Flight Sergeant Gordon Edwin BECKHOUSE

Service No: 424354
Born: Pork Kembla NSW, 24 December 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 September 1942
Unit: No. 630 Squadron (RAF), RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 630 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM117), France, 19 July 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Togny-Aux-Boeufs Communal Cemetery, Marne, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Robert Cooper Beckhouse and Isobel Elizabeth Beckhouse, of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Wagga Wagga NSW
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Revigny, already the objective of two abortive raids by other groups on 12th-13th and 14th-15th July, was nominated as a target for No. 5 Group on 18th-19th July. This was an ill-fated attack as no fewer than 24 of the force of 110 bombers failed to return to base. It was a case of the elaborate nightly RAF tactical deception plan misfiring for once. The enemy ignored the raid against Scholven-Buer, being deceived into thinking it was a diversionary sweep. The Luftwaffe’s strength in Belgium was sent westward into France and ran headlong into the force attacking Revigny. Fighter attacks began over the target and the fighters then hung determinedly around the skirts of the retiring bombers until they crossed the coast. Few crews saw obvious signs of success because long-delay fuses were again used, but later evidence showed that after the attack only one through line remained open. One RAAF pilot criticised the chosen route, which crossed an active searchlight belt in the Pas de Calais. After seeing four Lancasters shot down over the target within two minutes he swung out of the stream and skirted this searchlight belt and reported that other aircraft which had kept to track were shot down. Australian losses were particularly severe. Aircraft piloted by Flying Officer Beverley Hudson Gifford (415220) and Flying Officer James Robert Worthington (406417) of No. 463, Flying Officer Thomas Edward William Davis (420173) and Flying Officer David Beharrie (418334) of No. 467, Flying Officer William David Appleyard (415716) of No. 49, Flying Officer Frank Francis Molinas (425454) of No. 619 and Flying Officer Peter Buck Dennett (418927), Flying Officer Gordon Edward Maxwell (425331) and Flying Officer Bruce William Brittain (414756) (Flight Sergeant Gordon Edwin Beckhouse (424354) (Wireless Air Gunner)) of No. 630 were all shot down.

Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 Pages 236-7

On the night of 18/19th July 1944, Lancaster LM 117 took off from RAF East Kirkby at 2250 hours, detailed to destroy a railway junction at Revigny, France. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was later established that the aircraft had been hit by anti-aircraft fire and all the crew members had successfully baled out. A later Missing Research & Enquiry team report stated; “the Mayor of Togny-Aux-Boeufs stated that he had bought in the body of a dead British airman who had baled out and landed just outside the village. This airman according to the Mayor had been shot by the Germans after landing. The investigating Officer was shown a life saving jacket and on the interior saw the name Beckhouse.

The crew members of LM117 were:

Flight Sergeant F R Ashton (1395518) (RAFVR) (Navigator) PoW
Flight Sergeant Gordon Edwin Beckhouse (424354) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Bruce William Brittain (414756) (Pilot) Evaded Capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 3 December 1945
Flight Sergeant E Couchman (1253653) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber) Evaded Capture
Sergeant R F Gannon (1665853) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Sergeant D A Grant (R/252538) (RCAF) (Mid Upper Gunner) Evaded Capture
Flight Sergeant E H Wells (1216905) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) PoW

A report by Flying Officer Brittain who evaded capture stated: “on our return from the target the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire at approximately 8,500 feet, and the rear fuselage was set on fire. With the aircraft out of control, I gave the order ‘abandon’. The Bomb Aimer, Engineer and
Navigator left by the front escape hatch, followed by me also by Beckhouse “


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, 166/5/615

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