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The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. G Garside


Geoffrey Garside was born in Halifax, Yorkshire on 10th September 1912 and educated at the Junior Technical School and Technical College in Halifax. He went to work in his father's company, James Garside & Son Halifax, manufacturers of textile machinery.

Garside joined the RAFVR a few days after the outbreak of war as an Aircrafthand.

He later remustered as an Airman u/t Observer. After a ground navigation course he was posted to Squires Gate in February 1940 for flying training. This was followed by a bombing and gunnery course at Penrhos in May.


On 19th July Garside joined 236 Squadron at Thorney Island and flew his first operational sortie on the 27th.

Flying with Sgt. EA Alexander, he carried out passenger flying boat escorts, reconnaissances of the French coast and fighter patrols. In December 1940 Garside was posted to 209 Squadron, operating in Lerwicks from Stranraer.

He went to Andover in March 1941 for retraining and in April joined 59 Squadron at Bircham Newton. The squadron operated Blenheims, mainly engaged in finding and bombing E-boats, particularly around Ijmuiden, Holland.

When his tour finished Garside went to CGS Catfoss as an instructor. In July 1942 he was posted to RAF Cranwell to train for service in anti-submarine Whitleys and in late August he joined 58 Squadron at St. Eval, moving soon afterwards to Stornaway.

On 17th September 1942 Garside was a member of the crew of a Whitley carrying depth charges.
The aircraft took off but its engines stopped at 1000 feet and the pilot made a crash-landing on a beach. The depth charges did not explode but the aircraft caught fire. All aboard escaped but Garside's face and hands were very badly burned.

He was admitted to Bangour Hospital, West Lothian. From then until he was released from the RAF in 1946 as a Warrant Officer Garside returned regularly to Bangour Hospital for skin grafts. In between treatments he served in operations rooms.

He died in 2000.


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