BELL Paton 406589

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Paton BELL

Service No: 406589
Born: Perth WA, 29 August 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 February 1941
Unit: No. 150 Squadron (RAF), RAF Snaith, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 150 Squadron Wellington aircraft X3744), over Europe, 12 August 1942, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Scottow Cemetery, Norfolk UK
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur James Bell and Mary Elizabeth Bell, of Dalwallinu, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Dalwallinu WA
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On 11th-12th August good weather conditions prevailed, and fires lit by early incendiary bombs soon spread until the whole centre of Mainz was aglow. The bombers spent forty-five minutes over the target, not as high a degree of concentration as desirable, and thus, although the bombing itself was accurate and the ground defences seemed overwhelmed, enemy night fighters took a heavy toll of the straggling bombers.  Seven of the Australian Wellingtons bombed Mainz; one, Wiesbaden; and one an unidentified built-up area, without themselves meeting any hostile aircraft, but many RAAF men arriving in later aircraft became engaged in combats.  Four Australians flying with an American pilot in a Wellington of No. 150 came under very heavy fire from a night fighter, and Flight Sergeant Paton Bell (406589), the rear gunner, was killed and his turret put out of action. Sergeant Donald William Beattie (408161), the wireless operator, was badly wounded in head and shoulders, and the Wellington was so extensively damaged, that, but for the wounded men who could not help themselves, the aircraft would have been abandoned. The navigator, Flight Sergeant Alan Vickery Ritchie (403378), and front gunner, Sergeant Colin Osborne Chapman (403718), gave every assistance to their pilot in his desperate but finally successful attempt to elude the enemy and then to reach England flying on one engine and with most of the instruments damaged.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 331-2

Wellington X3744 took off from RAF Snaith, Yorkshire, on the night of 11/12th August 1942 detailed to bomb Mainz, Germany.  X3744 was one of 8 aircraft from the Squadron detailed to attack the target. Cloud was 5/10 tenths and full advantage was taken of the cover available on the return journey, but X3744 was attacked by a night fighter and the Rear Gunner (Flight Sergeant Bell) was killed instantly and the WAG (Sergeant Beattie) was severely injured.  Extensive damage was done to the aircraft which had been hit by anti-aircraft fire on the outward journey.  The Pilot was able to reach the coast with difficulty after which he was guided by searchlight units to RAF Coltishall, Norfolk, where the aircraft crashed on landing.

The crew members of X3744 were:

Sergeant Donald William Beattie (408161) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Paton Bell (406589) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant Colin Osborne Chapman DFM (403718) (Wireless Air Gunner) (Bomb Aimer) Discharged from the RAAF: 8 November 1945
Pilot Officer R C Munson (RAF) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Alan Vickery Ritchie DFM (403378) (Observer) Discharged from the RAAF: 30 September 1944

References:

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, 163/91/261

Bibliography:

Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990