Douglas Tweddle was born in 1916 at Workington on the Cumbrian coast of England. After leaving school he joined the Post Office and started training as an engineer. His job was a “reserved occupation” and he joined the Royal Air Force the day that the government lifted the ban for people in reserved occupations in August 1941. After basic training in the UK he was slated to come to Canada for flight training but instead ended up stationed at Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia until May 1943.
He was a flying officer with No. 9 Squadron of the Royal Air Force when he piloted Lancaster WS-Y on the last of three attacks against the German Battleship Tirpitz. He was the “windfinder” for this trip. He had flown on the previous two and recalled, “We knew it would be third time lucky.”
“We took off from Lossiemouth at 3:00 am in very poor weather conditions. In fact several of the aircraft failed to get off the ground because they were iced over. We flew north at only 1000 feet to get to the Norwegian coast below radar. Then we went into a climb over the coast to a rendezvous about eighty miles from our target.”
“My aircraft was one of the last over the battleship and we were still over the area when we saw Tirpitz start to roll over. I knew before we got back to Lossiemouth -when we were shown pictures taken later by a Spitfire -that the Tirpitz had been sunk.”
F/O Tweddle was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his part in the operations against the Tirpitz. F/O Tweddle’s DFC citation reads as follows, “This officer has taken part in all three attacks on the battleship ‘Tirpitz.’ He has shown great determination and the keenest enthusiasm to operate and bomb his target in spite of all the hazards of enemy opposition and bad weather. In the first attack he made the long and arduous journey to the Russian base, and in the actual attack made every effort to bomb the target, despite cloud and smoke-screen. In the second attack he made the same endeavours to bomb the ship, and on the third occasion, unhampered by weather, launched his attack successfully. F/O Tweddle has always displayed courage and cheerful enthusiasm which has been of utmost value to his crew, whilst his captaincy and airmanship have consistently been of the highest order. In addition, F/O Tweddle undertook the extra hazard of wind finding for the Squadron, a task he accomplished most successfully, thereby contributing to the success of the operations even further.” At the end of his tour of operations he volunteered for a second, completing 37 operations before the end of the war. After VE Day he flew POW’s back from Germany in his Lancaster.
For much of the war his bomb-aimer was a Canadian, Jack Singer of Ottawa, Ontario. The markings (Getting Younger Every Day) on their Lancaster, were based on the advertisement for “Younger” beer, featuring a little old man drinking a pint.
After the war Doug Tweddle returned to the Post Office to continue his engineering later transferring to the Central Electricity Generating Board as a telecommunications engineer.
His daughter, Dr. Maggie Tweddle of St. Albert, Alberta, moved to Canada in 1983. She officially opened the museum’s “Sinking of the Tirpitz” display on November 12, 1994, the fiftieth anniversary of the final raid.
A decade later, in July, 2004, Dr. Tweddle was joined at the museum by John Tweddle, her brother from England, as we commemorated the sixtieth anniversary of the raid.