BENNETT Richard Stewart 436327

LEST WE FORGET 

Flying Officer Richard Stewart BENNETT

Service No: 436327
Born: Leederville WA, 13 October 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 5 December 1942
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB845), Germany, 21 March 1945, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alfred Stewart Bennett and Violet Bennett, of Leederville, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

The Germans gave priority to repairing the Bohlen oil installations because of their relative distance from English bomber bases, and within a fortnight Bomber Command assessed that some units were again in operation. Thus on 20th-21st March No. 463 sent 16 and No. 467 17 crews in a force of 224 which in much better weather dropped 946 tons of bombs in the most concentrated of the series of attacks against Bohlen. Photographs, obtained 12 hours after the main attack, showed fires burning in various parts of the plant; apart from severe and widespread damage to vital units the internal marshalling yards had been heavily hit and it was estimated that Bohlen was unlikely to be substantially operative for at least two months. In the event, because of the progress of the armies, no further bombing attack was necessary, but this last attack was relatively costly as 10 bombers were lost, including one of No. 463 and one each piloted by Australians of Nos. 50, 57, 61, 97 and 207 Squadrons, while another Australian pilot failed to return from a small feint attack by 12 aircraft against Halle which was intended to divert enemy fighters from Bohlen.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 427

Lancaster PB845 took off from RAF Waddington at 2349 hours on the night of 20/21st March 1945 to bomb a synthetic oil plant at Bohlen, Germany.  Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Sixteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these PB 845 failed to return. In 1949 a report by a Missing Research and Enquiry Team recorded “The aircraft crashed near Trachenau, a village in the target area.”

The crew members of PB845 were:

Flying Officer Richard Stewart Bennett (436327) (Pilot)
Sergeant Anthony Hylton Bunn (1584121) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Ronald Gordon (1605275) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Geoffrey George Green (1623913) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Geoffrey Owen Little (1603630) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Leslie Bertie Neaves (1804382) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Stanley Hubert Walker (2209766) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

No. 50 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster ME441 (Pilot Officer Allan Neil Levy (429153) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 57 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster LM653 (Flight Lieutenant Aubrey Robert Palling (428261) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945

In addition to the loss of LM653, No. 57 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster RA 530 (Flying Officer Charles Alan Cobern(5870) (Pilot)) which crashed soon after take-off on 20 March 1945.

No. 61 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster RA560 (Flying Officer John Frederick Swales (422989) (Pilot) on 21 March 1945.

No. 97 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA973 (Flight Lieutenant John Dennis Cottman (418813) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 207 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA196 (Flying Officer Raymond Allan Lewis (19892) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

In the small feint attack against Halle, No. 227 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA259 (Flying Officer Warren Henry Pitts (436480) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

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 A9300, BENNETT R S