Bomber Command Aircrew Chronicles
Jimmy Ward was a New Zealand teacher who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions aboard a Wellington in 1941. A fighter attack had opened a fuel tank in the wing and caused a fire at the rear of the starboard engine. Sgt. Ward crawled out through the hatch on top of the fuselage and kicked or tore holes in the aircraft's fabric to create hand and foot-holds within the Wellington's geodetic framework. By this means he descended to the wing and then crawled to the engine where he smothered the flames with a canvas cover. Although the fuel continued to leak, with the fire out the aircraft was now safe. His crawl back over the wing to the top of the fuselage was even more dangerous than the outward journey but he managed with the help of the navigator. Sadly, Sgt. Ward was killed on another raid two months later.