DESMOND John Matthew 406641

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant John Matthew DESMOND

Service No: 406641
Born: Subiaco WA, 9 December 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 March 1941
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Bottesford, Wiltshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ED504), Germany, 28 May 1943, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Matthew Brian and Victoria Desmond, of Bunbury, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Date: 27-28 May 1943
Target: Essen
Total Force: Dispatched – 581, Attacking – 493
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 17; No. 466 – 10, 10; No. 467 – 21, 20
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,442
Total Aircraft Lost: 21
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 467 – 1

On 27th-28th May when German searchlights could not pierce the clouds, the gunners maintained a heavy barrage around the Pathfinder sky markers, and although on this occasion only one Australian aircraft was hit, this expedient prevented deliberate bombing on a fixed heading, so that the raid was a relative failure. As sky markers were suspended in space and drifted downwind it was essential when employing them for bomb aimers to project their bombs through this point in one direction only if hits were to be achieved on the target.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 482

Lancaster ED504 took off from RAF Bottesford at 2159 hours on the night of 27/28th May 1943 to bomb Essen, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (450 kg) bomb, 40 x 30 lb (14 kg), 560 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return. Twenty-one aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid, and one of these ED 504 failed to return. Following post war enquiries it was established that the aircraft crashed during the early hours of 28 May 1943 near Barlo approximately 8 miles north of Rocholt. The aircraft exploded on impact following a fierce combat with an enemy night fighter which according to reports was so badly damaged that it crashed in Holland.

The crew members of ED504 were:

Flying Officer Cuthbert Keith Cazaly (132388) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Pilot Officer George Cribbin (143426) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Edward Strangways Davis (575812) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant John Matthew Desmond (406641) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer John Norman Lockwood (143430) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Warrant Officer George Frederick Paddon (650462) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer John Richard Ryalls (405217) (Rear Gunner)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ED804 (Flight Sergeant John Alexander Grant (420661) (Air Gunner)) on 28 May 1943.

References:

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, 166/9/94

Bibliography:

Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990