The forgotten bomber
Humble hero’s story is told at last in book honouring veterans
His 46 missions with Bomber Command during World War II should have made Jim Latimer a legend.
The 93-year-old’s life story could have come straight from the pages of Boy’s Own magazine. But the modest former RAF Warrant Officer’s story has remained largely unknown.
Now, thanks to author Gary Bridson-Daley, Jim’s wartime heroics have at last been given the attention they deserve.
The Edinburgh-born air bomber is one of 42 World War II veterans interviewed by Gary for his book The Last Heroes, published just in time for Remembrance Sunday.
The author, who has known Jim for 14 years, was unaware of his friend and neighbour’s wartime exploits until he started doing research for his book.
Gary, 49, who spent three years collecting the voices of Britain’s last war heroes, said: “Jim and his wife Jean live a few streets away from me in Manchester and we go to the same church.
“I knew Jim had fought in the war, as he wears his medals with pride to the Remembrance Sunday service each year.
“But I had no idea how great his achievements were until I spoke to him for the book. To discover that during his time in service with the RAF he undertook a staggering 46 missions as a bomb aimer on Halifaxes just about floored me.”
Jim’s dangerous raids over France, Holland and Germany with 102 Squadron helped Britain to victory in the battle of the skies.
The average survival rate for a Bomber Command airman was between five and 10 missions, so to execute and survive nearly 50 was an astonishing feat.
Gary added: “I found it incredible that Jim had been moving among us as a quiet, polite and unassuming veteran who talked very little about the war years.
“To know him and be the only person to have interviewed him about his wartime service makes me feel truly humbled.”
Jim was 18 when he joined the RAF in mid-1942 in Edinburgh. He was sent to Canada to train with the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan.
After graduating as a bomb aimer, he became one of the new recruits replacing the high casualties sustained by Bomber Command in their ongoing offensive sive over Europe.
Jim first went into action with ith 102 Squadron on July 28, 1944, inn a Halifax bomber.
He was involved in air operations to soften d u g - i n G e rma n positions to help Al l ied t roop s , who wer e struggling in the VillersBocage area in Normandy, du r ing the “Bat t le of the Hedgerows”.
Gary, who got the inspiration for his book k while running tours of thehe El Alamein cemeteries in Egypt, E t said: “After the first missions in France, Jim was involved in day and night bombing missions on military targets in many places, such as Eindhoven and multiple targets in German Hamburg, Bonn, Dortmund and “He was also involved in other missions, such as the attacks on pens at Kiel and the infam armament ar works in E Ruhr R Valley, and w many m of ththe 1000-bo JimJim saidsai : “Man happenedppened hap wwhen we w missions,sions, miss as yoyou would “WWe regularlregularly came un attack k of one kkind or a lost a lot of br who werew our “ThreeTh friend really rememberre diffedifferent oper onone occasio go down. “We wewere both o mission anand I saw his we were jusjust over the “HeHewaswas on the starb me and, when I w at his plane, this 190 came right
DECORATEDECORATED The medals Jim won forf hishi WorldWldWWar II service