An act of bravery a young life lost

On 27 November 1941 a Wellington of 9 Squadron x3281 was hit during a raid on Dusseldorf. The plane was nursed back to England but had to ditch in the icy water off the shore from where I live in the UK. My grandfather was a policeman in Herne Bay at the time and swam out into the freezing sea to try and save the crew.

Unfortunately my grandfather didn’t get to the crew in time and two died. Seeing as we are coming up to Remembrance Sunday, I thought I would trace the graves of the dead men, one of whom (a Canadian) was buried locally a long way from home in Alyesham cemetery. Here is the grave of the pilot with the poppy I placed. What strikes me is these guys died at a shockingly young age. Three of the crew were rescued by boat.

The Canadian pilot was Gerald Gordon Armstrong (R61790), age 20, of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada

Also pictured is the grave of one of the brave swordfish pilots buried in the same plot. They flew their biplanes on a virtual suicide mission to try and stop the German capital ships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, Prinz Eugen from steaming up the channel on 11 February 1942. This incident is commonly known as the channel dash. Six planes were launched, five crew out of eighteen survived, one Victoria Cross was awarded, enough said.