m a r k e r i c k s o n p a i n t i n g s Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson Air Corps 1942 - 1945
Click to view Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson's complete thirty five mission list and twelve B-17 Flying Fortresses flown between March 27th thru August 26th, 1944 out of Horham Airfield, England.
Warrant Officer Harry Irons seen here on November 13th 2016 in London at the Bomber Command Memorial at Green Park. It was Remembrance Sunday and Harry placed this wreath on the monument out of respect and for his fallen airmen of the RAF.
With respect and awe in what Harry accomplished during his service with the RAF between 1940 and 1945 I dedicate these pages to him. My father, Lt. Ernest Anders Erickson knew many RAF airmen and held a special feeling for them in their battle hardened spirit. What they accomplished long before he ever showed up for combat duty was duly noted by him. They welcomed him to England and his time serving with the 95th at Horham. My father had plenty of positive interaction with the airmen of the RAF.
The Royal Air Force bomber crews and fighter pilots were up against the German Luthwaffe following the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia on March 15th, 1939. England declared war on the Germans on September 3rd, 1939 and soon the RAF took to the skies.
The Americans first combat missions out of England began in early 1942 flying out of British RAF airfields. Looking back now, that was two and a half years later when the Americans finally got the 8th Air Corps in the air and began their combat missions over Nazi occupied Europe.
In that comparison, my father's 35 missions that he succeeded in completing between February and September 1944 - Harry's combat flying record of 60 raids to me is remarkable and truly beyond the pale.
Harry Irons was born in East London on January 12th, 1924 and was training to be a tailor when the war started. He quickly joined the RAF (Royal Air Force) when he was seventeen years old, having lied about his age and no one queried it. He was first trained as a wireless operator, but there was a shortage of air gunners so he became a rear gunner.
Harry flew aboard the four-engine Lancaster and Halifax bombers in the Number 9 and 158 Squadrons and was based at Royal Air Force Waddington, England. In his first few missions, Harry was at the mid-upper gunner position. Richard 'Dick' Stubbs, the crew's pilot thought that he would have a good view and a chance to look all around. Harry later moved to the rear gunner position.
At Waddington he met and flew with a friend Wyn's cousin Flight Lt. William Alfred Colson who was later killed in December of 1943 in the 97th Squadron Pathfinder Force. It was in that how Wyn Harrison of Deeping St James, Lincolnshire, England met Harry Irons.
Harry's final rank after 60 missions (ops) was Warrant Officer. Harry was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, at the end of the war. It often has caused confusion in RAF records that Harry, whose birth name was Harry Galloway, but changed his last name to Irons at one point. Two different names are noted in Harry's RAF combat flight records. Though in the end, as RAF records show, Warrant Officer Harry Irons accomplished 60 missions, which in my mind was a phenomenal feat.
The RAF crewmen were up against the Germans (1939) far longer than the Americans, whose first combat missions out of England began in 1942. Just in comparison, my father completed 35 missions between February and September 1944. Harry's combat flying record to me is beyond the pale.
Towards the end of the war, Harry married Catherine in December 1944. After the war Harry learned the dry cleaning trade and was eventually able to open his own dry cleaning business. As a veteran he has been involved in many RAF activities, giving talks, attending important services and carried an enormous part in making it possible for British Bomber Command to have the magnificent monument they have in London. Harry lives in the town of Romford, in Essex, England.
I became aware of the great Harry Irons through a friend at the 95th Bomb Group, Wyn Harrison of Deeping St James, Lincolnshire, England. Much thanks to Wyn and to Thomas Ozel for his help with with the Archive Photographic Project. His fine photographs and revealing videos of Harry Irons are superb.
In an audio interview (link below) Harry describes his most memorable mission of the war,
when his bomber participated in a low level bombing mission against Le Creusot, in October
of 1942. One of the participants in this operation was Guy Gibson, who would lead Operation
Chastise in 1943.
Harry Irons describes his first bombing raid over Germany
Harry Irons recalls bombing Italy in late 1942
This is a documentary Thomas Ozel filmed about the RAF's bombing campaign against Germany. It consists of interviews conducted with veterans of RAF Bomber Command, This first part covers joining the RAF, experiencing the Blitz, the stages of a bombing raid, the area bombing directive, encounters with Luthwaffe fighters, being shot down and the losses that the aircrew suffered.
The second part includes SOE operations, attacks on specific targets, deploying window, the bombing of Hamburg, accidents caused by aircraft malfunctions, the Long March for Prisoners of War, the bombing of Dresden, the final attacks on Germany, liberating the concentration camps, supplying food to Holland and the post-war treatment of Bomber Command.
The Bomber Command veterans featured are: Harry Irons, Jan Black-Stangryciuk, Charles Clarke,
Ron Davis, Darwin Evans, Bernie Harris, Fred Hooker, Harold Kirby and Bill Moore.
The Bomber Will Always Get Through - Part 2
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