Reginald George (Reg) BAIN

BAIN, Reginald George

Service Number: 412879
Enlisted: 15 August 1941
Last Rank: Warrant Officer
Last Unit: No. 460 Squadron (RAAF)
Born: Wagga Wagga New South Wales Australia , 26 October 1921
Home Town: Wagga Wagga, New South Wales
Schooling: South Wagga Public School- Wagga Public High School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Chemists Assistant
Died: Wagga Wagga New South Wales Australia , 11 March 2013, aged 91 years, cause of death not yet discovered
Cemetery: Wagga Wagga Lawn Cemetery & Crematorium
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World War 2 Service

15 Aug 1941: Enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, Aircraftman 2 (WW2), SN 412879, No. 1 Initial Training School
16 Aug 1941: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman, SN 412879, Aircrew Training Units, Empire Air Training Scheme
6 Dec 1941: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Leading Aircraftman
23 Jul 1942: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Sergeant
1 May 1943: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant
27 Aug 1943: Embarked Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Sergeant, SN 412879, Aircrew Training Units, Emb. by air from Nowra NSW to Canada
1 May 1944: Promoted Royal Australian Air Force, Warrant Officer
9 May 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Warrant Officer, SN 412879, 27 Operational Training Unit (RAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
30 Sep 1944: Involvement Royal Australian Air Force, Warrant Officer, SN 412879, No. 460 Squadron (RAAF), Air War NW Europe 1939-45
19 Oct 1944: Imprisoned Prisoners of War, Held at Luft VII Nov44-Jan45 Held at Stalag 39 Mar45-May45
23 Oct 1945: Discharged Royal Australian Air Force, Warrant Officer, SN 412879

Reg's Own Narrative of Being Shot Down and A POW

In 2002, Reg recounted his story of how his plane was shot down and what subsequently happened to him. His recount of this is below.

My name is Reginald Bain and I live in Wagga Wagga, Australia.

During World War II, I was an airplane navigator with the Royal Australian Air Force, stationed in Great Britain.

On the night of 19 October 1944 I was in a plane which took part in a raid on Stuttgart. Our aircraft was a four-engined Lancaster bomber from 460 Squadron. 460 Squadron was predominantly made up of Australian RAAF personnel. The plane's squadron lettering was AR-Z and serial number PB152. The other crew members were:
Pilot Flight Officer Peter FONTAINE (Australian)
Engineer Sergeant Arthur CHISMAN (English)
Bomb Aimer Flight Officer Charles MIDDLETON (Australian)
Wireless Operator Flight Sergeant George NEWMAN (Australian)
Mid-upper Gunner Warrant Officer Reginald KRUTLI (Australian)
Tail Gunner Flight Sergeant Edward KENEALY (Australian)

We actually bombed Stuttgart at 2033 ½ (Greenwich Mean Time) and flew on to Esslingen before turning south to Tubingen. One of our bombs failed to release at Stuttgart. This was released, I think, over Tubingen at 2042 (GMT). As the bomb had not released at Stuttgart which was our target, the Bomb Aimer was attempting to 'safe fuse' the bomb and it is not known therefore whether it was 'live' at the time it finally released over Tubingen.

As soon as the bomb released we attempted to turn for England but encountered a very accurate night fighter pilot. (After I was eventually captured I was told he was flying a Junkers 88 fully radar equipped.) We were in the process of the turn when we were hit.

When our plane was intercepted by the German nightfighter the starboard inner motor was set badly on fire. There was a barrage of bullets put into the body of the plane and we all had to duck for cover. There was an attempt made to put the fire out but this was unsuccessful and the pilot gave orders to abandon aircraft.

By this time the plane had stalled and we went into a mad diving spin. The centrifugal force meant everyone on board was pinned to the floor or their seats.
I managed to raise myself off the floor by the aid of the navigator's blackout curtain and on reaching upwards released the escape hatch behind the pilot. This created suction over the surface of the aircraft and I was pulled out of the exit. I could see three of the other crew members but they were unable to move to get out. The fire had taken a good hold by this time.

My floppy English flying boots didn't come with me and my parachute caused me the greatest scare of my life as it was not strapped to my chest where it normally was. The strings that held the pack in place had been broken when I exited. I was never so scared in my life - having jumped from a burning aircraft and then being faced with the problem of no parachute. I thought I was going to splatter myself all over Germany!

I then remembered having read in the Operations Room that such a situation could arise and that the pack would be where it goes when the chute is opened - 2 to 3 metres above my head. This was all happening in split second time, in pitch darkness and at 5,000 metres (16,000 feet). No one can imagine the terror and fear of such a situation. I reached over my shoulder and felt that the shoulder straps were extended. By pulling the shoulder straps down I was able to get to the rip cord. Ultimately the chute opened and I landed successfully. I think I would have landed somewhere south-south-west of Tubingen.

I was the only member of the plane crew to survive the crash.

I do not know exactly where I landed. It was in a ploughed field somewhere near Tubingen and probably on the southern side of the Neckar river. I unhooked the parachute harness and left it in the field. I just left the parachute where I landed so perhaps someone found it and made good use of its material.

From where I landed, I immediately started walking (without shoes) in a westerly direction. I only got a little way that night and at daylight I hid in the long grass on the roadside and could study the comings and goings of people on the road. Late that afternoon I decided to continue walking and when I got into the open fields there was a small white church standing out on its own which I could see quite clearly. That night I dug myself into a haystack situated on the side of the road to get some sleep.

The next day (21 October) I continued to walk west through farming country, there appeared also to be some orchards. I just kept working my way westwards and I ultimately came to a bridge over the river which I think was at Horb. I crossed the bridge by trying to look like a local person and luckily the sentries did not stop me.

After a week walking, I reached Freudenstadt, very much the worse for wear. I spent a day in the cemetery but about 1630 (26 October) I was discovered by two ladies and a man and after a bit of a scuffle I was taken into the town. October 26th was actually my 23rd birthday.

By then it was a week since I had bailed out over Tubingen. The only food I had during this time was the Aircrew Escape Rations, which consisted of chewing gum and concentrated malted milk tablets.

When I was taken into the town a boy asked me whether I was a British Pilot and I told him I was an Australian airman and that I was very hungry. So a lady went into her home and gave me a piece of bread which I was eating when the Police arrived in a DKW. They had been called by the townspeople.

I was taken to Freudenstadt police station prison where all night long I was getting visitors from interested townspeople and underwent interrogation. The next night I was taken to the Superintendent of Police's home, which was big enough to accommodate several hundred soldiers. I spent most of the night there and after the family had their evening meal the policeman came and asked me to come with him to his lounge room where I met his wife and two young daughters and we all sat in front of a big fire. He had asked me to come down because the daughters wanted to practice their English. I was happy to oblige as I got a good meal!

On 28 October I was escorted back to Stuttgart airport where further interrogation took place and from there I was taken to Frankfurt-an-Main and then Oberursel which was a solitary confinement prison. I spent a week there under interrogation. Then I was taken through Wetzlar and on to a Prisoner of War camp - Stalag Luft 7, Bankau, Silesia.

With the Russians closing in on the camp in Poland the prisoners were put on a route march (known as The Long March) from Bankau to Luckenwalde which was Stalag 3A. This forced march began 19-1-45 in freezing and hurricane force conditions. The last three days of the march were completed in cattle trucks. Marched into Luckenwalde during the afternoon of 8-2-45. Luckenwalde proved a most horrible place to even try and survive in. All told there were 35,000 starving P.O.W.s here – of all nationalities.

On 22-4-45 the Russian armoured column entered the camp but the day before almost all the German guards had evacuated the place. Things looked like getting out of control as mad Russians had raided the armoury and were starting to shoot at anything that moved. Myself and another Aussie named Alf Board and four Scotsmen, decided we couldn't stay there any longer. So on the afternoon of 23-4-45 we left the camp – with me being the navigator for the group.

Through the internals of the camp we had each acquired a pushbike which had been left behind by the evacuating Germans. It took us three days to ride south to Juterbog and then on to Torgau - scrounging for food all the way. In Torgau we found a good two-storey house which the fleeing Germans had left intact and lived there for four days until the Russians allowed everyone to use their pontoon bridge to cross the river. Met the Americans across the other side of the river and were told where to go for a great meal.

At night the Americans drove truckloads of liberated allied servicemen to Leipzig. After two days here, DC3 planes of prisoners were flown to Brussels where we were given billets and new clothes by the Red Cross.

On the morning of 6-5-45, this being the first day after declaration of peace, planeloads of men were evacuated in Lancaster Bombers back to England. The aircraft I was in landed at Heathrow. The Aussie numbers in the aircraft were met by an R.A.A.F. officer who took us to breakfast. Then it was by train to Brighton for convalescence.

I had several leaves to Scotland and London while waiting to set sail for Australia. I traveled back to Australia in contingent J135 on the RMS Andes. It took one month to reach Sydney and this was one of the fastest times. Upon return to Australia I was given one week’s convalescence at Jervis Bay before discharge in October 1945.


Reginald Bain
23 June 2002

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Biography - Reginald George Bain

Reginald George Bain was born on 26 October 1921 in Wagga Wagga NSW, the eldest son of George Bain and Lillian Port. Along with his sisters Isabelle and Mary and brother Ainsley, he grew up in Fox Street in central Wagga Wagga and later Wooden Street, attending South Wagga Primary school and Wagga Wagga High School.

Leaving school he joined Kennedy’s Pharmacy as a messenger boy and trainee Pharmacist. It was at this time that he developed his lifelong passion for flying – joining both the local Aero Club and the Air Force Reserve. Under the tutelage of one of his fellow club members he set out to learn to fly.

With the outbreak of WWII, Reg joined the RAAF but his aim to be a pilot was thwarted when the Airforce tested his mathematical skills and finding him quite talented, assigned him to be an Observer/Navigator. Training at Sale he was then posted to Camden on Coastal Surveillance duties and later posted to New Guinea patrolling the highlands where he was struck by Malaria and returned back to Australia.

Once recovered he was sent to Canada to be part of a new Catalina Flying Boat Squadron that was to be based in the Bahamas. However the planes never arrived and so Reg was reassigned as an Instructor for trainee Navigators and then posted to Dumfries in Scotland to learn Northern Hemisphere Astronavigation and the new electronic navigation systems that were being deployed.

Assigned to 460 Squadron of Bomber Command he was stationed in Binbrook in Lincolnshire and from there undertook 4 bombing raids into Germany and numerous other non-combat missions.

On 19 October 1944 after a bombing raid on the Mercedes Benz factory in Stuttgart, his plane was shot down and Reg was the only member of the 7 man crew that survived. Baling out he landed shoeless in a ploughed paddock on the outskirts of the University town of Tuebingen. On the run for a week and headed for the Rhine, he was eventually captured in Freudenstadt close to the French border on 26 October 1944 –his 23rd Birthday - and became a German Prisoner of War.

Reg spent 5 months as a Prisoner of War in Poland (Bankau Stalag Luft 7) and Germany (Luckenwalde Stalag III) – surviving the “Long March” of prisoners across Poland to Germany in the middle of winter. Escaping from the Luckenwalde POW camp as the Russians were advancing, he made his way to Torgau and was on the banks of the Elbe River when the Russian and American forces met for the first time there on 25th April 1945.

Repatriated to London he was back in time to celebrate Victory in Europe and took off on a motorbike tour of the UK before the Airforce sent him home.

Back in Australia he resumed his courtship of Dorothy Mary Jones who he had met in 1943 at a dance in Camden. They married at Holy Trinity church in Dulwich Hill on 8 March 1947.

Whilst offered a place to study Pharmacy at Sydney university, Reg soon decided Sydney was not the place for him and Dorothy and Reg moved back to Wagga Wagga where Reg started a career in Joinery, later becoming a well-known Builder in Wagga Wagga. He worked for some noted local companies such as Hardy’s and Bostock’s before setting up on his own.

In 2003 Reg fulfilled a long-held dream to return to Germany in peacetime. Along with Dorothy, son Philip and Philip’s partner Susan, they revisited Tuebingen where he was greeted with a Mayoral reception and met a number of local people who had memories of the night his plane was shot down over their town. These included the little girl, now a woman in her mid-sixties, who at 7 years of age had found Reg’s buried parachute and took it home to her Mum who made a Communion Dress from the silk.

It was also his opportunity to visit the graves of his fellow crew members interred at Durnbach War Cemetery to finally get to say ‘Goodbye’.

Reg and Dot had three children.Reg died on 11 March 2013 at the age of 91 years. His ashes are interred in the Wagga Wagga Lawn Cemetery

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Showing 2 of 2 stories

Biography contributed by Steve Larkins

Reginald George BAIN, RAAF (1921- 2013)

 

Reginald George Bain was born on 26 October 1921 in Wagga Wagga NSW, the eldest son of George Bain and Lillian Port.

Along with his sisters Isabelle and Mary and brother Ainsley, he grew up in Fox Street in central Wagga Wagga and later Wooden Street, attending South Wagga Primary school and Wagga Wagga High School. Leaving school he joined Kennedy’s Pharmacy as a messenger boy and trainee Pharmacist. It was at this time that he developed his lifelong passion for flying – joining both the local Aero Club and the Air Force Reserve. Under the tutelage of one of his fellow club members he set out to learn to fly.

With the outbreak of WWII, Reg joined the RAAF but his aim to be a pilot was thwarted when the Airforce tested his mathematical skills and finding him quite talented, assigned him to be an Observer/Navigator. Training at Sale he was then posted to Camden on Coastal Surveillance duties and later posted to New Guinea patrolling the highlands where he was struck by Malaria and returned back to Australia.

Once recovered he was sent to Canada to be part of a new Catalina Flying Boat Squadron that was to be based in the Bahamas. However the planes never arrived and so Reg was reassigned as an Instructor for trainee Navigators and then posted to Dumfries in Scotland to learn Northern Hemisphere Astronavigation and the new electronic navigation systems that were being deployed.

Assigned to 460 Squadron of Bomber Command he was stationed in Binbrook in Lincolnshire and from there undertook 4 bombing raids into Germany and numerous other non-combat missions. On 19 October 1944 after a bombing raid on the Mercedes Benz factory in Stuttgart, his plane was shot down and Reg was the only member of the 7 man crew that survived.

Baling out he landed shoeless in a ploughed paddock on the outskirts of the University town of Tuebingen. On the run for a week and headed for the Rhine, he was eventually captured in Freudenstadt close to the French border on 26 October 1944 –his 23rd Birthday - and became a German Prisoner of War.

Reg spent 5 months as a Prisoner of War in Poland (Bankau Stalag Luft 7) and Germany (Luckenwalde Stalag III) – surviving the “Long March” of prisoners across Poland to Germany in the middle of winter. Escaping from the Luckenwalde POW camp as the Russians were advancing, he made his way to Torgau and was on the banks of the Elbe River when the Russian and American forces met for the first time there on 25th April 1945.

Repatriated to London he was back in time to celebrate Victory in Europe and took off on a motorbike tour of the UK before the Airforce sent him home.

Back in Australia he resumed his courtship of Dorothy Mary Jones who he had met in 1943 at a dance in Camden. They married at Holy Trinity church in Dulwich Hill on 8 March 1947. Whilst offered a place to study Pharmacy at Sydney university, Reg soon decided Sydney was not the place for him and Dorothy and Reg moved back to Wagga Wagga where Reg started a career in Joinery, later becoming a well-known Builder in Wagga Wagga. He worked for some noted local companies such as Hardy’s and Bostock’s before setting up on his own.

In 2003 Reg fulfilled a long-held dream to return to Germany in peacetime. Along with Dorothy, son Philip and Philip’s partner Susan, they revisited Tuebingen where he was greeted with a Mayoral reception and met a number of local people who had memories of the night his plane was shot down over their town. These included the little girl, now a woman in her mid-sixties, who at 7 years of age had found Reg’s buried parachute and took it home to her Mum who made a Communion Dress from the silk.

It was also his opportunity to visit the graves of his fellow crew members interred at Durnbach War Cemetery to finally get to say ‘Goodbye’. Reg and Dot had three children.  Reg died on 11 March 2013 at the age of 91 years. His ashes are interred in the Wagga Wagga Lawn Cemetery.

 

Submitted by Susan Weisser

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Biography contributed by Susan Weisser

Addendum & Correction To Above

Reg also trained at Somers (No 19 Course). After training his first posting was to Papua New Guinea and it was after he returned to Australia with Malaria that he was then posted to Camden undertaking coastal surveillance.