A hero’s farewell

Wellington bomber rear gunner Jack Dennison of Normanton who has died.
Wellington bomber rear gunner Jack Dennison of Normanton who has died.

A SECOND World War veteran who was honoured for his role as a Wellington bomber rear gunner has died.

Jack Dennison of Normanton received a Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) for carrying out night reconnaissance flights for the RAF across France and Germany.

Jack Dennison DFM, 40 Ripley Court Normanton. A former RAF rear gunner in Wellington bombers, with his medals and a letter from king George the 6th. 30 missions over Germany and his score was a Messerschmitt Me-109 a Messerschmitt Me 110 and two searchlights.

Jack Dennison DFM, 40 Ripley Court Normanton. A former RAF rear gunner in Wellington bombers, with his medals and a letter from king George the 6th. 30 missions over Germany and his score was a Messerschmitt Me-109 a Messerschmitt Me 110 and two searchlights.

His squadron took photographs from a Wellington Mark III aircraft and Sgt Dennison’s role was to spot any enemy within two seconds and shoot them down first.

The average life span for a rear gunner was only three weeks, but the grandfather-of-two went on to complete 30 missions and live until he was 89.

He dedicated years to the Poppy Appeal and was a former president of the Normanton, Altofts and Whitwood branch of the Royal British Legion (RBL), which will hold a military funeral for him next week.

His daughter Sue Eames of Altofts said: “He never talked about the war, but it was obvious that it had a great affect on him.

“He was a very proud man and the RBL meant so much to him. I remember our house being full of poppies.”

Although Mr Dennison remained modest about his war contribution, his actions were captured in memoirs written by fellow 69 Squadron navigator Flt Sgt Stan Phillips.

Flt Sgt Phillips wrote: “His alertness, his eyesight, his steady nerves - was to be our two seconds separating here from eternity.”

Mr Dennison grew up on Snydale Road, Normanton, and lived with his late wife Ann on Castleford Road before moving around the country to get the best care possible for their late son Alan, who had cerebral palsy.

They returned to Snydale Road in 1967, where they lived for nearly 40 years. Mr Dennison later lived in Ripley Court, then The Chestnuts nursing home, where he died on Saturday, June 30.

He worked as a groundsman at Normanton Secondary Modern School, which is now Freeston Academy, and was head gardener in Haw Hill Park.

On Tuesday a funeral procession will leave The Chestnuts on Church Road, Altofts, at 11.30am, ahead of a service at Pontefract Crematorium at noon, where RBL members will form a guard of honour.