LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Robert Owen BAILEY

Service No: 424578
Born: Murwillumbah NSW, 29 February 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 September 1942
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Station Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft NG275), Germany, 1 February 1945, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas James Bailey and Zara Mildred Bailey, of Lansdowne, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Maclean NSW
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

No. 5 Group’s first contribution to the new campaign against enemy communications was a raid on 1st-2nd February by 271 Lancasters against the town and marshalling yards at Siegen, another new target to the east of Cologne. As was increasingly its practice, the group used its own pathfinders and its own raid-control techniques, but, as other forces at Ludwigshaven and Mainz found the same night, low unbroken cloud spoilt bombing conditions. Twenty-two crews of No. 467 and 19 of No. 463 aimed at sky markers which rapidly became merged with the glare of incendiaries. It soon became apparent that fires were spread over a wide area but the bombing could only be reported as scattered and unlikely to be fully effective. Each RAAF squadron lost one aircraft on this raid, No. 467 losing a particularly valuable crew including Squadron Leader D. O. Sands, its “A” Flight commander and navigation expert, as well as Flight Lieutenant Ellis, its squadron gunnery leader; both became prisoners.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 412

Lancaster NG275 took off from RAF Waddington at 1629 hours on the night of 1st/2nd February 1945 to bomb the town and marshalling yards at Siegen, Germany, an important junction for west and east rail traffic. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg), 14 x 150 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Nineteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these NG275 failed to return.

The crew members of NG275 were:

Pilot Officer Robert Owen Bailey (424578) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Ewen Reuben Cameron (431024) (Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 April 1946
Pilot Officer Bernard Arthur Donaghue (423567) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 7 December 1945
Pilot Officer Eric John Earl (410963) (Air Gunner) POW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 January 1946
Sergeant F Moss (2211842) (RAF) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Flight Sergeant Robert Thomas Simonson (428463) (Wireless Operator Air) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 January 1946
Flying Officer Frank Hunter Smith (418201) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 15 February 1946

In a later report Flying Officer Smith stated “The Aircraft was hit by flak in the port inner and port wing tip knocked off. Direct hit in Navigation compartment and Navigator killed. Wing on fire. Gave Jump, Jump order. All out before me except Navigator from respective hatches. I out at approximately 5,000 feet. Controls probably damaged and A/c started to spin when I left. A/c crashed near Siegen. Hid in loft. Captured next morning coming down ladder. Met B/A, Mid Upper,
WOP and Eng. in local jail. Met Rear gunner at Nurnberg. Released by Americans 29 April 1945.”

Flight Sergeant Simonson reported “Bursts of flak through port wing, inner and fuselage. Jump jump order. Navigator killed by burst in Navigation compartment. I baled out at 8000ft. Aircraft more or less under control but on fire in port wing and under fuselage. Hit tail plane after jumping out. Injured face and hand. Captured 2/2/45. Released by Americans.”

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster NG197 (Flight Lieutenant James Keith Livingstone DFC (155465) (RAFVR) (Pilot)) on 1 February 1945.

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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/5/924