A VETERAN airman who won the Distinguished Flying Medal after surviving 50 combat missions over Nazi Germany has died.
Warrant Officer Jimmy Sharp, who was 92, was honoured for his outstanding service in the Second World War which included two of the biggest raids in the conflict.
Mr Sharp was born in Waverley Park and educated at Stockbridge Primary School, Broughton High School and the then-Heriot-Watt College.
He joined the RAF aged 19, when war was declared, and trained as a wireless operator and air gunner flying sorties over enemy-occupied Europe.
In May 1942, he took part in the first Thousand Bomber Raid, which devastated Cologne, and two nights later was in the second attack on Essen. Mr Sharp, who lived in Edinburgh, took books with him on missions, leading to the newspaper headline “He Reads Thrillers On Bombing Raid!”.
His pilot, Squadron Leader Collard, said in the piece: “I have an absolutely first-rate wireless operator, a broad Scot, who sits and reads thrillers on the way to Germany!
“Over the target he will pop his head into the cockpit to see the flak and so on – then he goes back to his book.”
He cheated death when his Wellington crash-landed, ripping out the bottom of the aircraft and leaving him dangling from his harness – which he normally never wore. Mr Sharp became an instructor before leaving the RAF after the war and returning to his apprenticeship with printers R&R Clark in Edinburgh. Mr Sharp worked as a compositor for publications including The Scotsman, where he retired in 1985.
His son, Iain, said: “He was a very modest man who seldom talked about the combat side of his time in the RAF, though he would happily talk for hours about the various aircraft he flew in.”
Mr Sharp’s funeral at Mortonhall Crematorium on Monday was attended by fellow veterans from the Aircrew Association. He is survived by Vera, son Iain, daughter Fiona, two grandsons and a great-granddaughter.