514 Sqn senior officers in November 1943.
Back Row: P/O Croston (Electrical Officer), F/O Angus (Bombing Leader), F/Lt Wand, Engineer), F/Lt Hall (Engineering Leader), F/Lt Thomson (Signals Leader), F/O Trick (Specialist / Instruments), F/O Bowen (Specialist / Instruments).
Front Row: F/Lt Beckett (Navigation Officer), F/Lt Stevens (Adjutant), S/Ldr Reid (A Flight Commander), W/Cdr Samson (Squadron Commander), S/Ldr Roberts (B Flight Commander), F/O Lemerle (Medical Officer), F/Lt Pollock (Gunnery Officer). Source - National Archives.
The Leaders of 514 Squadron
In its two-year existence, 514 Squadron was commanded by three experienced officers, all of them pilots.
8th September 1943 – 15th May 1944
Wing Commander Arthur James Samson DFC.
Born in Newfoundland but settling in Barrow-in-Furness, W/Cdr Samson oversaw the first eight months of the squadron’s operations, including the Battle of Berlin and the run-up to D-Day. The ORB notes that, following the reported ditching of one of the squadron’s Lancasters he put together a scratch crew and personally flew a search mission, locating the downed aircraft some 70 miles out in the North Sea. The crew of F/O Lou Greenburgh all survived their 16-hour ordeal thanks to this inspiring piece of leadership by their squadron commander.
W/Cdr Samson survived the war itself, only to be killed on 8th September 1945 when flying a Dakota carrying sick POWs recently released from Japanese captivity. The aircraft exploded just off the coast of Burma with the loss of all 4 crew and 24 passengers.
W/Cdr Samson’s courage and leadership were not in any doubt. The citation for his DFC, awarded in 1942, read:
For the last three months Squadron Leader Samson has been employed as a flight commander. One night in July 1942, he attacked Saarbrucken, despite intense anti-aircraft fire, and on another occasion in August he flew a very badly damaged aircraft safely back to base. One night in September 1942, when approaching Munich, his aircraft was caught in a cone of searchlights and subjected to very heavy fire from the ground defences. Nevertheless, Squadron Leader Samson proceeded and attacked his objective. On the return journey he was again heavily attacked by anti-aircraft fire and the second pilot and flight engineer were wounded. Despite great difficulties, this officer flew his aircraft home and effected a forced lading without damage. Squadron Leader Samson has proved to be a cool, courageous captain with a fine sense of leadership.
16th May 1944 – 7th February 1945
Wing Commander Michael Wyatt DFC.
Arthur Samson would have been a hard act for any successor to follow, but Mike Wyatt was certainly well-placed to step into his predecessor’s shoes. A veteran of both XV and 75(NZ) Sqns, the latter as Squadron Commander, Mike Wyatt had crash-landed his Stirling in Spain returning from a raid on Turin. W/Cdr Wyatt was in the habit of accompanying new crews on their first operation, a risky venture given the odds faced by inexperienced crews. He was, by all accounts, a popular commander.
Wing Commander Michael Wyatt DFC
8th February 1945 to end of war.
Wing Commander Peter Lawrie Basil Morgan DFC
Information sought on W/Cdr Morgan.