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GARDINER, Raymond Arthur Flight Lieutenant, No.405 Squadron, J15548 Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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GARDINER, F/L Raymond Arthur (J15548) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.405 Squadron - Award effective 1 September 1943 as per London Gazette dated 10 September 1943 and AFRO 2138/43 dated 22 October 1943. Born at Ingersoll, Ontario, 14 December 1918. Attended Durham Public School, Hanover Public School and Hanover High School. Home in Elmwood, Ontario. Machine hand and painter for a furniture company, 1936-1937; taught music, 1937-1938; Last employment was as service and stock clerk for Knechtel Kitchen Cabinets (April 1938 to June 1940). Enlisted in Hamilton, 21 August 1940 and posted to No.1 Manning Depot. To No.3 Training Command, 31 August 1940. To No.1 ITS, 12 October 1940. Promoted LAC, 6 November 1940 and posted that date to No.2 WS, Calgary. To No.4 BGS, Fingal, 15 March 1941; graduated and promoted Sergeant, 14 April 1941.To Manning Depot, Debert, 25 April 1941; to Embarkation Depot, Halifax, 18 May 1941. To RAF overseas, 7 June 1941. To No.12 OTU, 14 June 1941. To Chipping Warden, 17 August 1941. To No.405 Squadron, 4 October 1941. Promoted Flight Sergeant, 1 March 1942. Commissioned 17 June 1942. Promoted Flying Officer, 17 December 1942. Missing, presumed dead, 23 November 1943 (Lancaster JA939). Award presented to next of kin, 12 December 1944 by Governor General; RCAF photo PL-34558 taken after ceremony shows Mrs. R.A. Gardiner (wife) and her mother, Mrs. John Prue. Estates questionnaire noted that he had two brothers (Alfred was in RCN, Charles was 16) and four sisters. Since July 1942, Flight Lieutenant Gardiner has been signals leader of his squadron. He has participated in many operational sorties against some of the most heavily defended targets in Germany including Bremen, Essen and Duisburg. Throughout his operational career he has displayed high courage and devotion to duty. Training: Interviewed in Hamilton, 11 July and 26 July 1940. Noted on second occasion that he had spent five years in brass bands, playing trumpet; extensive play in softball, swimming and track, moderate field sports and hockey, only occasional football. Descibed as "Good type young man. Plays trumpet in a brass band. Keen to fly. Academic standing not high enough for commission." Course at No.2 WS was 11 November 1940 to 17 March 1941. In Flying Classroom as First Operator for 25 minutes, in Flying Classroom on listening watch, three hours 45 minutes, and in two-seat aircraft as sole operator for five hours 30 minutes. Ground School courses and marks as follows: Theory (38/50), Radio Equipment (140/250), Morse, buzzer and lamp (187/200), Procedure (184/200), Signals Organisation (123/150), Armament (74/100), Drill and P.T. (41/50). Placed 56th in a class of 183. Course al No.4 BGS was 17 March to 13 April 1941. Flew 12 hours ten minutes in Battle (all by day plus 45 minutes as passenger). In Beam test he scored 15.5 % hits, in Beam Relative Speed test, 7.5 % hits, in Under Tail test, 5.5 % hits. Scored 74 % on written test, 74 % on oral test, graded 210 out of 250 under "Ability as Firer" and 111 out of 150 on "Qualities as an NCO". Placed 6th in a class of 83. Described as "Good all round air gunner. Took a great interest in work." Assessments: Assessed 21 January 1943 by W/C A.C.P. Clayton which described him "a very keen officer". Assessed on 22 July 1943 by W/C J.E. Fauquier, which noted he had flown 151 hours 54 minutes on operations, 117 hours 51 minutes in previous six month. Generall marked as satisfactory in all categories with no remarks entered. The website “Lost Bombers” has the following on his last sortie. Lancaster JA939, No.405 Squadron (LQ-C), target Berlin, 23/24 November 1943. JA939 was delivered to No.405 Squadron in July 1943. Airborne at 1712 hours, 23 November 1943 from Gransden Lodge. Cause of loss not established. Crashed at Ter Apel Groningen), 15 km NE of Emmen (Drenthe) Holland. Crew were F/L H.K.Lefroy, DFC, RCAF (killed); P/O P.J.Scott (killed); F/L C.W.Cole, DFC (POW, held in Camp L.1, POW number 1583); F/O W.J.Lawrence, RCAF (killed); F/L R.A.Gardiner, DFC, RCAF (killed); Flight Sergeant J.G.Odell, RCAF (killed); Flight Sergeant J.G.S.Kavanaugh, RCAF (killed). RCAF Press Release No. 1343, 22 March 1943 LONDON, (R.C.A.F. News Service) – After over a year’s service with the first RCAF Bomber Squadron to be formed in Britain, Pilot Officer R.A. “Ray” Gardiner of Hanover, Ontario, a wireless operator-air gunner, has now been appointed Signals Leader. Only 22 years old, Ray has seen service under three commanding officers, Wing Commander R.M. Fenwick-Wilson of Rock Creek, B.C., Wing Commander Johnny Fauquier of Ottawa, and Wing Commander Len Fraser, DFC, of Vancouver, and has been out on many bombing operational trips. The ordeal of these flights have left little mark on this smooth-cheeked, fair haired youngster who grins when he thinks back on his “shaky do’s”. “I think I’ve been to about every place in Germany and enemy-occupied countries that’s been bombed, with the exception of Berlin”, he says – “Wilhelmshaven, Bremen, Essen, Cologne, Hamburg – I’ve been to them all. I’ve even been to Hanover, and I don’t mean my home town. It was there that I lost my flashlight, which had been sent to me from my folks in Hanover, Ontario. As I was pushing out a “reco” flare, I dropped my flashlight down the flare-chute. “On various of my trips, I’ve had some bad shakings. One was over Bremen. We were up at 16,000 feet when we were coned in searchlights and the skipper put us into a dive. When we were down to 13,000 feet we were hit by ‘flak’ and the skipper couldn’t pull the kite out of the dive. Four of us – all hanging on to the stick – just managed to get her straight and level again at 3,000 feet. The hit moved our wings back about four inches and the main spar was all bent to the dickens. We got back to base in her, but she never took to the air again.” “Then on an Essen trip, we had to bale out and I became a member of the ‘Caterpillar Club’. We were over England, fortunately, when one of the engines caught fire and the skipper held her straight and level while we jumped. I got out at between 1,500 and 2,000 feet. Unfortunately, the skipper was killed. He didn’t have time to get out.” “The trip to the Renault factory in Paris was also shaky. We started off with a 4,000 pounder and as we took off, the undercarriage collapsed. It started to fold up as we taxied off and when the kite bounced for the last time, the wheels were half way up. But we went on to Paris, knowing that when we came back we would have to make a belly landing. We found the factory all right and our 4,000 pounder went right in the middle. Leith (P.O.P.E.M. Leith, DFC of Toronto) was our navigator and he saw to it that there was no mistake.” “When we got back to England we had to put down at another station – not at our base and luckily, there was a lovely mud patch and we skidded along it nicely. No one was hurt.” Ray has also been on all the 1,000-plane raids to Cologne, the Ruhr and Bremen. His last to Bremen, with Wing Commander Johnny Fauquier as the pilot, was as a reconnaissance plans. They had to fly over the target after the last bomb had fallen and observe the results of the raid. As Ray points out, they were the only aircraft left in the sky and the “flak” chases them all over it. But Fauquier was a “wizard” and turned and twisted, dodging the “flak” bursts until the job of reconnaissance was done.” As Signals Leader, Ray’s job is to see that all newcomers to the squadron are brought up to operational standards, and that they know the radio installation of the big four-engined Halifax bombers which the squadron uses. He is responsible for all the squadron’s radio sets. Ray joined the R.C.A.F. in 1940 and passed through the Eglinton Hunt Club, Toronto, the Wireless School, Calgary and the Bombing and Gunnery School, Fingal. He left Canada for overseas service in Britain in April 1941 and, before joining his squadron, acted as an instructor at an R.A.F. Operational Training Unit.