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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.

While with 100 Squadron (RAF) he once discovered that his top hat was missing from his locker. After the briefing for the next Sortie, the Commanding Officer asked "Were there any questions?". John stood up and said that he was not going on the mission that night. After some initial surprise, the CO asked him why. John told him that "Some Pommy bastard had taken my lucky charm", his funeral director's hat. The CO told him to stay behind for 10 minutes and he would get his hat back. The CO then turned to the rest of the crews and told them "You know what has to be done", and sure enough, he had his hat back within 10 minutes.

A number of authors of books have referred to John and his funeral director's hat in their books. Unfortunately they have not obtained their information first hand and are repeating a few things that never happened. For instance a few books have stated that he used to wear his hat to briefings. John said that this was not the case as the hat used to be kept in his locker with all his flying gear and this would only be picked up after briefings. Some authors also have stated that he used to wear the hat in the aircraft. John said that because of the hat's size and the fact that he had to wear his flying helmet, he never wore the hat on a mission. The following is from the book on 460 Squadron RAAF, called "Strike and Return" by Peter Firkins:-

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 - see above) 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.


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This page last amended on 22 February 2020