Lancaster Bale Out

Lancaster Bale OutFred Smooker was born in 1916 to a coal mining family in Durham. He followed his father down the pit after leaving school at the age of 14. After Britain had been at war for a couple of years in 1941, Fred decided that aircrew were more important than coal miners and therefore volunteered to join the RAF.

Eighteen months later he found himself joining flying operations over Germany as a Lancaster Bomb Aimer with 106 Squadron. The events that followed over the next two years would live with him for the rest of his life.

Clive Smith has spent 20 years researching and writing his book, Lancaster Bale Out. What started as a quest to find out what happened to his second cousin, Sgt jack Hougham, when he was shot down returning from an operation to Cologne on 8 July 1943 led him to track down and find Fred Smooker.

Sgt Hougham had been the Wireless Operator on the same Lancaster as Fred, along with an American Pilot, two Canadian gunners and three other British crew members. Clive’s research had taken him all over the UK, the USA and Canada in an effort to contact all the other crew members’ family along with other research in France and Germany that has resulted in this publication.

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