Lincolnshire Remembers: Twin brothers who refused to be separated tragically killed in WWII raid

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With Remembrance Day around the corner, Lincolnshire Reporter has teamed up with the International Bomber Command Centre to bring you some of the most heartbreaking stories of bravery by those flying with Bomber Command.

All four stories published over the next few days will chart the tales of brothers who fought and ultimately died for this country, and today features the Tod brothers.

The Bomber Command Memorial Spire. Photo: Marc Freeman

Robert and Richard Tod

Robert Ernest and Richard Douglas Tod were the sons of Alexander and Mary Edith Tod.

Relatively little is known about the Tod brothers, but one thing is certain: they were twins.

Raised in St Vital, Manitoba, Canada, they have consecutive service numbers meaning that they joined up together.

It is thought that they may have been identical twins and were clearly inseparable.

The twins trained to be air gunners at the same establishment and were both assigned to 75 Squadron on arrival in England.

It is said that they refused to be separated, arguing that one simply couldn’t function without the other.

Although strictly against the rules, their commanding officer was sympathetic to their pleas and agreed to keep them together.

A brush with fate

Robert and Richard’s first brush with fate came on April 10, 1943 while taking part in a raid on Frankfurt, Germany.

Their aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and suffered significant damage whilst still over enemy territory.

Later, the aircraft was involved in a running battle with German night-fighters. During the return flight, their aircraft gradually lost height, suggesting that one or more engines may have been damaged.

Sensing that it was doubtful they would successfully regain the English coast Robert, who by then had retrained as a wireless operator, maintained contact with base, giving them accurate indications as to their exact whereabouts, allowing plans for their rescue to be made.

Their Stirling bomber eventually ditched three miles off Shoreham by Sea.

Due to Robert’s unswerving devotion to duty, the entire crew were picked up by a launch just 15 minutes after ditching, all unharmed.

Robert was awarded a Distinguished Flying Medal for his courage and determination.

Tragic loss

Tragically, less than three months later, the Tods’ luck ran out.

On the night of June 23, 1943 their Stirling was one of 557 aircraft detailed for a raid on Mülheim, Germany.

They had barely reached occupied territory when the aircraft was engaged by German night-fighters and was shot down into the Ijsselmeer estuary, Holland.

Of the 557 aircraft on this raid, 35 failed to return and 205 personnel were killed in action.

Although the Tod brothers never made it to the target, the raid inflicted a grievous blow on the town of Mülheim.

The twins lie side by side in Medemblik General Cemetery, Holland. They were just 23 – the average age for Bomber Command losses during World War Two.

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