Personnel Index - Detail

First Names
William Clifford
Flight Sergeant later Flight Lieutenant
Service Number
Crew Position
Posting In
Posted in 6/42 and out 3/43


Awarded the DFM.

Flew 27 operations with 49Sqn.

49Sqn Association

March 1943, Flight Sgt Bill Townsend and his crew were nearing the end of a tour, which would bring the 22 year old pilot a well earned DFM.

He was posted to 617 Squadron and took part in and survived the famous Dambusters raid (see below for more details.

Image located by Ashley Hales

Pilot and Captain of Lancaster AJ-O, he attacked the Ennepe Dam. Transferring to the RAF from the Army in 1941, Bill Townsend served a tour as a pilot with 49 Squadron, before joining 617 Squadron, at the time a Flight Sergeant.

As part of 617 Squadron Bill Townsend flew Lancaster ED-886 codenamed AJ – O for Orange in the famous dambuster raid of May 1943. Flight Sergeant Townsend flew his bomber and crew in the third wave of the famous raid. After the first two dams (Mohne and Eder) were breached, O for Orange was tasked to attack the Ennepe dam. With no anti-aircraft firing at them, they had time to do three trial runs before they released their bomb, but it failed to damage the dam.

Forced to fly back at tree top level by enemy action, his Lancaster was the last to return. It limped home short of one engine. He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courageous actions in the raid. Bill Townsend was later promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

He had been a pupil at Monmouth and after the war studied at Lincoln College, Oxford. He became a business man and a civil servant after his studies.

FLt/Lt Townsend passed away in April 1991, there with a flypast by 617 Tornadoes at his cremation on the 15th April 1991.

Details from the Cranston Fine Arts website.

"Posted out" 1991.