LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant William James ESLER

Service No: 401371
Born: Narrabri NSW, 14 September 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 2 February 1941 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 224 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station St Eval
Died: Air Operations: (No. 224 Squadron Liberator aircraft BZ942), English Channel, 7 June 1944, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Francis M. and Elsie Esler; husband of Gertrude Maud Esler, of Elwood, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 256, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 121, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 2139 hours on 6 June 1944 Liberator BZ942 St Eval to carry out an anti-submarine patrol in the English Channel. No messages were received from the aircraft after take-off and nothing further was heard. In 1949 it was concluded that the aircraft and crew members were lost at sea.

The crew members of BZ942 were:

Flying Officer Ethan Allen DFC (J/21435) (RCAF) (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Leslie Roy Aust DFC DFM (48957) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Sergeant Alan Ridley Croft (2207636) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant William James Esler (401371) (Navigator)
Sergeant Douglas Edward Froggatt (1213956) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Brown Callan Gray (1826970) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Morris Edgar Hayward (J/85506) (RCAF) (Second Pilot)
Warrant Officer Hugh McIlaney (1104418) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Sergeant Alexander McLaughlin (1596602) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Andrew Mitchell (1368770) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air)
Pilot Officer Harold Edward Pugsley (53447) (RAF) (Navigator)

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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/11/149

Bibliography:

Jay, Alwyn, Endurance; Coastal Command Liberator Operations 1941-5, Banner Books, Maryborough QLD, 4650, 1996