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.
With utmost respect and admiration for Harry Irons, here is my favorite photograph of Harry taken on June 3rd, 2017. He is standing in front of a photograph of his bomber crew at his home Romford in Essex, England
In the second photo below, future Warrant Officer Harry Irons (on the left) stands with his Number 9 Bomber Squadron crew and the four engine Lancaster bomber on September 10th, 1942. The men stand before a mission at their base at RAF Waddington, England. This would be Harry's first raid over Germany.
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 he had plenty of 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.
Thomas Ozel who photographed Harry on multiple occasions, including the one below wrote of his impressions of spending time with the former RAF gunner.
As regards to spending time with Harry - interviewing him was a phenomenal experience, as he described the raids in such great detail. There were several occasions during the interview where I was so shocked by what he was recalling that I didn't know what to say. On those occasions, Harry simply continued with his story, and often moved straight onto another one.
Unlike many of the other Bomber Command veterans I have met, Harry felt quite guilty after the war, over all the people that were killed by their bombing. Near the end of our interview I asked him how he felt about his wartime service, he replied,
"Not all that. All I know is I killed many people, but then I went to Auschwitz and
that changed my view. Before that I had a guilty conscience of it, because I knew I'd
killed so many people, but when I went to Auschwitz and saw what was going on for
myself - that was it - finished."
The Bomber Will Always Get Through - Part 2
'The Bomber Will Always Get Through' 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.
The first part covers the airmen 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 (Special Operations Executive) operations, attacks on specific targets, deploying window (chaff - radar disruption material), 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.
Harry Irons was born in 1924 and joined the RAF in 1940, by lying about his age. He served as a mid-upper gunner and later a rear gunner aboard Lancaster and Halifax bombers in the Number 9 and 158 Squadrons.
In this audio interview 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.
In total, Harry survived 60 missions over Nazi occupied Europe which resulted in him being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, at the end of the war.
Thomas Ozel filmed these three videos of casual conversations with Harry Irons at
his home in Romford on July 30th, 2016.
Harry Irons describes his first bombing raid over Germany
Harry Irons recalls bombing Italy in late 1942
Peter M. Hart recorded this interview with Harry Irons on July 30th 2016.
Harry Irons Imperial War Museum interview 2016
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