LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Leslie Harold CHAPMAN
Service No: 410641
Born: Stawell VIC, 20 July 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 January 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ME663), Denmark, 10 April 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Esbjerg (Fourfeldt) Cemetery, Esbjerg, Denmark
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Harold Henry and May Chapman, of Stawell, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Stawell VIC
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
On 9th-10th April 11 Lancasters of No. 460 were in a special force which laid 450 mines in the Gulf of Danzig. For this very distant target, involving a round trip of nine hours, each Lancaster carried five mines, which for the first time were laid from high level. Enemy opposition was very strong and three RAAF aircraft were shot down and three others damaged, but the military result was significant as Danzig Bay was closed to traffic for 15 days.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 44-5.
Lancaster ME663 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2120 hours on 9th April 1944 to carry out a mining operation in the Danzig Bay area of the Baltic. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twelve aircraft from the squadron took part in the operation. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Sknaale, 10kms west of Horsens, Denmark.
The crew members of ME 663 were:
Pilot Officer Milton Harold Bender (173405) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Clive Billett (414191) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Leslie Harold Chapman (410641) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flight Lieutenant Peter Alan Crosby DFC (416656) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Frederick Stanley Hodge DFM (426100) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 28 November 1945
Flying Officer Laurence William Robb (418879) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flying Officer Charles Edward Suffren DFC (409280) (Navigator) PoW, Died from Wounds, 16 February 1945
In a later report Flight Sergeant Hodge reported ‘The aircraft was badly shot about and set on fire by three enemy aircraft at 23,000 feet. At about 18,000 feet the Captain ordered abandon aircraft and all the crew acknowledged. The plane lurched and at 6,000 feet straightened out and the Captain said hurry and abandon. The aircraft started to dive again. I left by way of the rear turret. The aircraft was burning in both wings and the flames were coming back both sides. The starboard side was the worst. The aircraft was shot up in the vicinity of Arrhus and Horsens. I did not see the aircraft crash. I was met by Danes and taken for a meal. Then the Germans turned up. I have no information re the other crew.’
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JD600 (Pilot Officer Robert William Burke DFC (420438) (Pilot)) on 10 April 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JD734 (Pilot Officer Robert John Proud (413894) (Pilot)) on 10 April 1944.
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, 166/7/467
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985