JAN (JOHN) GOULEVITCH, DFC
HIS TIME IN 460 SQUADRON
Jan and Julia Goulevitch - Anzac Day
Click here for Jan (John) Goulevitch - His Life Story
Jan Goulevitch was posted to 460 Squadron at Binbrook on 2 July 1943. He completed his 'Tour' (30 sorties) in Lancasters while he was with 460 Squadron. Fight Sergeant Goulevitch became one of the Station's personalities and was often seen wearing a funeral director's hat. He obtained the hat when it was left behind on a chair in a bar. He used to take it with him in the aircraft. It was placed on a shelf between himself and the navigator just behind his shoulder.
John Goulevitch had a few mishaps during his stay with 460 Squadron. His first and most eventful was on his first mission with his new Squadron to Cologne in Germany on 3 July 1943. The took off for the mission at around 2316 hours.
His Lancaster was hit by at least 6 shells which penetrated the fuselage in a number of spots cutting control lines for the trim tabs for the ailerons. The aircraft was flying below the level at which the flak shells were set to explode, hence the flak shells pierced the aircraft without exploding. One flak shell took the propeller off one of the four engines. Another engine was hit, lost its oil and seized up. One of the other four engines started over-revving and could only be run for 10 minutes at a time to prevent overheating. This left only one healthy engine out of four and one that could only be used for short durations.
One of the other flak shells went through the aircraft a few inches to the left of where John was sitting, while another went approximately 18 inches on the other side of him where the Flight Engineer would normally be standing. Fortunately he was standing further back in the aircraft at the time. Because of these particular hits the aircraft became extremely cold and breezy.
Due to the combination of the loss of three engines and the loss of the aileron trim tabs, the aircraft became extremely difficult to fly. In fact John had to push hard forward on the control column and have the Flight Engineer practically sitting on his back to get enough pressure on the control column. He also had to have the column rotated almost fully in one direction and one of his rudder pedals pushed in to maintain a reasonable flying attitude.
The Lancaster was at approximately 20,000 feet when it was hit and was down to about 5,000 feet over Paris. John asked the crew to get ready to bail out but they all indicated that they would stay with the aircraft if he was going to. Once this was established, John ordered the aircraft to be lightened by ditching any unnecessary equipment. This included the oxygen tanks, the bunk, guns, ammunition, any loose fittings, and also the parachutes. While crossing the French coast, the aircraft was attacked by an ack-ack barrage. John ordered the Wireless Operator to fire the colours of the day, which was enough to confuse the German gunners and allow them to get out of harms way.
The aircraft was down to about 300 to 400 feet when it crossed the English coastline between Dover and Folkstone. John called "Darkie" over his radio. "Darkie" was the equivalent of today's "Mayday". "Darkie" was a system whereby pilots, unsure of their position whilst flying over a "blacked out" U.K., would transmit on a designated frequency which had a range of possibly twenty/thirty miles. Airfields throughout the U.K. would maintain a "listening Watch" on this frequency, and if they received such a call they would then activate the airfield "Pundit light", searchlight or runway lights for a limited period, thus enabling a crew to have a visual reference to the airfield.
John established contact with a WAAF wireless operator at Hawkinge airstrip in Kent and located the red beacon marking the airstrip's location. When he told the WAAF that he was in a Lancaster, she directed John to continue on to a larger airstrip, as Hawkinge field was only a very small airfield for Hurricanes and Wallrusses. John said he could not go any further and the WAAF pleaded with him to go on to the next strip. He told her he intended to land and she started to cry. Hawkinge airfield was not flat and in fact was shaped like a saucer with a big dip in the middle.
At 4 a.m. in the morning, the light from the Chance light made the field look flat and John did not allow for the dip. He lowered his wheels and started his sick engine. He could not use his flaps. The Lancaster hit the ground hard and bounced in to a potato field after ripping off both wings. Before the aircraft stopped shaking from the crash, there were fire hoses in the already open hatches and the face of the base doctor peering in. The only injuries were a slight bump of the knees on the dashboard for John and a bump on the head as the Flight Engineer hit the roof on the initial sudden impact. Later on they found out that they had bounced over the top of some fuel tanks located at the end of the airfield.
The crew did not get an opportunity to have a look at the aircraft in daylight as it was placed under close guard.
The details of this incident were also mentioned in the excellent book "Strike and Return" by Peter Firkins:-
|Another crew on their first operation,
Flight Sergeant J. Goulevitch's, were badly hit by flak over the same target and had their
hydraulics completely shot away and consequently the bomb doors couldn't be closed. The
trimming gear was also upset, which made the controls most difficult to handle, and the
return trip home was accomplished only because of the assistance of the flight engineer,
Sergeant R.S. Scarr, and the bomb aimer, Sergeant A.G. Elwing.
Scarr helped his captain by pushing forward on the control column while Elwing hung on the rudder bars. After a nightmare trip home they finally put down at Hawkinge, which was the first aerodrome they came to over England. Their first approach to land was unsuccessful as they overshot the runway, but they managed to stagger around again and belly-landed so heavily that they bounced over the aerodrome fence and finally came to rest in an adjacent field.
The crew scrambled out of the wrecked Lancaster as quickly as they could in case she decided to blow up, but after running some distance they remembered their passenger, "a carrier pigeon," so the rear gunner, Flight Sergeant P.L. Jones, returned to the wreck and salvaged their feathered friend, who was probably less shaken than any of them.
Goulevitch, like most aircrew, had an eccentricity of rather an unusual nature. He had as a good luck token an undertaker's top hat which he piously wore all through briefing and kept on during the whole of an operation. (this is not true - visit the Link regarding his Top Hat) When taking off he would religiously dip his lid to the control tower as his heavily-laden bomber passed by, and when over enemy territory, if he was forced to take any sort of evasive action, he invariably had one hand on his hat to stop it from falling off, using the other one for what he regarded as almost the less important task of flying the bomber.
The details on this incident are covered in some VERY SECRET papers that John had amongst his personal belongings when he died. They state as follows:-
Aircraft Type and Number: E.D. 369
CREW: F/Sgt. J. Goulevitch, Sgt. Halstead, Sgt. A.G. Elwing, Sgt.
H. Gorell, Sgt. R.W. Scarr, F/Sgt E. H. Anderson, F/Sgt. P.L. Jones
DUTY: Operations COLOGNE
Time Up: 23.02
Time Down: 03.45
Bombing attack on COLOGNE: Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb HC, 1 x 1000 lb MCTD 0.025, 1 x 1000 MCLD (36 hours) 48 x 30 lbs INC 570 x 4 lbs INC 30 x 4 lbs INC "X" filled, COLOGNE was attacked at 01.40 hours from 20,000 ft. 10/10ths cloud tops 17,000 ft. Bombed fire glow - no flares at the time. Glow of fires seen through cloud. Damaged by heavy flak. Belly landed at HAWKINGE, crew unhurt.
The above incident is also reported in "The Australian Aviation War Diary" by Dennis Newton as follows:-
50 YEARS AGO...
July 3/4 - Britain. Target Cologne. Out of 653 aircraft, 9 Halifaxes, 8 Lancasters, 8 Wellingtons, and 5 Stirlings are lost. Twenty industrial premises and 2,200 houses are destroyed. 588 people are killed, approximately 1,000 injured and 72,000 bombed out. A new german unit, Jagdgeschwader 300, equipped with single engined fighters using Wilde Sau (Wild Boar) tactics, claims 12 bombers over the target. 460 Squadron loses one Lancaster, F/Sgt. C. Edwards and crew on their first operation. F/Sgt. J. Goulevitch, the crew also on their first mission, is badly hit by flak and has to force land at Hawkinge.
HELP WITH ANY MORE INFORMATION
I would love to find out any more details on this crash landing at Hawkinge. I'd particularly love to find a photograph of the aircraft after it had crash landed on 3 July 1943. Can you help?
Click here to E-Mail me with any
on this Crash Landing.
Bruce McDonald was able to provide the following info on the above Crash Landing:-
Subject: Some info
Date: Mon, 19 Jan 1998
From: "Bruce McDonald - World Medal Catalogue" (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Found an entry on page 224, "Bomber Command Losses 1943" (see below):-
Lancaster ED369 Op: Koln
Crash landed at Hawkinge, Kent at 0345hrs
7 lancasters lost on mission.
Also brief on raid in Bomber Command Diaries pages 405-406.
BOMBER COMMAND LOSSES 1943
460 Sqn Lancaster I ED369 AR-A Op: Koln (Cologne)
F/S J. Goulevitch RAAF
Sgt. R.W. Scarr
Sgt. Halstead RAAF
Sgt. A.G. Elwing
Sgt. H. Gorrell
F/S E.H. Anderson RAAF
F/S P.L. Jones
T/o 2316 Binbrook. Badly damaged by flak and subsequently crash-landed 0345 at Hawkinge airfield, Kent, with its wheels still retracted. No injuries reported.
According to some Secret papers that were found in John's personal possessions after he died, he was involved in a mission to Turin on 12 July 1943 to bomb the Turin railway centre. The mission's aim was to cut the German supply chain through the railway centre from France and Germany.
The crew on this flight were:- F/Sgt. J. Goulevitch, F/Sgt.
Halstead, F/ Sgt. A.G. Elwing, Sgt. H. Gorell, Sgt. R.W. Scarr,
P.O. E. H. Anderson and Sgt. Moynagh. The Lancaster was Unit JA 687. The Very Secret
documents which look to be mission reports written the next day refer to 14 aircraft being
unaccounted for at that point in time but "they cannot as yet be regarded as
missing". There were 295 Lancasters involved in the raid. They flew through storms to
and from the target but the weather around Turin was clear.
John was involved in a 705 aircraft bombing mission to Essen, the largest industrial city in the Ruhr on 25 July 1943. His crew on this mission were:- F/Sgt. J. Goulevitch, F/Sgt W.K. Halstead, F/Sgt. A.G. Elwing, Sgt. H. Gorell, Sgt. R.W. Scarr, P/O E.H. Anderson, Sgt R.A. Moynagh. The Aircraft was Lancaster D.V. 174.
There was clear weather en route and only slight cloud and some ground haze over Essen. 24 aircraft were reported missing in initial mission reports. The main target was the Krupps armament and heavy engineering plant, the biggest in German-held Europe.
On a second consecutive mission to Milan in Italy on 15 August 1943, Jan Goulevitch had a fire in one engine due to the Glycol engine coolant pipe bursting. Glycol is very flammable. He feathered the engine and turned the petrol supply off to that engine. As the fire persisted, he eventually hit the foam button to extinguish the fames. The flight had to go through a high mountain pass on the way to Milan. John figured that he could just get through the pass on 3 engines, drop his payload and then with a much lighter aircraft, he could get back through the pass. He therefore continued on and bombed Milan. The mission is described as follows in the book "Strike and Return" by Peter Firkins:-
|Two nights later the squadron went back to the same target on a smaller attack and Flight Sergeant J. Goulevitch had a somewhat similar experience when at 20,000 feet his port-outer engine caught fire, However, he was flying over the Alps at the time and despite a rapid loss of height he had sufficient up his sleeve to get over the hump without having to resort to Rees' method.|
John was part of a large bombing raid on the German rocket research and development station at Peenemunde on the moonlit night of 17 August 1943. Of the 597 bombers which participated in this raid, 43 failed to return and a further 32 were badly damaged. John's crew on that flight were:- F/Sgt. J. Goulevitch, Sgt. R.J. Garrett, F. Sgt. A.G. Elwing, Sgt. H. Gorell, Sgt. E.F. Groom, P.O. E. H. Anderson and Sgt. S.C. Williams. There was no cloud en route. Visibility was good and early aircraft were able to identify the target clearly, until a smoke screen obscured ground detail.
On another mission to Leverkusen on 22 August 1943, Jan's rear gunner, A Mr. R. A. Moynagh, failed to answer when John called up all the crew before the bombing run. The Wireless Operator was sent back to see what the problem was. He found that the rear gunner's oxygen had failed and he was stiff and cold. John took the aircraft down from 20,000 to 10,000 feet while the Wireless Operator revived the rear gunner.
On 3 September 1943 John was part of a 320 aircraft bombing mission over Berlin. John's crew on this mission were:- F/Sgt. J. Goulevitch, F/Sgt W.K. Halstead, F/Sgt. A.G. Elwing, Sgt. H. Gorell, Sgt. J. McKenzie, P/O E.H. Anderson, Sgt R.A. Moynagh. The Aircraft was Lancaster D.V. 193. Three aircraft from 460 Squadron failed to return. The mission is described as follows in the book "Strike and Return" by Peter Firkins:-
|The first major operation in September
was another attack on Berlin, which in numbers was smaller than the two in August, but
despite the bitterest of opposition from the Germans it was probably the most successful,
heavy damage being done to the industrial suburbs of Siemenstadt, Charlottenburg and
Flight Sergeant J. Goulevitch summed up the feelings of his comrades when he said on return "obviously a success and far better than the previous two attacks. The wide streets could be seen in the light of the bomb bursts, and on the way home we could see the fires from over 90 miles away." However, three crews were missing including that of "C" Flight Commander, Squadron Leader C.R. Kelaher.
One of John Goulevitch's other incidents was in "G" for George, which is the Lancaster bomber on display in the Canberra War Memorial. This incident was on a bombing mission over Munich on 6 September 1943. After releasing his bombload, he lost oil in one engine and it seized up. Because of the seized engine, John was late back from the mission. Usually, he bombed first, and was generally first back to the airfield. By this time, "G" for George had 54 missions up out of its eventual total of 90 trips. 54 missions was even a pretty good record and because of this, the ground crew became attached to "G" for George and always waited to see it return. When it did not show up with the rest of the aircraft after the mission, the Sergeant of the ground crew started to get a bit anxious. John eventually called in on the radio when he was about 50 miles out and apparently the Sergeant almost broke into tears of joy. John only flew one mission in "G" for George.
On 29 September 1943 John Goulevitch took part in a 352 aircraft raid on Bochum, the fourth largest city in the Ruhr. They attacked the collieries, steel works and railways in the northern and north-western suburbs inflicting heavy damage. They had good cloud cover enroute to the target where they encountered clear weather. They encountered heavy flak over the target at 16-18,000 feet. 7 aircraft were reported missing. John's crew on this mission were:- F/Sgt. J. Goulevitch, Sgt. J. McKenzie, F/Sgt. A.G. Elwing, F/Sgt W.K. Halstead, Sgt. H. Gorell, P/O E.H. Anderson, Sgt R.A. Moynagh. The Aircraft was Lancaster D.V. 193.
On another trip (possibly either 12 July 1943 or the 7 August 1943) to Turin in Italy, the bomb doors only partly opened due to icing up. John decided to drop the large "cookie" bomb first to force the bomb doors open, but this busted the hydraulics and the doors stayed open for the next 10 hours making it a very cool trip. Unfortunately this also was his longest trip.
On one decoy mission (the main target was Frankfurt) to attract the fighters away from the main target, the German fighters suspected that the Lancasters were on a decoy mission and they flew right up beside them. So close in fact that the Lancaster crews could see the facial expressions of the German fighter pilots. When the main target was bombed, the decoy flight then returned to the main target and dropped their payload also.
Another mission that John was involved in was a mission to Leipzig on 20/21 October 1943. This mission is reported as follows in the book "Air War against Germany and Italy, 1939-1943".
|The mission was spoiled by foul weather. Seven aircraft ran into difficulties due to the loss of either one, two or three engines due to ice accretion. They were forced to jettison their bombs over enemy-held territory. Several of the bombers which did not reach Leipzig were forced to jettison part of their loads in order to maintain height. Incendiaries were seen burning throughout the route. Only 7 of 23 Pathfinders dropped flares or target indicators so that the bomber stream had practically no aid. One Lancaster piloted by Warrant Officer Goulevitch circled the target for 10 minutes and saw only one target indicator and then bombed the approximate centre of existing fires, but most Australians unashamedly bombed on "estimated time of arrival".|
The book "Strike and Return" by Peter Firkins describes this same mission to Leipzig as follows:-
|Two nights later 17 crews from the
squadron took part in a small attack on Leipzig but shocking weather with 10/10 cloud to
19,000 feet spoiled any chance of a successful attack.
Warrant Officer S.J. Ireland had three of his motors cut whilst flying through a storm, so jettisoned his bombs north of the target and lost height to 9,000 feet. The port-inner eventually restarted but Gee, the compass, and rear turret were all unserviceable.
His last mission was a 444 bomber raid over Kassel in Germany on the 22 October 1943. Kassel was the centre of German tank and locomotive production. The mission is described in the book "Strike and Return" by Peter Firkins as follows:-
|The last attack of the month was on Kassel and, despite severe icing and bad weather which caused some crews to turn back, the majority, including all the squadron crews participating, struggled on and were rewarded by clear weather over the target. This permitted visual marking and the main bomb load which was dropped in a record time of only 22 minutes (or one bomber every 2.7 seconds) hit the city with tremendous devastation, causing 615 out of a total of 960 acres to be burnt out. All three Henschel locomotives and tank factories were severely damaged.|
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I'd like to thank Terrence Thomas for his assistance with information on "Darkie".
© Peter Dunn 2015
The page last amended 16 September 2018