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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. R G St.James-Smith


Ronald Godfrey St.James-Smith was born in July 1920 in Stockport and joined the RAF on 21st September 1936 as a Boy Entrant. He later remustered as an Airman u/t Air Gunner and after completing his training he was posted to 18 Squadron as a LAC Air Gunner on Blenheims.

The squadron was part of the Advanced Air Striking Force sent to France in September 1939.

On 30th April 1940 he was on a reconnaissance sortie in Blenheim IV L8875 WV-S when their compass failed in a storm. The pilot force-landed at Evere in Belgium and the crew, Sgt. AWS Thomas, Sgt. JJF Talbot and St.James-Smith were interned. They were released after the Germans invaded on 10th May.

Back in action on 16th May the same crew had to force-land at Vitry in L8863 after being hit by ground fire. The pilot, Sgt. AWS Thomas, got the aircraft down despite a bullet passing through his neck and out through his jaw. He died from his wounds two days later.

From 4th July 1940 St James-Smith began operating as S/Ldr. HL Maxwell’s air gunner. When Maxwell was posted from 18 Squadron to command 600 Squadron at Redhill on 16th September 1940, he took St James-Smith with him. When Maxwell was posted away on 15th December 1940, St James-Smith rejoined 18 Squadron.

St.James-Smith was killed on 13th April 1941 as a Flight Sergeant with 18 Squadron, operating in Blenheims from Great Massingham, Norfolk.

Blenheim IV L9247 WV-L was shot down near Schiermonnikoog, Holland during an anti-shipping sortie. The bodies of F/O RF Tapp and F/Sgt. JM Anderton were washed up on the north German coast and are buried at Sage War Cemetery, west of Bremen.

St.James-Smith was not recovered and he is remembered on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 37.








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