Remembering the Telegraphist Air Gunners
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ON THE CARRIER DECK They   were   approaching   the   carrier   deck      still   carrying   4   depth charges.      The   plane   stalled   on   the   approach   as   there   was   ice   on the   wings.   The   pilot   tipped   the   aircraft   over   on   its   side   to   gain height but “didn’t have a hope in hell”. There was a grinding of metal and then deadly silence. Stewart    Crawford,    was    in    the    turret.    His    first    reaction    was release   the   escape   hatch   and   dive   into   the   ocean.   But   then   he’d last   all   of   two   minutes   in   the   cold   water   and   the   ship   wasn’t going   to   stop   to   pick   him   up.   He   tried   for   the   rear   cockpit,   but forgot   to   unplug   his   helmet   and   nearly   strangled   himself.   His Mae   West   caught   in   the   pistol   grip   controls   and   inflated.      The plane was now on fire. He   reached   the   rear   cockpit,   opened   the   door   and   discovered the    plane    was    suspended    in    mid-air    below    the    stern    of    the carrier.   He   proceeded   along   the   side   of   the   plane   to   reach   the   safety   of   the   carrier   deck.   The   ship’s   fire   crew   was   trying   to   put out the fire and the powerful jets of water nearly knocked him into the sea. The   CO   met   him   on   the   flight   deck   and   in   a   rather   arrogant   voice   demanded   to   know   if   Crawford   had   set   the   bomb   switches   to safe. Crawford says he had no recollection of his response, but,  told the CO in basic Anglo-Saxon to…. “go away”! Stewart Crawford  was probably one of the few Telegraphist Air Gunners who told off his C.O. and got away with it! (Click on photos to enlarge) Photo 1: Avenger 6BE immediately before impact on HMS Premier Photo 2: Steward Crawford Comes Aboard Photo 3: The Avenger immediately prior to ditching Photo 4: A view from the air taken by Observer S/Lt. Drinkwater whose pilot S/Lt. Rennie landed safely after the crashed aircraft was dirched (Stewart   Crawford   passed   away   June   21,   2009.   He   served   as   a Telegraphist Air   Gunner   in   the   Royal   Navy   during   the      Second   World War   and   was   from   Glasgow,   Scotland.   He   was   actively   involved   with   the   Telegraphist   Air   Gunners      Association   (TAGA)   and   was their   Honorary Treasurer.      Stewart   Crawford   was   a   friend   of   the   Wartime   Heritage Association   and   was   involved   in   sharing   some   of his      wartime   experiences   and   historical   information,   which   contributed   to   the   Association’s   wartime   theatrical   stage      musical productions.   He   will   be   remembered   by   all   those   with   Wartime      Heritage   that   had   the   opportunity   to   meet   him   during   the Telegraphist   Air   Gunners   Association's   (TAGA)   events      and   Annual   Memorial   Weekends   in   Lee-On-Solent,   Hampshire,   UK   between 2004   and   2007.      Stewart   was   of   great   assistance   to   the   Wartime   Heritage Association   in   the   preparation   of   the      performance   for the  Telegraphist Air Gunners Association at their reunions.  The   obituary   (from         Stewart   A.   Crawford   passed   away   suddenly,   but   peacefully,   at   the   Royal Infirmary,   Glasgow,   on   Sunday,   June   21st,      2009;   beloved   husband   of   Maureen,   dear   dad   of   John   and   David,   loving   and   loved grandpa   of   Fraser   and   Katrina,      and   father-in-law   of   Sheila.   Funeral   service   is   to   be   held   at   Linn   Crematorium,   Lainshaw   Drive, Glasgow,   Scotland      on   Friday,   June   26th,   at   11:45am.   No   flowers   please,   but   donations,   if   desired,   to   Chest,   Heart   and   Stroke Scotland.   He   will   be   missed   by   our   members   and   remembered   always.   We   extend   our   sincere   condolences   to   his   wife      Maureen, the rest of his family, and TAGA friends