LEST WE FORGET
Sergeant William Norman CROSS
Service No: 412114
Born: Maryborough QLD, 14 March 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 June 1941 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Bottesford, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ED304), North West Europe, 12 June 1943, Aged 25 Years
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Henry and Evelyn Jessie Cross, of Allora, Queensland, Australia
Roll of Honour: Allora QLD
Remembered: Panel 195, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Date: 11-12 June 1943
Total Force: Dispatched – 783, Attacking – 693
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 27, Attacking – 22; No. 466 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 16; No. 467 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,968
Total Aircraft Lost: 38
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 466 – 2; No. 467 – 2
In perfect visibility the Pathfinders accurately placed their target-indicator bombs in the centre of the city. The main force of bombers, again including Nos. 460, 466 and 467, arrived promptly in a solid stream which soon had the effect of swamping the gun and searchlight ground defences which on this occasion were in full operation. A few of the Australians attacking early were caught and held in the beams of several searchlights and some had to jettison their bombs to take emergency evasive action, but the majority of bombs fell squarely in the heart of Dusseldorf and soon large fires began to get out of control. Over a third of the business and residential property in the centre of Dusseldorf proper was destroyed or damaged and sixty-four factories sustained varying degrees of damage. But this notable victory was not lightly gained, for once again German night fighters were very active both over Dusseldorf and along the line of flight and withdrawal. Five RAAF bombers failed to return and several others were very badly damaged. During this raid Flight Sergeant Williams (1), the Australian rear gunner of a Halifax of No. 35 Squadron (RAF) who had already been decorated twice for bravery in action, showed remarkable courage and ability when his aircraft was attacked by two night fighters. The initial attack destroyed the rear-turret mechanism and Williams sustained several bullet wounds in the legs and body. His cool mind now mastered his pain so that when the second fighter attacked he gave his pilot the correct directions for evasion and himself opened fire, hitting the enemy which exploded in the air. The first fighter then resumed the attack, but Williams, although temporarily partially paralysed, succeeded in destroying it. He remained at his post throughout the return journey and the turret then had to be cut away to release him. His shooting ability, sense of anticipation and above all his determination, undoubtedly contributed largely to the return of a valuable crew and aircraft.
(1) Squadron Leader Norman Francis Williams CGM DFM (411624) was discharged from the RAAF on 4 May 1948.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 489-90
Lancaster ED304 took off from RAF Bottesford at 2316 hours on the night of 11/12 June 1943 to bomb Dusseldorf, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Following post war enquiries and investigations no trace of the missing aircraft or crew was found.
The crew members of ED 304 were:
Sergeant William Calvert (1349352) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant William Norman Cross (412114) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant William John Fraser (1345138) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Thomas William Hill (1388792) (RAF) (Navigator)
Sergeant Arthur MacDonald (980916) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Kenneth Thomas White (1390403) (RAF) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Basil Frederick Wilmot (401083) (Pilot)
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster W4960 (Flight Sergeant Robert Stanley Christie (416324) (Pilot)) on 12 June 1943.
No. 466 Squadron lost Wellington HE150 (Flight Sergeant Robert William Maroney (413315) (Second Pilot)) on 12 June 1943
No. 466 Squadron lost Wellington HE154 (Flight Sergeant Fletcher William Randall Green (408829) (Pilot)) on 12 June 1943.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster W4983 (Squadron Leader Benjamin Southam Ambrose (40040) (Second Pilot)) on 12 June 1943.
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, 166/8/130