….the debriefing officer spoke quietly and casually.
“The tour has been increased”
We dropped back into our seats, wide awake now, staring at him in shocked silence.
“It couldn’t mean us, we’ve only one more to go!” Jock said in a tone of disbelief.SGT JJ Baldwin
When my father Joe Baldwin showed me a story he had written I was surprised. He was a joiner by trade, thoughtful and gentle but not someone who put pen to paper very often. He had called the story ‘Only one more plus five to go’. It was about his time as a wireless operator in a Lancaster Bomber in Bomber Command from 1943 to 1945.
The tour of duty was for 30 sorties after which the crew were taken off active duty. Their chances of being killed each time they flew in action was 60 %. Their chances of surviving 30 sorties were 1 out of 5. On his 29th sortie his crew were told that they had to fly 5 more. Devastating news … but news which had to be absorbed without emotion or reaction. In the mid ‘70s and still traumatised after 30 years he wrote this story about his time.
Wireless Operator is a stage play written by his son, Bob Baldwin, inspired by our Dad’s story and honouring his memory.
Families of those who served in Bomber Command often share a common experience; of a distant father or troubled grandfather who never or rarely spoke about their experiences but suffered severe, sometimes lifelong mental effects, now identified as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder.
In association with International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln we are contributing to their archive of the experiences of those affected.
Please share your important family story here…