Benny Goodman & Andre Russell- WW2 Pilots #4
Sqn. Ldr. Lawrence “Benny” Goodman (Pilot. 617 Sqn) volunteered for aircrew at 18 years of age and was called up in 1940. After basic training he went to RAF Abingdon – a Whitley O.T.U – for what he was told would be ‘straight through’ training. This did not materialise and he found himself in the role of a Ground Gunner. In 1941, a posting eventually came through to the Initial Training Wing followed by Elementary Flying School at Peterborough and an instructor’s course at Woodley, Reading; then to Clyffe Pyparde, a holding unit. A sea journey to Canada followed and Service Flying Training School on Ansons. On completion he was posted to Kingston, Ontario, to instruct Acting Leading Naval Airmen on the Royal Navy tactics of the time. e.g. jinking after take off, dive bombing etc. “However, I had to learn everything first, so I was just about one step ahead of the students! said Benny.
Eventually returning to the UK and O.T.U. on Wellingtons at Silverstone and Heavy Conversion Bomber Unit at Swinderby on Stirlings. Then a short course at the Lancaster Conversion Unit. After an interview Benny and his crew were surprised and delighted to find they had been selected for 617 Squadron – this was in 1944 and they stayed together as a crew on 617 Squadron until the war in Europe ended. He completed 30 missions – all with William “Jock” Burnett as his flight engineer. Notable raids Benny took part in were on the Tirpitz (29/10/44), dropping the Grand Slam 22,000 bomb on the Arnsberg Viaduct (19/03/45) and the attack on Berchtesgarten ‘Eagles nest’ (25/05/45).
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