Warrant Officer Laurence COLLINS

Service No: 419981
Born: Ballarat VIC, 13 August 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 October 1942
Unit: No. 101 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Ludford Magna
Died: Air Operations: (No. 101 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM472), Germany, 16 January 1945, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Thomas Collins and Catherine Collins, of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Ballarat VIC
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Lancaster LM472 took off from RAF Ludford Magna at 1748 hours on the night of 16/17 January 1945, detailed to bomb a synthetic oil plant at Brux, western Czechoslovakia. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. One of the crew from a squadron aircraft on the same mission reported seeing a parachute descending 4,000 feet below them when in the target area. Seven of the crew members were killed when LM472 crashed and Flight Sergeant Knight became a Prisoner of War.

The crew members of LM472 were:

Flying Officer Jack Karl Armour (J/43497) (RCAF) (Navigator) (Specialist equipment operator)
Sergeant Robert John Beckett (1482487) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Warrant Officer Laurence Collins (419981) (Wireless Operator Air)
Sergeant Daniel Conroy (1881462) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Pilot Officer Rochester Warren Lee Hart (429458) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant John Edward Knight (429068) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 November 1945
Sergeant John Ritchie McDowell (1798275) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Frederick Desmond McGonigle (179064) (RAFVR) (Pilot)

Flight Sergeant Knight later reported “the aircraft was set on fire by another aircraft. The Captain ordered put on parachutes which was acknowledged. The Wireless Operator was burnt but walked OK. No one baled out. The Captain then ordered abandon Aircraft and it exploded immediately after. The fire had started at 17,000 feet and the Aircraft exploded at 10,000 feet. The Captain was flying the aircraft under difficulty as the fire had spread over the starboard wing, the two starboard engines, and the cabin next to the Navigator’s and Wireless Operator’s positions. The aircraft crashed about 10 miles south east of Flauven. I was blown out of the aircraft by the explosion and was captured seven hours later by civilians.”


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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/8/822

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