Air Operations (No. 466 Squadron Wellington aircraft HE531), Germany, 19 February 1943

Date: 19-20 February 1943
Target: Wilhelmshaven
Total Force: Dispatched – 338, Attacking – 302
RAAF Force: No. 466 Dispatched – 10, Attacking – 10; No. 467 Dispatched – 5, Attacking – 5
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 783
Total Aircraft Lost: 11
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 467 – 2

Flying conditions were still bad on 11th-12th February, but the shorter journey and less deep penetration involved encouraged more crews to persevere despite the difficulties. Bombing was done with the aid of sky markers, hitherto a not very successful method, but on this occasion the city’s main ammunition dump was hit and this explosion devastated 120 acres. The following two raids (February 18-19 and February 19-20), though flown in much better weather, added little significant damage for on both occasions the target marking and consequently the bombing was widely scattered. Little positive incident was recorded by Australians on any of these flights except the last when night-fighter activity was marked. A Wellington of No. 466, though itself set on fire in the bomb aimer’s compartment, succeeded in shooting down the Me-110 which attacked it.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 471, 472

Wellington HE531 took off from RAF Leconfield at 1820 hours on the night of 19/20 February 1943 to bomb Wilhelmshaven, Germany. Eight aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and all returned to base. HE531 however crashed on landing. The Operations Record Book report is as follows “Weather hazy with poor visibility. Green flares and red markers seen. Bombs dropped at 2009 hours, Height 16,500 feet. One really good fire seen. We were attacked twice by an ME110 and the nose of the aircraft caught fire. Sergeant Crowhurst baled out from the front escape hatch and the Navigator and WOP were wounded by cannon shells. The fire was extinguished by the draft from the front hatch by which the Bomb Aimer had baled out. After the second attack the ME110 passed within 300 yards astern of HE531 and the tail gunner Sergeant Wilcock fired a long and accurate burst which set the starboard wing of the enemy Aircraft on fire and both Rosser and Wilcock saw the Aircraft hit the sea still burning. This was the Squadrons first claim to have destroyed an enemy aircraft. The main petrol tanks were holed and the pilot flew on nacelle tanks for 90 minutes. The engines cut out as the aircraft reached RAF Kirmington and a successful belly landing was made. A good trip and a good show by all the crew.”

The crew members of HE531 were:

Sergeant F J Brown (RAF) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) Safe
Sergeant Eric Frank Crowhurst (1386792) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant D Livingstone (RAF) (Navigator) Safe
Sergeant R V Rosser (RAF) (Pilot) Safe
Sergeant H Wilcock (RAF) (Rear Gunner) Safe

Sergeant Crowhurst is listed as missing and his name is commemorated on the Memorial to the
Missing, Runnymede, Surrey, UK.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LD529 (Sergeant Henry Bookless Vine (1032516) (RAF) (Pilot)) on 19 February 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED525 (Flight Lieutenant James Barnett Michie (78731) (RAFVR) (Pilot)) on 19 February 1943.


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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