The six honours given to Lancaster pilot Squadron Leader Lawrence ‘Benny’ Goodman had been included in the January 26 Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria sale estimated at £2000-3000 but a deal was arranged “by mutual agreement” beforehand. They comprised 1939-45 Star with one clasp, Bomber Command; Arctic Star; France and Germany Star; Defence and War Medals 1939-45; France, Republic, Legion of Honour, Chevalier’s breast badge.
Goodman died in July 2021, aged 100. His memorial service will be held at St Clement Danes Church in London this Friday, February 4.
Goodman was born in London and volunteered to join the RAF, aged 18, at the outbreak of war in September 1939. Selected to train as a pilot, he proved so skilful that in 1942 he was posted to Canada as a flying instructor. He requested a return to the UK and after retraining became the first pilot without operational experience to be posted to 617 Squadron, the RAF’s crack precision bombing unit.
The Tirpitz, launched in 1941, was the sister ship to the Bismarck. Moored in Trondheim and then Tromso fjords in Norway, she posed a considerable threat to Allied convoys and was constantly targeted by air raids, mini submarines and an attack on St Nazaire in France to destroy the only dry dock she could use. The November 12, 1944, air attack which Goodman took part in proved the fatal blow.
After the Tirpitz raid he went on to be one of the few pilots to drop the 22,000lb ‘Grand Slam’ bomb (designed by Barnes Wallis, creator of the Dambusters bouncing bomb), the heaviest ever dropped by the RAF, and by the end of the war he had flown on 30 bombing operations. On March 19, 1945, Goodman helped to demolish the Arnsberg railway viaduct with a 22,000lb (10,000kg) Grand Slam bomb, and on April 25 he attacked Hitler’s ‘Eagle’s Nest’ at Berchtesgaden.
The medals were sold with Goodman’s brown leather Irvin flying jacket, five RAF pilot’s flying log books plus several photographs and photographic images of the recipient as well as a variety of books.
Going on display
Squadron Leader Goodman’s son, Robert, said: “I’m very pleased that my father’s medals and artefacts will be purchased by the RAF Museum with the proceeds of the sale benefiting the Royal Air Force No 617 Squadron Association. I’m sure that he would have been thrilled that his legacy will be kept alive for the nation and shared with the world at the RAF Museum while giving back to No 617 Squadron, with which he fought so valiantly during the Second World War.”
Dr Peter Johnston, head of collections and research, the RAF Museum, said: “The museum is delighted to have acquired this wonderful piece of history which enables us to tell a unique part of the RAF story.
“‘Benny’ Goodman had a fantastic relationship with the museum and was featured in the Jewish ‘Hidden Heroes’ project that was launched in 2018. We are planning that his medals and log book will go on display in the Bomber Command Hall as part of its redevelopment in 2023.”
The RAF Museum is in north London, close to Colindale Underground station. It has another branch at Cosford, Shropshire.