Pilot Officer Victor Robert CAMPBELL

Service No: 427063
Born: Perth WA, 24 May 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 May 1942
Unit: No. 57 Squadron (RAF), RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 57 Squadron Lancaster LM653), Germany, 21 March 1945, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Hanover War Cemetery, Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Robert Hill Campbell and Fanny Emma Campbell; husband of Betty Irene Campbell, of Mount Lawley, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Honour Avenues, Kings Park WA

The Germans gave priority to repairing the Bohlen oil installations because of their relative distance from English bomber bases, and within a fortnight Bomber Command assessed that some units were again in operation. Thus on 20th-21st March No. 463 sent 16 and No. 467 17 crews in a force of 224 which in much better weather dropped 946 tons of bombs in the most concentrated of the series of attacks against Bohlen. Photographs, obtained 12 hours after the main attack, showed fires burning in various parts of the plant; apart from severe and widespread damage to vital units the internal marshalling yards had been heavily hit and it was estimated that Bohlen was unlikely to be substantially operative for at least two months. In the event, because of the progress of the armies, no further bombing attack was necessary, but this last attack was relatively costly as 10 bombers were lost, including one of No. 463 and one each piloted by Australians of Nos. 50, 57, 61, 97 and 207 Squadrons, while another Australian pilot failed to return from a small feint attack by 12 aircraft against Halle which was intended to divert enemy fighters from Bohlen.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 427

Lancaster LM653 took off from RAF East Kirkby at 2342 hours on the night of 20/21st March 1945, detailed to carry out a diversionary raid on Halle, while other aircraft were attacking Bohlen, Germany.  Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base.  All the crew were killed in the crash and they are buried in the Hanover War Cemetery, Germany. This was an experienced crew with over 30 sorties to their credit.

The seven crew members of LM653 were:

Flight Sergeant George William Ackerman (1407092) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer Victor Robert Campbell (427063) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant James Henderson (1592002) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Pilot Officer Cyrus Jardine (415988) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Gilbert Owen Hugh Lind (415946) (Air Bomber)
Flight Sergeant Mortimer O’Loughlin (1799783) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Aubrey Robert Palling (428261) (Pilot)

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster PB845 (Flying Officer Richard Stewart Bennett (436327) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 50 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster ME441 (Pilot Officer Allan Neil Levy (429153) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

In addition to the loss of LM653, No. 57 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster RA 530 (Flying Officer Charles Alan Cobern (5870) (Pilot)) which crashed soon after take-off on 20 March 1945.

No. 61 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster RA560 (Flying Officer John Frederick Swales (422989) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 97 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA973 (Flight Lieutenant John Dennis Cottman (418813) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 207 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA196 (Flying Officer Raymond Allan Lewis (19892) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

In the small feint attack against Halle, No. 227 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA 259 (Flying Officer Warren Henry Pitts (436480) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.


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, 166/7

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