Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W4273), France, 22 November 1942

The first operation by No. 460 Squadron after its conversion to Lancasters was on 22nd-23rd November 1942, when in a raid on Stuttgart it lost one of its eight aircraft accompanying an RAF force of 222 bombers. A novel approach was employed and in bright moonlight the aircraft flew so low that some were just above the crest of the waves and one crew read the time from a church clock tower. Some crews even claimed that while passing over France they saw many inhabitants waving torches skywards and windows of houses thrown open “apparently in an attempt to help bombers pinpoint their track”. While it is extremely doubtful that the crews in fact saw anything other than people moving homeward and inefficient blackout precautions, such reports are indicative of the thoughts and confidence of aircrew at this time. The fervid imagination perhaps implicit in these “readings of the omens” was probably the yeasty reaction of men to a return to operations and to the momentous events in North Africa. The whole Allied cause at last seemed to be on the way back and aircrew took immense pride in the firm belief that they were assisting materially. At the target cloud and haze hindered the bomb aimers, but crews brought back optimistic reports of damage and described the Pathfinder flares as well placed, some Australians checking them with the position of well-known decoy sites in the area. Stuttgart, like Essen, however, was earning a reputation for escaping lightly and subsequent photographs showed little fresh damage except that the roof of the main railway station had been burnt off—a negligible result from 335 tons of bombs and for the loss of ten bombers.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 468-9

Lancaster W4273 took off from RAF Breighton at 1815 hours on the night of 22/23rd November 1942 to bomb Stuttgart, Germany. The bomb load was 2 x 1000 lb (pound) (450 kg) and 90 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Nine aircraft from the squadron took part in the mission and one W4273 failed to return. This was the first Lancaster from 460 Squadron to be reported missing on operations. It was later established that there were no fatalities in the missing aircraft and three of the crew members had evaded capture and retuned safely to the UK and the other four had been taken Prisoners of War.

The crew members of W4273 were:

Warrant Officer Clifton Edward Austin (408617) (Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 20 December 1945
Pilot Officer Graham Royston Berry (407281) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 13 February 1946
Pilot Officer David Taylor Galt DFC (400976) (Pilot) Evaded capture, Killed on Air Operations: 13 August 1943
Pilot Officer Frederick Gordon Given (404624) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 27 September 1945
Sergeant T H Hanstock (640500) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) Evaded capture
Pilot Officer Frederick William Hayman (401036) (Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 November 1945
Sergeant J C Shuttleworth (R/78135) (RCAF) (Bomb Aimer) Evaded capture

In his statement Pilot Officer Galt said “I was pilot in the crew of an aircraft which took off from RAF Breighton about 1830 hrs on 22 Nov 42. On the outward flight to Stuttgart we crash-landed in flat country about 14 miles south east of Amiens about 2015 hrs. The aircraft was on fire and exploded a few minutes after coming down. None of the crew was injured. We dispersed immediately walking south. I went alone believing by doing so I would be more likely to avoid capture.” Galt evaded capture and there is an absorbing account of his 18 day journey across France/Spain to safety on file AWM 65 (2225).

In his report the then Flight Lieutenant Given stated: “We were shot down on 22 Nov 1942 south of Amiens by light flak which set the port inner petrol tank and engine on fire, with holes in the rear of the fuselage. None of the crew members were injured. The pilot was able to make a forced landing on wheels. All the crew left the aircraft unhurt. I believe the aircraft crashed near the village of Campion near Amiens.” There is a further report his experiences until he was capture on 28 November 42 by the gendarmerie and sent to Dulag Luft. (AWM 65 (2318) refers)

A report also by the then Flight Lieutenant Hayman appears on NAA: A705, 166/17/851.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9186, 146 (No. 460 Squadron Operations Record Book October 1941 – December 1943)


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

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