Flying Officer Stanley James BETHEL

Service No: 411987
Born: Rockdale NSW, 18 February 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 June 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB542), 12 December 1944, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas Stanley and Miriam Georgina Bethel, of Rockdale, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Sans Souci NSW
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 12-13 December 1944
Target: Essen
Total Force: Dispatched – 550, Attacking – 529
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 18; No. 462 Dispatched – 11, Attacking – 11; No. 466 Dispatched – 11, Attacking – 9
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,377
Total Aircraft Lost: 6
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1

Two more “topping-up” raids against Essen were made before the end of the year—on 28th-29th November and on 12th-13th December; each of these achieved significant new damage. The Driffield squadrons (Nos 462 and 466) joined in both these attacks without undue incident and without loss, but No. 460 which operated only on the latter raid suffered a heavy blow when Squadron Leader Clark, a fine flight commander, was shot down.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 303, 305

Lancaster PB542 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1559 hours on 12 December 1944 to bomb Essen, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 16 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eighteen aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid and only one aircraft PB 542 did not return to base. It was established post war that the aircraft was shot down by anti-aircraft fire at Bergerhausen near Essen at 1940 hours and burst into flames on impact and all crew members were killed.

The crew members of PB542 were:

Flying Officer Stanley James Bethel (411987) (Bomb Aimer)
Squadron Leader James Clark DFC AFC MID (402439) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Philip Edwin Edwards (411772) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flying Officer Leon Milner (160860) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Brian Clapham Reid DFC (409224) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Christopher Sanders (149052) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer John Maxwell Scott DFM (404043) (Rear 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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/5/851


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

Book Now Book Now