Warrant Officer Reginald Maxwell BURCHER

Service No: 411440
Born: Neutral Bay NSW, 15 July 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 April 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ED535), Germany, 30 July 1943, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Reginald Ernest and Ivy Myrtle Burcher, of Brunswick Heads, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Armidale NSW
Remembered: Panel 191, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 29-30 July 1943
Target: Hamburg
Total Force: Dispatched – 777, Attacking – 726
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking – 23; No. 466 Dispatched – 8, Attacking – 8; No. 467 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,277
Total Aircraft Lost: 28
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2; No. 467 – 1

After a light harassing attack by Mosquito bombers on 28th-29th July, the main bomber force of the RAF again visited Hamburg on 29th-30th July. No other city in Germany had received more than one raid of over 2,000 tons, but this was the third for Hamburg in six nights. Fires had been seen blazing continuously in the city since the 24th, and once again more than half the bombs were of incendiary types. The target indicators were compactly laid well on time by the Pathfinder Force, and Australian crews reported that it was just a matter of stoking up fires of dull red until the target area was a single mass of flames two miles square. Again enemy defences had been strengthened, and Flight Lieutenant Henderson (1) reported that he had never seen so many active searchlights, which on this occasion had recovered some efficiency and worked in cooperation with an increased number of fighters some of which burned navigation lights. Predicted anti-aircraft fire also seemed more accurate, and the enemy had correctly anticipated the withdrawal route along which he had massed mobile searchlights and batteries. Pilot Officer Pickles (2) (No. 100 Squadron RAF) was one of several Australians who were in combats with fighters, but, although two gunners were killed, he finally escaped from two very determined opponents. Losses were about twice as high as on the two previous raids but still remained well below the previous rate to be expected against a target of this nature, and certainly were small in relation to the military result achieved. The port area and the thickly populated suburb of Barmbeck were severely hit and, economically, Hamburg was temporarily knocked out as even the undamaged sections had to stop work on account of the destruction of water, gas and electricity supplies.

(1) Flight Lieutenant James Robert Henderson DSO DFC (412810) was discharged from the RAAF on 1 April 1946.
(2) Squadron Leader Edgar Lewis Pickles DFC & Bar (413248) was discharged from the RAAF on 19 July 1946.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 586-8

Lancaster ED535 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2355 hours on 29 July 1943 to attack Hamburg, Germany. Bomb load was 1 x 4000lb and 2 x 1000lb bombs, 48 x 30lb, 510 x 4lb incendiaries. Nothing was heard form the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty four aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid. Post war enquiries established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter on 30 July and crashed near Floglen, approximately 41 miles north of Bremen, and that all the crew were killed.

The crew members of ED535 were:

Warrant Officer Reginald Maxwell Burcher (411440) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Sydney Frederick Norman Fox (143802) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Allan James Johnson (402507) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer Pax Lloyd Evan Jones (402508) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Clifford Timothy O’Riordan (403397) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Fredrick Sydney Ralph (149829) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Pilot Officer Derrick George Scruton (52599) (RAF) (Navigator)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JA869 (Pilot Officer Harold Leonard Fuhrmann (415079) (Pilot)) on 30 July 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED534 (Flight Sergeant Robert William Park (414118) (Pilot)) on 30 July 1943.


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, 163/94/353


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

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