Pilot Officer R J Edie DFC RAFVR and crew - 103 Sqn and 576 Sqn
Edinburgh born Bob Edie ( pictured above ) and his crew were posted to 103 Squadron at Elsham Wolds around the beginning of June 1943 when the Battle of the Ruhr was at its height.
He was to fly his first operation on the night of the 14/15th June 1943 in the Bomber Command attack on Oberhausen which he later described as rather a shaky trip for a first op. His Lancaster was hit by flak several times but the operation was completed successfully.
On the 22/23rd June 1943 Sgt Edie and his crew was again on operations, this time in another successful raid on Mulheim. Their aircraft that night was Lancaster PM-N ED713 which was already becoming something of a veteran having been on the strength of 103 Sqn since March of that year. This was the aircraft that Bob Edie was to fly on many occasions throughout his tour. 2 more operations followed before the end of the June and also a promotion to Flight Sergeant. This was followed by a further promotion to Warrant Officer at the end of July
As the Battle of the Ruhr came to an end Bomber Command commenced a series of devastating attacks on the port of Hamburg. W/O Edie and his crew flew on one of these raids on the night of the 29/30th July 1943.
The following night they took part in the raid on Remscheid. The starboard outer engine of the Lancaster failed soon after take off and W/O Edie was forced to abandon the mission, jettisoning his bombs in the sea and returning to base.
On the night of the 2/3rd August 1943 103 Sqn returned to Hamburg for the last raid in a series of raids on this target. The bombers encountered a large thunderstorm area over Germany and many crews turned back or bombed alternative targets due to the extreme weather conditions. W/O Edie was forced to jettison his bombs 30 miles North East of Bremen because his Lancaster was rapidly losing height due to heavy icing.
Milan and the Breda and Pirelli works were the target on the night of the 14/15th August 1943. W/O Edie and his crew dropped their bombs visually from 9,000ft and these were seen to explode in a line right across a large factory roof.
The German rocket research centre at Peenemunde was attacked in force on the night of the 17/18th August 1943. This attack was given the highest priority because it was the centre of testing and manufacture of the V2 rockets. The operation was carried out in moonlight to increase the chances of success and for the first time a Master Bomber was put in charge of a full scale Bomber Command raid. The raid was considered successful in spite of heavy losses. W/O Edie and his crew dropped their bombs on the target markers from 8,000ft.
During a raid on Hannover on the night of the 22/23rd September 1943 W/O Edie and his crew were attacked by a Ju 88 night fighter. The gunners returned fire and a white flash was observed in the fuselage of the Ju 88 as it broke away.
Bob Edie was promoted again, this time to Pilot Officer in November 1943 and, on the night of the 10/11th of that month, P/O Edie and his crew took part in a raid on the railway yards at Modane in France.
The night of the 18/19th November 1943 brought the start of the Battle of Berlin during which Bomber Command would mount heavy and sustained assaults on the German capital. P/O Edie and his crew took part in this raid and also a highly successful raid that followed 4 nights later.
On the 24th November 1943 P/O Edie and his crew were transferred to the newly formed 576 Squadron also based at Elsham Wolds. Their first operation with their new Squadron was another good attack on Berlin on the night of the 16/17th December 1943. On the night of the 29/30th December 1943 P/O Edie and his crew flew the final operation their tour to Berlin in Lancaster ND385. On this operation the crew were accompanied by the Squadron CO W/C Clayton.
The crew for this last operation was :-
P/O R J Edie
Sgt E S Boorman
Sgt A E Denslow
P/O E H G Suarez
F/S A W Jones
Sgt E C Benham
Sgt S D Clewer
This crew had been subject to several changes of personnel during their tour and, apart from Bob Edie, only Boorman, Suarez and Benham been part of the crew since it started operations in June. They had flown Lancaster ED713 on 24 occasions during this period. This veteran bomber was shot down by a night fighter on the 23/24th December 1943.
P/O Edie and his crew flew operations throughout the second half of 1943 at a time when Bomber Command, and 103 Squadron losses had been very severe. Almost all their operations had involved long night flights against heavily defended targets and the DFC awarded to Bob Edie on completion his tour was particularly well earned.
Written by David Fell with thanks to the Edie family