Remarkable exploits of WWII bomber commander who survived 41 air raids over Nazi Germany including one which left his plane with 38 HOLES are revealed as his medals go up for sale

  • Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike took part in 41 operations during World War Two
  • Forsdike was nearly killed on first flight when fire broke out onboard his plane 
  • His medal citation credited him with exemplary courage and determination

The remarkable exploits of a hero Bomber Command navigator can be revealed after his medals and logbooks emerged for sale.

Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike took part in 41 operations during the Second World War including raids all over Germany.

He directed his Halifax bomber on missions over Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Essen, Dusseldorf, Monchengladbach, Leverkusen and Nuremberg.

Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike, pictured, took part in 41 operations during the Second World War including raids all over Germany. His medals will go one sale to raise money for charity

Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike, pictured with proud parents, took part in 41 operations during the Second World War including raids all over Germany. His medals will go one sale next month

The medal set awarded to Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike includes, left to right, Distinguished Flying Cross, 1939-45 Star, Aircrew Europe Star, Defence Medal and the War Medal

He was almost killed on his first outing as a fire broke out on board.

He logged several other narrow escapes that followed and noted the number of bullet holes he counted in his Halifax after landing. After one raid on Hamburg in August 1943 he wrote ’38 flak holes’.

Miraculously, he survived the bombing campaign against Germany which cost the lives of more than 55,000 Allied airmen – a casualty rate of almost 50 per cent.

Flt Lt Forsdike’s medals, including a prestigious Distinguished Flying Cross, are going under the hammer with Bosleys auctioneers, of Marlow, Bucks.

They are being sold to raise funds for the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity, named after the Victoria Cross recipient and fellow Bomber Command member who founded it.

Pictured: Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike, back row 2nd from left, with his crew, ground crew and a Halifax Bomber during the World War Two which saw him awarded for exemplary bravery

Flt Lt Forsdike’s collection is expected to fetch £2,200.

Bernard Pass, auctioneer at Bosleys, said: ‘Anyone who participated in Bomber Command was extremely brave as 55,000 were killed doing their bit to fight fascism.

‘Forsdike took part in 41 operations while a tour was normally 30 and then they were rested so it seems that he volunteered for more.

‘He was a lucky chap as on his first operation there was an incendiary in the plane and he almost bailed out.

‘His medals have been bequeathed to raise funds for the Leonard Cheshire charity, founded by the Victoria Cross recipient who was also in Bomber Command.’

Flt Lt Forsdike joined the RAF in 1940 and after completing his training joined 78 Squadron, flying his first operation to Aachen on July 13, 1943.

His log book entry documenting the arduous six hour outing states: ‘Incendiary in belly, No Gee nearly bailed out.’

Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike’s log book showing operations over Berlin and noting 24 bullet holes from Ju 88 which took place during another close encounter with enemy aircraft

Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike’s log book showing remarkable notes on his operations over Cannes noting ‘hit middle of town by mistake’ while flying over the French town

Two weeks later, they survived being attacked by a Junkers Ju 88 night fighter flying over the North Sea.

An outing on September 27 of that year reveals another near miss at the hands of an enemy aircraft.

It reads: ‘Starboard outer engine unserviceable over target cannon shell through crack casing attacked by Ju88 night fighter.’

Pictured: Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike

Flt Lt Forsdike was transferred to 158 Squadron in January 1944, subsequently taking part in numerous raids over Berlin.

These included the last heavy bomber outing over the German capital on March 24, when 811 aircraft headed there while a diversionary raid by 147 others was carried out south of Le Havre in France.

Flt Lt Forsdike had to contend with heavy winds crossing the European mainland but found the target on a second sweep of Berlin.

It was a costly night for the RAF who lost 72 aircraft.

Flt Lt Forsdike completed his tour on May 1 with his 41st sortie.

After the war ended, he left the RAF and became a teacher in Brighton, East Sussex.

Flt Lt Forsdike’s Distinguished Flying Cross citation said: ‘This officer has participated in a large number of attacks on enemy targets including such centres as Berlin, Hamburg, Essen, and Kassel.

‘He is a navigator of high merit whose example of courage, and determination has been inspiring.

‘He has proved his skill in many difficult situations and his efforts have contributed greatly to the successes obtained.’

Pictured: Flight Lieutenant Alan Forsdike with his fellow aircrew during the Second World War

Group Captain Leonard Cheshire, who founded the charity in his name, was one of the most highly decorated pilots of World War Two, completing 102 missions.

In 1948, he took a dying man with nowhere else to go into his home, which gave him the idea to start a charity.

Out of the 125,000 aircrew of Bomber Command, 55,573 were killed, a chilling 44 per cent death rate.

They dropped over a million tonnes of bombs on German industrial sites and cities.

Flt Lt Forsdike’s medal group consists of a Distinguished Flying Cross; 1939/45 Star with Bomber Command clasp; Aircrew Europe Star; Defence Medal; War Medal.

The sale takes place on September 2.

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