BIRT Peter Norham 427892

LEST WE FORGET 

Flying Officer Peter Norham BIRT 

Service No: 427892
Born: Albany WA, 19 April 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 October 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ND970), Germany, 29 January 1945, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Lt.-Col. Charles William Howard Birt, D.S.O. and 2 bars, and Rosalind Lucy Birt, of Tambellup, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Tambellup WA
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

The last “area” raid of the month came on 28th-29th January when No. 460 attacked the Zuffenhausen district of Stuttgart which contained an aero jet factory, at the same time that No. 466  (Squadron RAAF) was bombing marshalling yards in the same city.  It will be seen that despite the vagaries of weather the program of heavy-bomber operation was dominated by a triple theme;  continuance of attack against general industrial capacity, further restriction of fuel facilities, and disablement of means of transport . Many of the January attacks covered two if not all of the above objectives.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 405

Lancaster ND970 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1948 hours on the night of 28 January 1945 to bomb Stuttgart, Germany.  Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 12 x 500 lb (230 kg) bombs.  Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. Twelve aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid and ND 970 failed to return.

The crew members of ND970 were:

Flight Sergeant Douglas Ronald Benbow (437488) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 February 1946
Flying Officer Peter Norham Birt (427892) (Pilot)
Sergeant A Field (1894823) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Flight Sergeant Douglas Glen O’Hara (433473) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Edward Spencer Symes (410394) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 13 December 1945
Flight Sergeant Ernest George Truman (418318) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 25 January 1946
Flight Sergeant Sidney Gordon Wilson (433749) (Rear Gunner)

In a statement Flight Sergeant Benbow reported that “The aircraft was attacked by Ju88 fighters near Stuttgart. The aircraft was damaged. The order to put on chutes and abandon was given and acknowledged. The port wing was burning, and the port engine and aileron was u/s. The aircraft was more or less under a controlled dive. I landed in a forest near Stuttgart. It was freezing and I received frostbite. I walked/crawled to a village and gave myself up. Truman, Field and Symes were PoWs. The Germans said that O’Hara and Wilson were killed, and that the body of Birt was near the wreck.”

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, 166/5/917

Bibliography:

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