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Surname BRAMWELL   Initials W   First Name WILLIAM  
Decorations DFC DFM  
Rank Flying Officer   Unit RAF   Service No. 142843  
Age Unknown  Deceased   Previous Squadron 10  
Comments 15/2/44 - T W G GODFREY & Crew arrive on Squadron  
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Award Date Citation / Reference Squadron
DFM  20/11/1942  977402 Sergeant William BRAMWELL, No. 10 Squadron.

This airman was the rear gunner of an aircraft engaged on a sortie one night in September, 1942. On the return journey, whilst flying over the enemy coast, the aircraft was subjected to antiaircraft fire from an armed ship. A large hole was torn in the fuselage and the inter-communication system rendered unserviceable. Consequently, Sergeant Bramwell, who had observed an enemy fighter within close range, was unable to warn his captain of the added danger. The fighter closed in and its pilot raked the fuselage and tail with gunfire. Despite this, Sergeant Bramwell delivered 2 accurate bursts causing the attacker to break away and plunge towards the sea with its engine in flames. In the face of a trying situation, this airman displayed great courage and devotion to duty.

BRAMWELL, William, Sergeant (977402, RAFVR*) - No.10 Squadron
Distinguished Flying Medal - awarded as per London Gazette dated 24 November 1942. Medals sold at auction, 20 September 2002 for Ł 2,800.
Information largely from catalogue of Dix-Noonan-Webb (medal dealers).

Born in November 1917;
worked as a grocer in Bolton, Lancashire before enlisting in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in January 1940.

Quickly earning the sobriquet of “Smasher” - for dropping a tray of coffee cups down the stairs - he commenced training as an Air Gunner in August 1941 and was one of those OTU. personnel to be assigned to the 1,000 Bomber Raid on Bremen in June 1942.

Shortly afterwards posted to No.10 Squadron, a Halifax unit operating out of Melbourne, Yorkshire, he flew his first operational sortie as a Rear-Gunner, against Le Havre, on the night of the 11th-12th.

In September he participated in strikes against Saarbrucken, Bremen (“Flak fairly heavy and some small holes were sustained in both mainplanes and elevator while over target”), Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, Wilhelmshaven and Flensburg, winning his immediate DFM. on the latter sortie on the night of the 26th-27th.

Back in action over Kiel on the night of 13-14 October, Bramwell’s Halifax was badly hit by flak over the canal, at one time trailing 300 yards of flame from an engine, “But our luck held, and we got home once more.”

The same month also marked the beginning of a concerted squadron effort against Italy, Genoa and Turin each being visited on three occasions over the next few weeks. Bramwell would later recall the thrill of flying over Mont Blanc, and to seeing a blackout-free Geneva all lit up with the lake reflected in the moonlight.

In December Turin was assigned to the squadron on two more occasions, but the German brief was not left unattended, Mannheim and Duisberg also being on the agenda.

January 1943 saw Bramwell assigned to Lorient (twice), Colerne and two mine-laying operations, and on one of the latter outings, on the night of the 21st-22nd, he shot up a U-Boat’s searchlight and a small boat. Flying the final sortie of his first tour against Hamburg in early February, Bramwell was posted out of the squadron for duties as an instructor, and was commissioned as a Pilot Officer in March.

Subsequently bored by life away from the operational scene, he volunteered for the Path Finder Force and was posted to No.156 Squadron, a Lancaster unit operating out of Station Upwood.,

In January 1944. Assigned to Squadron Leader T. W. G. Godfrey’s crew, he flew his first mission, against Berlin, on the night of 15-16 February, Schweinfurt, Augsburg and Frankfurt following in the same month. And the German scene very much remained the brief in March, Bramwell and his crew visiting Stuttgart, Frankfurt and Essen.

April saw No.156 attacking Aachen, Rouen, Cologne and Dusseldorf, the latter sortie, on the night of the 22nd-23rd nearly ending in disaster, when Bramwell’s aircraft collided with another Lancaster over the target area - “Starboard tail fin, starboard aerial damaged. Mid-Upper turret also damaged.”.

But from May until July, which latter month marked the end of Bramwell’s second tour, the Squadron was mainly assigned to French targets, intially in support of the Normandy landings, but latterly against a number of V. 1 sites. And on eight of these operations Squadron Leader Godfrey acted as Master Bomber, including a strike against the marshalling yards at Paris on D Day itself. On two occasions, moreover, their Lancaster was hit by flak, over the Bois-de-la- Haie on 17 July, and again over Andebelke on 20 July. And on a mission to Lescatelliers three days later, Godfrey managed to evade two German night fighters.

Bramwell, who had been advanced to Flight Lieutenant back in March, finally completed his tour with a trip to Hamburg on the night of 28-29 July, and he relinquished his commission at the end of the year on the grounds of ill-health.

This Air Gunner has been with No.10 Squadron since 9 July 1942 and has to date carried out 10 sorties comprising 54 hours operational flying.

On the night of 26 September 1942, Sergeant Bramwell was Rear-Gunner in an aircraft returning from operations when, whilst passing over the Danish coast at 4,000 feet, he sighted an Me.110 at 500 yards on the starboard quarter. Almost immediately, and before he could give any warning to the Captain, the aircraft was suddenly struck by shells from an enemy flak ship below, a hole 18 inches across being torn in the fuselage and the intercom put out of action. The Rear-Gunner vainly shouted for the Captain to turn to starboard, but unaware of the presence of the fighter, the Captain swerved to port to evade the fire from the flak ship. The enemy fighter continued to fire as he closed in, making strikes with cannon and machine-gun fire on the tail and fuselage. Sergeant Bramwell with praiseworthy fighting spirit replied with two long bursts, the second of which both he and the Mid-Upper Gunner saw entering the starboard engine of the fighter, and which burst into flame, turned over and plunged down into the sea.

Hampered by his Captain being fully occupied with the flak ship below and completely unaware of the presence of the fighter, Sergeant Bramwell displayed the greatest resolution in carrying on, hampered and unaided, a single combat with the Me.110. Undeterred by the flak from below, his unflinching determination in the face of almost point blank enemy fire from astern was characteristic of the highest traditions of the Service, and had undoubtedly set an admirable example to all gunners of this squadron.

Additional Citation details provided by Hugh Halliday. 
10 
DFC  10/11/1944  Flying Officer William BRAMWELL, D.F.M. (142843), R.A.F.V.R., 156 Sqn.

BRAMWELL, William, F/O, DFM (142843, RAFVR*) - No.156 Squadron - Distinguished Flying Cross - awarded as per London Gazette dated 14 November 1944. Recommendation read as follows:

Flying Officer Bramwell has completed 55 operational sorties, 31 of which have been with the Path Finder Force, including 29 Marker sorties. He was awarded the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal after his eighth sortie. Some of the targets attacked have been heavily contested areas of Germany and Italy.

This officer is an outstanding Gunner in a crew which have carried out Master Bomber duties on eight occasions, both by day and by night. His vigilance and efficient directions to his pilot have been contributory to many successful evasions of enemy aircraft. He has been at grips with the enemy on many occasions, and proved himself to be a most cool and resolute Gunner.

He has set an example of keenness and devotion to duty of a very high standard to other Gunners in the Squadron, and I strongly recommend him for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Citation details provided by Hugh Halliday. 
156 
Source Date Comments
LG 35795  20/11/1942  DFM Commendation 
LG 35999  30/04/1943  11th Mar. 1943 - 977402 William BRAMWELL, D.F.M. (142843). Promoted to P/O 
LG 36793  10/11/1944  DFC Notification 
ORB  30/11/1944  Awarded the DFC: F/O W. Bramwell DFM 
ORB  30/11/1944  DFC Notification