Crew: Benton

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Bill Benton
CREW
Pilot: F/O Bill Benton
Survived the war
Flight Engineer: F/Sgt Eric Rimmington
Survived the war
Navigator: F/O Johnnie (John Inshaw) Rogerson
Killed with Porter crew, 17 August 1944
Bomb Aimer: F/Sgt Les (Leslie Herbert) Smith
Killed with Porter crew, 17 August 1944
W/Op: F/Sgt Len Hornsby
Survived the war
Mid-Upper Gunner: F/Sgt “Polly” Holbrook
Survived the war
Rear Gunner: F/Sgt Jack Fernandez
Survived the war

LANCASTER in crew photo – JB683 OF-C Charlie

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L-R: Len Hornsby, Jack Fernandez, Eric Rimmington, Les Smith, Johnnie Rogerson, Bill Benton, Polly Holbrook

 

Eric Rimmington – Flight Engineer
I first started ops flying from Langar with 207 Squadron in June 1943. When I had done about 8 ops, my pilot left us, the crew were more or less “spare bods”. However, the flight engineer of F/Lt Benton’s crew was injured by a fighter attack over Hamburg and was taken off flying and I took his place. In October 1943 the whole of 207 Squadron was moved to Spilsby. We did our last trip with 207 on the 16th December to Berlin, then the whole crew were posted to 97 PFF Squadron … After the usual X-Countries etc, we did our first op with 97 on the 14th January 1944 to Brunswick.

I did several “spare bod” trips, as a result of which my list was longer than the other members of the crew. When we had done 30 ops, the rear gunner Jack Fernadez and the w/op Len Hornsby decided that they had done enough and were posted away – this did not go down well with the Flight Commander as it was expected that PFF crews should complete at least 45 ops. When I had reached this magic figure I decided to carry on until Bill Benton and “Polly” Holbrook the mid-upper, who were the only members left of the original crew, got to the 45 number – I must have had a brain storm or something.

Our last trip was to Munich on the 17th December ’44.

I can never understand who it was on the Squadron who kept the records of who took part in whatever raid, because I have only fairly recently found out the mistakes that have been made so far as I am concerned. On the 20th January, the crew were not down for Operations; a few of the crew including me, decided to go to the local pub and were just about to leave when a call came for me to report immediately to the crew room to be taken out to a Lanc. as a crew member had for some reason decided not to fly. I was rushed out by car to a Lancaster which had by then the engines running and other Lancasters were taking off. As I got in and closed the door, the pilot (P/O Smith) started to taxi towards the runway, When I got to the cockpit, the Skipper shook hands with me and said, “Where are we going?” and he replied “Berlin”. What really annoyed me was that I had missed the pre-flight meal and also had no flask off coffee and no sandwiches. The whole point of this little tale is that it is not listed that it was me who went.

Eric was 22 at the time of joining 97 Squadron, and came from Keighley in West Yorkshire. Years later he would recall of his skipper, “F/L Benton was as solid as they come, and I could not have wished for a better skipper, and he insisted on dedication to the job when flying on operations”.

 

LOVE, FELLOWSHIP, AND LOSS: RAF Bomber Command Aircrew, Their Families, and Their Friends