Flight Lieutenant Chandler's service after 49 Squadron
This is a follow up page detailing the career of former Sgt Chan Chandler following his departure from 49Sqn.
Chan's first operation with 617Sqn was on the 11th November 1943 when the target was the Antheor Viaduct in the south of France.
This was the second of three unsuccessful attempts to destroy the viaduct.
F/Lt E.B. ‘Chan’ Chandler aged 24 in 1945.
In April 1944, Chan and six other air force crew were awarded the Soviet Medal for Valour. At that time a total of 90 orders and medals were decreed for Commonwealth forces: Navy, Army and Air. Thirty awards were granted for each of the three forces. Seven of these were SMVs in each force.
Soviet approval for these awards shown above, E.B. Chandler is the marked line 1 of the upper list.
Image courtesy of Calvin Sikstrom – son-in-law of F/Lt. Douglas Barber SMV who flew with 226, 110 and 180 squadrons. (Highlighted line 2)
The 617 Squadron Log for 9th April 1944 reads "Notification received that 122814 F/O E.B. Chandler DFC A/G awarded Soviet Medal for Valour". The awards were officially announced on 11th.
The above shows how the awards filtered down to squadron level showing Chan’s SMV recommendation.
Judging by the number of sorties mentioned it would seem that the process began sometime in December 1943 (by the time of the announcement Chan’s tally was up to 84 – the run up to D-Day was clearly a busy period).
The announcements for these awards were published, without commendations, in the London Gazette on 11 April 1944.
29th Aug 1944 The whole squadron was on parade for the presentation by the RAF's Senior Air Staff Officer...... possibly Air Vice Marshal W B Callaway.
Unfortunately, Chan was not allowed to attend the official ceremony at the Soviet Embassy.
It is interesting to note that Chan always said that he was awarded the medal for, "staying alive".
It is unclear exactly why Chan was awarded the medal, but the Russian Decree includes actions supporting the fight against Hitlerite Germany in North Africa and Italy. Four others who received the same medal, reference actions to protect Murmansk convoy re-supply from submarines - protected in submarine pens that were bombed on 617 Squadron sorties. Chan also took part in attacks on La Spezia - a critical naval/U-boat repair base in northwest Italy.
It may also be that he was a symbol of the support given by the RAF to the Soviet war effort considering his long service support (81 missions at the time of the Decree), and early ditching and subsequent 9 day ordeal in the North Sea.
We believe this is Chan's Lancaster at 617Sqn....unfortunately, no markings are visible.
Chan completed his tour of 31 operations with 617Sqn, including five raids on the V-3 supergun site.
His last operation was to St Pol on the 25th June 1944.
Recommendation for Bar to Chan’s DFC signed by Group Captain ‘Monty’ Philpott, Commanding Officer RAF Woodhall Spa.
The Bar to Chan’s DFC was approved in October 1944. An announcement was made in the Sussex Express as shown above left alongside congratulatory ‘postagram’ from then Wing Commander (later Group Captain) James Brian "Willie" Tait 617 squadron commander.
Chan eventually reached the Aircrew Disposal Centre at RAF Kinloss and remained there until March 1945. Chan was then posted to No:1 FPU (Film Photographic Unit) at Pinewood Studios where almost immediately he received a letter from Buckingham Palace.
On the 6th March 1945 he was presented with his earlier DFC and recent Bar at the same ceremony. This double award meant that he was first in line, in front of several much more senior officers.
Chan and family outside Buckingham Palace.
Chan's DFC & Bar is LHS.
On completion of his cameraman course, his first job (13th April 1945) was to film fuel being delivered to tanks on the front line.
A Dakota filled with cans of fuel is unloaded at Limburg, near the front line.
Once the fuel was unloaded, the Dakato returned with recently released PoWs from Stalag 12A at Limburg.
Chan managed to borrow a jeep and visit the camp, taking these photographs.
On the 24th April 1945, Chan was a cameraman onboard a 514Sqn Lancaster involved in Operation Manna.
In early May 1945 he accompanied troops engaged in Operation Doomsday, the Allied 'invasion' of Norway.
1st Airborne Division departing for Norway. Chan was tasked to photograph the provision of supplies to the local resistance.
He returned to the UK on the 18th May 1945.
In June 1945 he returned to Norway and a few days later flew to Copenhagen to photograph the results of the Mosquito raid on Gestapo Headquarters. To please their Norwegian hosts, they brought back as many eggs as they could carry. Unfortunately, all the eggs were smashed in a traffic accident back in Oslo and Chan's hand was injured.
Chan, with the injured hand and (we believe) Norwegian resistance leader Torloff Torlefsen.
15th June 1945 Chan stands on the capsized hull of the Turpitz in Tromso Fjord.
This final photograph was taken at some point during an expedition to film the Tirpitz.
They borrowed a Sunderland flying boat with a Norwegian crew (possibly pictured here).
Torloff Torlefsen is enjoying a drink.
After attempting to fly to Berlin, Chan's final logbook entry is shown below.
So ended the RAF career of Chan Chandler.
In November 1986 the 617 Squadron Association of which Chan was keen member, proposed the building of a memorial to the squadron in the centre of Woodhall Spa village. Unable to make much of a financial contribution himself, Chan took the difficult decision to put his medals up for auction at Sotherby’s. At the time this attracted a lot of media attention. On the morning of the sale, Chan appeared on BBC ‘Breakfast Television’. By chance, the philanthropist John Paul Getty Jnr happened to be watching. After the Chan’s TV interview, Mr Getty telephoned Sotherby’s offering to fund the entire memorial allowing Chan to keep his precious awards.
Chan pictured at the 617Sqn memorial unveiling ceremony 17th May 1987.
Chan Chandler with his niece, Sarah Wenger.......photographed in 1991 in Switzerland.
Posted out..........17th April 1995
Chan's book........ISBN 1-84037-051-3 / 1-84037-344-X
Airlife Publishing Ltd