LEST WE FORGET
Flight Lieutenant Thomas Harrison BOURKE
Service No: 407192
Born: Reigate, England, 6 April 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 July 1940 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Wellington aircraft Z1388), France, 30 May 1942, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Viroflay New Communal Cemetery, Yvelines, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Harrison and Doris Bourke, of Point Piper, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide
On 29th-30th May, when seventy-seven aircraft, including four Wellingtons of No. 460, were dispatched against the Gnome and Rhone, Thomson Houston, and Goodrich factories at Gennevilliers, a suburb of Paris. Weather was bad along the route, and although visibility over the target was good due to large breaks in the overcast, much heavier opposition was met from guns and searchlights. Consequently the general height of bomb release was between 8,000 feet and 4,000 feet with an appreciable loss of accuracy. In previous raids of this series only one aircraft had been lost by the entire attacking force on each occasion, but now six failed to return. Two Australian Wellingtons were shot down, a third failed to locate the target and returned to base, while Pilot Officer Brill (1) the only pilot from No. 460 known to attack, flew through heavy anti-aircraft fire during his approach. His bomb-release unit was damaged and this caused a 1,000-lb bomb to hang up, although the remaining bomb load fell. Brill had come down very low and inspected his aiming point from 1,500 feet before making this determined attack, undeterred by damage to his hydraulic system and the fact that his rear turret was out of action. The return journey was hazardous, for the weather remained severe, and the Wellington flew badly as the bomb doors could not be closed, but Brill successfully made a landing at an emergency airfield in England.
(1) Group Captain William Lloyd Brill DSO DFC & Bar (402933) was discharged from the RAAF on 12 October 1964.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 Pages 309-10
Wellington Z1388 took off at 2343 hours from RAF Breighton on 29 May 1942 to bomb Gennevilliers, France. The aircraft was one of four of the Squadrons aircraft to take part in the raid. Z1388 failed to return from the mission.
The crew members of Z1388 were:
Flight Sergeant Bernard George Payn Lovelock Balleine (407280) (Front Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Thomas Harrison Bourke (407192) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Richard Paterson Davis (407285) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Ian Grantley Holborow (402290) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 November 1945
Flying Officer William Martin Murphy (404353) (Observer)
In a later statement Sergeant Holborow said “the only information I have is that according to the Germans in Paris all the other four were killed. I am of the opinion that they had very little chance of escaping from the aircraft.” The place of the crash is recorded as Colombes-on-de Ille-Marante, France.
No. 460 Squadron lost Wellington Z 1391 (Flying Officer Russell Allen Pera Jones (402967) (Pilot)) on 29 May 1942
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, 163/24/255
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985