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Moose Jaw Times Herald - - OPINION -

Op­er­a­tional Squadron As­sign­ment, 101 Squadron RAF

In 1942, the RAF ran all bomb­ing op­er­a­tions un­der the lead­er­ship of Sir Arthur Har­ris, RAF.

It did not mat­ter if the air­man was a Cana­dian, an Aus­tralian or from any other coun­try, he was as­signed to a bomber squadron need­ing his skills. Har­rower was as­signed to 101 Squadron RAF and sta­tioned at Holme-in­S­pald­ing Moor, East York­shire, the only Cana­dian on his crew.

101 Squadron re­ceived new Lan­caster Bombers about the same time it re­ceived Har­rower. The squadron flew their first sor­tie from Holme-in-Spald­ing Moor on the night of Nov. 20-21, 1942. Har­rower would have been part of this first raid.

101 Squadron RAF op­er­a­tional records for Har­rower

Op­er­a­tional records were notes col­lected by the In­tel­li­gence Of­fi­cer af­ter a Bomb­ing Op­er­a­tion. They con­tain in­for­ma­tion about Flak, ic­ing, the raid and the crew. Re­searchers have posted many of th­ese on the In­ter­net for other re­searchers.

Ac­cord­ing to op­er­a­tional records, on the night of Jan. 21, 1943, Har­rower and crew, fly­ing Lan­caster Mark III, ED374 took off from Holme-in-Spald­ing Moor at 16:05. The tar­get was Es­sen.

“The bomber was car­ry­ing the fol­low­ing bombs; 1 x 4,000 pound, 12 S.B.C.s at 4 pounds each (Small Bomb Con­tain­ers – in­cen­di­ary bombs). Bombs were dropped from 20,000 feet — head­ing was 197 through haze and 3/10th Clouds on E.T.A. — from red warn­ing flair – con­sid­er­able ic­ing — good trip — re­turned at 22:20,” it read.

Har­rower was one of four Bombers from B flight on the raid — two re­turned early be­cause of me­chan­i­cal prob­lems.

The crash of Lan­caster ED374, SR-Z Feb. 16-17, 1943

Ac­cord­ing to Squadron 101 RAF op­er­a­tional notes: “Feb. 16-17, 1943, B flight con­sist­ing of seven bombers took off for their tar­get at Lori­ent, France, the huge NAZI Kero­man Sub­ma­rine Base at Lori­ent, France, a base vi­tal to the en­emy.”

Lan­caster ED374 left Holme on Spald­ing Moor at 18.30, and was over the tar­get by 20.50 at an al­ti­tude of 11,000. This was Op­er­a­tional Flight 22 (Sor­tie) for Har­rower, quite an ac­com­plish­ment con­sid­er­ing the bomber command loss rate of about 50%.

All air­craft re­turned from the Op­er­a­tion but there was a prob­lem. Har­rower, pilot of Lan­caster ED374, Code SR-Z, had his con­trols badly dam­aged by flak over tar­get and when try­ing to land, crashed just be­fore the run­way. The air­craft caught fire but six of the crew got out un­aided. The flight engineer needed help be­ing ex­tracted, and this was done so by RAF per­son­nel on the ground led by Squadron Leader G.W.O. Fisher.

Based on in­for­ma­tion ob­tained later by an East York­shire re­searcher, Har­rower’s Lan­caster was hit by a heavy bomb from an air­craft fly­ing above his. The re­sults are agreed – the con­trols were dam­aged. The rud­der and el­e­va­tor con­trols did not work prop­erly.

Har­rower was able to nurse the bomber back to the RAF Sta­tion at Holme on Spald­ing Moor. It would be one ap­proach, and one ap­proach only. The air­craft con­trols were too badly dam­aged for a go-around.

Har­rower made his ap­proach to the run­way at 01:10. He didn’t make it. The big air­craft landed just short of the run­way, but close to a dis­per­sal area.

As it skid­ded down short of the run­way, it slid to a stop. There was a pause, and then the dam­age Lan­caster caught fire. Six of the seven-man crew made it out on their own.

The men hur­ried out of the burn­ing air­craft. Flight Engineer W.W. Hughes, who had bro­ken his fe­mur, had made it up onto the pilot’s seat and half­way out the pilot’s win­dow on the left or port side of the Lan­caster but could go no fur­ther. The in­jury was se­vere and painful. Res­cuers found him hang­ing out the win­dow.

The in­jured crew­men were Hughes and Har­rower. The oth­ers es­caped in­jury.

Har­rower was awarded the Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross for the events on the night of Feb. 16-17, 1943. The DFC Ci­ta­tion from the Gazette reads:

“One night in Fe­bru­ary this of­fi­cer’s air­craft was hit by a heavy shell and se­verely dam­aged.

By su­perb air­man­ship he flew the bomber back and ef­fected a mas­terly crash land­ing, caus­ing only mi­nor in­juries to him­self and one mem­ber of the crew.

At all times his devo­tion to duty has been wor­thy of the high­est praise.”

Post Sec­ond World War

Many re­turn­ing air­men had a dif­fi­cult time ad­just­ing to life im­me­di­ately af­ter the war. Pro­grams were avail­able to those in­ter­ested in at­tend­ing univer­sity. Hous­ing was tight — jobs were scarce and ad­just­ment to civil­ian life was dif­fi­cult.

The men who fought in the Sec­ond World War went from home to mil­i­tary life. Their needs were taken care of at home and in the mil­i­tary. Sud­denly they were cast out — on their own, search­ing for a ca­reer, com­pan­ion­ship and a com­pletely dif­fer­ent life.

Har­rower made his way to Van­cou­ver where he set­tled for a few years and con­nected with a woman. He was a printer by trade and must have found some work in the field.

The re­la­tion­ship didn’t flour­ish and Har­rower re­turned with his son to Moose Jaw in 1950. He and his son moved in with his par­ents for a time at their place on Stada­cona Street West.

He set­tled back in the print­ing busi­ness with his dad Ge­orge at the Moose Jaw Print­ing Com­pany where he re­mained and com­pleted his ca­reer.

In 1955 Howard was the as­sis­tant man­ager of Moose Jaw Print­ing. He bought a house on Grace Street in the new Pal­liser sub­di­vi­sion where he, his two sons, a daugh­ter and his wife lived out their years. He passed away in 2006.

Howard’s fa­ther, Ge­orge, reached the rank of cap­tain in the Army. Howard reached the rank of flight lieu­tenant, to­day clas­si­fied as cap­tain.

Ge­orge was awarded the Mil­i­tary Cross (MC) for brav­ery while serv­ing in the army in the Sec­ond World War.

As we’ve seen, Howard was awarded the RCAF Dis­tin­guished Fly­ing Cross (DFC) for brav­ery in bring­ing his dam­aged air­craft and crew back to base. The MC and the DFC are equiv­a­lent.

Like fa­ther – like son. His Dad must have been proud.

Har­rower was a strong sup­porter of the Moose Jaw Le­gion Branch. He rarely talked about the war or bomber command.

As time went on the war and the ex­pe­ri­ences be­came a dis­tant mem­ory — mem­o­ries fi­nally brought back in this lit­tle es­say.

COUR­TESY THE HAR­ROWER FAM­ILY

Howard in the right seat of a Cessna Crane. He’s wear­ing a heavy fly­ing suit. Air­men thought the suits made them look like big teddy bears.

COUR­TESY THE HAR­ROWER FAM­ILY

Based on the com­ments on the back of the photo, “My Ops Air­craft” and the added note, “the paint­ing is the Winged Vic­tory”, this is Lan­caster Mark III Bomber, s/n ED374, Code SR-Z that Howard and the crew crashed on the night of Feb. 1617, 1943. The...

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