Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Honored Allies Wednesday: John D. Nettleton (South Africa)

"Squadron Leader Nettleton was the leader of one of two formations of six Lancaster heavy bombers detailed to deliver a low-level attack in daylight on the diesel engine factory at Augsburg in Southern Germany on April 17th, 1942.  The enterprise was daring, the target of high military importance.  To reach it and get back, some 1,000 miles had to be flown over hostile territory.  Soon after crossing into enemy territory his formation was engaged by 25 to 30 fighters.  A running fight ensued.  His rear guns went out' of action.  One by one the aircraft of his formation were shot down until in the end only his own and one other remained.  The fighters were shaken off but the target was still far distant.  There was formidable resistance to be faced.  With great spirit and almost defenseless, he held his two remaining aircraft on their perilous course and after a long and arduous flight, mostly at only 50 feet above the ground, he brought them to Augsburg.  Here anti-aircraft fire of great intensity and accuracy was encountered.  The two aircraft came low over the roof tops.  Though fired at from point blank range, they stayed the course to drop their bombs true on the target.  The second aircraft, hit by flak, burst into flames and crash-landed.  The leading aircraft, though riddled with holes, flew safely back to base, the only one of the six to return.   Squadron Leader Nettleton, who has successfully undertaken many other hazardous operations, displayed unflinching determination as well as leadership and valor of the highest order."

From Sqd. Ld. Nettleton's Victoria Cross citation, awarded on 24 April 1942.
May you be at peace,

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