Squadron Leader George Baxter, D.S.O., D.F.C., 133453, 83 Squadron (Pathfinder Force), Royal Air Force.
George Baxter was born on the 6th May 1918 in Ossett, the only son of laundry van salesman George Baxter and his wife Mary (nee Robinson) who had married in Leeds in early 1916. At some time around the time of George Baxter's birth, the family moved to live in Ossett.
George Baxter served as a navigator between 1944/45 in 83 Squadron (Pathfinder Force) and served in the RAF until retiring in 1956. In August 1942 No. 83 Squadron became part of the Pathfinder Force, carrying out target marking duties for the rest of the war. 83 Squadron was based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire from April 1944 until the end of WW2, flying Lancaster Mk.1 and Mk.III heavy bombers.
In April 1944, advances in bombing tactics led to the effective independence of 5 Group, and 83 Squadron returned to its former family to perform a marking and illuminating role on permanent loan from 8 Group until war's end. There was never a time when the influence of 83 Squadron was not felt within the ranks of Bomber Command. It distinguished itself with outstanding performances and below average losses from the first day of the war to the last. Its achievements will live forever in the annals of RAF Bomber Command in WWII.
The "Ossett Observer" had this report 1 of the award of the D.S.O. to Squadron Leader Baxter.
"Further Honour For Ossett Airman - Squadron leader George Baxter, a native of Ossett, well-known especially in local sporting circles up to the outbreak of the war, has been awarded the D.S.O. The fact that last year he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross is proof of his splendid military service.
Twenty-six years of age, he is the son of Mr. and Mrs. G. Baxter, who now live in Carr Manor Parade, Chapel Allerton, Leeds. He was brought up in Ossett, living first with his parents in Station Road and later in Kingsway. He attended Ossett Grammar School from preparatory school upwards until he entered university, obtaining the B.A. degree (Durham) with honours in 1940, after which he joined the Forces.
He was captain of the cricket team at Ossett Grammar School and a regular playing member of the football XI. He afterwards played for other Ossett clubs and was also a tennis enthusiast."
The "London Gazette" listed his D.S.O. award as follows:
"This officer, has participated in numerous sorties since being awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He has shown the highest standard. of navigational ability, coupled with great courage and resolution. His faultless work, often in the face of fierce opposition, has played an important part in the successes obtained. Squadron Leader Baxter has rendered much loyal and devoted service."
George Baxter married Joan Crashley (born 1928) in the summer of 1947 in the Boston, Lincolnshire registration district and they had a daughter, Christine A. Baxter, who was born in the Spilsby, Lincolnshire regsistration district in early 1952.
After his RAF service, George Baxter taught in grammar, modern and intermediate schools. He became the first headmaster of Hastings High School, Hinckley, Leicestershire in 1956, retiring in 1979 after 23 years as headmaster.
George Baxter died on the 25th January 2005 at the age of 86 in Boston, Lincolnshire.
Thanks to Anne-Marie Fawcett for providing the "Ossett Observer" reference for Squadron Leader Baxter.
1. "Ossett Observer", July 1945