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Waldo.Pepper
03-23-2005, 02:04 PM
The Gunners Tale. (2 of them actually)

Long read (by Internet standards) but a good one. From the book Guns in the Sky by Chaz Bowyer.

Page 102-103

If Flight Sergeant John Vivash, a mid-upper gunner in a Halifax of 466 Squadron, RAAF, had any thoughts about his parachute, they were probably similar to most aircrews' thoughts on that subject; a deeply felt hope that he would never need to use it, but if he did, a fervent wish that the thing would hold his weight for the 'big drop'. The chunky Australian's wish was amply fulfilled on the night of 4 November 1944. Piloted by a fellow Australian, Flight Lieutenant Joe Herman, Vivash's aircraft left base at Driffield that evening, bound for Bochum in the Ruhr. Twice on the approach to their target the crew had suffered searchlight coning yet managed to evade punishment from the German flak due to Joe Herman's skilful maneuvering. Running into a fierce barrage of flak soon after, Herman experienced a strong premonition of imminent trouble, .and called up each crew member, suggesting that they should clip on their parachute packs; thought the tall Queenslander was too occupied 'up front' to follow his own advice for the moment.

The bombing run itself went smoothly, all bombs were released over the objective, and Herman thankfully turned westwards to start the return leg, out of the menacing flak and searchlight defense belts. Once on course for home he gently let down from 18,000 feet to 10,000 feet in accordance with his pre-briefing instructions, but had hardly begun his gentle descent when the Halifax shuddered violently - hit by flak in the fuselage just behind the wing's rear spar. Instinctively, based on long experience, Herman immediately swung his aircraft to port, but was hit twice more, in the wings. Both wing fuel tanks were ruptured and within seconds the Halifax was afire along its whole wingspan. Realizing that it could only be minutes at most before the aircraft fell apart, the pilot yelled 'Bale out, bale out' over the intercom; meanwhile holding the stricken bomber as steady as possible to let his crew get away safely. In the mid-upper turret 'Irish' Vivash (his unlikely nickname in the crew) had suffered a shard of flak deep in one leg, and painfully wormed his way out of his turret. Finally inside the fuselage Vivash started crawling forward towards the escape hatch, noticing his pilot leaving his seat to find his own 'chute, stowed in the flight engineer's crew station. At that moment the Halifax's starboard wing folded back with a blinding flash of burning petrol the bomber flicked onto its back and then began to spin down.

The explosion of the wing root was the last Vivash remembered; his next conscious memory was feeling a draught of cold air on his face and a not unpleasant sensation of falling. He had no recollection of operating his ripcord, yet above his head the silken canopy was fully' deployed, swinging him in long gentle arcs through the black air. Suddenly the seesaw swinging motion abruptly stopped and he realized he was falling straight down, still supported by his parachute, but with a puzzling heavy feeling in his legs. Reaching down with one hand Vivash had a shock - he was not alone! Remarkably calm in such circumstances, Vivash later recalled his exact reactions. Firstly he called, 'Is there anyone else around here?' A voice he recognized replied, 'Yes. Me. I'm here, hanging on to you.' 'Is that you, Joe?' queried Vivash. 'Yes, but I haven't got a 'chute, Irish. I seem to have bumped into you on my way down.'

The explosion in the Halifax had blown Herman and Vivash clear, but while the gunner had his parachute deploy and begin to carry him safely down, Herman had no 'chute. Falling from some 17,000 feet, the pilot was conscious but resigned to death, when by an astounding fluke of coincidence he had bumped into Vivash as the latter reached the top of one swinging arc of his original descent. Sheer unconscious reflex action made Herman wrap his arms around the 'object' he'd collided with - Vivash's legs. Both men were descending on one parachute. Minutes later Herman saw some treetops rushing up towards him and had just time to yell a warning. Then he thudded onto the ground, and Vivash landed heavily on top of his pilot.

Once both men had recovered their breath and senses, Herman realized that his gunner's weight had broken two of his ribs, but apart from a tattered uniform and many cuts, slashes and bruises, he was otherwise intact - and amazingly, alive. Turning to his inadvertent 'savior' Vivash, Herman ripped up strips of parachute silk and bound the gunner's leg wounds; then both men began planning how best to evade capture. Four days later, when well en route to Holland, they were made prisoners. Both men survived the war and returned to their native Australia,



Second one from same book Pages 78-80.

Born in 1874, in the next 70 years 'Sos'‚∑ Cohen packed more adventure and hazard into one man's life than any 20 men picked at random from any crowd. The long pathway to an air gunner's seat started in Cohen's adolescence. The son of a Newcastle-upon-Tyne ship-owner, he was raised in London and on leaving school took ship to South Africa where, in 1893, he enlisted as a trooper and fought in the Matabele wars. An inveterate 'hobo', Sos traveled around the African continent extensively until the advent of the Boer War, when he promptly re-enlisted as a sort of Intelligence commando. In this, his second war, he hunted Boers - who put a high price on his head, dead or alive - in the raw country bordering Mozambique. After the war Sos stayed in South Africa, as one of the first owners of the Rand Daily Mail. Just one of his chores here was to dismiss an English journalist then employed by the paper named Edgar Wallace. His fortunes prospered on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and in his spare time Sos tasted new adventure by taking up ballooning. Then came a financial crash, Sos lost his fortune, and was duly 'hammered' by the Exchange. Refusing all offers of help, Sos went to work in a gold mine, escaped death by a hairsbreadth when a roof fall nearly buried him alive but left him with nothing more serious than a sprained ankle, and within a week heard that England was at war again, with Germany.

Without hesitation 50S re-enlisted, again as a trooper, alongside the very men he had fought only a dozen year before, and in 1915 was commissioned in the 1st South Africa Horse. After a year of action against German forces, Sos heard that the tiny detachment of Royal :Naval Air Service assisting Smut's armies needed observer with intimate knowledge of the African bush, and promptly volunteered. For much of 1916 he flew on reconnaissance patrols in the RNAS' ancient BE2c , Voisins and Farman, gathering information: while other 'air' duties included construction of suitable landing trips for the fragile aircraft in the untamed, red dust country. The latter year of the war were spent on the ground, as part of an armed Intelligence formation, 'Co-Force', and when peace was eventually declared, Sos had collected DSO, MC and three 'Mentioned in Dispatches' awards for his services.

The 'peace' years for Sos were filled with more mining activities , interspersed with big-game safari, but he finally returned to England in 1926 to take up an appointment on the London Stock Exchange. In 1937 Sos, and some ex-RAF contemporaries, originated the idea of a voluntary service of older aircrews which would be immediately be available for service in the event of any European war embroiling Britain: thus, when war did erupt in September 1939, Sos immediately reminded the Air :Ministry of his existing commission in the RAFVR and, despite hi age of 64, insisted on his 'right" to join up again. He was accepted and appointed to a staff job with Coastal Command Headquarter.

If higher authority had any thought of patronizing Sos by permitting an old-age pensioner, however much be medalled, to sit out his fourth war behind a 'mahogany bomber' RAF parlance for a desk, it was sadly mistaken. Wangling an appointment a 'Liaison Officer', Sos then proceeded to argue that the only authentic method of gaining real knowledge of Coastal Command' aircrew' problem was to join with them on the operational scene, and see for himself, first-hand, how to overcome any obstacle to ultimate efficiency. Thus ,for nearly four years, Sos Cohen 'tagged on' to a variety of operational crews', flying in Lockheed Hudson, Catalina‚‚ā¨ôs, Liberator and Halifax‚‚ā¨ôs; enduring the long hours of squatting behind his gun, cramped near-frozen on many occasions. On one Liberator sortie well up into the Arctic Circle, around Bear Island, the aircraft heating system went 'on the blink', but Sos insisted on doing his full stint in his turret, and on landing back at Reykjavik it took two other crew members to pry his stiffened bones out from his seat. He flew in a Sunderland which attacked a u-Boat repeatedly and finally claimed it sunk; endured a 21-hour Catalina patrol; was wounded by flak during a close attack on the German battle hip Lutzow.'. And his penultimate sortie was a rear gunner in a Halifax which "was hit by flak during an attack on an enemy convoy and had it hydraulics shot out and one engine set afire. He walked away from the subsequent crash-landing unscathed, and shortly after flew his last - sixty-ninth - operational sortie.

On I February 1944 the London Gazette announced the award of a DFC to Wing Commander L. F. W. Cohen, DS0, MC, and its citation diplomatically referred to his age as 58. A few day later to celebrated the award - and his Seventieth birthday ... In August t 1960 Sos died peacefully at the age of 86 - it had been a 'very full life.'

Waldo.Pepper
03-23-2005, 02:04 PM
The Gunners Tale. (2 of them actually)

Long read (by Internet standards) but a good one. From the book Guns in the Sky by Chaz Bowyer.

Page 102-103

If Flight Sergeant John Vivash, a mid-upper gunner in a Halifax of 466 Squadron, RAAF, had any thoughts about his parachute, they were probably similar to most aircrews' thoughts on that subject; a deeply felt hope that he would never need to use it, but if he did, a fervent wish that the thing would hold his weight for the 'big drop'. The chunky Australian's wish was amply fulfilled on the night of 4 November 1944. Piloted by a fellow Australian, Flight Lieutenant Joe Herman, Vivash's aircraft left base at Driffield that evening, bound for Bochum in the Ruhr. Twice on the approach to their target the crew had suffered searchlight coning yet managed to evade punishment from the German flak due to Joe Herman's skilful maneuvering. Running into a fierce barrage of flak soon after, Herman experienced a strong premonition of imminent trouble, .and called up each crew member, suggesting that they should clip on their parachute packs; thought the tall Queenslander was too occupied 'up front' to follow his own advice for the moment.

The bombing run itself went smoothly, all bombs were released over the objective, and Herman thankfully turned westwards to start the return leg, out of the menacing flak and searchlight defense belts. Once on course for home he gently let down from 18,000 feet to 10,000 feet in accordance with his pre-briefing instructions, but had hardly begun his gentle descent when the Halifax shuddered violently - hit by flak in the fuselage just behind the wing's rear spar. Instinctively, based on long experience, Herman immediately swung his aircraft to port, but was hit twice more, in the wings. Both wing fuel tanks were ruptured and within seconds the Halifax was afire along its whole wingspan. Realizing that it could only be minutes at most before the aircraft fell apart, the pilot yelled 'Bale out, bale out' over the intercom; meanwhile holding the stricken bomber as steady as possible to let his crew get away safely. In the mid-upper turret 'Irish' Vivash (his unlikely nickname in the crew) had suffered a shard of flak deep in one leg, and painfully wormed his way out of his turret. Finally inside the fuselage Vivash started crawling forward towards the escape hatch, noticing his pilot leaving his seat to find his own 'chute, stowed in the flight engineer's crew station. At that moment the Halifax's starboard wing folded back with a blinding flash of burning petrol the bomber flicked onto its back and then began to spin down.

The explosion of the wing root was the last Vivash remembered; his next conscious memory was feeling a draught of cold air on his face and a not unpleasant sensation of falling. He had no recollection of operating his ripcord, yet above his head the silken canopy was fully' deployed, swinging him in long gentle arcs through the black air. Suddenly the seesaw swinging motion abruptly stopped and he realized he was falling straight down, still supported by his parachute, but with a puzzling heavy feeling in his legs. Reaching down with one hand Vivash had a shock - he was not alone! Remarkably calm in such circumstances, Vivash later recalled his exact reactions. Firstly he called, 'Is there anyone else around here?' A voice he recognized replied, 'Yes. Me. I'm here, hanging on to you.' 'Is that you, Joe?' queried Vivash. 'Yes, but I haven't got a 'chute, Irish. I seem to have bumped into you on my way down.'

The explosion in the Halifax had blown Herman and Vivash clear, but while the gunner had his parachute deploy and begin to carry him safely down, Herman had no 'chute. Falling from some 17,000 feet, the pilot was conscious but resigned to death, when by an astounding fluke of coincidence he had bumped into Vivash as the latter reached the top of one swinging arc of his original descent. Sheer unconscious reflex action made Herman wrap his arms around the 'object' he'd collided with - Vivash's legs. Both men were descending on one parachute. Minutes later Herman saw some treetops rushing up towards him and had just time to yell a warning. Then he thudded onto the ground, and Vivash landed heavily on top of his pilot.

Once both men had recovered their breath and senses, Herman realized that his gunner's weight had broken two of his ribs, but apart from a tattered uniform and many cuts, slashes and bruises, he was otherwise intact - and amazingly, alive. Turning to his inadvertent 'savior' Vivash, Herman ripped up strips of parachute silk and bound the gunner's leg wounds; then both men began planning how best to evade capture. Four days later, when well en route to Holland, they were made prisoners. Both men survived the war and returned to their native Australia,



Second one from same book Pages 78-80.

Born in 1874, in the next 70 years 'Sos'‚∑ Cohen packed more adventure and hazard into one man's life than any 20 men picked at random from any crowd. The long pathway to an air gunner's seat started in Cohen's adolescence. The son of a Newcastle-upon-Tyne ship-owner, he was raised in London and on leaving school took ship to South Africa where, in 1893, he enlisted as a trooper and fought in the Matabele wars. An inveterate 'hobo', Sos traveled around the African continent extensively until the advent of the Boer War, when he promptly re-enlisted as a sort of Intelligence commando. In this, his second war, he hunted Boers - who put a high price on his head, dead or alive - in the raw country bordering Mozambique. After the war Sos stayed in South Africa, as one of the first owners of the Rand Daily Mail. Just one of his chores here was to dismiss an English journalist then employed by the paper named Edgar Wallace. His fortunes prospered on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and in his spare time Sos tasted new adventure by taking up ballooning. Then came a financial crash, Sos lost his fortune, and was duly 'hammered' by the Exchange. Refusing all offers of help, Sos went to work in a gold mine, escaped death by a hairsbreadth when a roof fall nearly buried him alive but left him with nothing more serious than a sprained ankle, and within a week heard that England was at war again, with Germany.

Without hesitation 50S re-enlisted, again as a trooper, alongside the very men he had fought only a dozen year before, and in 1915 was commissioned in the 1st South Africa Horse. After a year of action against German forces, Sos heard that the tiny detachment of Royal :Naval Air Service assisting Smut's armies needed observer with intimate knowledge of the African bush, and promptly volunteered. For much of 1916 he flew on reconnaissance patrols in the RNAS' ancient BE2c , Voisins and Farman, gathering information: while other 'air' duties included construction of suitable landing trips for the fragile aircraft in the untamed, red dust country. The latter year of the war were spent on the ground, as part of an armed Intelligence formation, 'Co-Force', and when peace was eventually declared, Sos had collected DSO, MC and three 'Mentioned in Dispatches' awards for his services.

The 'peace' years for Sos were filled with more mining activities , interspersed with big-game safari, but he finally returned to England in 1926 to take up an appointment on the London Stock Exchange. In 1937 Sos, and some ex-RAF contemporaries, originated the idea of a voluntary service of older aircrews which would be immediately be available for service in the event of any European war embroiling Britain: thus, when war did erupt in September 1939, Sos immediately reminded the Air :Ministry of his existing commission in the RAFVR and, despite hi age of 64, insisted on his 'right" to join up again. He was accepted and appointed to a staff job with Coastal Command Headquarter.

If higher authority had any thought of patronizing Sos by permitting an old-age pensioner, however much be medalled, to sit out his fourth war behind a 'mahogany bomber' RAF parlance for a desk, it was sadly mistaken. Wangling an appointment a 'Liaison Officer', Sos then proceeded to argue that the only authentic method of gaining real knowledge of Coastal Command' aircrew' problem was to join with them on the operational scene, and see for himself, first-hand, how to overcome any obstacle to ultimate efficiency. Thus ,for nearly four years, Sos Cohen 'tagged on' to a variety of operational crews', flying in Lockheed Hudson, Catalina‚‚ā¨ôs, Liberator and Halifax‚‚ā¨ôs; enduring the long hours of squatting behind his gun, cramped near-frozen on many occasions. On one Liberator sortie well up into the Arctic Circle, around Bear Island, the aircraft heating system went 'on the blink', but Sos insisted on doing his full stint in his turret, and on landing back at Reykjavik it took two other crew members to pry his stiffened bones out from his seat. He flew in a Sunderland which attacked a u-Boat repeatedly and finally claimed it sunk; endured a 21-hour Catalina patrol; was wounded by flak during a close attack on the German battle hip Lutzow.'. And his penultimate sortie was a rear gunner in a Halifax which "was hit by flak during an attack on an enemy convoy and had it hydraulics shot out and one engine set afire. He walked away from the subsequent crash-landing unscathed, and shortly after flew his last - sixty-ninth - operational sortie.

On I February 1944 the London Gazette announced the award of a DFC to Wing Commander L. F. W. Cohen, DS0, MC, and its citation diplomatically referred to his age as 58. A few day later to celebrated the award - and his Seventieth birthday ... In August t 1960 Sos died peacefully at the age of 86 - it had been a 'very full life.'

Tooz_69GIAP
03-23-2005, 02:39 PM
I hope I will be as capable when I get to 70!!!

UKPsycho
03-24-2005, 01:17 PM
Thanks for posting those!
Fantastic how things happen, eh! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Cheers
UKPsycho

ednavar
03-24-2005, 01:31 PM
Thanks for the posting Waldo, really fascinating.

E.