Flight Sergeant Keith Lavon GARMAN R/134226 RCAF Air Gunner

Their Name Liveth For Evermore

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Keith was part of the crew skippered by twenty five year old Sergeant Robert Bryans a Canadian from Saskatchewan. The crew arrived on the squadron w.e.f 28th February 1943 from No.1657 Conversion Unit.

As customary Robert flew a 2nd pilot operation soon after his arrival, the target chosen was Hamburg which was successfully attacked with Sgt Cobb and crew on March 3rd. Within a week Keith operated for the first time, he and his crew were given a mine laying trip as their first freshman operation, Keith occupied the mid upper position aboard Short Stirling BF452 HA-V. The Garden area was found and the mines were successfully planted.  Essen was attacked on the 12th, this target had long been the nemesis of Bomber Command and on this occasion it lived up to its reputation. The crew again were aloft in V-Victor encountered accurate heavy flak over the target area which inflicted serious damage to the aircraft, thankfully missing the crew. It had been a close shave. The crew did not operate again until March 27th when Berlin was briefed as the main target, experiencing heavy flak the crew managed to weave their way over the target only for the bomb load to hang-up, not wishing to go around again the bomb load was jettisoned on a built up area. Within 48 hours the crew were once again over Berlin, this time their bombed load was successfully dropped on a number of well placed red target indicators.  April 1943 began with three trips in succession, Kiel on the 3rd, Duisburg on the 8th followed by Frankfurt on the 10th, all were successfully bombed. The crew had another brush with death on the 14th, while on their bomb run over Stuttgart their aircraft was coned by a number of searchlights, bracketed by flak the Stirling was hit in numerous places, frantically Keith and Ken Money the rear gunner poured machine gun fire down into the cones, two searchlights immediately switch off giving the pilot the chance to escape the flak and into the relatively safe blackness over Germany.

On April 16th the crew shot up two trains while attacking Mannheim, numerous mg strikes were seen dancing all over the engine and carriages, it was every gunners dream trip, low level. Three trips were undertaken in April, mining on the 18th, Rostock on the 20th and Duisburg on the 26th. Keith’s last operation was on May 12th 1943, the target was once again Duisburg, aloft at 00:44 hours in Stirling BK705 HA-K the crew were intercepted and shot down by Lt Robert Denzel of 12./NJG1 over the North Sea  40 km west of Petten at 03.28 hours. Sadly there were no survivors from the crew from the crew. Keith’s body was never found and is recorded on the panels of the Runnymede Memorial.

Son of Frank H and Eva C Garman of the Republic of Kansas USA