Flight Sergeant George Thompson V.C., No. 9 Squadron, Royal Air Force
Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1945, Flight Sergeant George Thompson V.C., of No. 9 Squadron, R.A.F., died in Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
He had been a grocer’s apprentice before joining the Local Defence Volunteers at the outbreak of the Second World War. In January of 1941 he joined the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve, trained as a ground crew wireless operator and served in Iraq. He then volunteered for aircrew and was posted to R.A.F. Bomber Command.
Three weeks before his death there there was an attack on the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Germany – the Lancaster bomber on which Flight Sergeant Thompson was the radio operator had released its bombs and then been hit by two shells, which caused a raging fire to break out. The mid-upper gun turret was ablaze, so Flight Sergeant Thompson went through the smoke-filled fuselage, despite the fire and exploding ammunition, to help the gunner to safety. He extinguished the gunner’s burning clothes with his bare hands and in doing so sustained serious burns to his legs, hands and face. He then went to the rear turret, which was also ablaze, and again used his already burnt bare hands to beat out flames on that gunner's clothing. In spite of his severe burns and charred clothing, he returned through the burning fuselage to report to the pilot. The aircraft finally crash-landed, killing the mid-upper gunner, but the rear gunner survived and made a full recovery thanks to Flight Sergeant Thompson, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. He had begun to recover from his injuries but with compromised health he sadly died of pneumonia shortly afterwards.
His Victoria Cross is displayed at the National War Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh Castle, and he is commemorated on The Portmoak Parish War Memorial, located within the grounds of the Bishopshire Golf Club at Portmoak in the county of Perth & Kinross, Scotland.
George, from Trinity Gask in Perthshire, was 24 years old.