EASTCOTT Thomas Frederick 427076

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Thomas Frederick EASTCOTT

Service No: 427076
Born: Wagerup WA, 18 April 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 May 1942
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft HX293), Netherlands, 15 February 1944, Aged 19 Years
Buried: Grootegast (Opende) Protestant Churchyard, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Francis Leo and Florence Anne Eastcott, of Yarloop, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Date: 15-16 February 1944
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Dispatched – 891, Attacking – 806
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 18; No. 463 – 17,1 6; No. 466 – 20, 17; No. 467 – 18, 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,643
Total Aircraft Lost: 43
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 466 – 2

When the February moon period was over, the largest force yet sent against the German capital was routed across the North Sea and down through the Baltic. A very meticulous timetable was observed by all aircraft and most Australians spent the time on the long sea courses ensuring that they were correctly positioned. Some air opposition was met between the Baltic coast and Berlin, but the stream arrived in good order and completed its task within thirty-eight minutes, a rate better than one aircraft every three seconds. One Lancaster fell out of the stream when damaged by two fighters before reaching the target, but its pilot, Warrant Officer Robert William Burke DFC (420438), claimed that his gunners shot down one Ju-88 and damaged an Me-110. He successfully jettisoned his bombs near Rostock and returned on three engines. Relatively few fighters were over Berlin, due to a successful spoof attack against Frankfurt-on-Oder, and Australian losses were confined to two Halifaxes. The usual thick cloud prevented visual identification or ground-marking technique, but H2S-equipped (radar) aircraft checked the position of well-grouped sky markers and bombed with confidence. At first bombs fell principally in western suburbs and then spread towards the centre.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 643, 646-7

Halifax HX293 took off from RAF Leconfield at 1711 hours on the night of 15/16th February 1944 to bomb Berlin. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including HX 293 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed on the outskirts of the village of Opeinde 32kms west south west of Groningen, Holland.

The crew members of HX293 were:

Sergeant John Thomas Darwood (1164922) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Thomas Frederick Eastcott (427076) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Rex John Newell (423003) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Colin Sheldon (426168) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Hubert Cecil Lloyd Thomas (410191) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Francis Kevin Williams (412869) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Jack Dudley Wormald (420326) (Pilot)

Leconfield Operation Order No 138 laid down:
Bomb load each aircraft : 2 x 500 lb (225 kg), Clusters 480 x 4 Incendiary Bombs, 60 x 4 ‘X’ Type, 32 x 30 lb (14 kg) Incendiary Bombs:
Route: Base – Flamboro – 55.25N 07.00E – 55.10N 10.00E – 54.30N 12.30E – Target – 52.10N 12.50E – 52.40N 11.00E – 52.40N 08.55E – 53.40N 04.00E – Base.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX366 (Flight Lieutenant Jack Dexter Cairns (403904) (Pilot)) on 15 February 1944.

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Chorley, W R. Royal air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War – Volume 5 Aircraft and Aircrew Losses 1944, Midland Counties Publications, 1997
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, 166/11/111