Edwin Swales was born in Natal and served with the Natal Mounted Rifles on the outbreak of war. He joined the S.A.A.F. in early 1942 and was seconded to R.A.F. Bomber Command in August 1943, being posted to 6 AFU based at Little Rissington. He was transferred to duties
with 582 Squadron, part of the Pathfinder Force, in July 1944. Swales was awarded an immediate DFC for his coolness under fire, leadership and adept manoeuvring during a daylight raid on the marshalling yards at Cologne on 23 December 1944. His friend Squadron Leader R.A.M.
Palmer, who acted as Master Bomber on the Cologne raid, was shot down and killed, receiving a posthumous VC for the action in a way which strangely foreshadowed Swales’s own award. Exactly two months after Cologne, on 23 February 1945 (the very day, by coincidence, on which his DFC was gazetted), Swales took the place of Master Bomber on the Pforzheim raid. His Lancaster was severely damaged by enemy fire both on the way in and over the target, but he
steadfastly continued to control the bombing until the end of the raid (which was to prove particularly accurate, concentrated and effective). Turning for home in his crippled Lancaster, Swales encountered turbulent cloud and ordered his crew to bale out over Belgium. As the last man jumped the aircraft stalled, leaving Swales himself no chance of
escape; he was found dead at the controls and is buried at the
Leopoldsburg War Cemetery. His posthumous award of the VC was gazetted on 24 April and proved to be Bomber Command’s last of the war. Edwin Swales’s medals, uniform and logbook were presented by his mother to the South African National Museum of Military History in 1959.
Do you have more information about this person? Inform us!
Helaas geen map gevonden.