The last letter of Sgt Goulden O Webster RAFVR Bomber Command
“You won’t I hope ever read this ………”
In common with thousands of other air crew during the Second World War, RAF pilot Sgt Goulden Oliver Webster must have had very mixed feelings when he sat down to write a ‘last’ letter to his mother, to be sent to her should he fail to return from a bombing operation.
Known to his family as ‘Boy’, Sgt Webster was a pilot with 149 Squadron, a night bomber unit, flying Wellington bombers in the early years of the war. In 1940 he was 27 years old and had already completed a number of operations over German targets when he and the rest of the six man crew of Wellington N2774, call sign OJ-A, took off from RAF Mildenhall at 00:49 on the night of 19/20 November 1940 for a raid on Berlin.
They never returned.
His family believed that his aircraft was shot down near Stettin, now Szczecin, Poland, but recent research on-line at Lostaircraft.com and rafinfo.org reveals that it crashed in the Teltow suburb of SW Berlin, on the corner of Goethe Strasse and Lessing Strasse 27, at 05:20 on 20 November 1940 after being hit by anti-aircraft fire.
All the crew were killed and their bodies were recovered and buried on 23rd November in Teltow. At the end of the war they were exhumed and re-buried in the Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery.
Extracts from the letter are shown here. Its style is typical of his generation – self-deprecating, unassuming, and trying to make light of the very real dangers he faced. Perhaps, like many aircrew, he was convinced it might happen to others but never to him. It is especially poignant as his mother had already lost one son, born much earlier than Boy, in the First World War. The Centre is honoured to hold the letter and Boy’s photographs in our collection.
The full crew list of N2774 on 19/20 November 1940 was:
- Pilot: Pilot Officer Kenneth John Hide
- Co-pilot: Sgt Goulden Oliver Webster
- Observer: Sgt Norman Eric Vince
- W/Op: Sgt Anthony John Mitchell
- W/Op/AG: Sgt Harry Whitworth
- AG: Sgt Hugh William Third