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THRING, Gordon Herbert Flight Lieutenant, No.620 Squadron, J7913 Distinguished Flying Cross RCAF Personnel Awards 1939-1949
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THRING, F/L Gordon Herbert (J7913) - Distinguished Flying Cross - No.620 Squadron - Award effective 8 September 1944 as per London Gazette of that date and AFRO 2231/44 dated 13 October 1944. Born Rockwood, Ontario, 24 June 1919; home there (school teacher). Served in Canadian Army; enlisted in Toronto, 9 January 1941 and sent to No.1 Manning Depot (but his MI.9 report says he enlisted 8 February 1941). To No.1A Manning Depot, 29 January 1941. To Trenton, 19 February 1941. To No.1 ITS, 4 May 1941; graduated and promoted LAC, 6 June 1941; to No.6 EFTS, 6 June 1941; to No.4 SFTS, 26 July 1941; graduated and commissioned, 10 October 1941). To Trenton, 11 October 1941. To No.6 BGS, date uncertain. To “Y” Depot, 22 February 1943. To RAF overseas, 19 March 1943. Promoted Flight Lieutenant, 10 October 1943. Attended OTU at Ossington and Conversion Unit at Woolfox Lodge. Missing 6 June 1944; subsequently reported safe. Repatriated 3 December 1944. To No.1 Air Command, 16 January 1945. To No.5 OTU, 21 April 1945. Promoted Squadron Leader, 25 September 1945. To Release Centre, 25 October 1945. Released 26 October 1945. Award sent by registered mail 7 December 1948. In air operations this officer has displayed courage, determination and devotion to duty of a very high order. Public Record Office WO 208/3320 has an MI.9 report based on interview of 13 June 1944.. His crew were a F/O Price (navigator), F/O Braathen (bomb aimer), Sergeant Buchan (flight engineer), Flight Sergeant Burgess (wireless operator) and F/O McMahon (rear gunner). As they had remained together throughout the episode, only Thring was interviewed. I took off from Fairford in a Stirling aircraft at 1010 hours on 6 June 1944 on a special mission to France. After we reached the target and completed our mission the aircraft was set on fire by machine-gun fire from the ground. Owing to the fact that the dinghy was on fire and the sea near the coast was crowded with shipping, I considered that it was inadvisable to “ditch”. I crash-landed near Periers-sur-le-Dan (France 1:250,000, Sheet S, U 0676) about six miles north of Caen. The whole crew hid in a field until dark. We then walked openly in an attempt to reach our own lines, but we were spotted by two Germans on bicycles. They challenged us and we were made prisoners. We were escorted to a dug-out where we were searched. We were then taken under armed guard to Caen (U 06) but a short distance from the town we turned north to Mathieu (U 0476), six miles north of Caen, arriving at a chateau there at dawn on 7 June. We were fed and put into a barn. During the day we were aware of Allied activity in the area. That evening we spent about four hours in a trench with the Germans at the suggestion of the Colonel, who seemed greatly concerned with our safety. During the time we were in the trench of lot of firing took place between Allied troops and the Germans occupying the chateau. The German soldiers requested my engineer, Sergeant Buchan, to go out with his hands up, but I would not allow him to take this risk. Fighting continued until dusk, and then ceased. At 2330 hours a German captain asked me to go into the basement of the chateau, and we did so. We were joined by all of the German soldiers who had been defending the chateau. The captain told us that he intended to surrender to the Allies at dawn. At daybreak on 8 June another German officer, a Lieutenant, gave orders to the soldiers to lay down their arms and to remain in the basement. At 1030 hours two British soldiers approached the chateau, and the German lieutenant asked us to make him and his men prisoners and march them out of the chateau. The colonel and captain had disappeared during the night. We armed ourselves, made the Germans our prisoners, and marched them outside. We contacted the two British soldiers, handed the Germans, numbering 61, over to them, and accompanied the party to a local headquarters. We were then sent to the beach and despatched by boat to the United Kingdom.