George Thompson VC

George Thompson was born 23rd October 1920, in Trinity Gask, Perthshire and educated at Portmoak Primary School and Kinross High School. After being apprenticed to a grocer in Kinross he joined the Local Defence Volunteers when the Second World War began. In January 1941 he joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, training as a ground crew wireless operator and serving in Iraq. He then volunteered for aircrew and was posted to RAF Bomber Command.

On 1 January 1945 in an attack on the Dortmund-Ems Canal, Germany, he Lancaster Bomber he was in Lancaster bomber serial PD377, after releasing its bombs, was hit by two shells and a raging fire broke out. Flight Sergeant Thompson who was the wireless operator, seeing that the mid-upper gun turret was ablaze, went at once through the smoke filled fuselage into the fire and exploding ammunition in the turret to help the gunner to a place of relative safety. He extinguished his burning clothing with his bare hands and in doing so sustained serious burns to his legs, hands and face.

He then went to the rear turret which was also ablaze and again used his already burnt bare hands to beat out flames on the gunner’s clothing. Then, despite his shocking state of burns and charred clothing, he returned through the burning fuselage to report to the pilot. The crippled aircraft finally crash-landed; the rear gunner survived and made a full recovery but the mid-upper gunner died. Flight Sergeant Thompson began to recover from his injuries in hospital but died of pneumonia three weeks later.

Ben Davidson

Hello, I have been studying all aspects of history for about 25 years. I have a BA History from the University of Bedfordshire. My historical areas of interest are anything really, but I specialise in 19th - 20th century Britain, America and Ireland. I am also strongly aligned with most military history, really enjoying WW2 and the US Civil War. Chuck in the king or queen and Bob's your uncle.

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