A Bomber Command Navigator 80 years on – Alan W. Green

80 years ago tonight, P/O Alan Green embarked on his first bombing mission over Nazi Occupied Europe as a Navigator in a Vickers Wellington (R1436) based at RAF Marham in Norfolk. On this occasion, the target was the port of Ostend on the Belgian coast. 

Alan, who was born in Coventry, had previously signed up for service as a 20-year-old Pharmacy student (at Leicester School of Pharmacy) at RAF Cardington (home of the airship hangars) on the 1st May 1940. Having originally been earmarked for Observer/Pilot, he was selected as a Navigator, as a result of colour blindness. He was mobilised on 20th September 1940, following which he was sent to Torquay in Devon to complete his basic training. On 14th November 1940, Alan heard rumours that 1000s had been killed in his home city in the biggest single raid on the UK in WW2. After 2 hours in a phone box the following day, he finally got through to “Coventry” to learn that there were no “Greens” on the casualty list, although 60% had not been identified at that stage.

In a subsequent heartfelt letter to his parents, he reassured his father that they could rebuild the family business which had suffered terrible damage, but no casualties thankfully.

On 15th December 1940, he was sent by ship to Canada to undertake his airborne training, as part of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan. This scheme trained over 160000 RAF aircrew, the majority of whom in Canada. After some 7 months, he returned to the UK to complete his flying training at several Operational Training Units (OTU). OTU 12 was at RAF Benson on the Fairey Battle, while OTUs 20 and 27 were at Lossiemouth and Litchfield respectively on the Wellington. On completion of his training he was transferred to 218 Squadron on 8th December 1941 at RAF Marham in Norfolk, before undertaking his first mission on 16th December.

See below some extracts from the National Archives, aircraft records, as well as Alan’s logbook.

Logbook Entry (source: A. Green):

Extracts From the 218 Squadron Operational Record Book (source: National Archives):

Aircraft Service Record (Source: 218 Squadron Association):

Alan flew in this Wellington (R1448) on 21st Dec 1941:

Alan’s Wellington. In total 11,462 of these aircraft were built.

Stay tuned on the blog for more insight into Alan Green’s flying career with the Bomber Command, and his contribution to aviation history.

Lecturer in Air Transport Management at Buckinghamshire New University, Module Leader in Aviation Sustainability Management. Experienced Airbus/Boeing Captain.

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