b. 14/01/1915 Kettering, Northamptonshire. d. 21/11/1941 Oakington, Cambridgeshire.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 03/11/1940 Tal-Handaq, Malta.
Raymond Mayhew Lewin (1915-1941) was born on 14th January 1915 in Kettering, Northamptonshire, the son of Alfred George and Clara Frances Lewin (nee Mayhew). Raymond’s grandfather, Alfred, was a noted businessman in Kettering, owning a number of different establishments, with a grocers, drapery and photographers amongst his portfolio. Raymond’s father didn’t quite have his own father’s entrepreneurial talent however, running a small grocery shop with modest success. His marriage to Clara in 1905 changed his fortunes. She would become an Urban Councillor, the town’s first Deputy Mayor, and founded the Women’s Institute in Kettering. She and Alfred George would have three boys including Raymond.
Raymond joined the Army Training Corps based at Stamford Road School and attended Kimbolton School from 1927-1933 (amongst the school alumni is Dennis Copperwheat GC). Raymond and his brother Bob flew and kept a biplane at Sywell aerodrome, and he made his first flight in 1934. After leaving school, Raymond went to work for Boots where he trained as a pharmacist, first at the Kettering Branch, then in London.
Raymond passed his flying test for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in 1936 and enlisted in the Spring of that year onto the Class F Reserve. By the time the war broke out, he had logged over 100 hours in aircraft such as the Tiger Moth, Audax, Hart and Hawker Hind. He then commenced training in multi-engined aircraft and after 100 hours flying Airspeed Oxfords, he began training to fly Vickers Armstrong Wellington Bombers on 16th January 1940. He began his operational career in May 1940 at RAF Marham. He was then posted to Malta.
On 3rd November 1940 at Tal Handaq, Malta, his Wellington Bomber he was flying crashed shortly after take-off and burst into flames. Lewin extricated himself from the wreckage and saw three of his crew climbing out. He ordered them to get clear, then ran around the blazing wing in which the petrol tanks were burning and crawled under it to rescue his injured co-pilot. Despite his own injuries - a cracked kneecap and severe contusions on the face and legs - he half-dragged and half-carried the wounded man some 40yds from the aircraft to a hole, where he lay on top of him just as the bombs exploded. The co-pilot sadly died of his injuries.
On 7th March 1941, the London Gazette announced that Raymond was to be awarded the George Cross. A month later, the same publication announced that he had been commissioned as a Pilot Officer, effective from 15th March 1941. After a period of recuperation from the shrapnel injuries suffered in the incident in Malta, he returned to the UK and joined 109 Squadron.
Tragically, on 21st November 1941, whilst abroad a Wellington Bomber, piloted by Flight Lieutenant Hennessey, the aircraft crashed on landing at Oakington, Cambridgeshire. All aboard the bomber were killed including Raymond. He was buried in a Commonwealth War Graves Commission plot in Kettering Cemetery. Raymond’s medals including his GC, 1939-45 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal 1939-45, and War Medal 1939-45 were auctioned at Spink’s on 21st July 1998, and purchased by a private buyer. They are still in private ownership.
LOCATION OF MEDAL:PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: KETTERING CEMETERY, KETTERING, NORTHAMPTONSHIRE.
Picture - Kevin Brazier