Brigg veteran leads the way

Gordon Mellor who took a lead role in the Festival of Remembrance at London's Albert Hall.
Gordon Mellor who took a lead role in the Festival of Remembrance at London's Albert Hall.

Its a long way from a country church in the Wolds to the most famous hall in Britain, but President of the Elsham Wolds Association Gordon Mellor (93) made that journey.

After laying a wreath at the airfield memorial in Elsham Parish Church early this month, six days later Mr Mellor was on the floor of the Royal Albert Hall in London where he appeared before more than 5000 people and millions watching on television, at the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance.

Flt. Sgt Mellor of ‘103 Squadron Elsham Wolds’ took the lead role in a special tribute to Bomber Command watched by the Queen, members of the Royal Family and Prime Minister David Cameron.

The tribute marked the year of the unveiling of the Bomber Command memorial in the summer in London.

He was picked out on the floor of the hall with a seven man bomber crew and part of his remarkable wartime story from 1942 was told to the audience and viewers.

On his 17th trip over occupied Europe, Flt Sgt Mellor was hit by an enemy fighter when his Halifax came under attack. He baled out and when he landed was helped by friendly Belgium and French people to escape to safety.

Gordon Mellor was one of the lucky few, for 55,573 men of Bomber Command left airfields in the UK in the Second World War and never returned - among them were 1,300 men from the Elsham Wolds base.

Mr Mellor told a hushed audience: “I was extremely lucky and it was thanks to the help of some wonderful people that I eventually arrived in Gibralter.

“War is a terrible thing; I dropped bombs.

“When you went on a raid you had to accept your situation, you believed the worst was not going to happen to you.”

There is though far more to the wartime story of this remarkable man stationed at Elsham in 1942.

Speaking from his home after returning from the Royal Albert Hall he told our reporter:

“It was the night of 5th October, a Messerschmitt that was faster than us hit us and we caught fire. We were approaching the Ruhr and we baled out. It was a nerve wracking experience.

“We did as we were told by the pilot and it was not long before I was down and hanging in a tree; I got away from the area but could see our plane on fire.”

One night while on the run Gordon was caught in a thunderstorm and knocked on a door, he was invited in.

“I was so lucky the family said they had connections and would help me.”

Then began a long journey.

He narrowly evaded some German soldiers on a train, but after making his way across Belgium and France he crossed hills in the footsteps of the Pyrenees.

“By that time I was with another RAF Sergeant, a Canadian officer, a Russian airman and a guide.

“We crossed a river and knew were in Spain - it was a great moment.”

Gordon Mellor’s story of heroism is modestly told by his wonderful lively mind.

Every year he meets up with those who helped him escape and are still alive. As he told his audience of millions he will never forget their kindness.

Ken Duddell of Barnetby, Chairman of the Elsham Wolds Association said: “It was lovely to see Gordon there in the hall and on television

“It was a proud moment for the association. We both attended the unveiling of the Bomber Command memorial.”