BANKS Ronald Joseph 436999

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Ronald Joseph BANKS 

Service No: 436999
Born: Erskineville NSW, 26 November 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 July 1943 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 24 Squadron, Fenton NT
Died: Air Operations: (No. 24 Squadron Liberator aircraft A72-81), Netherlands East Indies, 6 April 1945, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Joseph and Harriet Banks; husband of Mabel Jean Banks, of Homebush, New South Wales.
Roll of Honour: Homebush NSW
Remembered: Panel 8, Northern Territory Memorial, Adelaide River NT
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Strathfield World War II Roll of Honour, Strathfield NSW

The DVA record shows Flight Sergeant Banks enlisting from New South Wales; however he has a WA Service Number (436XXX) and is listed on the WA Memorial.

Twenty minutes later the nine Australian Liberators, led by Group Captain Parker (1), attacked the Japanese cruiser Isuzu, near Koepang from 12,000 feet.  This time the anti-aircraft fire was extremely accurate and bursts were seen all round the third element (Squadron Leader White (2), Flight Lieutenant McDonald and Flight Lieutenant Court (3)) during its first run over the target at 10 a.m.  As it did so, enemy fighters attacked the formation, one closing to within twenty feet of Court’s aircraft, in spite of which the Australian gunners did not appear to have scored any hits on it.  Two fighters attacked McDonald’s aircraft, closing to within 50 feet and breaking away underneath.  Cannon shells burst under the flight deck of the Liberator, near the nose wheel.  Fire broke out immediately and spread very quickly.  McDonald then ordered the crew to bale out.

(1) Group Captain Peter Avison Parker DFC (O355) was discharged from the RAAF on 2 July 1968.
(2) Squadron Leader Gilford James White (250481) was discharged from the RAAF on 1 March 1946.
(3) Squadron Leader William Court (2633) was discharged from the RAAF on 6 April 1948.

Extract from Odgers, G. (George) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 407

Flying Officer S. L. McDonald was flying number three in the third element.  Squadron Leader G J White of No. 21 Squadron was leading this element and Flight Lieutenant W. Court was flying number two.  The enemy was sighted at 0945 hours.  The first run over the target (the Japanese Cruiser Isuzu) was made at 1000 hours.  As this run was being made a Hamp (Japanese aircraft) made an attack breaking from 10 o’clock to within twenty feet of Flight Lieutenant Court.  No apparent damage was sustained by the enemy from our fire.  The enemy then broke away.  The enemy pilot was experienced and determined.  Intense flak was being experienced at 12000 feet. Shortly after the enemy aircraft’s attack, Flying Officer McDonald’s aircraft lost height by approximately 50 feet but still held to formation.  Smoke was seen coming from the cockpit.  The bombs were then jettisoned and the nose wheel compartment opened.  Two members were seen to parachute from this exit.  Three jumped from the bomb bay.  The aircraft immediately went up at a steep angle and appeared to reach the stall.  Flames were seen coming from the nose wheel  compartment and forward bomb bays.  The aircraft turned over on the port wing and plunged vertically towards the sea, losing about 6000 feet.  The aircraft recovered from the dive and went into a very steep climb and again stalled on the port wing and went into another dive of about 45 degrees, heading towards the cruiser.  A few seconds later the aircraft exploded.  The only known survivor is Warrant Officer Shilling who is at present in No. 1 Medical Receiving Station suffering from shock and second degree burns to his back.

Extract from No. 24 Squadron Operations Record Book as given in Nelmes, M.V. (Michael) Tocumwal to Tarakan: Australians and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, Banner Books Belconnen ACT 2616, 1994 – Page 103

The crew members of A72-81 were:

Flight Sergeant Ronald Joseph Banks (436999) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Trevor Edward Bowen (439863) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Kevin Arthur Roy Brown (426804) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Allan Davis (431280) (Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Sidney Leonard McDonald (411524) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Peter Albert Mouatt (405523) (Navigator)
Warrant Officer Keith Roy Shilling (406816) (Wireless Air Gunner) Baled Out, Discharged from the RAAF: 8 February 1946
Flight Sergeant John Stanley Thomson (438719) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Leslie Kenneth Walmsley (435740) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Walter Joseph Wignall MID (17299) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Alexander George Worley (435236) (Bombardier)

No. 24 Squadron lost Liberator aircraft A72-77 (Flight Lieutenant Eric Valentine Ford (255138) (Pilot)) on 6 April 1945.

No. 112 Air Sea Rescue Flight lost Catalina A24-54 (Sergeant Arthur Edward Jones (34647)) on 6 April 1945.

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 71
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

Nelmes, M.V. (Michael) Tocumwal to Tarakan: Australians and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, Banner Books Belconnen ACT 2616, 1994
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Boston, Mitchell and Liberator in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992