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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
RAF gunner war hero dies aged 87
Wallace McIntosh
Mr McIntosh flew 55 missions during WWII
A war hero who became the RAF's most decorated air gunner has died at the age of 87.

Wallace McIntosh from Aberdeen survived 55 World War II missions as a Lancaster rear gunner in Bomber Command's 207 Squadron.

Flying Officer McIntosh is believed to hold the record for downing the most enemy planes from a bomber, with eight confirmed kills and one "probable".

He died on Monday from lung cancer, at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

Mr McIntosh was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal and Distinguished Flying Cross twice - the RAF's highest honour for bravery - for bombing raids between 1943 and 1944.

In one mission he shot down three German fighter aircraft as his Lancaster bomber carried out a raid on enemy armour during preparations for the Normandy landings.

His efforts earned him a rare telegram of congratulations from the leader of Bomber Command, Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Harris.

'Against the odds'

Mr McIntosh was born in a barn near Tarves, Aberdeenshire, in 1920.

He was brought up by his grandparents after his teenage mother abandoned him.

According to his 2003 biography, Gunning for the Enemy, he joined the RAF at the height of the war to escape from the poverty of life as a farm labourer.

During the war, he was based at RAF Langar in Nottinghamshire and RAF Spilsby in Lincolnshire.

RAF spokesman Michael Mulford described Mr McIntosh as a "true hero".

Lancaster bomber
Lancaster bomber crews suffered extremely high casualty rates

He said: "Anyone who flew in Lancasters during the bombings knew the odds were against them.

"Your life was on the line every moment. To do the job as well as he did was truly exceptional.

"He did that 55 times and lived to tell the tale.

"You had to be very highly skilled to be able to fire these guns when your own aircraft is bouncing about twisting and turning."

Lancaster crews faced some of the most hazardous conditions during WWII with tail gunners particularly exposed.

The 207 Squadron alone lost 1,007 men.

One of Mr McIntosh's three children, Mary McIntosh, 44, said: "We never really became aware of his achievements until after he retired.

"He had a very hard start to life and did well to overcome that."

His funeral is expected to be held at Dyce Parish Church.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
RAF spokesman pays tribute to Wallace McIntosh



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