Sergeant Gerald Thomas  -  61 Squadron  
   

 

Sergeant Gerald Thomas - RAFVR

 

 Sergeant Gerald Thomas was serving as Navigator on the night of March 30/31, 1944 for an op to Nuremberg on 30/31st March 1944 when it was attacked several times by enemy aircraft. The Lancaster's Pilot, P/O Freeman, abandoned the mission after the aircraft sustained heavy damage and four of the crew injured during the attacks by a ME-110 and two JU-88s.

 

Gerald Thomas, 3rd row up, extreme right with F/L Wigley-Jones (instructor)-6 Flight A Squadron, No. 1 Elementary Air Navigation School, Eastbourne, Sussex, July 1942 outside Eastbourn.

 A shell had torn a large hole in Sgt Thomas' chart table and also his neck and hand. Unable to stem the flow of blood, Gerald remembered Sgt Patfield pushing him through the damaged Astrodome into the cold air stream which stopped the blood but left his hand suffering the effects of frostbite and lost him the thumb and fingers of his right hand. Sgt Chapman and Sgt Patfield then tied his arm up and after plugging in his oxygen and intercom administered morphine, their quick thinking undoubtedly saved his life.

 P/O Denny Freeman managed to make it back to England before crash-landing at RAF Foulsham in Norfolk. The night fighter attack had damaged the fuselage, blown off the main hatch, holed the mid-upper turret, riddled flaps and nacelles,hit the starboard wing, holed the front wind screen and smashed the astro-dome. The injured crew members (Sgt Chapman,Sgt Thomas,Sgt Devonshire &Sgt Sherriff) were taken to the RAF hospital at Ely.

 Gerald Thomas RAFVR was born on 12th April 1922 at Camberwell, South East London. The crew had only been together for a few months. Gerald, known as "Tommy" had crewed up with them only a week or so previously. 

 The crew consisted of:

Name

Service

Trade

P/O Denny Freeman - DFC

RAFVR

Pilot

Sgt Frank Devonshire

RAFVR

Flight Engineer

Sgt Gerald Thomas

RAFVR

Navigator

Sgt Derek Patfield

RAFVR

Bomb Aimer

Sgt Leslie Chapman - CGM

RAFVR

W/Op/AG

Sgt Arthur Sherriff

RAFVR

Air Gunner

Sgt W. Smith

RAFVR

Air Gunner

 Gerald Thomas passed away after heart surgery in 1996 at Bexhill-on-Sea, Sussex. Further reading on some of his crew can be found in the article, Through the Bombsight.

Gerald Thomas, Torquay 1942

 

Photo courtesy of Dennis Thomas, research by Linda Ibrom.