LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer William AUSTIN

Service No: 402841
Born: Strood, England, 11 November 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 November 1940 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 455 Squadron, RAF Station Leuchars
Died: Air Operations (No. 455 Squadron Hampden aircraft AN157), off the Norwegian Coast, 14 September 1943, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alfred and Bessie Austin; husband of Jessie Austin
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 187, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Hampden AN157 (‘N’) took off from RAF Leuchars at 1353 hours on 14 September 1943 to carry out a Rover patrol of the Norwegian coast. Six aircraft from the Squadron took part in the mission and of these AN157 failed to return. Three of the aircraft ‘Y’ ‘S’ and ‘N’ on making landfall near Lister, ran into heavy flak whilst inspecting a foundered ship. Continuing on the patrol coastwise they sighted four flak ships of approx 800 tons. The three aircraft turned into attack and were immediately subject to intense and very accurate flak from the ships followed by heavy flak from shore batteries. ‘Y’ and ‘S’ immediately turned away to starboard violently avoiding the flak. At the same time ‘N’ was seen to be commencing to turn away between the ships and the shore. ‘S’ and ‘Y’ set course for base and a few seconds later crews of both aircraft observed a red orange flash from the vicinity of the flak ships, which shot upwards and then died to a glow, which was almost immediately lost in the fog. This was believed to be ‘N’ which was not seen again. No trace of the missing aircraft or crew was found.

The crew members of AN157 were:

Flying Officer William Austin (402841) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer I Robert Segel William Esmay (R/114980) (RCAF) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Mellor (655438) (RAFVR) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Eric William Smith (111788) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

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
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/4/62

Bibliography:

Gordon, I. (Ian) Strike and Strike Again: 455 Squadron 1944-5, Banner Books Belconnen ACT 2616, 1995
Lawson, John Horwood Wightman (251634) The Story of No. 455 Squadron (RAAF), Wilke and Company, Melbourne VIC, 1951