Flying Officer Thomas Neville DOWNES

Service No: 434453
Born: Sandgate QLD, 1April 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 4 December 1942
Unit: No. 625 Squadron (RAF), RAF Kelstern, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 625 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB 158), Belgium, 2 March 1945, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Hotton War Cemetery, Hotton, Luxembourg, Belgium
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alfred and Agnes Bridget Downes, of Sandgate, Queensland, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Sandgate QLD
Remembered: Panel 121, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On the 2nd March 1945, Lancaster PB 158 took off from RAF Kelstern at 0730 hours to bomb Cologne, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft exploded in the air. Five members of the crew were killed, one became a Prisoner of War and one was returned safely.

The crew members of PB 158 were:

Pilot Officer R Blackley (189176) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) Returned Safely
Flying Officer Arthur John Bloy (5258) (Air Bomber) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 20 December 1945
Flight Sergeant Kenneth Thomas Brown (428620) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Thomas Neville Downes (434453) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Walter William Foy (29904) (Air Bomber)
Flying Officer Lawrie Edmund Murray (428162) (Navigator)
Sergeant Albert John Sayers (962804) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)

In a PoW Report Flying Officer Bloy stated: “The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the target and put the two port engines out. The Pilot said “stand by”. The Rear Gunner remained in the rear turret for a while to ascertain whether approaching fighters were friendly or otherwise. No one was injured. The aircraft was under control falling rapidly and a fire broke out in the wing. The bale out order was given immediately the fire was seen. The other five were still in the aircraft when Pilot Officer Blackley and I baled out at 4,000 feet. The wing eventually blew off and the aircraft spun in and crashed near Stotzheim, south west of Cologne. Only two escaped the crash and the others in the aircraft were killed.”


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, 166/10/422

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