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 ditched 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