207 SQUADRON ROYAL AIR FORCE HISTORY
207 Squadron RAF Association - Visit to Belgium May 2005
Monday May 9th 2005 - CWGC Cemetery Leopoldsburg
Victoria Cross Graves in the Cemetery
During this visit, we went to this cemetery to honour those of 207 Squadron who are buried here. We took the opportunity to pay our respects at these VC graves, perhaps representing all who died in the service of their country, often in cases where utmost gallantry was also shown.
SWALES VC DFC, EDWIN South African Major, South African Air Force 582 Sqdn.
Age: 29 died 23/02/1945
Service No: 6101V
Son of Harry E. and Olive M. Swales, of Durban Natal, South Africa.
Grave/Memorial Reference: VIII.C.5.
Lancaster PB538 60-M
Citation: The citation in the London Gazette of 20th April, 1945, gives the following detail: "Major Swales was the master bomber' of a force of aircraft which attacked Pforzheim on the night of 23rd February, 1945. Over the target the aircraft was repeatedly attacked by an enemy fighter and severely damaged, two engines being put out of action. Major Swales remained to issue aiming instructions until he was satisfied that the attack had achieved its purpose. By skilful flying he was able to bring the aircraft back to friendly territory, where he ordered the crew to bale out. The aircraft became gradually more difficult to control and, as the last of the crew jumped, it plunged to earth; Major Swales was found dead at the controls. Intrepid in attack, courageous in the face of danger,he did his duty to the last, giving his life that his comrades might live."
HARPER VC, JOHN WILLIAM Corporal
York and Lancaster Regiment The Hallamshire Bn.
Age: 28 died 29/09/1944
Service No: 4751678
Grave/Memorial Reference: V.B.15.
Citation: The citation in the London Gazette of 2nd January, 1945, gives the following details: "In Belgium, on 29th September, 1944, the Hallamshire Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment attacked the Depot de Mendicite, a natural defensive position surrounded by an earthen wall and a dyke and strongly held by the enemy. Corporal Harper, disregarding the heavy fire, led the section that he commanded up to the wall, and killed or captured the enemy holding the near side. The platoon commander was seriously wounded, and Corporal Harper took over command of the platoon. He then climbed over the wall and routed the Germans directly opposing him. Finding the dyke too deep to cross, he was ordered to establish his platoon on the far side of the wall, between it and the dyke. This he succeeded in doing with the loss of only one man, having himself by then climbed the wall three times. Finally he was fatally wounded while directing his company commander to a ford which had been discovered by the neighbouring battalion. The success of the battalion in driving the enemy from the wall and back across the dyke must be largely ascribed to the superb self-sacrifice and inspiring gallantry of Corporal Harper. His magnificent courage, fearlessness and devotion to duty throughout the battle set a splendid example to his men and had a decisive effect on the course of the operations."
207 Squadron RAF Association visit to Belgium May 2005
Edwin Swales - South African Military History Society
last update 29 Jul 05