Flight Sergeant Ronald Joseph BIRTLES

Service No: 421154
Born: Neutral Bay NSW, 27 August 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 January 1942
Unit: No. 635 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Downham Market
Died: Air Operations (No. 635 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JB239), France, 12 June 1944, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Nantes (Pont-Du-Cens) Communal Cemetery, Loire- Atlantique, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of George Bernard and Ethel May Birtles, of Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 119, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Brother of Flying Officer Alfred John Birtles (412334)

At 2340 hours on the night of the 11 June 1944, Lancaster JB239 took off from Downham Market detailed to mark rail facilities at Nantes, France. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. A Missing Research and Enquiry team later reported: “The aircraft crashed at 0300 hours at Vertou (Loire-Atlantique), 8 kms south east from the centre of Nantes.
All the crew members were killed.”

The crew members of JB239 were:

Flight Lieutenant Cedric John Kenneth Ash (46630) (RAF) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Ronald Joseph Birtles (421154) (First Navigator)
Sergeant William Stevenson Chapman (1820359) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Stuart Lacey Edwards (424759) (Third Navigator)
Pilot Officer Thomas William Hope (54711) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant John James Leishman (1800193) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flying Officer Charles Sidney Purkis (152439) (RAFVR) (Second Navigator)
Sergeant William Chapman Vessey (1509446) (RAFVR) (Wireless 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, 166/5/564

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