World War Two Vet Lamb: “A Bermudian Hero”

May 3, 2013

LambPhilip Lamb — one of four black Bermudians to serve in the Royal Air Force in World War Two [1939-45] — died yesterday [May 2] at the age of 90.

One of Bermuda’s oldest surviving war veterans, St. David’s resident Mr. Lamb [pictured] reached the rank of leading aircraftsman with the RAF and among other wartime exploits lived through a German bombing raid which left him hospitalised with serious injuries.

The other black Bermudians who volunteered for the RAF during the Second World War were the late Randolph Richardson, Reuben Alias and Melvin Chesterfield Raynor.

Mr. Lamb spent the first three years of the war on the island with the Bermuda Militia Artillery before volunteering to serve overseas.

He completed his RAF training in Moncton, New Brunswick with other servicemen from Bermuda and the Caribbean before shipping out to England.

“The BMA camp was down in the St. David’s area, the Battery, and we were there for three years [doing] nothing but exercising, over and over — the same thing every day,” Mr. Lamb said in a 2004 interview included in the new book “Bermuda’s Military Rarities Revisited” released by the Bermuda Historical Society.

“When they asked for volunteers, I believe I was the first who put my name down, and luckily I was accepted because at that time I was like a peacock — I was proud then. We wanted to get in the fight.”

Mr. Lamb arrived in the English port city of Liverpool during the Christmas season in 1944.

“It was rough over there, it was something else,” Mr. Lamb said. “Bombs were flying everywhere and I asked myself, ‘Hi. momma, why did I come over here?’

“You can’t imagine, Coventry and London were bombed flat — they took a beating. The Germans were using those V1 [flying bombs] and they were sending them over from the coast of France … When the fuel ran out they would dip and then come down — bomp! — and somebody had to die.”

Damage caused by a V1 flying bomb in London in 1944

v1

Mr. Lamb lived through a number of Luftwaffe air raids on London and the air fields where he was stationed and was injured in an attack in March, 1945 — just weeks before the Nazis unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces then overrunning Germany.

“It was one of the last raids that we had in England,” he said. “I happened to be in a camouflaged building on the airfield and the Germans were using dive-bombers and they never touched the target they wanted to hit.

“But we were near the exits and that’s when I got myself hurt.”

Mr. Lamb ended up in hospital for 10 days with a German Prisoner of War in the bed next to him.

“I couldn’t speak German and he was speaking a little broken English,” said the Bermudian war veteran. “I was a little intimidated but neither of us could move.”

Mr. Lamb said he never really recovered from the emotional trauma of seeing so many young lives abruptly cut short during the war.

“The loss of other young men was one of the toughest things to deal with,” he said. “I had a buddy from Canada … He must have been 23, 24 years old …

World War Two newsreel on Caribbean and Bermudian servicemen in the United Kingdom

“After they made that raid on us [in March, 1945] I got the news that Keith was shot down and killed. I took it hard. He was like a brother …”

Mr. Lamb returned to Bermuda in 1947. After spending some time in Canada where he studied diesel engineering, he worked in various jobs in Bermuda including at Her Majesty’s Customs and the Public Transportation Department.

The Bermuda Historical Society’s Andrew Bermingham — a close friend of Mr. Lamb’s — told Bernews last night that the St. David’s Islander was a genuine Bermudian hero, one of the last of the island’s “greatest generation” who fought the fascist Axis powers of Germany, Italy and Japan not for individual glory or recognition but because it was the right thing to do.

“To borrow something General George Patton said during World War Two, we should not mourn that such men died — we should thank God that such men lived,” said Mr. Bermingham.

Philip Lamb, standing on the far right, with fellow RAF servicemen during World War Two

PhilipLamb

– Philip Lamb photograph courtesy of the Bermuda Historical Society

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Comments (18)

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  1. Theresa Simpson says:

    Our sincere condolences to the Lamb/Richardson families. He was a great man on so many levels, always willing to help everyone he could.
    May God Bless all of you,…..A hero for sure! A proud St David’s Islander……

  2. Lamb says:

    R.I.P. Hunky Lamb. I remember you were the first person to teach me how to swim when I was a young child, by throwing me overboard lol. You were truly a wonderful and person and a great St. David’s Islander.

  3. ggurl says:

    God Bless family and friends! Sending my love and condolences! Wish I could be home.

  4. Verbal Kint says:

    RIP Mr. Lamb.

  5. DreamCatcher says:

    That’s how all St. David’s Islanders learn how to swim. And it works! True story! Sink or swim!

    • ggurl says:

      My official swimming lesson! Swimming ever since.

  6. l j says:

    Uncle Honky was a real sweet man, always stopping by Moms house yelling out his car at her “hey how you doing”,was his greeting for the day.He always had that green leaf hanging out his mouth which always made me smile. I will miss him and his big smile.

    Niece by choice.

  7. I'm just sayin... says:

    RIP Mr. Philip Lamb, having a rum for you today.

  8. Catherine Dl says:

    Bermuda has lost one of its best. Mr Lamb, you truly were a delight, always a smile. May you rest in peace.

  9. Hunky was truly one of a kind, always ready with a smile and warm hello. As a young beye I remember many a time chatting with him while watching him cleaning fish down at the old whale house on Dolly’s Bay where he lived at that time.

    RIP Mr. Lamb, Say hi to my dad for me when you see him, I’m sure he will enjoy meeting up with another Billy Beye!!

  10. M.Patricia says:

    My sincere condolences to the Lamb & Richardson families. I wish you all peace.

  11. James Dumont says:

    Sincere condolences to the Lamb family. I will never forget the wonderful days we spent with Honky at H.M. Customs in the 70s….RIP Honky!!

  12. Richardson says:

    R.I.P. Uncle Hunky. Much love to the whole family. The neighborhood will not be the same.

  13. SMH says:

    RIP Uncle Hunky a hero to Bermuda and our family.

  14. P J DYER Sr & Family says:

    I will miss our friendly chats, jokes about old times.
    RIP.

  15. Glenda Carlington says:

    On behalf of my son, Eugene (Genie) Carlington Ball, we extend our sincerest condolences to Uncle Honky’s family. Uncle Honky used to visit his cousin, Aunt Ursula (Foggo) Hinson’s house many times and fell in love with Genie as a little boy. Upon entering her home he would call out “Ursula, you got my lil man today, I bought something nice for him.” Just prior to my mom passing Uncle Honky called me and said “Glenda, I hear your mom wants to sell her car and I would like to buy it so don’t let any body else have it”. He was the first to call about the car and I was so happy it was Uncle Honky who bought it. Just this past Christmas Eve (2012) myself and another cousin, Jean Foggo went to Uncle Honky’s house and spent about three hours with him. We looked through all of his old war pictures and Jeanie took notes of each picture. He gave us a history lesson in three hours about all of his experiences. I was memerised with his memory! A few of the songs he and Jeanie sange were “Just A Cousin of Mine”, “A Nail and A Hammer”, “Amen” to name a few (which are posted on Facebook). After we talked and sang our hearts out we went to his kitchen where a big turkey was sitting on the table that one of his friends from Somerset came down to cook for him. We cut the turkey up and put it in individual bags and placed them in the freezer for him. He has a beautiful garden outside of his house with nice fruits and vegetables. Before we left we sang another song and prayed together. Uncle Honky will be a big miss in St. David’s (Bermuda) and around the world but he has left such a legacy that he will never ever ever be forgotten. My message to young people today is sit at the feet of our seniors and digest their stories of how they lived. You can’t beat history from the mouth of the person who lived it. May God bless and comfort his family and give them peace. I want to be ready when Jesus comes so I can meet Uncle Honky again.

    All our love and prayers,
    Glenda Carlington and Genie Carlington Ball Jr.

  16. Ed says:

    Anyone recognize the Bermuda lady in the BBC video above?
    She appears at minute 05:35.

  17. Another great loss to the St Davids community. Deepest heartfelt condo,ences to the Lamb Family were all gonnna miss Uncle honkey.

    I am thankful I that I got the chance to pick his brains about old days and the war, He seemed to enjoy telling his stories as much as I enjoyed listening to him. He was the talisman for his squadron and flew a number of missions with them even getting to fly the plane himself, laughing that besides landing and taking off they were easy to fly and remembering the captain always telling him “keep her nose down” lol He mentioned the time when he was injured and how he suffered back pains ever since. Was really nice to see the twinkle in his eye when he was in flow.
    Saddened that I never got to record any of his memories but thankful for what he shared with me and will cherish them and his memory forever.

    Godspeed uncle Honkey.

    “Never was so much owed by so many to so few”
    Winston Churchill