He sacrificed himself

On the 22nd October 1943, P/O Phil Taverner and his crew took off on their third operation to Kassel.
Sadly, it was to be their last.


Ed Norman, the 49Sqn Archivist, continues the story as his father was a crew member of Lancaster JB413.

"Earle Parker, the lanky RAAF rear gunner had already been killed on the first pass of the nightfighter and so, with the mid-upper's ammunition exploding inside all around them and the engines on fire, it became apparent that they would not make it home.  Phil ordered the bale-out.

Bob Drinnan (Bomb Aimer) opened the door beneath him and dropped out. It was his job to do just that. Bill Kemp (Flight Engineer) clipped Phil 's parachute to him before donning his own and followed Bob, closely followed by Ivan Spence (Navigator) and Ron Norman (my dad) who was the wireless operator.

Earlier, they had had to close the door between them and Newton Dunbabin (Mid-Upper) and his exploding ordnance. Newton had been forced to drop out of his sling seat and head for the rear side door. This was a 'dodgy' place to exit as it was all-too-easy to strike the rear fins on the way out.

While all this was going on, Phil held the Lancaster straight and level, giving his crew time to bale-out. Like many, my father was dazed when his canopy opened as the cover struck him in the face but came to in time to see his flaming aircraft dive to the ground.

It is unknown why Phil did not succeed in getting out in time. I owe Phil a huge debt of gratitude for my father's life, and hence mine; and I wrote those sentiments on the poppies laid at his grave."

The following pictures were taken in July 2014 at the Hannover War Cemetery where Ed and his wife laid their poppies.

The photographs, taken by Jan Norman, show Ed at the grave of pilot Phil Taverner.