454 and 459 RAAF Squadrons
Flight Lieutenant Edward Langdon "Gerry" GRIMWADE
454 RAAF Squadron
Service No: 407864
Date of Birth : 14 Apr 1921
Place of Birth : PETERSHAM, NSW
Date of Enlistment: 1 Feb 1941
Date of Discharge: 25 Feb 1946
Rank: Flight Lieutenant
Date of Death: 8 Mar 2011
Crew member --- part of OPERATION "THESIS"
A retaliatory raid that would be a large combined air strike against various ports and military establishments on Crete. 8 crews were chosen for this mission. Gerry Grimwade flew with Squadron Leader L.H. Folkard, RAFVR
The "Thesis" Raid of Crete was to relieve pressure from the German operation "Huskey" - the Allied invasion of Sicily and avenge the execution of 100 Cretans who had been shot after assisting a Commando raid on the island.
454 were to provide 2 box formations of 4 aircraft each - each loaded with six 250 lb bombs. A 230 mile flight. The mission resulted in 5 aircraft lost over Crete.
The planners at HQ had forgotten that although the Allies were on double summer time, the Axis were not. The plan assumed the German defences would be at breakfast and be caught unawares, but in Crete, breakfast was over and the Germans were already attending their daily duties. This combined with the time it took the escort to coordinate and so the Baltimores consequently arrived over the island first, alerting the island defences, anti-aircraft guns and enemy fighters. The German defences were fully prepared and hence the inevitable result of this low-level strike.
Gerry whose crew logged three and three-quarter hours for the sortie, was another of the lucky returnees. Gerry said "we were a more experienced crew and didn't take undue chances". He later recalled "bloody lucky really and we watched Folkard go in, blown up by his own bombs." Together with the five Baltimores, thirteen of the escorting Hurricanes were also shot down.
FLIGHT CREW - FA 300 - FIRST WAVE - 23.7.1943
Squadron Leader L.H. Folkard, FAFVR
Warrant Officer F.R. Morgan, RAAF
Flight Sergeant R.N. Lawson, RNZAF
Flight Sergeant E.L. Grimwade, RAAF
Flight Sergeant W.T. Hayes, RNZAF
The other 3 Crews: AG 995; AG952; FA390:A
Second Wave - 23.7.43
4 CREWS: FA409; AG869; FA247 AND FA224
Akhurst's plane - the salvage crew examine the wreck of FA 390 A -- part of the First Wave
You can read more about this mission in Mark Lax's book "Alamein To The Alps"
Photo taken at Anzac Day Reunion 2006 (with his granddaughter)