BLACKWELL William Donald 415497

LEST WE FORGET 

Flight Sergeant William Donald BLACKWELL 

Service No: 415497
Born: Footscray VIC, 3 November 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 November 1941 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM372), Germany, 2 January 1944, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Hanover War Cemetery, Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Donald Stanley Blackwell and Bridget Josephine Blackwell; husband of Gladys Muriel Blackwell, of South Guildford, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Cottesloe WA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Honour Board, Postmaster General’s Department, GPO Forrest Chase, Perth WA

Date: 1-2 January 1944
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Despatched – 421, Attacking – 386
RAAF Force: No. 460 Despatched – 17, Attacking – 17; No. 463 – 11, 10; No. 467 – 10, 10
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,401
Total Aircraft Lost: 28
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 1; No. 467 – 1

As expected, the ninth raid, mounted on 1st-2nd January, was made with cloud completely hiding the target. The Pathfinder primary marking began well but the backers-up were late in arriving and thus no effective concentration was possible. Squadron Leader Horton Douglas Marsh (O382) of No. 460 reported that no sky markers were burning when he reached Berlin. Other Australians ran in towards flares which died out before they could bomb, and then saw small groups of fresh flares laid in widely-separated positions.  There was not even the usual glow of fires beneath the clouds to help the bomb aimers.  The main bomber force was itself somewhat disorganised, for German fighters ignored a simulated raid against Hamburg, and gave the first large-scale trial to their Benito route-interception scheme. Six Australian Lancasters were attacked at least once before ever they reached Berlin, and one was so badly damaged that it was forced to jettison its bombs and abandon the flight. Two other aircraft jettisoned part of their incendiaries to gain extra speed and altitude.  However, the call to “force your way in and fight your way out” had been taken up very enthusiastically, and all the aircraft attacked had fired at and driven off the fighters, two of which were claimed as damaged.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 642-3

Lancaster LM372 took off from RAF Waddington at 2324 hours on the night 1/2nd January 1944. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 48 x 30 lb (14 kg), 900 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Ten aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and of these LM 372 failed to return. Past war enquiries and interrogation of local residents established that the aircraft crashed and exploded on impact in a field near Altmeringsen on 2 January 1944 presumably shot down by enemy aircraft. Altmeringsen is 18 miles north east of Hanover, Germany.

The crew members of LM372 were:

Flight Sergeant William Donald Blackwell (415497) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Arthur Harold Boettcher (414305) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant Ralph Chambers (1482755) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant George Andrew Litchfield (1579416) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flying Officer Raymond Joseph Alfred Maidstone (132722) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant James Mudie (29886) (Second Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Leo Braham Patkin (401146) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Henry Douglas Scott (410611) (Mid Upper Gunner) Died as a Prisoner of War on the same day as the crash

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster W4879 (Pilot Officer Stanley Wallace Lawson (410244) (Pilot)) on 1/2 January 1944.

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, 166/5/395