As I pointed out in my previous blog post about Len Dorricott, although Bomber Command’ casualties continued at an absolutely dreadful level, many men, thank God, lived to tell the tale. Indeed, Len Dorricott, the navigator of the famous “G for George” of 460 Squadron, was to live to the ripe old age of 91.
His wife, Rosemary, described him thus:
“Len, my husband
A quiet man, a gifted man who performed courageous acts during the Second World War. Hardly more than a child, he trained and volunteered for the RAF and so started his adventures through life. Bomber Command took men of great bravery for the mammoth tasks they undertook and Len was one of them, gaining a DFM for his courage.
This determination remained with him throughout his life. In later years, he gained a degree in Engineering (M.T.Mch.E) and was principal engineer specialising in the performance of gas turbines.
He had enormous artistic gifts in photography, particularly the Bromoil branch of this. He lectured and judged. He demonstrated his favourite Bromoils as well as other forms of photography and exhibited profusely. Many an accolade he received for these feats.”
Some of his Bromoils are on the Internet. Here is “Grayfriars in winter” :
“The Glory Hole” :
and “The Stepping Stones”
“Len did not stay that adventurous teenager he was in Bomber Command !! Like all of us, old age has seen him take a more peaceful and restful existence with cryptic crosswords and his love of books. His weekly visits to the camera club and Friday lunchtime visits to the Dambusters Public House in Scampton with his great pal, Richard.”
When the time came, his wife has described Len’s funeral.
“Len’s funeral was a celebration of his life, the crematorium filled to over flowing with a lovely service by the vicar and a reading of the Australian prayer dedicated to all 460 Squadron personnel who had passed away. Len was attached to this squadron and the plane he flew many ops in is now housed in the Canberra War Museum in Australia gifted to them by our government after the war.”
“It was a very moving service and afterwards we made our way to the Dambusters Inn and RAF Museum where those who could make it were treated to a hot buffet and an exhibition of Len’s prints. This public house is in Scampton, home of the famous Dambuster squadron and today’s Red Arrows. At 4.15 pm the landlord of this inn arranged for two of the Red Arrows team to do a flypast (they were practicing anyway) and they finished with the pass for fallen heroes—a fitting end to the wonderful life of my husband Len.”
“The family flowers only were in the form of the 460 badge “Strike and return” and donations made to the IBBC Trust (IBBC is the International Bomber Command Centre).”
“The funeral ended to the strains of Nimrod as he went on his way, we thought a fitting finale to his life
until the Red Arrows !!
It was a day to commemorate those airmen who flew on their missions during the war.
Coningsby is the home of today’s Royal Air Force and also the base for Bomber Command’s Memorial Flight, the City of Lincoln Lancaster together with the Hurricane and Spitfire.”
These were joined by the only other flying Lancaster that had come all the way over from Canada to tour this country and the day was made more special as the two Lancs sat side by side on the tarmac:
We were gathered there together with many fellow veteran airmen, to receive their well deserved clasps in recognition of their service by bomber command.
The summer weather had been lovely and we hoped that this would continue for the special day — but the British summer lived up to its reputation — and the heavens opened — so the planned flight of the two veteran aircraft was unable to take place —they still sat side by side on the tarmac !!
Seated in front of them were the veteran airmen one by one they were called to receive their clasps, a short synopsis was made of the war exploits of each one – then they were photographed in front of the planes those who could stood —others in wheel chairs !!!
We were able to talk to and meet the crews of the two Lancs — a very great honour — and it was so moving to see the light in the eyes of those old airmen, some infirm — but that sparkle of adventure was still there !!
It was a privilege and an honour to share this day with them. A day that I will treasure and remember for the rest of my days !!
Rosemary CW Dorricott
wife of Flight Lieutenant Leonard William Dorricott DFM
August 8th 2014
This may be the prayer that Rosemary mentioned.
Almighty and all-present Power,
Short is the prayer I make to Thee.
I do not ask in battle hour
For any shield to cover me.
The vast unalterable way
From which the stars do not depart,
May not be turned aside to stay
The bullet flying to my heart.
I ask no help to strike my foe,
I seek no petty victory here.
The enemy I hate, I know
To Thee is also dear
But this I pray:
Be at my side
when death is drawing through the sky,
Almighty God, Who also died,
Teach me the way that I should die.
Entitled, “An Airman’s Prayer ”, it was written by Hugh Brodie who was posted missing on June 3rd 1942 after the Wellington bomber in which he was the observer failed to return from a raid on Essen.