Royal Air Force Personnel Honour Former Member in Oxfordshire
Members of the Royal Air Force from RAF Brize Norton and Joint Services Command and Staff College (JSCSC) Shrivenham attended the funeral of Wing Commander (Retired) Charles Cawthorne DFC on Thursday 16th March. The service took place at St Michael and All Angels church, Highworth.
Charles Cawthorne joined the RAF as a boy apprentice, enlisting on the 5th September 1939 and undertaking training at RAF Halton. At the age of eighteen he was accepted for aircrew and sent to RAF St Athan for training as an Air Engineer, firstly on Short Stirlings and then onto Avro Lancasters.
On August 17 1943 he took part in a low level full moon raid on Peenemünde, the rocket research establishment sited on the Baltic coast. He spoke of the event when speaking to the Numbers 50 and 61 Squadrons Associations.
“On leaving the target we were attacked by a night fighter and sustained severe damage resulting in the rear gunner receiving a serious shell wound to his foot and the creation of a serious fire within the fuselage where hydraulic oil from a ruptured pipe to the rear turret sprayed oil within the rear fuselage. The rear turret and ammo boxes and supply trays to the rear turret were burning furiously, I reported the situation to the Aussie pilot who simply told me to go and put the bloody fire out. Fortunately, the mid-upper gunner had shot down the fighter he joined me and the WOP in fighting the fire with extinguishers and gloved hands.”
Wing Commander Jamie Turnbull, Station Commander Shrivenham said, “It is a privilege and an honour to represent the RAF. I am very pleased to commemorate and celebrate the life of a fellow RAF Officer. Importantly to commemorate his wartime service and celebrate the life. He clearly had a sense of adventure through his RAF service and beyond.”
Charles Cawthornes sister, Doreen Cawthorne, spoke passionately about her brother’s time in the RAF. She said, “It has been really brilliant to see the RAF here today. The RAF was such a big part of our life. There were always friends and colleagues coming back to the house. Charles was always joking around, but there was a serious side too, often colleagues wouldn’t return, but the humour was how they dealt with it.”
Lest we forget.