Sergeant Ralph Dickson  -  158 Squadron  
   

Sergeant Ralph Hall Dickson - RAFVR

 

 Sergeant Ralph Dickson was serving as Rear Gunner aboard Halifax Mk.BIII NR252 coded NP-B  during an operation to Hanover on January 5/6, 1945.

 The aircraft left Lissett at 1647hrs and successfully bombed the target but failed to return. On the homebound journey it was hit by a night-fighter destroying the H2S blister and moments later, a second attack destroyed the ammunition trays and conveyors of the four guns of the rear turret. Arriving at the Dutch–German border flying due West, only two engines were operable and after consulting with Norris, the navigator, it was considered advisable by Elliott to divert the course to the South in an attempt to reach an Allied-held airport in Belgium. 

 At that moment the Halifax was attacked again and the third engine was put out of action, together with the elevator trimmers, rendering the plane unmanageable. McMahon the Mid Upper Gunner reported from his turret that he saw flames passing him from the wing fuel tanks. Pilot Elliott ordered his crew to bale out. Sadly, having waited for all his crew to jump, he had left it too late and was found dead close by his crashed aircraft with his parachute half-opened. The Halifax crashed at 20:15;16km West of Almelo in the Overissel province of Holland. Flight Lieutenant Alec Elliott was twenty-five at the time of his death and is buried in the Cemetery at Hellendoorn, Holland.

The crew consisted of:

Name

Trade

F/L Alec Elliott

Pilot

Sgt W Morton - Evader

Flight Engineer

F/Sgt Michael “Mick” Norris - POW

Navigator

F/Sgt Ian Croad - Evader

Bomb Aimer

F/Sgt Paul Watson - Evader

W/Op/AG

Sgt Don McMahon - POW

M/U Gunner

Sgt Ralph Dickson - Evader

Rear Gunner

 Sergeant Ralph Hall Dickson RAFVR was born on April 11th 1920 in Edinburgh, Scotland and worked as clerk prior to enlisting. Initially he trained as a Flight Mechanic (Airframe) at Blackpool but joined 238 Hurricane Squadron as a F.M.A. at the end of the Battle of Britain before being posted to the Middle East and a Wellington squadron in Egypt. 

 He spent the next two years moving up & down the Western Desert before being posted on a Pilot’s Course in 1943,to ITW at RAF Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia. More postings followed at 28 EFTS at Mount Hampden on Tiger Moths and 235 FTS Heany on Oxfords. He was withdrawn from Flying Training and as he was keen to get back to the war, volunteered as an air gunner and was posted to RAF Moffatt Gunnery School where he passed out in January 1944. He returned to the U.K. for more training and at OTU was asked by Flight Lieutenant Alec Elliott, who had been a flying instructor in Canada to be his rear gunner. 

 Now as a crew more training took place on Whitley’s and Wellingtons before being joined by a Flight Engineer at 1658 HCU and converting to Halifaxes.  As a fully fledged crew they were then posted to 158 Squadron at Lissett, East Yorkshire. Sergeant Dickson flew ten ops with the crew before being shot down. He was to evade capture for four months before being rescued by the advancing Canadian Forces in Holland.

Photos and information courtesy of David Elliott & Ralph Dickson, research by Linda Ibrom