So that was our thirty-second and final trip – thirty for Nick, and we were all finished at one time.” George Tabner.
Note. George was a popular resident in the veteran's hospital in London, Ontario, Canada for a number of years but has now sadly passed away sometime ago. His former crew were.
Harold Bernard Guilfoyle RCAF DFC,
Nicholas Joseph Hawrelechko RCAF DFM. (This airman came from Morley, Alberta and subsequently changed his name to Harley. He claimed a Bf 109 shot down on the night of the 28/29 July 44 - Stuttgart. )
Peter Dodwell RAFVR
Jack Powell RAFVR
Norman Cassidy RAFVR - known as Hopalong
Stanley Wilkin RAFVR
This crew finished their tour on the 13th Aug 1944. David Fell