Flight Sergeant Robert BEARD

Service No: 29888
Born: Toodyay WA, 28 July 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 February 1941
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Driffield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft MZ283), France, 8 June 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Illeville-Sur-Montfort Churchyard, Montfort-sur-Risle, Eure, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Francis Edward and Ethel Maud Beard; husband of Monica Beard, of Liverpool, England.
Roll of Honour: Como WA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Honour Avenues, Kings Park WA

The French and Belgian railways had already suffered heavy attack during the preparatory phase of OVERLORD, and the cumulative effects of damage to tracks, rolling stock, repair shops and communication gear were slowing down the whole system until it was capable of satisfying only minimum enemy requirements. It was hoped that further heavy raids coupled with enormously increased German needs would cause major blockages far from the actual battle area. These wounds would then be kept open by regular attacks by medium bombers and, if the enemy took to the roads at these enforced detraining points, again he would become vulnerable to fighter-bomber attack.  The first targets of this type chosen on 7th-8th June were four rail centres close to Paris, Versailles-Matelet, Palaiseau-Massy, Juvisy and Acheres. Only one third of the night-striking force was employed but bombing was concentrated and appreciable damage was done to bridges and flyovers as well as to tracks and buildings. Enemy defences were much stronger than over the beach-head and 28 aircraft, including 5 piloted by Australians, of the 337 sent out failed to return.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 132

Halifax MZ283 took off from RAF Driffield at 2248 hours on the night of 7/8th June 1944 to bomb the railway junction at Juvisy, France. Fourteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and of these MZ283 failed to return. Following post war enquiries by a Missing Research and Enquiry unit it was established that the aircraft crashed at 0300 hours local time at Illeville, France.

The crew members of MZ283 were:

Flight Sergeant Robert Beard (29888) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Roland Cottle (432670) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Paul Bailey Giles (417475) (Bomb Aimer)
Warrant Officer John William Godfrey (401941) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant William Nelson Heywood (426841) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant William Robinson Pearce (417228) (Pilot)
Sergeant Kenneth Benson Woodman (542141) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)


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, 166/5/557

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