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Air Vice Marshall

United Kingdom
63 Posts

Posted - 13/01/2006 :  10:09:51  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
More a question for Robin, but if anyone else can answer I would love to hear from them...............who won the Sqn's only British Empire Medal (BEM)?



Web Owner
Forum Admin

147 Posts

Posted - 15/01/2006 :  02:33:24  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
There are three members of the Squadron who have been awarded the BEM, but the awards may have been before or after their time at 156.
The only one verified to 156 Squadron by an entry in the ORB is
Sgt B Couchman BEM - Citation:

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve
the award of the British Empire Medal (Military Division) to the undermentioned:
1253399 Flight Sergeant Bertie Couchman, Royal Air Force.
One night in September, 1942, Flight Sergeant Couchman was the navigator of an aircraft detailed to attack a target in the Ruhr. During the attack the aircraft was intercepted by an enemy aircraft and sustained damage which rendered it impossible to release the flares. On arrival back at base the captain accomplished a successful emergency landing, but unfortunately some of the
flares ignited. Ammunition began to explode and the aircraft was set alight and was in great danger of being blown up. Displaying complete disregard for his own safety, Flight Sergeant Couchman remained in the aircraft and assisted three members of the crew, two of whom were injured, to safety. In so doing he was twice thrown on to the flames when the floor collapsed, sustaining severe burns, but it was largely due to his courage and devotion to duty that his comrades were able to leave the aircraft safely.

Other holders of the BEM are:

Sgt J H Westgate BEM - Cannot find details of citation

S/L D F Allen DFC GM BEM (bit of a serial hero?)
cannot find anything of GM but BEM Citation is :

968365 Sergeant Dudley Farquhar Allen,. G.M.,
Royal Air Force. One evening in April an enemy aircraft
dropped incendiary bombs on an aerodrome.
One bomb fell into the cockpit of an aircraft
on the ground and lodged beneath the seat
and under the front of the fuselage petrol tank
in a position which prevented its removal.
Sergeant Allen attempted to extinguish the
incendiary but his efforts were unavailing
owing to its position. He therefore climbed
into the cockpit and, although fully aware
that the fuel tank was likely to explode at
any moment, he plied fire extinguishers
against the side of the tank and put soil on
the incendiary until it was finally extinguished.
At the time a large number of
men were engaged in putting out other
incendiaries near the aircraft. There is no
doubt that Sergeant Allen, by his initiative
and gallant conduct in the face of extremely
dangerous conditions, prevented many
casualties which would certainly have
occurred had the tank exploded.

I am currently doing a major update on all awards and will publishing to the site over the next month or so. Perhaps I should include a search on awards?


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Air Vice Marshall

United Kingdom
63 Posts

Posted - 15/01/2006 :  13:42:40  Show Profile  Reply with Quote

Sounds good. If you need any help with the DFMs, please let me know. I have a copy of Tavender's seminal work listing all recommendations for DFMs awarded during the War. Likewise I have Maton's 'Honour the Air Forces' listing all awards to Commonwealth Air Force (less MIDs) personnel in WW2 and detailing the relevant LG entry.


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Air Vice Marshall

United Kingdom
63 Posts

Posted - 19/09/2018 :  02:55:09  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Sgt. J. H. Westgate, RAF. Awarded BEM 01.01.1942. Recommendation from Balloon Command:

"On the night of 1st January 1941, during a severe air raid attack, a landmine demolished the billet at Temple Gardens London occupied by the crew. The Corporal in charge and two other memebrs of the crew were gravely injured. Corporal Westgate took charge of the situation, extricated the injured men and made the neccessary arrangements for them to be taken to hospital. Although severly shaken himself he arranged for flight headquarters to be informed of the incident in spite of the fact that telephone telecommunication had been severed. Both he and other members of the crew worked ceaselessly through the night to rescue as much equipment as possible.

On another occasion during the heavy raid of the 10th May 1941 this airman again took charge when most of the buildings surrounding the Ballon site had caught fire. Both he and the crew fought the flames although unsuccessfully, and it was found neccessary to abandon the site in the early hours of the morning. It was mainly due to Corporal Westgate's collness and organisation that nearly all of the equipment was saved."
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