Personnel Index - Detail

First Names
John William
Service Number
Crew Position
Wireless Operator
Posting In
Posting Out


Flew 28 operations with 49Sqn (mostly as a mid upper gunner).

Killed on 17th May 1943 whilst flying with 617Sqn on the Dambusters Raid.

He is buried in the Rheinberg War Cemetery.


Photographed by Dom Howard


Extract is from Bill Chorley's Bomber Command Losses

49Sqn Association

More details of this incident are given below (from The Dog at War by John Ward):

On the morning of Monday 17th May 1943, the world learnt of the dramatic attack by 617 Squadron on the Ruhr dams theprevious evening. Whilst not wishing to describe in detail the exploits of 617 in a book concerning 49 Squadron, mention must be made of Sgt John William Minchin.

John was posted to 49 Squadron at Scampton during October 1941: as a wireless operator on the squadron, he completed a full tour in Hampdens and Manchesters. He participated in 49's last Hampden sortie as a member of Bob Hamer's (AT227) crew and also took part in 49's first Manchester operation in P/O Shakleton's R5771. After a spell at 26 OTU, he returned to Scampton in April 1943 as a member of the new 617 Squadron.

As a wireless operator on F/Lt John Hopgood's crew during the night of the dams raid, Minchin was badly wounded in the leg when M-Mother was hit by flak en-route to the Möhne Dam. Sgt Minchin sat for almost an hour at his radio set nursing this terrible injury before the target was reached.

M-Mother, the second aircraft to attack, was severely hit by ack-ack on the run-in and set on fire. The bomb was released but hit the parapet wall and exploded. F/Lt Hopgood struggled valiantly to keep his blazing aircraft airborne in order for the crew to bale out. Tony Burcher evacuated his rear turret and made for the crew door. There he was confronted by the pained face of John Minchin, who had dragged himself the length of the fuselage, his leg almost severed.

All Burcher could do to help his comrade was to clip on Minchin's parachute and push him out into the darkness, pulling his D-ring in the process. The Lancaster crashed 3 miles to the north-west of the dam and exploded in flames. Just two members of the crew survived; bomb aimer P/O Fraser RCAF and the gallant F/O Anthony Burcher RAAF.

Sadly, John Minchin along with four of his fellow crew members did not survive....... a very tragic end for a very brave band of men.