Pilot Officer William Keith BENNETT DFC

Service No: 37471
Born: Grafton NSW, 3 May 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 19 June 1941
Unit: No. 69 Squadron (RAF)
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 1 March 1946
Died: Air Operations (No. 69 Squadron Wellington aircraft NC555), Netherlands, 25 March 1945, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Apeldoorn (Ugchelen Heidehof) General Cemetery, Gelderland, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William George and Bertha Florence Bennett, of Urunga, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Urunga NSW
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Urunga War Memorial, Urunga NSW

DFC Citation: Pilot Officer Bennett of No. 69 Squadron RAF has completed a considerable number of highly successful low level night reconnaissance sorties, often in the face of intense enemy fire. At one period he carried out four sorties in four nights and on each occasion his aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Although he had to complete his reconnaissance at a very low level, he brought back most valuable information. Pilot Officer Bennett’s unfailing courage and devotion to duty have set an outstanding example to the whole squadron. (London Gazette 1March 1946, Page 1180)

At 2220 hours on the night of 24 March 1945 Wellington NC555 took off to carry out an operational sortie in the area of Deventer-Apeldoorn, Netherlands. The aircraft failed to return to base. It was later established that the aircraft crashed and exploded on impact near the village of Gehelen, which is approximately 3 miles south west of Apeldoorn. All the crew members had been killed.

The crew members of NC555 were:

Flying Officer Kenneth Richard Bearcroft (154386) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Pilot Officer William Keith Bennett DFC (37471) (Pilot)
Sergeant Robert Jeffery (1813960) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Gerald Wynne Linnard (1421523) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Robert Graham Sutherland (591815) (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, 166/5/1029
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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