The for­got­ten bomber

Hum­ble hero’s story is told at last in book hon­our­ing vet­er­ans

Sunday Mail (UK) - - The Judge - Jim and Gary

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

GOOD FRIENDS

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