William Desmond (Des) CALLAGHAN

CALLAGHAN, William Desmond

Service Number: 433892
Enlisted: 5 June 1943
Last Rank: Flight Sergeant
Last Unit: No. 170 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Fairfield, New South Wales, Australia, 20 May 1925
Home Town: Fairfield, Fairfield, New South Wales
Schooling: Marist Brothers, Parramatta, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Not yet discovered
Died: Flying Battle, Netherlands, 7 March 1945, aged 19 years
Cemetery: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany
Plot: Coll. Grave 30. E. 1-7.
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, International Bomber Command Centre Memorial
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World War 2 Service

5 Jun 1943: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, 433892, Sydney, New South Wales
5 Jun 1943: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, 433892
7 Mar 1945: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, No. 170 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45

From War Memorial Register (NSW Gov)

William Desmond Callaghan was born in Dulwich Hill, NSW, on the 20th May 1025. The son of William Callaghan of Fairfield. He enlisted in the RAAF in Sydney on the 5th June 1943.
433892, Flight Sergeant W D Callaghan was posted to the 170th Squadron, RAAF. The 170th Squadron was formed on the 15th June 1942 as a fighter-reconnaissance squadron equipped with North American Mustang aircraft, and from 1943 specialised in attacking and destroying railway traffic in Europe. It then operated defensive patrols against German fighter-bombers until mid January 1944, when it was disbanded due to heavy losses.
It was re-formed on the 15th October 1944 at RAF Kelstern, and eventually operating from RAF Hemsell, UK. Now it was equipped with Avro Lancasters (Heavy Bombers) operating as part of the Bomber Command offensive over Germany through the winter of 1944-45. It even flew daylight sorties over Germany, as most of the German Fighters had been destroyed. It only operated as a heavy bomber unit for 6 months flying 980 sorties with a loss of 13 Lancasters, then concentrated on dropping relief supplies to the Dutch, and transporting POWs back to Britain. It flew its’ last combat sortie on the 25th April 1945.
On the 7th March, 433892, Flight Sergeant W D Callaghan was engaged in a “Flying Battle” with some of the few German Fighters left over The Netherlands (Holland), dropping relief supplies to the starving Dutch population. He was Killed In Action (KIA) being shot down near Reichswald Forest near the Dutch/German Border. He and his crew members were buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany in a Collective Grave at Plot 30, Row E, Grave Numbers 1-7.
433892, Flight Sergeant William Desmond Callaghan, RAAF, became the first Fairfield Serviceman to die in 1945, and the last to die in Europe during World War Two.
His medals were issued to his father, William, after the war.
His Paver reference in Honour Avenue War Memorial, Fairfield, from the bottom left corner of the World War Two Pavers, is Column 8 Row Number 4.
He is also commemorated with a small brass plaque in the Left Hand Bay on entering the Memorial from the street, clockwise in position number 14.
77. Roll of Honour – William Desmond Callaghan, Australian War Memorial, Panel 119.

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