Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ME478), Germany, 9 April 1945

The renewed attack on Lutzkendorf, which came only four nights after the damaging attack by No. 1 Group, showed the determination of Bomber Command to subdue completely this major plant capable of feeding enemy units on the Eastern front. It was the final raid against a major production centre and No. 9 Squadron sent 18 Lancasters (6 captained by Australians) carrying 12,000-lb (5,500 kg) Tallboy “earthquake” bombs to assist the main force of 221 aircraft (21 from Waddington). Nearly 950 tons of bombs created new havoc in ovens, cooling towers and the gas purification, catalyst and distillation sections. As at all oil targets the Luftwaffe and ground defences made desperate attempts to disrupt the attack but with only minor successes to offset the complete devastation of the plant. Two of the five aircraft which failed to return from this raid belonged to No. 463; both were victims of anti-aircraft fire. Flying Officer Baulderstone’s Lancaster was heavily hit during its run-in, but although the bomber rolled over to port, the pilot was able to level out and bomb. He then struggled to within 30 miles of Allied lines before ordering his crew to leave the aircraft which had begun to disintegrate; he himself perished in this attempt to reach friendly territory . The other crew was more fortunate; all baled out and contacted Allied ground units.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 444

Lancaster ME478 took off from RAF Waddington at 1813 hours on the night of 8 April 1945 to bomb Lutzkendorf. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eleven aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including ME 478 failed to return.

The crew Members of ME478 who were all safe were:

Flight Sergeant H Bigwood (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer Murray Reed Bitmead (437330) (Wireless Operator Air) Discharged from the RAAF: 12 April 1946
Flight Sergeant George Phillip Brown (439720) (Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 30 April 1946
Flight Sergeant Brian Rupert Cliff (436940) (Bomb Aimer) Discharged from the RAAF: 20 February 1946
Flying Officer Noel Stewart Ferris (430584) (Pilot) Discharged from the RAAF: 4 February 1946
Flight Sergeant James Hayes (120978) (Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 4 April 1946
Flying Officer Stuart Douglas Richardson (417598) (Navigator) Discharged from the RAAF: 23 January 1946

The following report in the Operations record Book was compiled from information gleaned from the Pilot, Bomb Aimer and Engineer who had rejoined their unit but other members had not returned but it was known they were safe. These three baled out of the Aircraft approximately 15 miles south of Kassel when on the return journey from the target. “Sortie completed. Visibility good. 11 x 1000 lb (pound) (450 kg) bombs jettisoned target area at 2235 hours. 16,000 ft. Hit by flak. Lost starboard and port inners. On our supporter run in we were hit by heavy predicted flak in both wing roots and between port inner & outer engines. This caused both inners to cut. Feathered starboard inner, and allowed port inner blades to mill to allow generator to charge. Aircraft sank immediately to 11,000 ft, and then under control down to 8,000 ft (briefed height for return). After being hit crew instructed they might have to bale out, but when Aircraft under control decided to make for Juvincourt. However at approximately 51.00N, 0930E starboard outer cut. This was feathered leaving only port outer serviceable. Aircraft could not maintain height losing 5/700 ft per minute. Ordered to abandon at 5,500 ft. All crew baled out OK. Aircraft out of control and turning starboard when pilot left at 3,200 ft. Flying Officer Ferris on landing walked 9 hours west and at Marburg met US soldiers who took him to 61st Troop Carrier at Poix and then flown to Cottesmore. Flight Sergeant Bigwood walked through woods for 6 miles and came up to an autobahn and hailed a jeep at Jesburg, then to Siessen and flown to Le Havre then Bovington. Flight Sergeant Cliff walked for 2 miles reaching Emsdorf, where US soldier took him to his unit. Then by plane to Geissen thence to Lyneham. Rest of crew apart from Nav up to 1645 hours on 11/4, are known to be in Allied hands. Nav was seen to bale out OK, but not heard of him thus far.”

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster NX584 (Flying Officer Thomas Henry Baulderstone (429910) (Pilot)) on 9 April 1945.


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

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