Jewish WWII RAF pilot, one of the last remaining 'Dambusters,' dies at 100

Lawrence "Benny" Goodman was a "Jewish hidden hero" who played an instrumental part in British air campaigns against Nazi infrastructure.

Dan Verbin ,

B-1B Bomber over target (illustrative)
B-1B Bomber over target (illustrative)
iStock

One of the last remaining World War II British Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots from a squadron known as the “Dambuster” that undertook 30 missions against German targets has died at the age of 100, reported the Telegraph.

Lawrence “Benny” Goodman, who was Jewish, was a squadron leader who volunteered for service with the RAF at the beginning of the war in September 1939 when he was 18.

In 1941, he began training to be a pilot, eventually becoming a bomber pilot and joining the No. 617 Squadron, which became known as the “Dambusters” for their precision bombing runs over German territory.

In November 1944, Goodman and his squadron’s Lancaster bombers used 12,000-pound “Tallboy” bombs to capsize the German battleship Tirpitz. Near the end of the war, Goodman’s squadron flew two aircraft that dropped “Grand Slams” – 22,000 pound bombs, the largest ever used by the RAF at that point – accompanied by 14 Lancasters carrying Tallboys, in a mission that successfully destroyed Germany’s 425-foot long Arnsberg railway viaduct.

The RAF Museum released a statement paying tribute to Goodman, who was active in the museum’s “Jewish Hidden Heroes” project that “highlights the vital role played by Jewish people, like himself, in the RAF’s battle against Nazi tyranny.”

“When ‘Jewish Hidden Heroes’ was launched in 2018, Benny was interviewed by Museum Ambassador Joshua Levine; and he also shared his remarkable story at a special event at our London site that November,” said the museum. “Benny was an enthusiastic supporter of the RAF Museum’s partnership with Chelsea FC and of the Club’s campaign to challenge anti-Semitism and racism through education.”

Goodman’s testimony will be features in the museum’s upcoming augmented reality displays in their bomber command exhibition.

“So many of us will be mourning Benny, while celebrating his outstanding contribution during the Second World War and his faultless RAF Service. The RAF Museum has been fortunate to call Benny a friend. He supported us in sharing the incredible story of Jewish servicemen and women during the war, and the brave airmen who were in a particularly perilous situation should they have been captured. Benny was a special man who lived a long and fruitful life and brought joy and inspiration to many. He will be sadly missed by his friends at the RAF Museum, but we will ensure that his stories live on to inspire generations to come,” said museum CEO Maggie Appleton.

Goodman held British and American pilot licences and continued to fly until he was 93.



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