Sergeant John Nicholson DEAN

Service No: 402936
Born: Manilla NSW, 14 February 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 November 1940
Unit: No. 450 Squadron
Died: Air Operations: (No. 450 Squadron Kittyhawk aircraft AK973), Libya, 29 May 1942, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur James Dean and Edna Dean, of Broadwater, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Casino NSW
Remembered: Colum 266, Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

During the whole of 29th and 30th May targets were ideal for both fighters and bombers, which carried out a shuttle service devoted entirely to ground attacks. On two occasions the army reported that more than fifty enemy vehicles had been left burning after attacks by fighter bombers, which were enjoying outstanding success. By 31st May, when the enemy was apparently attempting to withdraw completely, fighter bombers were ordered to revert to their normal duties to prevent high wastage of Kittyhawks, for which there were few replacements. During this five-day period of intensive effort the RAF appeared to have won the first round of the battle, and morale rose high, especially in No. 239 Wing which had more than fulfilled its planned role as an attacking spearhead. No. 3 lost only two pilots through the hazards of low-level attack against static defences, while No. 450 lost one pilot killed (another pilot died in an aircraft accident) and four missing during fairly even battles with enemy aircraft, five of which were claimed as destroyed.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 234

On 29 May 1942, Kittyhawk AK973 was one of a ten aircraft formation attacked by 2 ME109s without results. A further 2 109s joined in, the attack lasting about three minutes. Later over Al Adem, four more 109s attacked the formation for about 3 minutes and then broke off. The formation then pursued and attacked several Stukas, 20 miles east of Gazala, after which the formation returned to base. AK973 failed to return from the mission.

No. 450 Squadron lost:

Sergeant John Nicholson Dean (402936) Killed 29 May 1942
Sergeant Henry William Devlin (401108) Killed (Crashed on takeoff): 29 May 1942
Flight Sergeant Thomas Edwin Packer (407453) Killed 29 May 1942
Pilot Officer Raymond Shaw (402139) Killed 29 May 1942
Flight Sergeant Ian Arthur Nursey (402389) Killed 30 May 1942
Flight Lieutenant Eric Teulon Thompson (404069) Killed: 31 May 1942

No. 3 Squadron lost:

Sergeant Colin Shaw MacDiarmid (404345) Killed 30 May 1942
Sergeant (later Squadron Leader) Andrew William Barr MC DFC & Bar (250774) Shot down 30 May 1942, evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 8 October 1945


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9301, 402936


Brown, R. (Russell) Desert Warriors Australian P-40 Pilots at War in the Middle East and North Africa 1941-1943, Banner Books Maryborough QLD 4652, 2000

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