LEST WE FORGET
Squadron Leader Benjamin Southam AMBROSE
From Australia serving in the Royal Air Force
Service No: 40040 (RAF)
Born: Launceston TAS, 26 October 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 July 1936 (at RAAF Station Point Cook VIC)
Enlisted in the RAF: 1937
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Bottesford, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W4983), Germany, 12 June 1943, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur and Margaret Ambrose; husband of Kathleen Ambrose, of Tullyco, Co. Cavan, Irish Republic
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Supplementary Panel 12, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Squadron Leader Ambrose was an Australian Cadet trained for the RAF who embarked for the UK on 20 July 1937.
Date: 11-12 June 1943
Total Force: Dispatched – 783, Attacking – 693
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 27, Attacking – 22; No. 466 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 16; No. 467 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,968
Total Aircraft Lost: 38
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 466 – 2; No. 467 – 2
In perfect visibility the Pathfinders accurately placed their target-indicator bombs in the centre of the city. The main force of bombers, again including Nos. 460, 466 and 467, arrived promptly in a solid stream which soon had the effect of swamping the gun and searchlight ground defences which on this occasion were in full operation. A few of the Australians attacking early were caught and held in the beams of several searchlights and some had to jettison their bombs to take emergency evasive action, but the majority of bombs fell squarely in the heart of Dusseldorf and soon large fires began to get out of control. Over a third of the business and residential property in the centre of Dusseldorf proper was destroyed or damaged and sixty-four factories sustained varying degrees of damage. But this notable victory was not lightly gained, for once again German night fighters were very active both over Dusseldorf and along the line of flight and withdrawal. Five RAAF bombers failed to return and several others were very badly damaged. During this raid Flight Sergeant Williams (1), the Australian rear gunner of a Halifax of No. 35 Squadron (RAF) who had already been decorated twice for bravery in action, showed remarkable courage and ability when his aircraft was attacked by two night fighters. The initial attack destroyed the rear-turret mechanism and Williams sustained several bullet wounds in the legs and body. His cool mind now mastered his pain so that when the second fighter attacked he gave his pilot the correct directions for evasion and himself opened fire, hitting the enemy which exploded in the air. The first fighter then resumed the attack, but Williams, although temporarily partially paralysed, succeeded in destroying it. He remained at his post throughout the return journey and the turret then had to be cut away to release him. His shooting ability, sense of anticipation and above all his determination, undoubtedly contributed largely to the return of a valuable crew and aircraft.
(1) Squadron Leader Norman Francis Williams CGM DFM (411624) was discharged from the RAAF on 4 May 1948.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 489-90
Lancaster W4983 took off from RAF Bottesford at 2225 hours on the night of 11/12th June 1943 to bomb Dusseldorf, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and the aircraft failed to return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed near the railway station at Rosenthal, situated 3 kms north of Burgelin presumably as a result of enemy action. All the crew members were killed.
The crew members of W4983 were:
Squadron Leader Benjamin Southam Ambrose (40040) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Leslie Robert Betts (115097) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Pilot Officer Denis Clarke Bovis (145177) (RAF) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant James Blackman Donohoe (420614) (Rear Gunner)
Squadron Leader Donald Carr MacKenzie DFC (43706) (RAF) (Pilot)
Sergeant James Fraser McLuskey (990173) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Arthur Duncan Moore (657599) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flying Officer Leonard Pietsch (408779) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster W 4960 (Flight Sergeant Robert Stanley Christie (416324) (Pilot)) on 12 June 1943.
No. 466 Squadron lost Wellington HE150 (Flight Sergeant Robert William Maroney (413315) (Second Pilot)) on 12 June 1943
No. 466 Squadron lost Wellington HE154 (Flight Sergeant Fletcher William Randall Green (408829) (Pilot)) on 12 June 1943.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED304 (Flight Sergeant Basil Frederick Wilmot (401083) (Pilot)) on 12 June 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
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/3/210
Newton, Dennis A Few of the Few: Australians and the Battle of Britain, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT 2600, 1990