49 Squadron Awards
FRIEND OR FOE?
P/O John Sanders (JB473) and crew were attacked by an enemy fighter shortly after crossing the enemy coast. The aircraft received numerous hits, but the crew decided to press on. During the approach to the target they were on the receiving end of a burst of fire from what appeared to be, an over-enthusiastic Lancaster gunner!
The friendly tracer caused severe damage making large holes in the fuselage, rudder and elevator, setting fire to U-Uncle, just forward of the rear turret. The pilot and flight engineer Tom Nutley, desperately fought for control of the plunging aircraft. In the rear both gunners, Ralph Briars and Roy Machin with the help of the wireless operator Arthur Ward managed to put out the flames as bullets exploded all around them.
Despite this damage and with the inter-com rendered u/s, the crew pressed on and bombed the target. It was a very battered Lancaster that brought the crew safely back to Fiskerton. The skipper commended his crew for their prompt action and 'perfect discipline' under trying circumstances.
P/O John Alfred Sanders aged 25, who hailed from Birmingham, received an immediate DFC for his actions; Sgts Briars, Machin and Ward all received immediate DFM's.
The crew transferred to 617 Squadron the following month, where they completed a distinguished tour of operations.