M/Nav JH ‘Sam’ South

Sam South Stone

M/Nav JH ‘Sam’ South Re-Inv 0458 ROR

John South was a Londoner who volunteered for the RAF when he was 20 in 1942. He completed RAF Basic Training and then went to South Africa for his aircrew instruction, as an Observer and Air Bomber. When he returned to the UK he went to Operational Training Unit 17 at RAF Silverstone and later to Heavy Conversion Unit 1661 at RAF Winthorpe near Newark where they flew the ill-fated Manchester and then the Lancaster. By now the Crew team had formed and it would remain together throughout their Tour of Duty (30 Ops)

They were:

Freddie Secker, Pilot,

Jack Gillespie, Flt Engineer,

Jack Cave, Navigator,

Bill Currie, Wireless Operator,

Doug Hole, Rear Gunner,

Don Shortt, Mid Upper Gunner

John ‘Sam’ South,  Air Bomber and Front Gunner

They were posted to 619 Squadron RAF Woodhall Spa in October 1943 where they completed 5 Operations (sorties) in a variety of Lancasters before the Squadron was moved to RAF Coningsby. Here they were united with what was their lucky favourite Lancaster LL783 PG-C which they called ‘Cinders of the Clouds’ and they completed their Tour of Duty with it. Sam was unfortunately injured during this time and missed out on a few operations; however he re-joined the same crew at 52 Base Scampton after their Tour ended and later at 56 Base Syerston where they continued to test fly new Lancasters before sending them out to the other Squadrons

After the war Sam stayed on in the RAF and became a Warrant Officer Master Navigator flying Lincolns and Sunderlands. When these were stood down he joined Transport Command flying Ansons which funnily enough he started his pre-war training in. At age 45 he was retired from flying and he retrained as an Air Traffic Controller serving at RAF Cottesmore with the V-Bomber force, El Adem in Libya, Coningsby (now the home of BBMF) and later Scampton with Phantom Fighter-Bombers.

Alas, at age 55 the RAF retire you, but very near the end of his RAF career he was asked to land an incoming unidentified aircraft. It turned out to be Lancaster PA474 The City of Lincoln. The aircraft disobeyed parking instructions and pulled up outside the Control Tower where upon Sam’s boss told him that he was going to fly again as a retirement present. As Second Navigator he flew in the Lancaster from Scampton to Coningsby. It is recorded as his last flight in his Logbook



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