Remembering James Allen Ward VC.
On July 7, 1941, New Zealander Ward was second pilot on a Vickers Wellington AA-R bomber which had just finished an attack on Münster, when it was were attacked by a German twin-engined night-fighter.
Bullets punctured a fuel line to the engine causing a fire to emerge in the starboard wing.
The crew onboard the bomber attempted to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers but were unsuccessful.
With some rope tied to his waist, Ward climbed out through the astrodome and along the wing, using a fire axe to give himself hand and foot hold to crawl along.
Thousands of feet in the air and in freezing temperatures, Ward managed to extinguish the blaze temporarily with the engine cover, enabling the bomber to make a safe landing despite the damage sustained.
The 22-year-old was summoned to 10 Downing Street a month later by Prime Minister Winston Churchill “in recognition of most conspicuous bravery”.
On just his second mission leading his own squadron, Ward was killed in action when his Wellington bomber was hit over Hamburg the following September.
Pictured is New Zealand painter Peter McIntyre’s depiction of James Allen Ward’s heroic actions.
Lest we forget 🌺