Air Operations (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PD215), France, 18 December 1944

Date: 17-18 December 1944
Target: Munich
Total Force: Dispatched – 288, Attacking – 270
RAAF Force: No. 463 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 18; No. 467 Dispatched – 22, Attacking – 21
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 967
Total Aircraft Lost: 4
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 1; No. 467 – 1

No. 5 Group made its second attack on Munich in clear weather with good visibility. Crews from Waddington reported a good attack followed by large fires and the raid caused extensive new damage especially near the main railway station and goods yards. Enemy opposition was not unduly heavy, but two Australians showed fine airmanship arising from the natural hazards of the bomber stream. Flying Officer Evans (1) of No. 467 found on his outward journey that his Lancaster had a faulty engine and an unserviceable rear turret but he carried on with his mission. While on his bombing run at the target his aircraft collided with another Lancaster and part of the port wing tip was torn off. Evans’ Lancaster fell into a starboard spin and turned a full orbit before he regained control at an altitude of 7,000 feet. Evans turned for home, flying at reduced speed and steadily losing height, but before long an engine burst into flames and the fire could not be fully extinguished. When over France the Lancaster became unmanageable and the crew was ordered to bale out. When Evans tried to leave the aircraft his boot became caught and he could release himself only by pulling the rip-cord of his parachute, and as a result three panels of the parachute were torn away. By this time the Lancaster was at 1,500 feet and Evans injured his leg when he landed heavily . The rest of the crew were safe but the aircraft almost hit them as it crashed 500 yards from the village of Chalons-sur-Marne . Meanwhile Flying Officer Fairbairn (2) of No. 50 Squadron, the pilot of the other Lancaster, had carried on to bomb Munich. One engine was severely damaged and could not be feathered and there was severe vibration throughout the aircraft which was then hit by flak and sustained further damage. Fairbairn persevered with his homeward flight until luckily the propeller of the damaged engine sheared off and the Lancaster, although still difficult to fly, became
more manageable and returned safely to base.

(1) Flight Lieutenant Terence Evared Evans DFC (429220) was discharged from the RAAF on 26 March 1946.
(2) Flying Officer Charles Ridley Fairbairn DFC (419988) was killed on air operations on 1 February 1945

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 307-9

Lancaster PD215 took off from RAF Waddington at 1638 hours on 17 December 1944 to bomb Munich, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base.

The crew members of PD215 who were all safe were:

Flying Officer Terence Evared Evans DFC (429220) (Pilot) Discharged from the RAAF: 26 March 1946
Flight Sergeant Arthur David Duckworth Beer (436175) (Wireless Operator Air) Discharged from the RAAF: 14 February 1946
Flight Sergeant Richard Thomas Robert Boyd (434772) (Bomb Aimer) Discharged from the RAAF: 7 March 1946
Flight Sergeant W R Brownjohn (1474552) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Albert John Mainwaring (428173) (Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 19 October 1945
Flying Officer David Keith Robson (432422) (Navigator) Discharged from the RAAF: 22 February 1946
Flight Sergeant Raymond Francis Toomey (430681) (Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 12 April 1949

A report in the Operations record Book records the following “Sortie completed. At 2159 hours preparing to turn into bombing run when Mid Upper gunner reported a Manchester parallel on port beam at 600 yards. TIs seen going down on target. The Captain apparently sighted another aircraft coming up below port wing and suddenly hauled stick back with full revs. Immediately the starboard outer which had been giving trouble on trip out, cut and port wing dropped. The next moment the aircraft ploughed the lower part of the starboard fin and rudder then on to starboard main plane of an aircraft, taking off approximately 12 feet including aileron and part of flaps. Starboard outer now picked up again. Aircraft went into a spin and we completed an orbit in the bomber stream. The other aircraft was seen to go down with port engine on fire.”

All the crew members of PD215 baled out over France in the vicinity of Chalons-Sur-Marne and no fatalities or injuries were reported. However the Captain baled out at 1500 feet from the front escape hatch apparently without harm but landed heavily and spent some time in hospital. Later on 27 February 1945 the then Flight Lieutenant Evans received an immediate award of a DFC. It was later established that PD 215 was involved in a collision with a No. 50 Squadron RAF Lancaster which made a safe return to the UK.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL847 (Flying Officer Kenneth Edwin Harold Bennett (424117) (Pilot)) on 18 December 1944.


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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