Warrant Officer Geoffrey James CUSTANCE

Service No: 416938
Born: Unley Park SA, 11 August 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1941
Unit: No. 70 Squadron (RAF), Tortorella Landing Ground, Italy
Died: Air Operations (No. 70 Squadron Wellington aircraft LR130), Croatia, 7 July 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Belgrade War Cemetery, Serbia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Leslie and Gladys Marion Custance, of Kensington Park, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 121, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Wellington LR130 took off from Tortorella landing ground, Italy, on the night of 6/7th July 1944, detailed to bomb Feuresbrunn, Austria, near Vienna. The purpose of this attack was to disrupt German fighter aircraft operations against US Bombers raiding facilities on the oil supply route along the Danube River. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. A 1949 report by a Missing Research and Enquiry team stated “the aircraft was attacked by an enemy night fighter, and exploded and crashed near the village of Gorkovac, which is approximately 65 kms north-east of Zagreb. Four of the crew were killed and Flying Officer Maling survived.

The crew members of LR130 were:

Warrant Officer Geoffrey James Custance (416938) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer Class II Henry Ramsay Carruthers (R/160554) (RCAF) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant Barrie John Nigel Hackett (1582756) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Mervyn Cyril Hunt (1339299) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flying Officer D H Maling (141987) (RAF) (Navigator) Survived

Flying Officer Maling later reported “the aircraft was set on fire in the port wing and petrol tank. A few seconds after putting on my chute, the aircraft went into a spin and I became unconscious. I remember nothing but am of the opinion that the aircraft exploded in the air.”


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, 166/8/549

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