Flying Officer James Arthur Gordon BECK DFC

Service No: 408434
Born: Launceston TAS, 25 November 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 25 May 1942
Unit: No. 186 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Stradishall
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 6 April 1945
Died: Air Operations (No. 186 Squadron Lancaster aircraft RA533), Germany, 4 April 1945, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frank Washington Beck and Margaret Anne Beck, of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
Roll of Honour: Launceston TAS
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

DFC Citation: “In February 1945, this officer piloted an aircraft detailed to attack Wesel. On the take-off run the tyre on the starboard wheel burst, causing the axle to drag along the runway and break up. The starboard wing dropped and the aircraft swung wildly. Flying Officer Beck succeeded in straightening the aircraft. In gaining height he narrowly missed a hanger. After much difficulty the part of the undercarriage which had not been ripped away was retracted and Flying Officer Beck went on to the target and bombed it. On reaching an airfield in this country after completing his mission he executed a masterly landing with the undercarriage retracted. This officer has completed numerous sorties and has invariably displayed the highest standard of skill and resolution. He is an excellent captain whose finer qualities have been well reflected in the operational efficiency of his crew. (London Gazette 6 April 1945, Page 1848)”

At 1847 hours on the night of 4 April 1945 Lancaster RA533 took off from Stradishall detailed to bomb the Leuna synthetic oil plant at Merseburg, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. When outbound, at 2020 hours RA533 collided with a No. 115 Squadron Lancaster HK555. Wreckage from both aircraft was scattered between the Waldof Elgershausen and Greitfenthal, 7 kms south of Sinn, Germany. Six of the crew members of RA533 and all of the crew members of HK555 were killed.

The crew members of RA533 were:

Flight Sergeant Sydney Raymond Bacon (423037) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Albert Richard Baker (2210627) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant George Ballinger (1592037) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Pilot Officer A E Bartlett (139906) (RAF) (Navigator) Injured
Flying Officer James Arthur Gordon Beck DFC (408434) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer William George Evans (196117) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant Peter McNiven (1826326) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

The crew members of HK555 were:

Flying Officer Albert Edward Adams (149989) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant John Thomas Buckley (1690938) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Wilfrid Gordon Carr (1683518) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Pilot Officer Eric Laurence Luxton (J/94582) (RCAF) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Charles Edward Marchant (1604373) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant Thomas Anthony O’Halloran (183181) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer Gordon Reginald Saville (428798) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Ernest Sheavills (651465) (RAF) (Air Gunner)


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, 166/5/1050

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