F/L Nicky Ross DSO DFC AE - 40, 103 and 617 Sqdns.
Nicky was born 1st August, 1917 at Greenock Scotland. He followed his father into the banking profession but as war in Europe became inevitable he joined the RAFVR on the 12th July 1939.
He trained at 11 EFTS, Perth gaining his Wings at 2 FTS Brize Norton. Nicky completed training at 20 OTU Lossiemouth Dec 1940.
He was posted to 40 Squadron on the 22nd Nov 1941 as a Sgt pilot on Wellingtons at Wyton and Allconbury and completed first tour 3rd July 1942.. He was then transferred to 27 OTU Lichfield but returned to operations to participate in the three Thousand Force Raids on Cologne, Essen and Bremen in 1942.
Nicky commenced a second tour with 103 Squadron, at Elsham Wolds as Warrant Officer Pilot on Lancasters on the 27th March 1943 completing 18 operations by the end June when he was screened again. See pic below. He was awarded the DFC 5th July 1943.
Nicky and his crew were then posted to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio via Gander to undertake experimental work for USAAF dropping M29 Weasel Tracked Carrier vehicles by parachute from various heights to a target zone. The Americans did not have an aircraft suitable for the task at that time. It was the first time a Lancaster had visited the USA.
After the successful completion of these trials Nick and his crew returned to England and commenced third tour as Pilot Officer with 617 (Dambusters) Squadron October 1943 at Coningsby and Woodhall. Spa until July 1944. Nick completed an outstanding tour with 617 Sqdn taking part in high precision attacks on important war targets, mostly in northern France up to and immediately following D Day. This included dropping 12,000 pound Tallboy Earthquake bombs on railways tunnels and V Weapon sites to devastating effect.
At this time and still a Flying Officer Nick was awarded DSO (Immediate award). He was one of the most junior RAF Officers to receive this prestigious award
On completion of his third tour and 77 operations in total he was transferred to an Operational Training Unit. He was awarded an Air Efficiency Medal and retired from the RAF with the rank of Flight Lieutenant in 1946.
He then resumed his career in banking and later enjoyed a long active and happy retirement.
Nicky Ross passed away on 18th April 2008.
Item written by David Fell
Three pics taken during Nicky’s trip to Wright Field, USA with his crew. The young American Officer pictured is the engineer in charge of the M29 drop trials and the lady is his wife, Betty Faire.
Nick Ross and the Wright Field Lancaster.
Pictures of 103 Sqn Lancaster EE182 have appeared on the internet taken at Moran Field, Michigan, USA in the summer of 43 supplied by Jim Hendershott of Utah. According to Jim the pilot, F/ L Ross, informed the curious onlookers that he was lost and requested fuel. Apparently on attempting to get airborne Ross ran off the end of the runway. He was subsequently towed back and made a successful take off.
The other pictures appear to be stills from a film. They show EE182 being loaded with a small "Weasel" tracked vehicle. One is already in position in the open bomb bay. Cables from the standard bomb hoists were passed through the bomb bay to the bomb shackles on the carrier frame. The aft "Weasel" was supported at bomb points 7, 9, 5 and 3; the forward vehicle at points 10, 8, 15 and 14.
The static lines for the parachutes were passed through bomb point 12 for the forward vehicle and 11 for the aft. The lines were then looped around and taped to a 1" diameter steel bar, 2 foot long.
The bottom picture shows the Lancaster with the load falling away and parachutes beginning to deploy. The experiment seems to have been successful although Nick Ross is reported to have commented on the adverse flying characteristics he found with this arrangement. The Bomb Bay could not be closed carrying this load.
Thanks to Chris Pointon and others for noting this and also to the unknown gentleman for the 2 stills from the film. David Fell