Tributes to Dambuster

Ellison George Colton
Ellison George Colton

A FORMER dambuster squadron member has died at the age of 92.

George Colton, of Barnsley Road, Sandal, was part of the ground crew of the famous 617 squadron which attacked three major dams in The Ruhr, Germany in 1943.

Lancaster bomber flies throught the Derwent Dam towers at the Dambusters 50th anniversary.'May 1993

Lancaster bomber flies throught the Derwent Dam towers at the Dambusters 50th anniversary.'May 1993

His job was to repair and maintain the Lancaster Bombers which flew daring missions into the heart of industrial Germany laden with bouncing bombs.

The raids claimed the lives of 53 aircrew, many of whom were Mr Colton’s friends.

His daughter Sue Saville said: “There were happy memories as well as sad memories. He was very proud of being in that very special squadron.

“He was always determined to get into the RAF. He didn’t wait until he was called, he volunteered and was first in the 44 Squadron before being picked for the 617 squadron.

“He was an engineer and loved the way things worked and was fascinated by aeroplanes. He was part of the ground crew. He patched the engines up when they had been blown up.”

Shortly after the raids, King George VI went to their air base in Lincolnshire and presented them with a new flag with a crest depicting a dam being burst.

The work of Corp Colton was later mentioned in despatches in the London Gazette in January 1944 for his “distinguished service”.

And the exploits of the men of 617 squadron, which was led by wing commander Guy Gibson, were immortalised in the 1955 film The Dam Busters.

Mr Colton kept up with his comrades and attended many reunions down the years, including the 60th anniversary in 2003 at Derwent Dams, Derbyshire, where the Lancaster bombers did test flights.

After the war Mr Colton worked for the Post Office and rose to be assistant head postmaster of Wakefield before retiring in 1981.

He was married to Alice Scott, a former manager of the old Oxfam shop on Kirkgate precinct. Mrs Colton died aged 90 last January and the couple were married just short of 70 years.

Mr Colton died after a short illness in Pinderfields Hospital on December 17.

He is survived by his children, Paul, Sue and Joanne, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

The family wish to thank Walton Manor Care Home, where Mr Colton lived for the last year of his life, for being “marvellous with him”.