It is with great sadness that the Association must report the recent passing of Philip Edward Tetlow, one of our stalwart World War II veterans from the Lancaster era.
Philip’s funeral will be held at the Bramcote Crematorium on Thursday 5th March at 1.30pm and Mary would be delighted to see any members of the Association or current Squadron. The address and postcode is:
Bramcote Crematorium, Coventry Lane, Beeston, Bramcote, Nottinghamshire NG9 3GJ
Should you be planning to attend, please let Andy Holland know via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) as he will be calling Mary to forward all the names of those attending from the Sqn and Assn.
Philip’s wishes were for ‘no black’ at the funeral and for ‘bright colours to be worn’. Also, please do not send flowers but if you would like to make a donation, please donate to Cancer Research.
Philip was crewed with Don Macintosh DFC and flew on all of IX(B) Squadron’s raids against the Tirpitz. His own written words explain the events leading up to the Squadron’s sinking of one of Hitler’s crown jewels in November 1944:
‘On armistice morning we were ordered to proceed post-haste to the advanced base in Scotland. I remember wondering inanely, how the two minutes silence affected us. That was the condition this target had reduced me to. In the afternoon I went to sleep on my bed and awoke to find I had missed the Wireless Operators briefing. Perhaps I shall go down in history as the only clot ever to be briefed for a major operation – in a Salvation Army canteen. Round about two o’clock next morning, the air was filled with the sound of aero engines being run up for a final check over. Our own Group Captain had taken possession of the contents of my pockets, in lieu of the intelligence officer, and he had smiled reassuringly when he saw my white, strained face. I forced myself to smile back but I was not reassured.
Sitting in the aircraft, awaiting the signal to take off, I conjured up visions of the entire Luftwaffe waiting to pounce on us. I prayed for a last minute cancellation. A few seconds later, we were bouncing along the runway with the airframe shuddering and straining to get the immense weight into the air. About four hours later, as we neared the Norwegian coast I picked up a message telling our deputy controller to take over leadership. This caused much speculation amongst the crew. Had our leader ditched? Been shot down? Suffered engine trouble? It was as though an alert had been sounded in the aircraft. Every man increased his vigilance, scouring the skies for the fist signs of hostility.
Once again we had been selected for wind finding. As we completed the necessary orbit and turned to join our formation an exclamation broke from Pete. We were at least half a dozen aircraft short in our squadron! There was no time for questions. The weather was perfect and the “pride of the German navy” was clearly visible, surrounded by a mass of lighter craft who were cramming on speed to get out of the target area. Everything was perfect – then Pete’s voice came over the inter-comm announcing that his automatic computer box was out of order and could we go round again to give him time to work out his own computations. We turned slowly in a wide circle getting a grand stand view as the other aircraft bombed. It was possible to watch some of the 12,000 lb missiles right down and I had not seen one hit the vessel although all were very close. By now Pete was all set to go, so we turned into our bombing run, scarcely daring to breathe, lest we disturbed Pete’s run up.
The Lanc gave a convulsive jerk and the bomb was away, speeding down to its target almost three miles beneath. There was a tremendous explosion about twenty yards away from her on the port side. We had missed but had we inflicted serious damage? There was an ear splitting yell from the Rear Gunner. “Ship, she’s on fire! Mac banked over and we could see a mighty blaze raging amid ships. Another explosion and then – yes – she was keeling over, slowly! Our petrol was extremely limited, so we reluctantly turned away. Mac gave a report of what we’d seen to the leader but he couldn’t get a reply. Everyone seemed to be using the radio at once.
We cheered and laughed and sang, then fell to feverishly discussing whether the Germans would be able to repair the so called “invincible battleship” or whether we had put her out of action for good.
After landing, I got a meal and went to bed. Round about nine, Pete woke me and we dressed and went down to the mess. Pandemonium was raging. Everybody was hopelessly drunk. Eventually we managed to corner our skipper and he explained that the only thing left of the Tirpitz was her back side sticking up out of the water! I can remember nothing more of that gloriously, chaotic evening.’