Ashton, John Norman Stephen

Date of birth:
1911 (Manchester, United Kingdom)
Nationality:
British (1801-present, Kingdom)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Sergeant
Unit:
No. 419 (Moose) Squadron, Royal Canadian Air Force
Awarded on:
September 17th, 1943
Action:
"This airman was flight engineer of an aircraft detailed to attack Munchen-Gladbach one night in August 1943. Soon after leaving the target the bomber was hit by fire from an enemy fighter. Some batteries were set alight, the flames sweeping back along the fuselage. Displaying great promptitude, Sergeant Ashton sprayed the flames around the batteries with an extinguisher until they subsided. Having secured another extinguisher he went to mid position and raised the bomb bay inspection panels to investigate further. Flames immediately blazed up into his face. With his gloved hands he held and rotated the extinguisher in an opening in the floor so that the wind in the slip stream sprayed the fluid around the bomb bay and thus the flames were put out. By his promptitude and resource this gallant airman contributed materially to safe return of aircraft."

The original recommendation, dated 21 May 1943 when he had flown eight sorties (62 hours 54 minutes):

"On the night of 30th/31st August 1943, Sergeant Ashton was detailed to attack Munchen Gladbach as engineer of a Halifax aircraft. Shortly after leaving the target, the aircraft in which he was flying was attacked by a night fighter and the length of the fuselage raked by cannon and machine gun fire. Almost immediately, the rear and mid-upper gunners reported flames sweeping back along the fuselage. Sergeant Ashton then noticed that the batteries had caught fire and saw smoke and sparks rising in the rest position. Without hesitation, he lifted a fire extinguisher and played it on the flames surrounding the batteries. Eventually the flames began to subside and Sergeant Ashton left this fire extinguisher at this position and obtained another. He then proceeded to the mid-position where he lifted the bomb-bay door inspection panels. On doing so, the flames blew up in his face. Disregarding personal danger, with his gloved hands he held and rotated the fire extinguisher in the opening in the floor so the fluid, with the assistance of the slip stream, was thrown about the bomb bays and eventually extinguished the fire. This action took place at an altitude of 18,000 feet and Sergeant Ashton was without the use of oxygen for the entire period. His courage, devotion to duty and disregard of personal danger were undoubtedly responsible for the safe return of the aircraft. In view of the above, I strongly recommend him for the immediate award of the Distinguished Flying Medal."
Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM)

Sources