The Texas Veterans Land Board has introduced the next installment of its Voices of Veterans Program highlighting the service of WWII veteran Capt. Gerald Groden.

The Texas Veterans Land Board has introduced the next installment of its Voices of Veterans Program highlighting the service of WWII veteran Capt. Gerald Groden. (Facebook)

AUSTIN (Tribune News Service) — Texas Land Commissioner and Veterans Land Board (VLB) Chairwoman Dr. Dawn Buckingham introduced the next installment of the series highlighting the VLB’s Voices of Veterans oral history program. In this special episode, we highlight the service of Capt. Gerald Groden, who moved to Texas after he served with Great Britain’s Royal Air Force as a Lancaster Bomber Pilot.

There are many stories from World War II that leave us in awe of what our Veterans have done to help preserve our freedom but one such story in our Voices of Veterans archive comes from a Texas resident and native of Great Britain’s Royal Air Force.

Born May 13, 1921, in Kent, England, Gerald Groden was one of seven children. His father, an engineer, moved the family when he was young to Langford following a promotion to oversee a Water Works plant near Essex.

“I worked a lot of odd jobs when I got older,” Groden said as he talked about his youth. “I worked for a butcher, I remember that, because I got to drive a little pony and cart to deliver meat all over the place.”

Groden had bigger goals for his life other than delivering meat and earned a scholarship to Cambridge with the hopes of working with animals.

“In 1937 or ‘38, somewhere in there, I went to Cambridge, and I was going to be a veterinary surgeon, and I was in my first year and my eldest brother, Bill, was killed when he was on a ship to Jamaica, and it was torpedoed,” Groden recalled. “There were no survivors. That was two weeks before war was declared.”

Groden said he soon quit Cambridge and volunteered to join the Royal Air Force. It was there he served as a Lancaster bomber pilot and took part in numerous missions.

“Flying was considered glamorous back then,” he recalled, “and at first, they told me they had too many pilots and navigators but said they could get me flying quickly if I would go in as an Air Gunner, which I took.”

Groden said he went to Yatesbury to undergo training and learn morse code and the basic things he needed to know to help communicate while out on missions. Once he finished training, he was linked to a Wellington Squadron, which was a twin engine, big bomber of its day.

“I was with them for the next two years, we did all sorts of maritime stuff, air-sea rescue, well, not just that but anti-war submarine warfare, we had all sorts of things on board,” Groden said, his words carefully chosen. “Interestingly, we had this thing called a Leigh Light Wellingtons, which was a system that you had a big search light in the airplane, and we’d drop down before you got to a suspected submarine, illuminate the target and we bombed it.”

Groden said he didn’t think they did a great job of hunting U-Boats during that time but felt they did a good job of not allowing them to surface like they were supposed to. He said after those missions, the squadron was reappointed to Lancaster Bombers, a big four engine bomber.

“I got put into Bomber Command in a place called Waddington, which was of the stations we had,” Groden shared. “Our mission was to bomb military targets in France, Germany — anywhere, really.”

Groden said the first time he went on a bombing mission was a mix of emotions.

“It was all exciting, it was, but also terrifying at the same time, we lost an awful lot of aircraft,” Groden recalled about his first mission. “We weren’t really equipped to do the job really.”

(c)2024 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)

Visit the Odessa American

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now