Stalham man’s wartime RAF medals donated to aviation museum
- Credit: Nick Butcher
The wartime memorabilia of a former member of the famous 617 Squadron has been handed over to an aviation museum honouring one of his final wishes.
Alan Garrod, who lived in Stalham was a flight engineer on Lancaster bombers during the Second World War and joined the famous Dambuster squadron shortly after the raids in 1943.
He died last year aged 89 and one of his wishes was that his medals, commemorative badges, log book and other memorabilia be donated to the Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton, near Bungay.
Mr Garrod was born in Henstead, Suffolk, in November 1924 and was the youngest of six children.
Like many people of his generation, he spoke little about the war, but he did put pen to paper and detail some of his early life in a booklet, a copy of which will remain with his memorabilia at the museum.
In 1941, when he was 17, he was a founder member of 469 Squadron (Lowestoft) Air Training Corps, hoping to eventually join the RAF.
He eventually received his call-up papers and went to sign up for the RAF and was accepted for aircrew duties.
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In April 1943 he was posted to London before being posted to Torquay for training.
He wrote: 'During this period the Dambuster raid took place and I thought 'what a great achievement. Wouldn't it be great to join this squadron?''
One day a notice appeared in the mess room asking for an engineer to join a crew on 617 squadron for a tour of ops so Mr Garrod applied and was accepted.
'This was a dream or an ambition come true - to fly with the elite Dambuster Squadron,' he wrote.
'I finished my tour of 43 ops trying to find Hitler's bunker at Bechtesgarden.
'For this op we were issued with binoculars to locate the tower, however it was all under deep snow and we bombed a big barracks occupied by Hitler's bodyguard, and that was the end of my war.
'I was demobbed in 1946 and have since wondered many times whether we really did help to shorten the war and whether all the loss of life was worth it.'
His widow Wendy joined family members, friends and members of the Potter Heigham branch of the Royal Air Forces Association at the museum on Tuesday to hand over the items.
Mrs Garrod said: 'He came here all the time and loved coming here. He always said he wanted his things to come here and they include a photograph of him taken at the museum about two years ago. We are also leaving a copy of the story he wrote about his life.'
Mick De'Ath, treasurer of the Potter Heigham RAFA branch knew Mr Garrod since he joined the branch in 1999.
He said: 'One of the most significant objects here is his flying log book which detailed every flight he was on during the war. He was in the 617 squadron, shortly after the dam raids. Obviously they lost quite a few air crew and he would have been one of the ones who came in to replace them.'
After leaving the RAF, Mr Garrod went on to become a mechanical engineer and among those attending the hand over ceremony was Bernard Rowland who served as his apprentice at Constitution Motors in Norwich.
Mr Garrod had a love of vintage cars, in particularly Morris cars and was a member of Wymondham Old Timers car club.