FLYING OFFICER EDWARD L.SASLOVE. R.C.A.F & CREW, 576 Sqn.
Eddie Saslove was born in Ottawa, Canada on the 17th June 1921. The family moved to Detroit, Michigan, USA, when Eddie was four years old. In the early forties he decided to join the air force but as he was a Canadian citizen, he was not eligible to join the USAF. He volunteered for the RCAF and was accepted in April 1942.
F/O Saslove and his crew were posted to 100 Squadron in Sept 1944 and shortly after were transferred to 576 Squadron.
The crew consisted of: -
F/O E L Saslove RCAF
Sgt R Hoyle RAFVR
F/O G Davies RAFVR
F/O M Chisick RCAF
F/S R Hood RCAF
P/O A S B Campton RCAF
F/S W G McClelland RCAF
Whilst with 100 Squadron the crew flew two operations to Duisberg and Essen on the 14th and 25th October 1944 respectively. At the end of the month they were transferred to 576 Squadron at Fiskerton and flew their first operation with their new unit on the 18th November to attack the synthetic oil plant at Wanne Eikel, which they completed successfully. They took part in a big daylight attack on Dortmund on the 29th November and during this their Lancaster sustained flak damage but F/O Saslove was able to fly the bomber back to Fiskerton. On the 22nd December the crew participated in a heavy raid on Mosel railway yards at Koblenz. On return the weather in the region of Lincolnshire was very poor and the returning aircraft were diverted to airfields in other parts of Britain. F/O Saslove landed at the emergency airfield at Carnaby on the East Yorkshire coast.
They were again in action on the night of the 2/3rd January 1945, in a raid on Nuremberg. This was the last operation that they completed. Up to this point they had flown two operations with 100 Squadron and nine operations with 576 Squadron.
On the night of the 7/8th January they took off from Fiskerton at 1815 in Lancaster PA173 on an operation, to Munich. Shortly after bombing the Lancaster was attacked and badly shot up by a night fighter. Both gunners, P/O Campton and F/S McClelland, were seriously wounded in the attack and trapped in their turrets. The Lancaster was badly damaged and well ablaze and F/O Saslove ordered the four other members of the crew to bale out. Without a thought for his own safety he courageously chose to stay at the controls of his crippled aircraft in a valiant attempt make a crash landing rather than leave his 2 gunners to a certain death in the doomed bomber. As the last man left the Lancaster he looked up at his pilot and saw F/O Saslove wave goodbye, still in the pilots seat keeping the aircraft straight and level.
The Lancaster crashed and exploded in flames in a farmer's field near Munich. The gallant Eddie Saslove died in the crash along with the two gunners he had selflessly given his life in an attempt to save. Had he chosen to do so, he could have almost certainly saved himself by baling out with the other surviving members of the crew. All three are commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial to the missing.
The four men who baled out all survived and were taken prisoner. When liberated they were able to tell their story and report the sacrifice of their pilot to the authorities and to the Saslove family. F/O Saslove received no recognition for his act of bravery in spite of the efforts of his brother, Martin, over a period of 40 years. Both the British and Canadian governments ceased awarding medals for gallantry in World War Two in 1950.
It is very unfortunate that the heroism of Eddie Saslove was never officially recognised but this case must be typical of many similar cases, recorded and unknown, involving aircrew who gave their lives whilst attempting to save their comrades during World War Two.
I am grateful to Martin Saslove for suppyling the information and the photographs used on this page.