'Fear flew with us on raid'
By Michael Evans Defence Editor

AT SIX O'CLOCK in the evening of February 13, 1945, Flying Officer Ralph Tyrrell set off on what was to be a momentous round-trip of nearly ten hours on board his RAF Lancaster bomber. Destination: Dresden.

He and the six other members of the crew from 207 Squadron 5 Group Bomber Command were part of the first raid in a wave of bombing missions on the German city. "There was an eighth member of the crew that night, called 'Fear', because none of us knew whether we'd be shot down, burnt alive or crash in the sea," the 81-year-old veteran told The Times yesterday.

Flying Officer Tyrrell, who was just 21, had no idea that in his role as bomb aimer on board the Lancaster he was helping to fulfil one of Winston Churchill's most controversial wartime decisions. Even in subsequent years when the killing of so many civilians generated fierce debate about the rights and wrongs of the raids on Dresden and other German cities, he never became embroiled in the arguments. It was not for him or his bomber crew to feel guilt, for the decision to target Dresden was taken by others.

Speaking at his home in Chelmsford, Essex, Mr Tyrrell said: "Their civilians were in the front line, just like our civilians." "My conscience was clear. When you saw what was going on in Auschwitz and other concentration camps and what those poor people suffered, you knew you were fighting for freedom."

Article in The Times Saturday 12 Feb 2005