Ted Swales - Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

In 1945, whilst still with the RAF Pathfinders (No. 582 Squadron), Swales was the Master Bomber and captain of Avro Lancaster, B MkIII (No. PB538 60M). On 23 February 1945, the very same day as his D.F.C. award was Gazetted, Swales led the bombing raid on Pforzheim, Germany (not far from Karlsruhe and the Rhine River), where 17.600 civilians were killed in 22 minutes.

The 'sortie', his 43rd operational flight, consisted of 367 Lancasters supported by 13 Mosquitos. The marking and bombing, from only 8,000 feet, were particularly accurate and damage of a most severe nature was inflicted on Pforzheim: 1,825 tons of bombs were dropped in only 22 minutes. The post-war British Bombing Survey Unit estimated that 83% of the town's built-up area was destroyed, probably the greatest proportion in any one raid during the war. Ten Lancasters were lost that night and two more crashed in France

Swales' aircraft was attacked by an Me110 whose fire shattered one engine and holed the fuel tanks. They were attacked again by the same fighter which knocked out a second engine. Swales decided to make if not England then friendly territory. The weather closed in and he ordered the crew to bail out. He attempted to put down but his Lancaster stalled and crashed near Valenciennes, west of Prouvy, two miles, 3 km, SSE of Denain in northern France killing him. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross – the 3rd and last Pathfinder pilot to be so honoured. All had been posthumous.

Read more about this topic:  Ted Swales

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