RAF pilot Gerald is laid to rest
PUBLISHED: 13:45 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 21:22 31 May 2010
A WAR hero who flew in more than 50 bombing operations during the Second World War has died aged 86. More than 200 people attended the funeral of RAF pilot Gerald de Lucie Carver held last Wednesday at St Mary s Church, Saffron Walden. Wife Norma Carver s
A WAR hero who flew in more than 50 bombing operations during the Second World War has died aged 86.
More than 200 people attended the funeral of RAF pilot Gerald de Lucie Carver held last Wednesday at St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden.
Wife Norma Carver said she was "amazed" at the number of people who had come to pay their respects.
"He was a much-loved man who was instantly liked by everyone he met. He was modest, brave and charming - a real English gentleman," she said.
The celebrated pilot was born in Capel, Surrey, but had moved to Saffron Walden in 1990 when he married Norma, his second wife, at St Mary's Church.
An extraordinary life, Gerald joined the RAF in 1940 when he was 18 years old, shortly after the outbreak of war. By the age of 19 he had received his wings and was ready for operational duty.
By the time he was demobbed at the end of the war, when he was 24, Mr Carver had clocked up 58 bombing operations.
He had also been awarded a Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Flying Cross and was Mentioned in Dispatches (a military award published in the London Gazette).
"To fly in 58 operations and survive was quite incredible," said Mrs Carver. "For pilots in the war the mortality rate was about one in four. There were so many young men that didn't survive."
His first tour of duty was with 37 Squadron flying Wellingtons in the Middle East. During a night operation to bomb a German airfield in Libya, forced to fly low at 4000ft because of cloud cover, his starboard engine was hit by ground fire and stopped running.
The daring pilot was forced to crash land his plane in the sea and two crew members drowned. After failing to locate the navigator and wireless operator he rowed the lifeboat back to the shore with the remaining three injured crew, where he hid them in a pillbox and went to find help.
For this he was mentioned in dispatches in June 1942.
After the war Mr Carver joined Mobil as a sales representative, eventually becoming area sales manager until his retirement in 1981.
In 1944 he married his first wife Joan, who died of cancer in 1985, and they had three daughters and one son.
Mr Carver also has six grandsons, who carried his coffin at the funeral, three granddaughters and six great-grandchildren.
An active member in the community, he was chairman of the Aircrew Association for six years from 1988 to 1994, a member of the Saffron Walden Golf Club and a sidesman at St Mary's Church.
For the last four years he suffered with ill health and had a stroke and a heart attack. He died at home on January 29.