WWII D.F.M. GROUP OF TO F/SGT. B.J.D. BIRD, R.A.F. (617 DAMBUSTERS SQN.)

*** SOLD *** Distinguished Flying Medal George V to 121752 F/Sgt. B.J.D. Bird, R.A.F.; 1939-45 Star with Bomber Command clasp; Air Crew Europe Star with France & Germany clasp; WWII Defence Medal; WWII War Medal. Accompanied by Air Gunner's Log Book covering complete service including 149 Sqn. 'blood & thunder' sorties, 620 Sqn. 'Special Ops' and 617 Sqn. ops to Bielefeld and Arnsberg Viaduct, Eagle's Nest and attack on the Lützow, amongst others, solid metal model made by the recipient, artwork, Dambusters Squadron car pennant, original framed Warrant, Telegram of Congratulations from Bomber Harris, original D.F.M. recommendation, Service & Release Book, Pay Book, Driving Licence, squadron ties, Buckingham Palace Medal slip, original ribbons, signed postcards, original letters, certificates, and a combination of original photographs and copies with recipient's annotations.
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Description

D.F.M. Gazetted 10 Mar 1944: "As rear gunner this airman has participated in many sorties including attacks on such targets as Bochum, Nuremburg and Turin. Throughout he has set an excellent example of keenness and determination and has proved himself to be a reliable and vigilant member of aircraft crew. On one occasion his aircraft was attacked eight times by a fighter. Nevertheless, Flight Sergeant Bird successed in driving it off in the end. On another occasion, when his aircraft was intercepted by a fighter, Flight Sergeant Bird coolly withheld his fire until the enemy aircraft came into close range, then, with a well-directed burst, shot it down into the sea. Again in January 1944, he engaged an enemy fighter with successful results. His achievements have been most commendable."

Benjamin Bird was too young to join the armed forces on the outbreak of war, so initially served as a cycle messenger with A.R.P. before transferring to the Home Guard in 1940. With his father's help, he lied about his age at the R.A.F. recruiting centre. Called up to the No.1 Recruiting Centre at Cardington, Bird was fast-tracked through Blackpool and trained as a fitter mechanic at Kirkham. He briefly maintained Wellingtons at 27 O.T.U. before transferring to Bramcote and Wellingtons of 18 O.T.U., training Polish aircrew for Bomber Command. Volunteering for aircrew himself, Bird passed Aircrew Recruits Centre at St. John's Wood and was posted to Morpeth where he undertook gunnery training flying in No.4 Air Gunnery School's Blackburn Botha aircraft, passing out in second place in the course. Posted to 14 O.T.U. and then 1651 Conversion Unit at Waterbeach for conversion to the Short Sterling and then posted to 149 Sqn. at Lakenheath. His first three operations were intense; a hydraulic leak caused his turret to be coated with oil, resulting in Bird believing that the entire trip had been flown through heavy cloud for his first flight; his second ended with an emergency landing and his third was an operation to Bochum where their aircraft was holed by flak and limped home, enduring no less than seven night fighter attacks.

In July 1943 during an operation to Cologne, Bird spotted a Ju88 about to attack and waited until it came into position, firing a three second burst. The Ju88 caught fire and crashed into the sea. In January 1944 over Denmark, Bird spotted a single blue searchlight and then saw an Me110 turning to attack. Again holding his fire, Ben destroyed it with a burst of fire - it's firey remains crashed a minute later with a dull yellow explosion. During the autumn of 1943, Bird served with 620 Sqn. which was equipped with low level night-flying Stirlings undertaking Special Operations, assisting resistance groups in occupied territory. After a short spell instructing, Bird was called up to 617 "Dambuster" Squadron at Woodhall Spa on 13 Feb 1945. Serving as Warrant Officer Air Gunner, Bird first operation was an aborted attack with Sqn. Ldr. Brookes on the Dortmund Ems Canal. This was followed by two attacks with Australian Flt. Lt. John Spiers on the Bielefeld Viaduct, resulting in its destruction on 14 Mar.

Bird then took this experience to play his part in the destruction of the viaduct at Arnsberg just 5 days later. Bird crewed up with Sqn. Ldr. John Powell for the attack on the pocket battleship Lützow at Swinemünde on 15 Apr. The mission was aborted, Bird's aircraft recalled and the attack was postponed for the following day. Fortuitously, Bird switched to Flt. Lt. Alan Quinton's crew, as Powell would receive a direct hit flak on the approach to the target, blowing off a wing and crashing with the loss of all crew. Bird remained a member of Quinton's crew for his two remaining operations to Heligoland and, fittingly, the squadron's final raid on Hitler's Bavarian retreat at Berchtesgarden on 25 Apr 1945.

Finally, Bird transferred to Waddington to train as part of Tiger Force - Bomber Command's projected contribution to the Paciffic War. This was curtailed with the dropping of the two atomic bombs and Tiger Force was disbanded in Sep 1945. Bird returned to ground duties at the M.T. Section, Bicester before demobilisation at R.A.F. Uxbridge.