Harold William BIRD

BIRD, Harold William

Service Number: 417330
Enlisted: 25 April 1942, Adelaide, South Australia
Last Rank: Pilot Officer
Last Unit: No. 77 Squadron (RAF)
Born: Glanville, South Australia, 3 August 1915
Home Town: Port Adelaide, Port Adelaide Enfield, South Australia
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Clerk
Died: Flying Battle, Netherlands, 17 June 1944, aged 28 years
Cemetery: Terschelling (West-Terschelling) General Cemetery, Netherlands
Grave 119
Memorials: Adelaide WW2 Wall of Remembrance, Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, International Bomber Command Centre Memorial
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World War 2 Service

25 Apr 1942: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), 417330, No. 4 Initial Training School Victor Harbor, Adelaide, South Australia
6 Mar 1943: Embarked Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, 417330, Aircrew Training Units
17 Apr 1943: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, 417330, Aircrew Training Units, Empire Air Training Scheme
20 Feb 1944: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, Operational Training Units (RAF)
17 Jun 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Pilot Officer, 417330, No. 77 Squadron (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45

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Biography contributed by Carol Foster

Harold William Bird (1915 -1944)

Son of David and Hilda Emily Bird; husband of Joyce Emily Bird, of Hilton, South Australia.

Brother of Muriel Hilda Bird, Arthur James Bird, Clement John Bird and  Gwenda Elvie Bird.

Harold Bird was born 3 August 1915 the son of David and Hilda Bird, at Ethelton in South Australia and was employed as a clerk for Goldsborough Mort & Co, a wool and stockbroking firm. He married Joyce Emily on 18 November 1939. Harold enlisted in the Reserve on 23 September 1941 and then the Citizens Air Force on 25 April 1942. He received his flying badge on 5 February 1943. Listed among the planes he flew in Australia were Tiger Moths, Ansons, Oxfords and Whitleys. He embarked for the United Kingdom on 6 March 1943 arriving there 17 April 1943 after various postings around England he arrived at 77 Squadron on 8 May 1944 after having completed time at 17 OTU and 41 Base.  Commission to Pilot Officer 20 February 1944. 

On 17 June 1944, whilst on a mission to Sterkrade in Germany to bomb a synthetic oil works, Halifax Mk545 was hit by flak and ditched in the North Sea. Pilot Officer Bird’s body was recovered from the sea and interred in the General Cemetery at West Terachelling, an island off the coast of Holland. Following exhumation after the war his body was formally identified and re-interred in Grave 119. The grave was adopted by a local girl, Jannie Buren, who maintained the site until the Commonwealth War Graves Commission took over the task. A temporary cross was erected at that time. Three Australians were members of the crew of HalifaxIII Mk545 -Pilot Officer Harold Bird; Flying Officer Stuart Mackay, Air Bomber and Flight Sergeant Robert Warren, Wireless Operator. The other members of the crew were -Sergeant R A Castle-Hall, Flight Engineer; Sergeant A Freemantle, Navigator; Flight Sergreant F A Meegan,Air Gunner and Sergeant J A Lauder, RearGunner.All crew members perished.

Halifax 545 was one of seven aircraft from the Squadron that failed to return from the mission. It was later established that the aircraft crashed in the sea off the coast of Holland, and all the crew were killed. Pilot Officer Bird and Sergeant Castle-Hall are buried in the Terschelling General Cemetery. Sergeant Freemantle is buried in the Sage War Cemetery, Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, Germany. Flight Sergeant Warren is buried in the Texel Cemetery Noord-Holland. Sergeant Lauder is buried in the Vlieland General Cemetery, Friesland. Flying Officer Mackay and Flt Sergeant Meeghan have no known graves. Pilot Officer Bird is remembered with honour at the Australian War Memorial.

His wife remarried and was later known as Hilda Winker