Flight Sergeant Lewis Havelock CHRISTMASS 

Service No: 406292
Born: Northam WA, 13 December 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 August 1941
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: Long Distance Raids (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft HK537), Denmark, 29 January 1944, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Aabenraa Cemetery, Denmark
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Lewis Eldred William and Mary Amy Elizabeth Christmass, of Subiaco, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Date: 28-29 January 1944
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Dispatched – 680, Attacking – 596
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 12, Attacking – 11; No. 463 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 12; No. 466 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 13, Attacking – 12
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,954
Total Aircraft Lost: 46
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 1; No. 466 – 3; No. 467 – 1

Yet another ruse was employed on 28th-29th January by sending a few Mosquitos to bomb Berlin several hours before the Lancasters and Halifaxes were due to arrive. Despite this and other diversionary means, the four Australian squadrons found an estimated 150 German fighters awaiting them. Twelve of the fifty-three Australian bombers were actually engaged in air combats but found that the tactics of taking the initiative and opening fire first staved off many attacks.  The Halifaxes of No. 466 were very hotly beset. Of twelve aircraft which reached Berlin, three were shot down, including one captained by Squadron Leader McCormack; who was made prisoner. Two others were attacked twice by fighters over Berlin and three more had single combats during the return flight at positions up to 100 miles distant from the target. The loss-rate remained high at 6.3 per cent, but this was offset by the general success of the raid.  For the first time the bombers found breaks in the cloud through which ground target indicators could be clearly seen.  The supplementary sky markers were also well grouped so that there was little hesitation or indecision among bomb aimers.  Squadron Leader Eric Arthur Gibson Utz DFC (403438), flying his second tour of operations, described this as “the most effective attack yet “, and for the first time fires appeared to amalgamate into a mass of flames too great for fire fighters to control.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 643, 645

Lancaster HK537 took off from RAF Waddington at 0035 hours on the night of 28/29th January 1944 to bomb Berlin. 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. Twelve aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these HK 537 failed to return. It was later established that when outbound to the target HK537 collided with No. 83 Squadron (RAF) Lancaster aircraft JA967 and crashed at 0230 at Mjels on the island of Als, 2 kms south west of Oksbol.

The crew members of HK537 were:

Sergeant Charles William Bull (578353) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Lewis Havelock Christmass (406292) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Lieutenant Norman Percival Cooper (29881) (Pilot)
Sergeant Ronald James Grist (918972) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Pilot Officer George Jeffreys Kerr (409553) (Navigator)
Sergeant Frederick Ernest Robson (1578620) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Harold Suthers (R161424) (RCAF) (Mid Upper Gunner)

The crew members of JA967 were:

Flying Officer Peter Groucutt Davies (143143) (RAFVR)
Flight Lieutenant Horace Robert Hyde (118161) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Brian Andrew James (136730) (RAFVR)
Flight Lieutenant Clement Charles Lockyer (67610) (RAFVR)
Sergeant Robert McKerlay (1820965) (RAFVR)
Flying Officer William Bowman Robson (144657) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant Arthur Waite (1579832) (RAFVR)

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX294 (Pilot Officer Jack Wilfred Tylor (406223) (Navigator)) on 29 January 1944.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX233 (Flight Lieutenant Frank Wharton Mack (412463) (Pilot)) on 29 January 1944.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX345 (Pilot Officer Leslie Dean Anderson (414121) (Navigator)) on 29 January 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED867 (Flight Lieutenant Ivan George Durston DFC (414343) (Pilot)) on 29 January 1944.


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Chorley, W R  Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War – Volume 5 Aircraft and Aircrew Losses 1944, Midland Counties Publications, 1997
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records A705, 166/7/407
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll

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