Flight Sergeant Robert COWARD

Service No: 432371
Born: Bexley NSW, 7 March 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 December 1942
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Station Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PD620), North Sea, 23 October 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John and Ruth Coward, of Bexley, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Bexley NSW
Remembered: Panel 260, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

The Flushing batteries were attacked again (1) on 21st October by No. 3 Group, and by No. 5 Group on the 23rd, when in the face of bad weather and apparently reinforced anti-aircraft defences, the RAAF squadrons lost three aircraft, had five more badly damaged, and considered that many of their bombs had overshot the target.

(1) The previous attack was on 11 October 1944.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 314-5

Lancaster PD620 took off from RAF Waddington at 1422 hours on 23 October 1944 to carry out a daytime mission on enemy gun positions at Flushing, Holland. The bomb load was 14 x 1000 lb (pound) (450 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including PD620 failed to return.

The crew members of PD620 were:

Flight Sergeant Robert Coward (432371) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Irwin John Dack DFC (418093) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 30 October 1945
Flight Sergeant Alexander Easton (1340743) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Charles Frederick Kirby (185652) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant H E Lee (1891948) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Warrant Officer James Fraser Maple (423205) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant James Robert Mitchell McWilliam (418907) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 12 December 1945

In a later report Flying Officer Dack stated “The aircraft was hit by incendiary flak at 4,000ft and was immediately set on fire and filled the aircraft with thick brown smoke. I ordered bale out. I could not tell whether the aircraft was still in condition to control as it was impossible to see the instruments. Received no answer from any of the crew. Picked up unconscious in the sea off Flushing. Met Bomb Aimer and Engineer next day. Released by Russians on 22/4/45.”

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster NF977 (Flying Officer Cyril Borsht (426416) (Pilot)) on 23 October 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster NF989 (Flying Officer Edward Berkley Rowell (422714) (Pilot)) on 23 October 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, 166/8/693

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