Warrant Officer Ralph McPherson BAIRNSFATHER

Service No: 417440
Born: Penong SA, 24 October 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 23 May 1942
Unit: No. 49 Squadron (RAF), RAF Fulbeck, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 49 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB 537), Germany, 7 March 1945, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John William Stenhouse Bairnsfather and Florence Bairnsfather, of Wayville, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unley SA
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Lancaster PB 537 took off from RAF Fulbeck at 1745 hours on the night of 7/8th March 1945 to bomb oil facilities at Harburg, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was believed that the aircraft crashed at 2215 hours at Sandbostel, 9 kms SSW from the centre of Bremervorde, Germany. Four of the crew were killed and three became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of PB 537 were:

Warrant Officer Ralph McPherson Bairnsfather (417440) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant J F Brennan (189067) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Sergeant J P Dixon (2211110) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) PoW
Sergeant Robert Cecil Gilbert (1900007) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Angus Thomas Jellicoe Lovett (423514) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Roussell William Galloway Stark (429834) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer John Charles Yeoman (419244) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 29 January 1946

A later report by Warrant Officer Yeoman stated “Attacked by night fighter. Skipper ordered Jump Jump. Flight Engineer out before me. I baled out at 7,000 feet. Other five still in aircraft. Aircraft was on fire complete starboard wing. Crashed in vicinity of Bremerrode. Wandered in south east direction and picked up by German sentry.”


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, 166/5/993

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