LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Ray Osmond COLE

Service No: 408329
Born: Launceston TAS, 30 September 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 November 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Station Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM316), Germany, 2 December 1943, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur James Cole and Mattie Elizabeth Cole, of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia
Roll of Honour: Launceston TAS
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 2-3 December 1943
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Dispatched – 458, Attacking – 401
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 25, Attacking – 24; No. 463 Dispatched – 5, Attacking – 4; No. 467 Dispatched – 13, Attacking – 13
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,686
Total Aircraft Lost: 40
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 5

Thus far the campaign, while not achieving success comparable to the holocaust at Hamburg, had won satisfactory results against the most heavily-defended target in Germany, but the fifth raid on 2nd-3rd December was a costly failure. The winds actually met in flight varied from those forecast considerably in strength and by 90 degrees in direction. Many navigators failed to discover this before they had been blown well south of track and the bomber stream scattered. Some crews of No. 460 found new winds by means of H2S navigation, but because they were so radically opposed to the forecast, in many cases the new information was ignored. Worse still the change in winds cleared away fog which had been blanketing the German airfields and enemy fighters were present over Berlin from the outset to oppose the disorganised bombing force as it arrived. Few of the Pathfinders successfully identified Rathenow from which they were to make a timed run, and consequently target indicators and bombs were scattered over many square miles to the south of Berlin.

It was a very black night for No. 460; it lost five Lancasters, and three more had to struggle home on three engines. Several aircraft from the other Australian squadrons were damaged by gun fire during their return, when use of forecast winds again caused confusion so that they faced not only the defences of Berlin but the defences of the Ruhr during the same flight. The nightly battle of bluff on this occasion prevented clear thinking by some of the Australian navigators, who clearly saw Pathfinder route markers, but, as they were so far distant from their own track, they dismissed them as enemy decoys, and continued to head into danger.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 637, 639-40

Lancaster LM316 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1632 hours on 2 December 1943 to bomb Berlin. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 56 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 840 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Doberitz, Germany, and that all on board were killed

The crew members of LM316 were:

Flying Officer James Owen Boyd (410830) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Ray Osmond Cole (408329) (Navigator)
Sergeant George Hartley Cooper (1604429) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer Leslie Jewitt Ellis (147094) (RAF) (Air Gunner)
Captain Johan Nordahl Brun Grieg (Norwegian Army, Supernumerary)
Sergeant Kenneth George Vincent Keir (1803747) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Alan Roy Mitchell (409933) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Ian Rupert Phelan (410255) (Bomb Aimer)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB608 (Flight Lieutenant Thomas Derek Hudson Alford (420333) (Pilot)) on 2 December 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB611 (Squadron Leader Edward Geoffrey Manson Corser DFC MID (405122) (Pilot)) on 2 December 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster DV296 (Flight Sergeant Colin Howard Edwards (24574) (Pilot)) on 2 December 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster W4881 (Pilot Officer James Herbert John English DFC (413843) (Pilot)) on 2 December 1943.

References:

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, 166/8/315

Bibliography:

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