LEST WE FORGET

Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA676), North West Europe, 13 July 1943

Date: 12-13 July 1943
Target: Turin
Total Force: Dispatched – 299, Attacking – 277
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched -22, Attacking – 20; No. 467 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 734
Total Aircraft Lost: 13
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 467 – 2

Note: This table does not include the loss of Lancaster LM311 which crashed on return to base.

This devastation of Hamburg (between 23 July and 2 August 1943) occurred mid-way in a series of twelve raids against cities in northern Italy designed to cripple Italian will to resist the invasion of Sicily and then of the mainland. Australian Lancaster squadrons flew on eight of these raids. The small losses reflect the weakness of Italian opposition compared with that met at German targets and although a round trip of some 2,000 miles was entailed in each case, crews generally felt that the task was easy. Thus on 12th-13th July, when electrical storms and icing conditions prevailed along the route, two pilots of No. 467 flew their Lancasters most of the way on three engines, although having to make twice the dangerous crossing of the Alps . Their perseverance was rewarded for all crews found clear weather over Turin, and the Fiat steel, aircraft-engine and automobile factories were heavily hit in a deliberate attack. Wing Commander Martin (1) of No. 460 Squadron reported that the actual defences were so weak and uncoordinated that, if necessary, a ten-minute bombing run could have been made without interference.

(1) Wing Commander Charles Ernest Martin DSO DFC (402059) was discharged from the RAAF on 29 October 1945.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 589-590

Lancaster JA676 took off from RAF Bottesford at 2242 hours on the night of 12/13th July 1943 to bomb Turin, Italy. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (900 kg) bomb, 80 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 900 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. Eighteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and three of these including JA 676 failed to return. Post war searches found no trace of the missing aircraft or crew. The names of the seven crew members are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Runnymede, Surrey, UK.

The crew members of JA676 were:

Sergeant Desmond John Banks (1153128) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Donald Alexander Chisholm (1052247) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Robert Winton Arnold Gibbs (A/40468) (RAF) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Sidney Gordon Norris (132148) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flying Officer James Edmund Pearce (130290) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Ernest Anthony Roper (1623211) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer Stanley O’Connor Tate (138889) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED531 (Flying Officer Graham Douglas Mitchell (416693) (Pilot)) on 12 July 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM311 (Pilot Officer Cedric Arthur Chapman (415117) (Pilot)) on 13 July 1943.

References:

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