World war Two rear gunner from Hartland remembered in book
PUBLISHED: 09:34 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 10:37 10 November 2016
Ahead of Remembrance Day, we take a look at a new book which remembers a Second World War rear gunner from Hartland.
A World War Two soldier who lived in Hartland has been immortalised in a new book.
Denis Eynstone lived in Hartland for nearly 25 years before he died in 2011, aged 86.
Author Vic Jay unearthed Mr Eynstone’s story when he decided to research his father Robert Jay’s war service in the RAF, now published in The Mallon Crew.
Vic said: “My father was a Lancaster bomber flight engineer and, when he died at the age of just 55, all I had to help me was a handful of photographs, his log book and the name of his pilot, Bill Mallon.
“I soon discovered the names of the rest of his crew, but was ill-prepared for the further discoveries I was about to make.”
Mr Eynstone was one of the crew members and his daughter Wendy told Vic as a teenager, her father remembered watching the dog fights of the Battle of Britain unfold above him.
Vic said: “He longed to be a pilot, but just three years later he was involved in his own battles as a Lancaster rear gunner in my dad’s crew.
“His experiences took their toll and, many years later, as an old man in Devon, they would return to haunt him.”
Vic’s book tells how Mr Eynstone flew for up to eight-and-a-half hours in cramped spaces and temperatures as low as -40’C.
Vic writes: “Wendy remembers her dad commenting on how desperately cold it was and said she couldn’t imagine how men were able to function at such temperatures.”
Mr Eynstone served for longer than any of the other Mallon crew members, and after the war his ‘dissatisfaction with civilian life’ led him to re-enlist for a further four years.
During his time in the RAF he served in ‘Operation Dodge’, which saw him fly to Italy in the autumn of 1945 to help with the repatriation of soldiers.
He was discharged from the RAF in 1954, and in 1960 he became a self-employed builder, before retiring to North Devon with his wife Winifred in 1987.
The Mallon Crew by Vic Jay is available from Amazon.