LEST WE FORGET
Warrant Officer Robert ELLIS
Service No: 427457
Born: Plympton SA, 14 April 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 July 1942 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 458 Squadron, Foggia Italy
Died: Air Operations: (No. 458 Squadron Wellington aircraft NB864), Italy, 14 December 1944, Aged 30 years
Buried: Ancona War Cemetery, Italy
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John and Mabel Ellis, of Mt. Lawley, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Similar armed reconnaissances by up to six Wellingtons on each night of favourable weather continued during December to scour the northern Adriatic for enemy naval or supply shipping, but without result. The Squadron Operations Record Book (A50) records the following “On the night of 13/14th December 1944 six Wellingtons from Foggia, Italy were detailed to carry out an armed reconnaissance from Maestro Point coastwise to Cape Salvere. No coastal sightings were made. Weather deteriorated during the patrols and three of the aircraft were diverted to Falconara. Two of these landed safely, but when NB 864 arrived over Falconara they were unable to permit him to land and at 0210 hours the aircraft was diverted to Jesi the next aerodrome about 7 miles away. It appears that the aircraft overshot Jesi and crashed into a hillside. Later the aircraft was found burnt out some 10 to 12 miles south west of Jesi and all the crew members were killed.”
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 335
On the night of 13th December an aircraft and its crew were lost near Falconara. Warrant Officer G. Simons was on recce with five other crews (captained by Warrant Officer Richards, Warrant Officer Cameron, Wing Commander Mackay (1), Warrant Officer McCann (RAF) and Warrant Officer Drinnan (2)). They had no hostile sightings. The weather deteriorated during the operation and three of the Wellingtons were diverted to Falconara. Simons’ crew was one of those diverted. Two crews landed safely at Falconara but Simons was not allowed to land. He was again diverted, this time to Jesi, seven miles away. It appears he overshot Jesi and crashed into a hillside. His radar cannot have been working properly, but he was heard speaking over his VHF transmitter up to what must have been the moment of impact.
(1) Squadron Leader Robert Charles Mackay DFC (402527) was discharged from the RAAF on 11 February 1946.
(2) Flying Officer Robert Drinnan (416209) was discharged from the RAAF on 12 December 1945.
Extract from Alexander, P. (Peter) We Find and Destroy: history of No. 458 Squadron, The 458 Squadron Council, 1959 – Page 201
The crew members of Wellington aircraft NB864 were:
Warrant Officer Robert Ellis (427457) (Wireless and Radar Operator)
Warrant Officer Patrick John Farrell (427504) (Wireless and Radar Operator)
Flight Sergeant Kenneth James Leslie (419785) (Second Pilot)
Warrant Officer Henry Samuel Shying (420068) (Wireless and Radar Operator)
Warrant Officer Gordon George Simons (416371) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer John Hendry Maurice Watson (425388) (Navigator)
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, 166/11/211
Alexander, P. (Peter) We Find and Destroy: history of No. 458 Squadron, The 458 Squadron Council, 1959