Air Operations: (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft HX341), Germany, 16 March 1944

Date: 15-16 March 1944
Target: Stuttgart
Total Force: Dispatched – 863, Attacking – 813
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking – 24; No. 463 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 17; No. 466 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 16; No. 467 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 19
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,609
Total Aircraft Lost: 36
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 463 – 2; No. 466 – 2

The maximum strength raid (on Stuttgart) a fortnight later (March 15-16) was almost a complete failure, because after struggling against incorrectly forecasted winds and many attacks by fighters the Australians arrived over Stuttgart to find Pathfinder markers in clusters miles apart with dummy enemy markers further adding to the confusion. Two pilots of No. 460 described the attack as “irresponsible, scattered and unimpressive” and criticised the “wild bombing” which put most of the weight of the attack near fourteen villages to the south-west of the target.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 658-660

Halifax HX341 took off from RAF Leconfield at 1845 hours on the night of 16 March 1944 to bomb Stuttgart, Germany. Seventeen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including HX 341 failed to return.

The crew members of HX341 were:

Sergeant Harold Wallace Clark (1390820) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) PoW (Australian serving in the RAF)
Flight Sergeant F Cunliffe (1072609) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) Evaded Capture
Flight Sergeant Herbert Edward Dawson (16489) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 31 January 1946
Pilot Officer Richard Anthony Fitch (160847) (RAFVR) (Navigator) PoW
Sergeant R W Jackson (1388797) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Flying Officer Harold Callaway Wills (412787) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 31 October 1945
Flight Sergeant John Francis Wood (424549) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 31 October 1945

In 1945 Flying Officer Wills recorded the following “About 100 miles on home run aircraft attacked by fighter from starboard beam which scored hits immediately in the centre section behind the engineer’s panel and in overload petrol tank. Aircraft burning furiously and on pulling out of evasive action at 18,000/17,000 ft ordered abandon. No acknowledgement received as had to remove helmet and mask because of burns received .On replacing same the I/C was dead. Remained circling til approx 4,000 ft then baled out. Aircraft in fair control until baling out then commenced spin and crashed on edge of Hagenan Forest. Aircraft was on fire all the way down and exploded on contact. All crew successfully baled out and have now returned to UK. WAG evaded capture and returned home via Switzerland. No injuries apart from self. Landed on hill overlooking small village about one quarter of a mile away. About one & half hour later made my way down to village and entered Police Headquarters. Identified as RAAF Officer and handed over to Luftwaffe. Transferred to Prison Hospital Strasbourg for treatment and then prison camps. Released by Russians 1/5/45.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND393 (Pilot Officer George Edward Parkinson (413416) (Pilot)) on 15 March 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster ME573 (Flying Officer John Roberts DFC (416893) (Pilot)) on 15 March 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster ED606 Pilot Officer William Alexander Graham (413988) (Pilot)) on 15 March 1944.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax LW521 (Flight Sergeant John Cecil Bond (420433) (Pilot)) on 15 March 1944.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll

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