Thursday, November 22, 2007

Sqn Ldr John Crampton DFC AFC* 1921-2010

Squadron Leader John Crampton DFC AFC* A wartime bomber pilot and postwar fighter pilot and high altitude pilot.In Aug 1944 he was posted to 76 Sqn (Halifaxes) in Sep 1944 appointed flight commander, a post he held till June 1945 when he was posted to No.11 FTU.In July 1951 while at an unknown unit he was ordered by the C in C Bomber Command to take charge of a secret RAF special-duty flight and prepare to head for Barksdale AFB, Los Angeles for conversion training on RB-45Cs. Crampton had previously flown Whitley and Halifax bombers during World War II, then Meteor and Vampire jets post war. Returning to UK late Sep 1951 he was posted to RAF Sculthorpe, Norfolk. In Autumn of 1951, a US Air Force Strategic Air Command Unit commanded by Colonel Marion C. Mixson came over from Barksdale and formed base at RAF Sculthorpe with Sqn Ldr Crampton's Top Secret RAF special duty flight attached to it. With his navigator, Flt. Lt. Rex Sanders, Crampton received written 'over-flight' (of the Soviet Union) approval from Winston Churchill, newly returned as Prime Minister. After a practice mission in March 1952, the very first clandestine RB-45C over-flight mission took place on the night of 17-18 April 1952. The three aircraft known as ‘Tornadoes’ were all painted in RAF colours and markings and flew separate routes to their targets, the operating bases of the Soviet long-range Bomber Forces. One crossed the Baltic states, the second penetrated Byelorussia, while the third aircraft with S/Ldr Crampton, Flt. Lt Sanders, and co-pilot Sgt. Bill Lindsay went direct to the Ukraine. In late 1952 he took command of 101 Squadron (Canberras) at RAF Binbrook.
In 1957 John Crampton retired from the RAF, in which he had served with distinction in three commands, Bomber, Fighter and Transport. He then went on to work for HM Government for nearly three years. In December 1959 Sqn Ldr Crampton joined the project office of Hawker Aircraft and was responsible for presentations of the P.1127.

Monday, November 05, 2007

George 'Johnny' Johnson DFM 1922-

Joining the RAF in 1940, George Johnson had flown 28 operations on Lancasters with 97 Squadron at Woodhall Spa before joining 617 Squadron on 25 March 1943. Bomb Aimer on American Joe McCarthy’s reserve Lancaster AJ-T, they attacked the Sorpe Dam. Being a reserve aircraft, this Lancaster had not been fitted with the twin spotlights necessary for accurate height keeping, and it was on their tenth attempt that George released their bomb, hitting the Dam successfully but the earth dam survived the blast. For his actions he was awarded the DFM. Commissioned in November 1943, he remained in the RAF after the war and retired in 1962.