Air Operations (No. 466 Squadron Wellington aircraft HE164), Belgium, 14 February 1943

Date: 14-15 February 1943
Target: Cologne
Total Force: Dispatched – 243, Attacking – 207
RAAF Force: No. 466 Dispatched – 9, Attacking – 8
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 513
Total Aircraft Lost: 9
RAAF Aircraft Lost: 1

This table does not include the loss of No. 466 Squadron Wellington aircraft HE153.

On 14th-15th February while the Lancasters were at Milan, No. 466 flew with the remainder of Bomber Command to Cologne in bright moonlight. This gave good opportunities for enemy fighters which were out in strength, but watchful crews were able to see them in time to dive into the tops of cloud for protection. Warrant Officer Booy (1) outmanoeuvred a Ju-88 which twice attacked his Wellington, and his gunners finally drove it off after they had caused an explosion in the fighter. The protective cloud, however, totally obscured Cologne and another sky-marking attack was necessary. No assessment of the damage had been attempted before 26th-27th February when cloudless weather favoured a full-scale attack by Bomber Command.

(1) Flying Officer Frank Edward Booy (141711) (RAF) Killed on Air Operations: 10 April 1943

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 467-8

Wellington HE164 took off from RAF Leconfield at 1832 hours on the night of 14/15th February 1943 to bomb Cologne, Germany. Nothing was heard form the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Nine aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and of these HE156 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at 2030 hours some 2kms south east of Meerhout (Antwerpen) and north of the Albert Canal, Belgium. Three crew members were killed and three became Prisoners. Those killed are buried in the Schoonselhof Cemetery, Antwerpen, Belgium.

The crew members of HE164 were:

Sergeant Raymond Eric Bentley (1186997) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer) PoW
Flight Lieutenant William John Rennie Kirk (42007) (RAF) (Pilot)
Sergeant Norman Aitken Leonard (1259430) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW
Pilot Officer John Edward Mason (123834) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Thomas William Reynolds (1450888) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) POW
Flight Sergeant William Edward Smith (1289965) (RAFVR) (Navigator)

No. 466 Squadron lost Wellington HE153 (Flight Sergeant William Richard Martin DFC (404837) (Pilot)) on 15 February 1943 on return from the mission.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records

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