Preparation
  Pilot Officer Floyd Wile - 617 Squadron  
 

Pilot Officer Floyd Wile - RCAF

 
 Pilot Officer Floyd Wile was serving as Navigator on board Lancaster Mk.III ED-864 coded AJ-B during Operation Chastise on May 16/17, 1943. The aircraft left Scampton at 2159 hours as part of the final section of the first wave of Operation Chastise to bomb the Mohne Dam.

 Along with Pilot Officer Knight and Squadron Leader Maudslay and crews, they proceeded into Germany. The other two crews altered course but F/L Astell became slightly off course and on reaching a canal crossing, which was actually the correct place, turned South down the canal as though to search for the correct position. ED864 crashed into a high-tension mast carrying 1000,000-volt wires, bursting into flames and crashing into fields behind some farmhouses; itís bomb on fire, rolled onwards before exploding. At the same time machine guns continued to fire into the burning aircraft. Eyewitnesses who ran to the crash scene were unable to get close owing to the ammunition still discharging. A very deep bomb crater about 12 meters wide was left. Many buildings nearby had roofs torn off and windows smashed but miraculously a statue of St.Joseph holding the baby Jesus, on the edge of the crater remained untouched. A memorial stone and plaque lie as a permanent memorial to Flight Lieutenant Astell and his crew.

 The crew consisted of:

Name

Service

Trade

Hometown

Age

F/L William Astell - DFC

RAFVR

Pilot

Manchester

21

Sgt. John Kinnear

RAFVR

Flight Engineer

East Newport, Fife

21

P/O Floyd Wile

RCAF

Navigator

Truro, Nova Scotia

24

F/O Don Hopkinson RAFVR Bomb Aimer Royton, Lancs.

22

Sgt. Abram Garshowitz

RCAF

W/Op/AG

Hamilton, Ontario

20

F/Sgt Francis Garbas

RCAF

Front Gunner

Hamilton, Ontario

20

Sgt Richard Bolitho

RAFVR

Rear Gunner

Londonderry, N. Ireland

23

 All of the crew lie in Reichswald Forest War Cemetary.

 Pilot Officer Floyd Wile RCAF was born in 1919 in Scotch village, Nova Scotia, the son of Harris and Annabelle Wile. He had six siblings, Arnold, Ada, Leslie, Dorothy, Raymond (served overseas with the Princess Louise Fusiliers in Italy) and Donald.

 After he left high school he worked in farming and the lumbar business. A keen sportsman, he enjoyed skiing, skating and swimming. He attended No 5 Initial Training School and No 8 Air Observer School and was noted for being very quiet and hard working. By the time he had attended No 9 Bombing and Gunnery school he had gained in confidence and was commended as outstanding by his commanding officer. After graduating from No 2 Air Navigation School in 1941, he was commissioned as a Pilot Officer and left 1654 HCU Wigsley in December 1942. Posted to 9 Squadron at Waddington, Floyd and the rest of the crew were piloted by Sergeant M.W.Stephenson, who it is believed to have been killed acting as Flight Engineer on a raid to Duisberg on 8/9th January 1943. Floyd and the rest of the crew were to fly their first op.with Flight Lieutenant Astell on the 25th of January 1943.

 

The Original Crew. L to R (front) A. Garshowitz, R.Bolitho (Back) F.Wile, M.Stephenson, D. Hopkinson

 

 

 
  Photos courtesy of Donald Lightbody, research by Linda Ibrom.