DFC group to Flying Officer W J Lewis
An exciting medal group awarded to Flying Officer William John Lewis (184716) RAF VR.
The group is as follows:
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC) dated 1945,
India General Service GV clasp Burma 1930-32 (named: 6283192 Pte W.J. LEWIS. THE BUFFS.),
Air Crew Europe Star with France and Germany Bar,
The group comes with some research as well as the Buckingham Palace certificate of issue, named to Flying Officer W J Lewis as well as a newspaper clipping of the award, with the strap line “Caterham Officer Awarded The D.F.C.”
Although difficult to research and at first glance, it would appear odd that this Air Gunner in the RAF should have the IGS and was enlisted in the ‘Buffs’ at that time as a Private. Many ex soldiers re-mustered to the RAF once the war started and due to aircrew losses in Bomber Command, many of the aircrew were much older than you would think. A quick look at the CWG website will reveal aircrew in the mid to late thirties. It is thought that this is the case with William that he joined the army at a young age and then re-mustered for aircrew duties. He joined the RAF in 1943 and was Commissioned in August 1944. He joined as an air gunner, and after training was posted to 10 Squadron who were flying the Handley Page Halifax. He was operational a few months prior to D-Day so was eligible for the Air Crew Europe star, and as he saw service with the squadron after D-Day was also entitled to the France and Germany bar.
He completed 38 sorties with the Squadron as a rear gunner, his first sortie was on the 19th May 1944 to Boulogne. He was involved in a number of sorties to help soften up targets on the coast, including gun batteries and communications sites, prior to D-Day. Squadron operational record entries for June are also included and detail his sorties. The ORB records are available for the Squadron at the National archives and further research can be carried out online.
The above is a list of his operational sorties as a tail gunner
The group also comes with a copy of the DFC medal citation, which states:-
“He has taken part in numerous operational sorties against such heavily defended targets at Stuttgart, Keil and Bittrop, as well as numerous others in enemy occupied territory. He has consistently proved himself to be an outstanding air gunner whose courage, skill and enthusiasm has won him the complete confidence of his crew. In June 1944, shortly after leaving the target at Juvisy, his aircraft was attacked by an Me 109. this officer coolly and accurately advised his captain as to evasive action, brought his guns to bear upon the attacker and opened fire. The enemy fighter burst into flames and crashed to the ground. His Vigilance and coolness on this occasion have been typical of that displayed throughout his tour.”
Letter from Buckingham Palace confirming the award of the DFC
A very nice group, worthy of further research.