Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA902), Germany, 8 October 1943

Date: 8-9 October 1943
Target: Hanover
Total Force: Dispatched – 504, Attacking – 457
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 16; No. 467 Dispatched – 6, Attacking – 6
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,667
Total Aircraft Lost: 27
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2

On 8th-9th October only six Lancasters of No. 467 Squadron were available as the aircraft had been dispersed to emergency landing fields on return the previous night from Stuttgart. Australian participation was thus relatively low in what proved to be a classic example of a really successful concentrated attack. Before the raid a message from the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Bomber Command, was read to all crews directing attention to previous failures against this target and exhorting them to go to great pains. One large diversionary force of 104 aircraft went to Bremen and small groups of Mosquitos attacked Kastrop-Rauxel Berlin and Duren in order to disperse widely enemy fighters, which on previous raids had found it easy to reach Hanover because of its central position. The Pathfinders dropped flares and target indicators well placed in the centre of the city, and although a few were inevitably astray, the main bomber force, mindful of the appeal made to them, made sure that they attacked only the main markers. The important central area of Hanover between the principal railway station and the Machsee Lake (which had been roofed over and camouflaged) was almost completely devastated by fire. Sixty-two factories were damaged and fires were seen raging all night by Wing Commander Norman (No. 460 Squadron) who was shot down and captured during the raid. Flying Officer Murray Cameron Caffyn (409506), captain of the other RAAF Lancaster which failed to return, had got his crew away safely over Hanover when the aircraft was set afire by ground fire and fighter attack. After a vain attempt to fly to Holland, he was forced himself to bale out. He attempted to board a moving train bound for Bremen but was badly injured and captured soon afterwards.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 605-6

Lancaster JA902 took off from RAF Bottesford at 2246 hours on the night of 8/9th October 1943 to bomb Hanover, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 104 x 30 lb (14 kg), 1260 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. The aircraft was one of four Squadron aircraft detailed for the mission. JA902 completed the mission and landed at Grimsby at 0427 hours.

The crew members of JA902 were:

Flight Sergeant Colin Argyle Campbell (426306) (Air Gunner) Safe, Discharged from the RAAF: 18 December 1944
Sergeant C P Curl (1628364) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) Safe
Flight Sergeant Kenneth Walter Manson (408375) (Bomb Aimer) Safe, Later became PoW: 31 March 1944, Discharged from the RAAF: 12 December 1945
Flight Sergeant John William O’Connor (420990) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) Baled out, PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 10 October 1945
Flying Officer Arthur Bruce Simpson DFC (408881) (Pilot) Safe, Discharged from the RAAF: 1 February 1946
Sergeant W L Thomas (1835963) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner) Safe
Warrant Officer Raymond Carson Watts DFC (401842) (Navigator) Safe, Later became PoW: 31 March 1944, Discharged from the RAAF: 18 October 1945

On his return the Pilot reported “Sortie completed. Bombs dropped. North of target following collision with FW190 front turret knocked off in collision and Mid Upper holed by flak. WOP baled out – chute seen to open. After collision Nav moved to WOP’s desk and later carried on from M/U turret keeping aircraft on track. At position about 15 miles south from Grimsby, pilot dazzled by searchlight and lost height to 50 feet and believed to have collided with something unknown. Landed at Grimsby with 25 minutes petrol. Captain, Flight Engineer and Nav taken to Station Sick Quarters with frost bite.”

In a later statement Flight Sergeant O’Connor who became a PoW reported “Aircraft collided with presumably an enemy fighter over target. Captain ordered ‘get out’. Parachute opened in aircraft forcing me to abandon through escape hatch above rest position. Rest of crew still in aircraft. Baled out about 15,000 feet. Aircraft out of control in dive. Heard later that aircraft reached England with rest of crew. Released by Russian Armed Forces on 22 April 1945.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster EE202 (Flight Sergeant David Sterrit Thomas (413688) (Navigator)) on 9 October 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ED658 (Flying Officer Murray Cameron Caffyn (4095060 (Pilot)) on 9 October 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
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll

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