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  • The colour patches which identified units in the AIF were designed to show what division or service they belonged to, and also, in the case of infantry units, their brigade and the sequence of the Battalion in that Brigade. The shape of a colour patch indicated the division or service - 1st Division - horizontal rectangle split horizontally 2nd Division - diamond shape split horizontally 3rd Division - horizontal ellipse 4th Division - circle split horizontally 5th Division - vertical rectangle split vertically. The lower colour denoted the brigade's sequence in the Division. Usually (but not always!) these colours were: Green - first brigade in the division Red - second Light Blue - third The 4th Brigade, originally in the 1st Division , had a dark Blue lower half. Its reallocation to the 4th Division after Gallipoli threw both the brigade / battalion numbering sequence (the most logical at any time in the history of the ADF) and the colour patch structure into disarray! In the first AIF there were four infantry battalions to each brigade, and the upper section (or LHS in the case of the 5th Division) of the colour patch identified each one. Usually (but not always!) these colours were: Black - first Purple - second Brown - third White - fourth Thus every battalion had a unique colour patch. Other Arms and Service Corps had variations but those attached to the five divisions generally incorporated the shape of their parent Ddvision. Source: Text taken from The 27th Battalion Centenary: The Historical Record of the 27th Battalions 13th August 1877-1977 and Programme of Centenary Celebrations, Unley SA, 1977 Notes: 1. Strictly speaking there was no such thing as the 'First AIF'. The term is often used unofficially to distinguish the Australian Imperial Force of the First World War from the Second AIF raised to fight in World War 2. 2. The colour patch scheme was first introduced into the AIF in March 1915, just in time for the initial Gallipoli landings. The 2nd Division received its patches in August 1915, and gradually the scheme was expanded to include the whole AIF.
  • Contemporary media reports upon his death indicate that Philip Robin was “universally admired” as “…one of Australia’s best sons.” and”an exceptional character”. He was “idolized” by football supporters for his “clean, manly game.” He has been referred to as a “robust character” who was “transparently honest” and that his “sterling qualities of character far outshone the transient fame he had won as an all-round athlete.” Tragically, Philip de Quetteville Robin's widow Nellie and their baby were overtaken by tragedy themselves when they both died in London in childbirth in November 1915. The cost for the Robin family during the Great War was indeed high, for on 29 June 1916 one of Phillip's cousins, 2180 Corporal Arthur Mervyn Robin of the 7th Battalion, was killed at Messines. In July 1916, another cousin, 329 Sergeant Geoffrey de Quetteville Robin of the 53rd Australian Infantry Battalion, was killed in action at Fromelles. In February of 1917 yet another of Phillip's cousins, Lieutenant James Keeling Robin MC, was killed in action while serving with the 4th Australian Light Trench Mortar Battery. This narrative is a compilation of work by Bill Denny, AM and Bob Kearney (extract from his book "Silent Voices")
  • By the late LtCol Peter Morrissey . Used with Permission Introduction The five Leane brothers (Edwin, Ernest, Allan, Raymond and Benjamin) all served in the AIF in World War I, along Edwin’s four sons (Allan, Geoffrey, Reuben and Maxwell) and Ernest’s two sons (Arnold and William). Four of the family were killed in action or died of wounds. Edwin Thomas Leane Edwin was born on 25 August 1867 at Prospect SA. He was described as ‘a big man, both physically and mentally’. On 14 September 1914 he joined the AIF as a Captain in the 12th Battalion. Because of illness in Egypt, and possibly his age, he was transferred to the Australian Army Ordnance Corps. His administrative ability carried him to the top levels of the AIF Ordnance Service. Promoted Major in April 1915, he served on Gallipoli as Deputy Assistant Director of Ordnance Services, 2nd Division from late July until the evacuation, and held the same appointment in Egypt in January-March 1916, and until July in France and Belgium. In August he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel and transferred to AIF Headquarters, London. In July 1917 he was posted to France, and in November became the Head of Ordnance Services, I Anzac Corps. From February 1918 this responsibility was widened to include the whole AIF in France. Edwin was promoted Colonel in November, and became a deputy director in the AIF Repatriation and Demobilization Department, London. He had been mentioned in dispatches five times, appointed CBE, and awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre. He died at Camberwell, Victoria on 27 August 1928. Three of Edwin’s sons, Captain Allan Edwin Leane (died of wounds, 2 May 1917, Bullecourt), Lieutenant Geoffrey Paul Leane, MC and Corporal Reuben Ernest Leane, served with the 48th Battalion, and a fourth son, Lieutenant Maxwell Leane, with the Royal Australian Navy Volunteer Reserve. Ernest Albert Leane Ernest was born in 1869, enlisted at the age of 45, and served with the 27th Battalion as a Warrant Officer. His two sons also served in the Battalion. One of them, Corporal Arnold Harry Leane, was killed in action on 5 November 1916. The other, Corporal William Ernest Raymond Leane, survived. Allan William Leane Allan was born on 11 May 1872 at Mount Gambier SA. He enlisted in the AIF as a Major in the 28th Battalion on 28 April 1915, and reached Gallipoli in September. He was Second-in-Command of the Battalion from January 1916, and commanded it in France from 29 July as a temporary Lieutenant Colonel, providing inspiring leadership during the Battle of Pozières. He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 29 November, but died of shrapnel wounds received at Delville Wood on 4 January 1917, and was buried in the Dernancourt Communal Cemetery, in a grave especially constructed by the men of the Battalion, adjacent to the CWG cemetery. Raymond Lionel Leane Raymond Leane was born on 12 July 1878 at Prospect SA. On 25 August 1914 he enlisted in the 11th Battalion as a Captain and Company Commander. The Battalion went ashore with the Covering Force during the landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and Ray’s C Company moved into the Plugge’s Plateau sector. On 4 May he led an attempt to capture Gaba Tepe fort, a Turkish position close to the beach which enfiladed the Australian trenches. Charles Bean considered him the ideal choice for this hazardous enterprise. After landing at dawn, Ray’s small force was pinned close to the beach by heavy fire, so that no advance could be attempted. Having been given full discretion to depart from his orders as he thought fit, he organized a withdrawal and successfully brought off his men and their wounded with the aid of the Royal Navy. For this he was awarded the Military Cross. Ray was slightly wounded on 28 June in an assault on Pine Ridge, and again on 31 July when he led a successful attack against Turkish defences, and held the position thereafter against heavy counter-attacks. This position became known as Leane’s Trench. Promoted temporary Major on 5 August, he commanded the 11th Battalion from 11 September, and was promoted temporary Lieutenant Colonel on 8 October. He remained at Gallipoli until evacuation on 16 November. He was twice mentioned in dispatches for service at Anzac. While there, he had been nicknamed ‘Bull’; his “tall square-shouldered frame, immense jaw, tightly compressed lips, and keen, steady, humorous eyes made him the very figure of a soldier”. In Egypt on 26 February 1916, Ray was confirmed as Major and appointed Commanding Officer of the 48th Battalion (the ‘pup’ Battalion of the 16th Battalion). Promoted Lieutenant Colonel on 12 March, he took his Battalion to France in June. After a week at Fleurbaix, the Battalion moved into the Pozières sector, and on 7 August repulsed a heavy German counter-attack. The 48th served at Mouquet Farm and Gueudecourt in 1916, and at Bullecourt, Messines, Wytschaete and Passchendaele in 1917. At Bullecourt Ray’s younger brother and Battalion Second-in-Command, Major Benjamin Bennett Leane was killed on 10 April, and his nephew Captain Allan Edwin Leane died of wounds on 2 May. Severely wounded at Passchendaele on 12 October, Ray did not resume duty until late January 1918. He commanded the 48th Battalion at Albert and Dernancourt in March-April. Under his command, the 48th Battalion was prominent in halting the German advance on Amiens on 5 April. He was appointed temporary Colonel commanding the 12th Brigade on 19 April, and was confirmed in rank and promoted temporary Brigadier General on 1 June. He commanded the 12th Brigade at Villers-Bretonneux in April-May, in the attack on Proyart on 8 August, and in the battles of the Hindenburg outpost line in September. Ray had been mentioned in dispatches eight times, and his decorations included the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, the Military Cross, and the French Croix de Guerre. He was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1918, Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1919, and Knight Bachelor in 1944. His brother Ben, three nephews, and several other relatives had served under him in the 48th Battalion, which led to its being known throughout the AIF as the ‘Joan of Arc Battalion’ (Made of All Leanes). As a commander, Ray won the affection of his men by his constant concern for their well-being. He gained their respect by his strength of character, firm discipline and high sense of duty. In action he was cool and alert, directing and encouraging, heedless of danger. Raymond Leane was appointed Commissioner of Police in SA, a role he held from 1920 until his retirement in 1944. In World War II Ray commanded a group in the Volunteer Defence Corps. After his retirement he lived quietly at Plympton SA until his death on 25 June 1962. Charles Bean described Sir Raymond Leane as “the head of the most famous family of soldiers in Australian history”. His portrait by George Bell is in the Australian War Memorial. Benjamin Bennett Leane Ben was born in 1889, and was killed on 10 April 1917 at Bullecourt while serving as a Major and Ray Leane’s Battalion Second-in-Command in the 48th Battalion. He was buried in Queant Road Cemetery, Buissy. Conclusion The Leane brothers and their sons provide a remarkable example of family enlistment. Every male member of military age offered himself for active service, and was accepted. The family was known during the war and for long afterwards as ‘The Fighting Leanes of Prospect’. Principal Source: Australian Dictionary of Biography. From work originally compiled by the late LtCol Peter Morrissey an esteemed comrade.
  • ‘Back to the old front line,’ called Imlay, as a bloodied messenger raced in. I glanced around the trench as I swung my gun on shoulder. Bright mess tins lay about. There was half a loaf of bread with an open tin of jam beside it, and bloodstained equipment lying everywhere. The dead sergeant still lay massive on the parapet. Other dead lay limp on the trench floor. Wounded sprawled or sat with backs to the parapet, watching us with anxious eyes. ‘You are not going to leave us?’ asked one of me. I could not answer him, or meet his eyes as I joined the party moving down the sap. For some reason I felt the guilt of deserting them was mine alone. Here was a tangle of dismembered limbs and dead men. The air was heavy with the reek of explosives. One man, with his foot blown off, leaned wearily back. He had a mills in his hand with the pin out. He would not be taken alive. Our party – about sixty strong, with our two remaining officers – spread along the German front line, mean with ready bombs and bayonets on the flanks. No other Australian force was left in the Hindenburg Line. Our shells still screamed about the parapet. When this fire died down the might of the German Army would fall again on our outflanked few. Between us and our line stretched masses of brown wire, and fifteen hundred yards of bullet and shell-swept level land, over which for a long time no messenger had lived in attempting to get across. Wounded men stood and sat silent on the upper steps of deep dugouts. I leaned on my gun, pondering the utter hopelessness of the position. A Fritz machine gun sat askew on the parapet. I was forming a project to bring it into action. Word came from the left flank, punctuated by bomb bursts, ‘Enemy bombing back. We have run out of bombs’. All stores of German bombs had been used up by our men. An officers’ voice called clear, ‘Dump everything and get back.’ Discard my beautiful gun? They mightn’t give me another! Our few unwounded climbed the parapet. Heavily I started to climb the steep trench wall where a shell had partly blown it in. I looked up to see Bill Davies standing on the top amid the bullets, with hand extended to help me up. A vast indifference settled on me, as I stood on the parapet. Three yards out a man lying over a strand of wire called, ‘Help me, mate.’ I put down my gun and tried to heave him into a shell hole. He screamed with pain as I heaved, so I stopped. ‘I can’t do anything for you, old chap’, I said, and hoping that I would be forgiven the lie, ‘I will send the bearers back.’ ‘Thank you’, he said. I picked up my gun and walked on. A shrapnel from the enemy flank churned the ground just in front, as I picked my way through the wire. A piece of shell fragment cut my puttee tape, and dropped the folds around my boot. In complete indifference I trudged over the field, making the concession of holding the gun flat so as not to be too prominent. A man reaches a blasé stage after too much excitement. Once I thought of settling down and blazing defiance at the enemy with my last solitary magazine. But the thought of our wounded in the track of the bullets made me refrain. Five-point-nines burst black on either hand, and futile bullets zipped about. They could no nothing to me. Silly cows to try. Someone ought to tell them… George Mitchell's walk was witnessed by hundreds and passed into AIF Legend. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and later commissioned.
  • A further example of Nimmo’s courage was on 28 June 1915 when leading his troops towards Turkish positions. During the advance one of Nimmo’s sergeants indicated to him that there were Turkish soldiers firing at other Australian troops to the north of their position. Nimmo, appreciating that the Turkish soldiers were exposed from their position in relation to his, quietly collected a dozen men, explained the situation to them and issued quick orders, then gave the signal to rise and fire five rounds of rapid fire. The Turkish soldiers became confused and quickly took cover before fighting back. The situation soon developed into a skirmish with artillery shells and firing from an Australian warship, affecting the progress of Nimmo’s men. But Nimmo’s leadership steadied his men and again, his courage under fire was noted.
  • George Mitchell .. the culminating point ‘Backs to the Wall!’ Backs to hell, and old ‘Nick’ reaching out with his pitchfork. We could not hear our own rifles above the din, only knew by the recoil that we had fired. I could feel the sidelong glances from the men, and the unspoken thought, ‘How are you going to get us out of this mess?’ ‘Poor blighters, my job is to keep you here till you are done for, not get you out.’ On three sides, they closed in, only the way to company headquarters was open. Suddenly a runner dived in and I read the message, ‘Retire immediately.’ Down the bank once more and out on the lower plain, futile bullets pecked the ground as I trudged. What did it matter? Only a question of today, tomorrow, or the next day! To my delighted eyes, there stretched a well-sited, newly dug trench lined with capable looking Australians. Eager questions assailed me ‘Where is he, when is he coming?’ ‘Massing over the hill’ I replied, ‘here in about twenty minutes.’ ‘We’ve got him now, we’ve got him!’ Sorted out my platoon and led them to the extreme left where there was a gap. A roar of small-arm fire came from the right, a 13th brigade battalion, the 49th, swept forward into the gap. We watched as they swung along with irresistible momentum, the ranks thinned as they went, here and there groups shot and stabbed. Ahead of them ran field grey figures, the gap is closed by good Australian bayonets! No further attack came from Fritz. Down came their gunfire on us, the worst I ever experienced. Big shells punched the rocking earth with appalling fury, smoke rolled in clouds, had a bad attack of wind-up, and the taste of death was in my mouth. If I live through this, I thought as I lay in a heap, I will never be any good anymore. Ten shells a second, I calculated, landed on our hundred yards of front. Slowly the fire died away, the 2nd Division came up and relieved us, we assembled our weary few and marched back." George Mitchell, MC, DCM, "Backs to the Wall", 1937
  • This officer has completed 68 sorties and has displayed great courage and determination. During a sortie in January, 1943, Flying Officer Cowper was compelled to make a forced landing behind the enemy’s lines but he displayed great resource in outwitting the enemy and regained our own lines on foot. One night in July, 1943, he engaged a Junkers 88 and caused it to explode. The enemy aircraft disintegrated and a large portion struck and so disabled Flying Officer Cowper’s aircraft that he – was forced to leave it by parachute. He was later rescued from the sea and rejoined his squadron to resume operational flying. Since then, Flying Officer Cowper has destroyed another Junkers 88.
  • News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), Saturday 4 January 1947, page 1 Body Found In Wreck SEREANT - PILOT C. W. Dunning. Spitfire SERGEANT-PILOT Colin William Dunning, of Restormel avenue, Fullarton Estate, was the pilot of a crashed Spitfire found by an aboriginal at Fog Harbor, 45 miles south-west of Darwin, last week. His parents were notified by R.A.A.F. headquarters last night. His remains were found on what would have been the pilot's twenty-second birthday, and will be interred in a military cemetery at Darwin. Missing from a non-operational flight more than two years ago, the late Sgt. Dunning was the son of Mr. and Mrs. S. L. Dunning, of Restormel avenue, Fullarton Estate. After a promising scholastic career at Marist Brothers' College, he won a scholarship for accountancy studies, and had completed two subjects when he joined the R.A.A.F. at the age of 18. After training at fighter schools at Mildura and Deniliquin, Sgt. Dunning went to Darwin with No. 452 Spitfire Squadron, and was lost on an altitude test and training exercises on April 24, 1944.
  • On the 14th September, 1917, at ZILLEBEKE, the 18th Battery position was heavily shelled from 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. with 5.9" and 8". At 3.36 p.m. an ammunition dump alongside No. 1 gun was hit and it and the gun pit caught fire. These men [8360 M.A. COCKER, 8381 D.D. BRADBURY, (8381) Lt E.J. SHEPHERD, (10762) Lt L. CARTHEW] on Lieutenant DODD calling for a party rushed out of the shelter trench in the face of the heavy fire and with water from adjacent shell holes succeeded in putting it out. Later the pit was again hit and it and the ammunition and an adjacent pit caught fire. These men again went out with Lieutenant DODD in the face of the shelling and succeeded in saving the guns and ammunition. They displayed great gallantry and determination in the face of very considerable danger.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 31 Date: 7 March 1918
  • 30 April 1943 The spring of 1943 saw desperate British efforts to cover the 'Northern Transit Zone' between the Shetland and Faeroe islands, where U-boats leaving Germany entered the Atlantic. Part of this effort included patrols by twin-engined Hampden torpedo bombers of 455 RAAF Squadron. The Australian crews had to improvise, without any specialised training or equipment for this role. They flew many lonely missions in their slow and obsolete aircraft, which also lacked search radar. Despite this, Hampden X/455, flying from Sumburgh in the Orkneys, at the far northern tip of the UK, spotted U-227 north of the Shetlands. The Hampden's pilot, Sergeant J. S. Freeth, executed two accurate depth-charge attacks to sink the boat. None of the U-boat men survived. They had been outward bound on their maiden voyage.
  • 30 April 1943 The spring of 1943 saw desperate British efforts to cover the 'Northern Transit Zone' between the Shetland and Faeroe islands, where U-boats leaving Germany entered the Atlantic. Part of this effort included patrols by twin-engined Hampden torpedo bombers of 455 RAAF Squadron. The Australian crews had to improvise, without any specialised training or equipment for this role. They flew many lonely missions in their slow and obsolete aircraft, which also lacked search radar. Despite this, Hampden X/455, flying from Sumburgh in the Orkneys, at the far northern tip of the UK, spotted U-227 north of the Shetlands. The Hampden's pilot, Sergeant J. S. Freeth, executed two accurate depth-charge attacks to sink the boat. None of the U-boat men survived. They had been outward bound on their maiden voyage. Sgt Freeth was killed in a flying accident three weeks later. Story courtesy
  • Pilot Officer Warren Cowan, 31 years old from Angaston SA, was killed in action on 22 July 1942, along with his crew; Navigator, Pilot Officer David Taylor (/explore/people/649251), 33, from Hobart Tasmania and gunners Sergeant Russell Polack (/explore/people/643628), 24 of Summer Hill NSW, and Sergeant Lauri Sheard (/explore/people/515235), 20, of Nuriootpa, SA. They were the crew of a Lockheed Hudson Mk IIIA, tail number A16-201 on a solo armed reconnaissance mission. They died in a forlorn and lonely air combat against six Mitsubishi Zeros over New Guinea's northern beaches near Buna, the site of Japanese amphibious landings that were a prelude to the Kokoda campaign. What distinguishes this action from many like it in the early stages of Australia's war in the SW Pacific, is that an accurate account of what happened came from the other side. They gave a distinguished account of themselves, so much so that 55 years after the incident, one of the Japanese pilots, none other than top Japanese 'Ace' of the war, Saburo Sakai, who was one of the pilots involved in the destruction of this aircraft, lobbied the Australian Government to present Cowan with a posthumous award for his actions that day. Warren Cowan and his crew were on an armed reconnaissance mission launched from Port Moresby's Seven Mile Drome at 1130hrs, in response to the Japanese landings in the Buna Gona area. The aircraft they were flying had been assembled in Australia just three months before and delivered to No. 32 Squadron on 25 April 1942. They were looking for the destroyer escorts and the departing convoy heading back to Rabaul. Two hours after leaving Port Moresby, they reported they were 20 miles out to sea having flown over the north coast near Gona. Unreported by them but recorded by Japanese records it is fair to assume they did not locate the convoy and dropped their bomb load on Japanese positions at Buna on the return journey. Unfortunately they flew into the Japanese air defence net cast over the landing area. A total of 18 Mitsubishi A6M2 Zeros belonging to a detachment of the Tainan Naval Air Group were rostered in three 'Chutai' (squadrons) of six aircraft, organised in two flights of three aircraft each, to patrol the landing area from their base at Lae further up the coast. The pilots were all combat experienced and had most recently been engaged in raids on Port Moresby. Saburo Sakai was the flight leader of the second flight, of the third Chutai, each aircraft marked with blue stripes around the rear fuselage. The other Chutai were marked yellow and red respectively. Sasai Jun'ichi was No 1 Flight Commander, Ota Toshio and Endo Masuaki were his wingmen. Flying with Sakai were Yonekawa Masayoshi and Mogi Yoshio. Like Cowan, the Zeros failed to locate the convoy, but they did spot Cowan's Hudson, and his crew spotted them as was evident from his actions, which was basically to undertake a smooth descent to build up as much speed as it could towards Milne Bay. The Zeros jettisoned their drop tanks and gave chase, sacrificing the increased range afforded by the lost fuel in exchange for speed to catch their quarry. Now it was just a matter of time, if Cowan adhered to the expected tactic of throttles to the firewall and attempting to gain maximum speed - which would not be enough to outpace the Zeros. He didn't. In a move that startled his pursuers, perhaps realising that his expected course of action was forlorn, Cowan stood the Hudson on its wingtip in a very steep turn presumably assisted by the application of 'asymmetric power', and turned to face his attackers as perhaps his only remotely viable option. He fired his nose guns as he sped through the Japanese formation which broke up as he did so. The Japanese pilots were not carrying radios due to technical difficulties with their sets and the Zero airframe and engine. They were however, disciplined and experienced pilots and they regained their formation and tried to position themselves to attack despite defensive fire from the Hudson's dorsal turret. According to Sakai, it was ten minutes or so, an age in aerial dogfighting, before the Zeros could land hits on the Hudson thanks to Cowan's desperate maneuvering to evade them. Eventually the Zeros successively took out the Hudson's dorsal turret then set fire to the port engine, moments before it rolled into the jungle below and exploded, near the village of Popogo. Cowan's actions impressed the Japanese pilots, but most ultimately became casualties themselves. Sasai Jun'ichi, the No 1 Flight Commander was lost just a month later in air combat with US Wildcat fighters over Guadalcanal. Sakai lost the sight in one eye but returned to flying late in the war as Japan's circumstances became dire. In 1997, 55 years after the event, the only surviving participant in this action, Saburo Sakai, wrote to the Australian Minister for Veterans Affairs, Hon Danna Vale, requesting that Cowan's bravery be recognised. The Minister thanked him for his submission but advised that, regrettably, the request could not be legally honoured because the 'End of War' list had closed in 1945 thus closing off the avenue for a posthumous award. This set of circumstances however makes for a unique anecdote in the history of the struggle in which Australia found itself in those dark days of 1942. As a footnote, the wreck of the Hudson and the remains of the crew were discovered in 1943 by a USAAF search team who had been told of the wreck by villagers while they were recovering the remains of the crew of a C-47 Dakota crew that had crashed near Popondetta. The Hudson wreck was near the village of Popogo. It was realised it was not American and a later team including Australians recovered the remains of the crew in early 1945, which were subsequently interred in the Lae War cemetery although they are now in the Port Moresby Bomana War Cemetery (CWGC records). Compiled by Steve Larkins Dec 2016 from the source cited below: Source: 'Outgunned and Outclassed' an article by Michael John Claringbold as published in 'Flightpath ' magazine Vol 28 No.2 Nov 2016-Jan 2017 Yaffa Media Pty Ltd Sydney
  • No. 467 Squadron Lancaster B Mk III tail no LM372, serial PO-K flying on a raid to Berlin on 1/2 January 1944. Their aircraft was intercepted and shot down on approach to the target near Altmerdingsen Germany to the target by a German Night Fighter Ace, Hauptman Heinrich Prinz Zu Sayn-Wittgenstein at 2.20am. The aircraft according to witnesses lost a wing and spun into the ground with a full bomb load. The resulting explosion blew a crater 25 yards across and blew out windows in the nearby village. There were no survivors. The remains were interred locally and after the war a RAF investigation team disinterred the graves and set about the process of identifying the remains. They were reburied in the Hannover cemetery in 1947. The aircraft and its crew of eight were lost. The eighth crew member was FSGT Mudie who flew as 2nd Pilot for experience before taking a crew of his own. PATKIN LEO BRAHAM FLTLT 401146 (RAAF) Pilot MUDIE JAMES FSGT 29886 (RAAF) 2nd Pilot MAIDSTONE, RAYMOND JOSPEH ALFRED, 132722 FOFFR (RAFVR) Navigator LITCHFIELD, GEORGE ARNOLD SGT 1579416 (RAFVR) Bomb Aimer CHAMBERS, RALPH, SGT 1482755 (RAFVR) Flight Engineer (his remains were not accounted for in the post war investigation) SCOTT HENRY DOUGLAS FSGT 410611 (RAAF) W/OP BLACKWELL WILLIAM DONALD FSGT 415497 (RAAF) Air Gunner BOETTCHER ARTHUR HAROLD FSGT 414305 (RAAF) Air gunner As a postscript, Wittgenstein was killed soon after this incident on 21 January, after he had shot down five Lancasters in the course of about 40 minutes, when in turn his Ju88 was brought down by either debris from his last victim or fire from a nearby Lancaster air gunner or a Mosquito. The wing of his Ju88 was set on fire and he ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. His crew escaped but it seemed that Wittgenstein was incapacitated on exit and was found with his parachute unopened near the wreckage. At the time of his death he had been credited with 83 kills making him one of the deadliest night fighter aces of the Luftwaffe. See this link for further details: .
  • TED RUSSELL` S ACCOUNT. BV411 Sumburgh September 14th 1944. "We took off at 18.25hrs en route to Wick. I was in the second pilots seat, it was rough With lots of vibration, not unusual as we had brakes on and plenty of revs to commence our run with the restrictions at Sumburgh. We started to climb and I Noticed the oil pressure dropping on the Port engine together with a temperature Rise. Jack said" he was going to feather the Engine "and I said "I am out of here on to Radio, do you want emergency "Jack said "yes", so I went on the set and sent out the Distress signals and fixed down the key, The crew were told to get into crash Positions and we instructed our passengers to do the same. I then changed the signal to S.O.S. Jack was keeping me informed of height etc, then told me get rid of fuel he was going to try and make it back. Fire started on the remaining engine and started to come down the fuselage on the Starboard side. We did not have the height to use the long runway, so came in sea to sea with a strong cross tail wind, we could not sit down until about two thirds had gone, we tried to raise the undercarriage but it would not fold because of the hydraulic lock, after much stabbing of brakes one wheel went up,we carried on like that loosing bits and went over the grass then stalled more or less onto very large rocks that took off the outer wings, front turret, wind screen. Instrument Panel a wheel and bomb bay overload tank. When we stopped the port engine was off and all after the mid up turret broke off and turned up 90o. I got the airman on the floor near me up, moved to the Navs compartment and there was Bart on the floor ( in his crash position ) with all his gear and table on top of him. I lifted that off him and stood him up under the Astro dome gave him a shove and followed so fast I hit my head on his boots. I should mention that the flames were blowing over the hatch and the sea was on fire. The tide was further in than when the photo' was taken but I still wonder how we missed the bolts that should have been holding the engine on we could not swim or stand up due to the rocks and seaweed, but we crawled very fast. I put my hand on the airman's shoulder on the beach, his great coat was like tar and just crumbled away, he was more concerned about loosing the fresh crofters eggs he was taking home to his Mother!!. It was his first flight, I believe he went to Wick on an old Jarrow (Handley Page Harrow) they used for the newspaper run and it crash landed, Wonder if he ever flew again. I still can't believe how lucky we were to get out without to many injuries or burns".
  • From CWGC Cemetery page. Bancourt was occupied by Commonwealth forces in March 1917. It was lost a year later during the German offensive in the spring of 1918, but recaptured by the New Zealand Division (in particular, the 2nd Auckland Battalion) on 30 August 1918. The cemetery was begun by the New Zealand Division in September 1918; the original cemetery is now Plot I, Rows A and B. The remainder of the cemetery was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields east and south of Bancourt and from certain Allied and German cemeteries, including:- BAPAUME RESERVOIR GERMAN CEMETERY, on the Bapaume Beaulencourt road, containing the graves of twelve soldiers from the United Kingdom buried by a German Field Ambulance in March and April, 1918, and of seven others and three from New Zealand who fell at the end of August, 1918. BAPAUME ROAD CEMETERY, BEAULENCOURT, a500 metres South of the Beaulencourt-Gueudecourt road, containing the graves of 20 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in October, 1916. BEAULENCOURT ROAD CEMETERIES, three in number, on the North-East side of Gueudecourt, containing the graves of 88 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in the autumn of 1916 or in April, 1917. CLOUDY TRENCH CEMETERY, GUEUDECOURT, containing the graves of 40 soldiers from the United Kingdom who fell in October or November, 1916. The five cemeteries last named were made by the 5th Australian Division in April, 1917. FREMICOURT COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION. This Extension was begun by the Germans, who buried in it 1,346 of their own soldiers and 136 officers and men from the United Kingdom who fell in March, 1918. It was taken over in September, 1918, by British and Dominion units, who used it for clearing the battlefields and for fresh burials, and added 94 graves. All the graves have now been removed to other cemeteries. SUNKEN ROAD CEMETERY, LESBOEUFS, between Gueudecourt and Le Transloy, made by the 5th Australian Division in April, 1917. It contained the graves of 49 soldiers from the United Kingdom and one from Australia who fell in October, 1916. The great majority of these graves dated from the winter of 1916-1917 (Flers Guedecourt), the retreat of March 1918 (the German 'Operation Michael spring Offensive) , or the advance of August-September 1918 ('The Last Hundred Days'). Bancourt British Cemetery now contains 2,480 burials and commemorations of the First World War. 1,462 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to 43 casualties known or believed to be buried among them, and to one soldier buried in Bapaume Reservoir German Cemetery, whose grave could not be found on concentration. The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.
  • Out of the 596 aircraft on the raid 29 were shot down. These figure were fairly typical of RAF raids on German targets at the time – immense destruction was now almost assured at a cost that was, if not acceptable, then at least sustainable. Flight Engineer Sergeant C.H. ‘Chick’ Chandler was on one of the Lancasters that was not shot down that night. His experience was about as bad as it could get without becoming a casualty. In his memory the traumatic events remained to be replayed in slow motion: It was 0110 HOURS on the morning of 23 April 1944. We were a XV Squadron Lancaster III crew from Mildenhall on our 17th op and we were hit simultaneously by heavy flak and cannon fire from an Me 109 at the precise moment that our bombs were released on Dusseldorf. Being the flight engineer, I was standing on the right-hand side of the cockpit, as was usual during our bombing run, with my head in the blister to watch for any fighter attack that might occur from the starboard side. The bombs were actually dropping from the aircraft when there was a tremendous explosion. For a brief period of time everything seemed to happen in ultra-slow motion. The explosion knocked me on my back; I was aware of falling on to the floor of the aircraft, but it seemed an age before I actually made contact. I distinctly remember ‘bouncing’. Probably lots of flying clothing and Mae Wests broke my fall, but under normal circumstances one would not have been aware of ‘bouncing’. As I fell I ‘saw’, in my mind’s eye, very clearly indeed, a telegram boy cycling to my mother’s back door. He was whistling very cheerfully and handed her the telegram that informed her of my death. She was very calm and thanked the boy for delivering the message. As I laid there I saw a stream of sparks pass a few feet above the cockpit, from back to front and going up at a slight angle. This caused me some confusion. If the sparks were from a burning engine they were going the wrong way. It was some little time before I realised that the ‘sparks’ were in fact tracer shells from a fighter that I did not know was attacking us. The illusion that the tracer shells were going upwards was no doubt caused by the fact that our Lancaster was going into an uncontrolled, screaming dive, but because of the slow-motion effect that I was experiencing, I did not appreciate this fact. This whole episode had taken 2 or 3 seconds at most, then the slow-motion effect began to wear off, and I became aware of the screams of the bomb-aimer. [after the aircraft went through violent evasive dives they threw off the fighter … the order to prepare to ‘bale out’ was withdrawn after they discovered that most of the parachutes had been destroyed] My task now was to check the aircraft for damage and casualties. My checks started at the front of the aircraft, in the bomb-aimer’s compartment. I am afraid to say that my sheltered life had not prepared me for the terrible sight that met my eyes. It was obvious that this area had caught the full blast of the flak, and Alan Gerrard had suffered the most appalling injuries. At least he would have died almost instantaneously. Suffice to say that I was sick. At this stage I risked using my torch to shine along the bomb bay to make sure that all our bombs were gone. My report simply was that the bomb-aimer had been killed and that all bombs had left the aircraft. Next stop was the cockpit. The pilot had really worked wonders in controlling the aircraft and successfully feathering the engine that had been on fire. Then on to the navigator’s department; on peering round the blackout screen I saw that Ken Pincott was busy working over his charts, but that Flight Lieutenant John Fabian DFC, the H2S operator (the Squadron navigation leader), appeared to be in shock. However, once I established that there appeared to be no serious damage, I moved on. The wireless operator’s position was empty because his task during the bombing run was to go to the rear of the aircraft and ensure that the photo flash left at the same time as the bombs. Next, down to the mid-upper turret, where Ron Wilson had re-occupied his position, albeit only temporarily. (Unknown to me, he had suffered a wound to his ear that, although not too serious, would keep him off flying for a few weeks.) On reaching the next checkpoint I was again totally unprepared for the dreadful sight that confronted me. Our wireless operator, Flight Sergeant L. Barnes, had sustained, in my opinion, fatal chest injuries and had mercifully lost consciousness. It was found later that he had further very serious injuries to his lower body and legs. He died of his wounds before we reached England. From the rear turret I got a ‘thumbs up’ sign from ‘Whacker’ Mair, so I rightly concluded that he was OK. As well as having to report the death of our bomb-aimer, and the fatal injuries to the wireless operator, I had to report the complete failure of the hydraulic system. The pilot was already aware of the fact that we had lost our port inner engine through fire, and that our starboard outer was giving only partial power. The bomb doors were stuck in the open position, and the gun turrets had been rendered inoperative because of the hydraulic failure. Post script: They had just enough fuel to make it back to England, gradually losing height all the way, only to discover that their undercarriage was stuck as they came in to land. The remaining crew survived the emergency landing. All the survivors remained on flying duties, only the slightly wounded mid upper gunner had a brief respite. See Bowman (Ed.) RAF Bomber Stories: Dramatic First-hand Accounts of British and Commonwealth Airmen in World War 2
  • Private Richard Murray sacrificed himself to protect his mates after the theft of rice from a Japanese cache was discovered by Camp guards at Ranau in May 1945. "Then, to Botterill's horror, Richie Murray stepped forward. In a clear firm voice, he told Suzuki that he had stolen the food and that he, and he alone, was responsible. He was taken at bayonet point to a tree outside the Japanese hut and tied up while the rest of the prisoners were told to get on with their work, which for Botterill, was cutting wood down at the Formosan quarters. He couldn't see what was going on but he figured that Suzuki would keep Murray tied to the tree overnight. After dark he would cut Murray loose and escape, possibly with Allie and Grist as previously planned. They would have to flee immediately of course, but with the rest of the stolen food still safely hidden in the jungle, at least they would have a fair chance of making a good break before the alarm was raised. About an hour later, Botterill looked up to see Murray disappearing down the track under escort. He couldn't identify the guards, but some English prisoners, working in the main kitchen on the other side of the Formosan hut, had a clear view. They watched, horrified, as Suzuki, accompanied by a guard escort which included Kawakami (The Gold Tootheed Shin Kicking bastard), Mori Shoichi and Yoshiya Kinjo, took Murray, who had been savagely beaten, down the track at bayonet point. Twenty minutes later the guards returned without him. Botterill's worst fears became a hideous reality when Kawakami swaggered down to the Formosan hut and made a great show of wiping his bayonet on the grass, boasting to his fellow guards that he had 'blooded his blade' on the prisoner." Keith Botterill was one of only six Australian survivors of the two Sandakan Death Marches. Suzuki and Kawakami were hanged at Rabaul on 18 Oct 1946 for another similar atrocity. They were never tried for Murray's death but were convicted largely on the testimony of Keith Botterill and Bill Moxham, another of the six survivors. Sandakan - Conspiracy of Silence 1998 Lynette Ramsay Silver Sally Milner Publishing ISBN I 86351 223 3 . pp 210-211
  • Lloyd Maundrell, flew as a Captain for Ansett Flying Boats. Lloyd became very well known to Sydneysiders thanks to 2UE Radio Announcer Gary O’Callaghan who, with his “imaginary” friend Sammy Sparrow, used to announce the arrival of Ansett Flying Boats as they flew into Rose Bay, almost always it seemed with Captain Maundrell at the controls ! Ironically, Gary O’Callaghan’s son became a Seaplane Pilot himself, flying for the late Vic Walton.
  • 'For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during the attack in front of VILLERS BRETONNEUX on 8th August 1918. Gunners [29015 H C] COURTNEY and TIDDY ran a line forward in face of heavy shell and machine gun fire and repeatedly patrolled same under heavy shell and machine gun fire in order to maintain communication. During the whole day's operation they acted in a most cool and daring manner, and under exceedingly trying circumstances showed a strong determination to succeed.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 75 Date: 17 June 1919
  • On this day, a Beaufort bomber (A9-38) from No 100 Squadron was attacked by three Zero fighters off the southern coast of New Britain. Instead of coming off worst in an unequal fight, the more cumbersome Beaufort actually bested its more nimble opponents. During an engagement lasting under eight minutes, the Beaufort crew –– firing from nose, turret and beam hatch –– managed to score hits on one Zero, which dropped away sharply, while a second suffered multiple hits in one wing and its fuselage before spinning out of control. The third Japanese pilot wisely chose to withdraw. The tally of Zeros claimed by the crew was one probable and one damaged; years later Japanese records confirmed both Zeros were lost in the action. The encounter became famous across the RAAF’s Beaufort force. All four crewmen were mentioned in dispatches, and in 1943 the pilot, Sgt Clarence Reginald 'Reg' Green (later Flying Officer), also received the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal. RAAF History Unit
  • She faced no battle flame, she heard no German gun, The ship without a name, the luckless AE-1. Yet were her sailor’s lives no less for Empire lost, And mothers, sweethearts, wives must pay the bitter cost. Australia’s warships sweep the broad Pacific main, But one from out the deep will never rise again. Yet we shall not forget, through all the years that run, The fate that she has met – Goodbye to AE-1. Pent in their iron cell, they sank beneath the wave, Untouched by shot or shell, they drifted to the grave. Until their painful breath at last began to fail; Upon their way to death let pity draw the veil. They could not strike one blow, but out of sound and sight Of comrade or of foe they passed to endless night; Deep down on Ocean’s floor, far from the wind and sun, They rest for evermore – Goodbye to AE-1. A harder fate was theirs than men’s who fight and die, But still Australia cares, and will not pass them by; When Honour’s lists are read, their names will surely be Among the gallant dead who fought to keep us free. Their winding-sheet is steel, their sepulchre is wide; Theirs is a Monument of History, begun When down to death they went – Goodbye to AE-1. Del McCay
  • 'Night 27th/28th August, 1916 at MOUQUET FARM. For leading bombing squads which successfully entered enemy strong point 54, and pushed forward into strongly held communication trenches, holding same, and inflicting heavy casualties on a large body of the enemy troops, and thus covering our consolidating party. These two N.C.O.s [RULE and 619 John James MYERS] threw bombs untiringly, and it is due to their personal heroism that the enemy were held back for some time, thus giving us time to prepare for their counter attack. They stood to their posts under heavy shell fire with undaunted courage.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 62 Date: 19 April 1917
  • Military Cross 'For fine courage and dash near Ascension Wood, on 18th September 1918. He displayed good leadership in manoeuvring his platoon across absolutely open ground under heavy fire, and was the first man into the enemy line, when he with a small party established a block until the remainder of the company got in. Assuming command, he attacked along the trench capturing fifteen machine guns and killing a large number of the enemy, and winning some 800 yards of enemy line.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 30 Date: 25 March 1920
  • "like men who had been in Hell.........drawn and haggard and so dazed they appeared to be walking in a dream, and their eyes looked glassy and starey" (Ed...the proverbial 'thousand yard stare') 'Raid on Celtic Wood', Robert Kearney ISBN 978 1921 207 103 2017 Digital Print Australia pp28
  • From the Operational logbook on 16/6/1942 - "On this day the squadron completed a total of 69 operational sorties, totalling 40.50 hours, thus establishing a record for this command. Great credit is due not only to the pilots, who carried out the strenuous duties cheerfully and courageously, but to the ground crew who worked unceasingly thoroughout the day, maintaining the necessary high standard of serviceability..."
  • From the Operational logbook on 16/6/1942 - "On this day the squadron completed a total of 69 operational sorties, totalling 40.50 hours, thus establishing a record for this command. Great credit is due not only to the pilots, who carried out the strenuous duties cheerfully and courageously, but to the ground crew who worked unceasingly thoroughout the day, maintaining the necessary high standard of serviceability..."
  • Members of the Australian Imperial Force who served on Gallipoli will be entitled to wear over the Unit “Colour Patch” on both sleeves of the Service Dress Jacket and Greatcoat the letter “A” an indication that the wearer had taken part in the operations on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  - Military Order 354 of 1917 Members of the Australian Imperial Force who served on Gallipoli or the Islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos, or who have served on transports or hospital ships at or off Gallipoli or the Islands above-named, or in AIF lines of communication Units in Egypt will be entitled to wear over their Unit “Colour Patches” on both sleeves of their Service Dress Jacket and Greatcoat the letter “A” as an indication that the wearer had taken part in the Gallipoli operations. - Military Order 20 of 1918 Robert Kearney
  • This descriptor encompasses all elements of the Australian Army in WW2, less the Second AIF, which was raised explicitly for overseas service. The Militia (CMF) was tasked with Homeland Defence and service in specified Australian Territories, into which eligible males were drafted. Many transferred from there to the RAAF and the 2nd AIF. The Volunteer Defence Corps (VDC) was a volunteer force patterned on the UK Home Guard mainly comprising veterans of WW1. Garrison Battalions were also raised, as were Labour Companies which performed construction tasks.
  • In the operations against enemy positions at MONT DE MERRIS near STRAZEELE on night 2nd/3rd June, 1918, Private PERKINS was one of a party of three men under Sergeant PULLEN who attacked and captured three German machine guns in action. The first gun was rushed with the bayonet and the crew either killed or captured: the other two guns were attacked with hand grenades and the crews driven off. Throughout the action he showed great courage and dash, and set a fine example to the men of his platoon who witnessed the act.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 23 Date: 12 February 1919
  • Ventura AE937 took off from RAF Methwold at 07:35 hours on 13 June 1943 to carry out a raid on the viaduct at St Brieuc, France. Twelve aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and AE937 failed to return. The Squadron aircraft were accompanied by five Squadrons of fighters. Low level was maintained by the formation to a point of climb when seven-tenths cloud caused the mission to be abandoned. A few minutes before five separate attacks were made from the rear on the second box resulting in AE937 being shot down. Another aircraft was badly shot up with both gunners being wounded. One other machine with a burst tyre crashed on landing but there were no injuries. All the other Squadron returned safely. Crew: RAAF 405357 WO N A P Kane-Maguire, Captain (Pilot) RAF Flt Sgt J Lawson, (Navigator) RAF Flt Sgt E W Goodheart, (Wireless Air Gunner) RAAF 412004 Flt Sgt A J Galley, (Air Gunner)
  • 'During the attack South of WARFUSEE ABANCOURT near AMIENS, on the morning of the 8th August 1918, this N.C.O.'s section was held up by machine gun fire. He and two other men rushed the post, killed the gunners, and captured the gun, thereby enabling the advance to the objective to continue. He showed great bravery.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61 Date: 23 May 1919
  • Writing to his mother from the Ninth Training Battalion, Fovant, Wiltshire, early in February, Corporal Carl Klaus says : — I have had a pretty rough time of did not get a crack. I have been it the last 15 months in France, but turned over a lew times with concussion, but got over it alright. I've seen some rotten sights. Poor old Jack Morgan was Killed at Messines. I suppose you have heard all about that. Our Battalion was right in the thick of it. The first time I ever handled a dead man was at Messines -— I had to help a couple of other chaps to dig George Weatherstone and Jack Morgan out. The dugout was blown in on top of them. And again at Ypres poor old Harry Mallam was killed right alongside of me. I had to lift him out of the line and bury him in a shell hole, as it was too far to take him back to a cemetery. Just took his pay book and private belongings and gave them in to our platoon officer. I suppose you read about the battle of Passchendaele. We were the ring-leaders of that turnout. With the assistance of the Canadians we took the hill about a kilometre from Passchendaele, and the Canadians hopped in and took the town, so now we have nearly all the high ground in Belgium in our hands, and have Fritz in the hollow and chopping hell out of him. Have more artillery behind us now than ever they had before on the western front. In this stunt Bill Eliem was killed and Percy Fisher was wounded. I have met Paddy Lulham, Bert Daley, Stan Tyler from Wardell, and all the old lads of 1st-41st that went away to the Ninth Battalion. They were all doing well until the Ypres stunt, when Jim McDonald from Broadwater was killed, Paddy wounded, Tyler wounded, while Fitzpatrick lost his eye and is going home, and of course Don Livingstone is home long ago. Bert Daley, is still going strong, and looks splendid. I saw him a couple of days before I left France. I am likely to be in England for a six months spell from shell fire anyway, but I suppose there will be plenty work attached to it just the same. Still it will do me. They told me when I left France that they were giving me six months in this Training Battalion at Fovant. I have met Clarrie Fredericks, he is in the 8th of the 41st, and soon will be going over to France. He is training to be a signaller. I also had tho pleasure of meeting another old mate that I went to school with under Mr. Bath, that was Tom Grant from Woodburn. He is a corporal in the 25th Battalion, has been wounded twice, and now they have sent him over to the training battalion for a few months. He is in the 10th, but he is not far away from us. Writing to his brother Rupert, Corporal Klaus says : — I see where the girls are getting married. I don t know how I am going to get on when I go back, there will be none left for me, and I don't like the idea of picking one up here in England to take back like some of them are doing. Well, old Fritz could not get me with his old scrap iron, so instead of giving me fourteen days furlough in London they have sent me here to the 9th Training Battalion for six months. I have seen some rough work over there, not only in the fighting, but rotten weather conditions. Last winter was bitterly cold. All the rivers were frozen up; boats could not work at all, and in some places in Belgium I have seen a foot of snow, and had to carry on through it all backwards and forwards to the trenches, but of course we were only holding the line at that time at Armentieres. We were there about four months, and then we shifted down lower to a place called La Pisset, and from there to Messines. I suppose you have read about the battle of Messines. We were holding the line at Messines right up till the morning of the hop-over. Our brigade was not really in the hop-over, but to my idea we had worse, because we had to do all the carrying parties (after the 9th and 10th Brigades took their objectives) under heavy shell fire all the time — day and night. From there we went down to Ypres in October, and the 11th Brigade was in the battle of Passchendaele. I was right in the thick of it. That is where poor old Bill Eilem (brother of Tom of the Bee-Hive) was killed, and Harry Mallam from Bungawalbin. We had a good possy made, well sand-bagged, and were waiting for the Tommies to relieve us the night after the push, but old Fiitz must have taken a tumble that there was a relief on, and barraged hell out of us for about two hours — Harry Mallam, Ben Hall and another chap I don't know were killed outright by a shell which lobbed right on the parados of the trench. I don't know how I escaped, for I was not above two yards from them, but I was round a bend of the trench. I think what saved me was the ground being soft and the shell, did not scatter much. The three chaps that were killed were huddled up together taking shelter. When Jack Morgan and George Weatherstone were buried at Messines we had to dig them out, for the dugout was blown in on top of them. Jack did not have a mark on the outside of his body, but the concussion killed him. Weatherstone hailed from the Clarence, but we were mates from the time we left Brisbane. He was smashed to pieces.
  • This story was first related to me in 1998 when I met Conrad Dumoulin in Ieper. He had a photo of a crashed Lancaster, on a property owned by his grandfather, near Langemark just north of Ieper. His own father Antoon, a young man at the time, was an eye-witness to the aftermath of the crash and the recovery of the wreckage and the bodies of the crew. His account is recorded on the 463 Squadron page. The accident report describes the events; the following text has been augmented with additional information: Lancaster LL882 callsign JO-J took off from RAF Waddington at 2200 hours on the night of 10/11th May 1944 to bomb the marshalling yards at Lille, France. Bomb load 1 x 4000lb and 16 x 500lb bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Fourteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and three of these including LL882 / JO-J failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter, flown by Lt Hans J. Schmitz of Jagdscwhader 4N. JG1. It was attacked from below by Schmitz's Messerschmitt Bf 110G night fighter equipped with upward firing cannon, nicknamed 'schrage musik" by the Germans. This allowed the fighter to get into the Lancaster's blind spot and open fire with devastating effect. The Lancaster exploded mid-air and fell in pieces into a waterlogged clay pit at the Dumoulin brickworks some 2kms west of Langemark (West-Vlaanderen) and about 8kms north of Ieper (Ypres). Schmitz was later killed in action in September 1944. The other losses on this night appear to have been similarly lethal with just one survivor from the total of 12 aircraft lost from No. 5 Group including the six RAAF aircraft. All the crew of JO-J are buried in the Wevelgem Communal Cemetery which is located about 22kms east of Ieper a town centre on the Meenseweg NB connecting Ieper to Menin, Wevelgem and Kortrijk, Belgium. Exactly why they were buried so far away is unknown. The crew of JO-J were: RAAF 402817 Sqn Ldr M Powell, DFC Captain (Pilot); RAF FO Jaques, R (Navigator); RAF Flt Sgt B Fraser, (Bomb Aimer); RAAF 406700 Flt Lt Read, W N (Wireless Operator Air Gunner); RAF Sgt H L Molyneux, (Flight Engineer); RAAF 407199 FO Croft, R McK (Air Gunner); RAAF 407821 FO Croston, D P (Air Gunner). Steve Larkins March 2019 A link to the Aircrew Remembered page for this incident is posted against the names of each of the crew.
  • 'During the enemy counter attack on our newly won positions near VILLE sur ANCRE on the evening of 4th July 1918, he fired on S.O.S. lines until his mortar was taken forward by the N.C.O. in charge of the detachment to a shell hole position on 'No Man's Land' without waiting for orders he followed his N.C.O. with ammunition, making in all four trips through an intense barrage, and assisted in firing the mortar, thus helping to put out of action a machine gun which was enfilading our position and causing us many casualties and much inconvenience. Throughout the action he showed great bravery and assisted his Officers in every possible way.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 23 Date: 12 February 1919
  • Late on the night of 26 April 1944, 25 Lancasters from No 460 Squadron headed for Essen in the middle of the Ruhr. Almost over the target, Vic, our bomb aimer took over and began the familiar, "Left, left, steady, right, steady, bomb doors open, steady, right, steady, bombs gone, steady for photo". When the 14,000 lbs of bombs fell away the aircraft leapt upwards as it was relieved of the weight. A moment later, with the bomb doors still open and the aircraft steady on course, the plane rocked as a shower of bombs hit us from a Lancaster just over our heads. Fortunately, the 4,000 lb bomb missed us or we would have been blown to Kingdom Come. We were hit by a shower of incendiaries which immediately knocked out one engine and badly damaged another so that it was useless and the propeller could not be feathered, greatly increasing the drag on one side of the plane. A third motor was hit but kept going on reduced power. Another incendiary damaged the starboard fuel tank but did not set it alight. Yet another smashed the hydraulic system which operated the bomb doors, undercarriage and flaps. By a miracle no one was hit. The Lancaster had started to dive away to port and the pilot and engineer struggled and brought the plane under control. With limited control and lack of speed giving us a much reduced airspeed, the skipper opted for a direct flight to base, even though we would be on our own across Germany. Losing altitude as we approached the Dutch coast we decided on the long sea crossing hoping to maintain enough height to make England. As we crossed the sea in the early hours of the morning the aircraft gradually lost height. With the bomb doors wide open, the bomb inspection covers had blown off and an icy gale whistled through the cabin. On two motors and the third propeller uselessly windmilling adding to the drag, we could go no faster than 140mph. At 0345 we crossed the darkened coast of Lincolnshire at 1500 feet and turned for the short leg to Binbrook. In sight of the base beacon the third motor stopped. Bob, at once, feathered the engine and we began to lose what little altitude we had. We were now down to 600 feet above the Wolds. Bob called up flying control and asked for an emergency landing. To our incredulity and disgust, we were refused and told to go away to an emergency airfield in East Anglia. Because we were arriving at the same time as the rest of 460 squadron aircraft flying control didn't want the runway blocked by a crashed aircraft. Bob Wade, with an understandably temper outburst at this callous unconcern by flying control for a Lancaster in such dire straits, told flying control with a few Australian adjectives included ignored the instructions and continued the approach telling Harry to operate the emergency lever to lower the undercarriage. Just imagine coming in on a wing and a prayer. One motor, one wheel, and one ambition to get down in one try. ( a wartime song 'Comin' In On a Wing and a Prayer') The only difference in this picture is that 460 squadron Lancs had Rolls Royce in line motors. Only the right wheel came down and when an attempt was made to retract it, it remained down. With one engine working, one propeller windmilling, the bomb doors open, no flaps and one wheel up and one wheel down, and too low to bail out our only option was to ride the Lancaster to the ground. Not wanting to block the runway, after telling control he was coming in whether they liked it or not, Bob lined up some 300 yards to the right. Even though it was very dark off to the side of the runway, he began the short final approach with no flaps to maintain lift at our low speed and holding the right wing low to counter balance the dead engines. The Lancaster "B2" touched down on one wheel and ran along the grass at about 100 mph while Bob fought in the dark to keep the left wing up as long as possible. Gradually the wing sank lower and as the speed dropped shut off the last throttle. Suddenly the left wing tip touched the ground and immediately the aircraft ground–looped violently, spinning across the grass and finally coming to rest in the middle of the runway, right in the path of another Lancaster which was on the point of touching down. As our aircraft came to rest there was a wild scramble to get clear in case the damaged fuel tank caught fire. First man out got stuck in the escape hatch but was quickly shoved out by those following. Scrambling down the fuselage we ran for our lives. In the glow of the searchlight, the fire truck and ambulance raced across the grass, but we did not hear them because of the shattering roar of the engines of the Lancaster which had just touched down. Faced with a wrecked Lancaster in the middle of the runway, the pilot gunned his motors to emergency power and slowly struggled over our heads to safety. As the roar of the climbing aircraft died away, even though I was about 40 yards away, I knew Bob was still alive as I could hear him cursing and swearing as he turned off the switches. Arthur Hoyle,
  • For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during operations against enemy positions south of the SOMME east of HAMEL on 8th August, 1918. Corporal SEE, with his section, stormed a strong point in ACCROCHE WOOD and succeeded in killing four and capturing 16 of the enemy. He led his section close to the barrage and on reaching RAT WOOD cooperated in the capture of a battery of 4.2's which had been firing point blank, killing a gunner and capturing 7 others. With his section he captured altogether 27 prisoners. Throughout Corporal SEE displayed courage, energy, determination and leadership, and greatly inspired his men.' Source: 'Commonwealth Gazette' No. 61
  • 3 August 2019 THE Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed a search and recovery mission in Indonesia for the remains of 10 Australian airmen aboard Catalina A24-50, 76 years after the aircraft failed to return from a wartime mission. Reported missing on 2 September 1943 while on a sea mining operation to Sorong in occupied Dutch New Guinea, the wreckage of RAAF No 11 Squadron Catalina A24-50 was located near Fakfak, in West Papua in April 2018. Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the Air Force Unrecovered War Casualties team positively identified the missing aircraft during a reconnaissance mission to the crash site last year. “We are committed to honouring the service and sacrifice of Australian military personnel from all theatres of war,” Mr Chester said. “The RAAF team has concluded further search activities in the field and have reported finding a number of items of interest which require further testing in order to confirm the origin of each item. “The only major recognisable pieces of wreckage were two sections of the wing, engines and propeller, and the empennage (rear part of fuselage) across the top of a ridge. “We are very grateful for the support and assistance provided by the Indonesian Air Force throughout this process, without which this work could not take place.” The Hon Darren Chester MP
  • Flying Officer Joe Herman (RAAF), the captain of a 466 Sqn Halifax B.Mk.III, narrowly escaped death in a remarkable incident on 4 November 1944.  During a night mission over Germany, his aircraft (LV936, "HD-D"), was badly damaged by Flak. After ordering the crew to bail out, Herman was blown out of the plane, without a parachute. After falling a long way, possibly more than 3,000 metres, Herman fell onto the Halifax's mid-upper gunner, F/O John Vivash (RAAF), and grabbed one of his legs. Both men descended on one parachute, suffered minor injuries when landing and survived the war as prisoners of war. From a total crew of seven, only one other airman, Sgt H. W. Knott (RAF), survived. According to one source, at least three crew members were murdered after being captured by civilians on the ground. 

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