LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Ronald Irving CUMMINGS
Service No: 417812
Born: Alberton SA, 8 March 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 July 1942
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft LV900), Germany, 25 March 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Edward Irving Cummings and Ethel Winifred Cummings, of Parkside, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide
Date: 24-25 March 1944
Total Force: Dispatched – 810, Attacking – 726
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking – 24; No. 463 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 12; No. 466 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,493
Total Aircraft Lost: 72
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2; No. 466 – 1
On 24-25 March the long Baltic route was employed and nearly 150 aircraft from operational training units and conversion units made diversionary sweeps to confuse enemy fighter controllers. As frequently happened the flight plan was disrupted by changed meteorological conditions. An exceptionally strong north wind caused the Pathfinders to overshoot the southern suburbs and also scattered the bomber stream over a very wide area. Aircraft lacking H2S including those from Nos.
463 and 467 were mostly blown off track and actually approached over the heavily gun-defended areas of Sylt, Flensburg and Kiel. Pilot Officer Gibbs (1) of No. 467 saw several aircraft shot down near Sylt and it is fairly certain that nearly three-quarters of the bombers lost fell victims to gun fire, either on approach or during withdrawal when similar failure to allow for the unexpected wind velocity carried many of them into the middle of the Ruhr defences. Even the H2S-equipped aircraft found navigation extremely difficult, and one crew of No. 460 overshot Berlin by fifty miles before the Pathfinder flares were seen falling well in the rear. This aircraft turned back and joined in the raid, but a Halifax of No. 466 was so far to the south of the target when the first markers went down that it could not reach Berlin before the attack ended and finally jettisoned its bombs sixty miles south of the capital. The raid might well have been a fiasco, but for the first time a master of ceremonies operated over Berlin and his instructions helped the bombers considerably as they straggled over the target. Precise assessment of this raid was impossible, for photographs, although they showed considerable fresh devastation, were obtained only after five daylight raids had been made by American aircraft.
(1) Flying Officer David Lloyd Gibbs DFC (413567) was discharged from the RAAF on 30 august 1945.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 643, 647-8
Halifax LV 900 took off from RAF Leconfield at 1851 hours on the night of 24/25th March 1944 to bomb Berlin. The bomb load 6 x 8 x 30 SBC, 6 x 90 x 4 IB. It was later established from German records that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed about 4 kms north of Werne, 11kms north north west of Nordhausen. All the crew members were killed
The crew members of LV900 were:
Flight Sergeant Victor William Bath (426022) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Ronald Irving Cummings (417812) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant Harold Hughes (1893436) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flying Officer Edwin Iveson (402599) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Ross Lange Robertson (416706) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Henry Francis Smith (422321) (Navigator)
Sergeant James Strathearn (1051454) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ME640 (Flight Lieutenant Allan Francis McKinnon DFC (407531) (Pilot)) on 24 March 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND463 (Pilot Officer Milford James Cusick (420157) (Pilot)) on 24 March 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, 166/8/402