Sergeant Tom Ellis EXELL

Service No: 401305
Born: Kensington VIC, 5 July 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 1 February 1941
Unit: No. 14 Squadron (RAF), Landing Ground 224, Libya
Died: Air Operations: (No. 14 Squadron Marauder aircraft FK367), off the Libyan coast, 16 December 1942, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of George Percival and Margaret Frances Exell, of Kensington, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Echuca VIC
Remembered: Colum 266, Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Marauder FK367 of 14 Squadron took off on 16 December 1942 for a shipping strike between Zuara and Tripoli. The aircraft was attacked and damaged by enemy fighters 80 kms north of Tripoli, but endeavoured to reach the mainland. The aircraft did not return from this mission.

The crew members of FK367 were:

Sergeant Percival Cockington (407707) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant L R Dixon (590714) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot) Rescued
Sergeant Leonard Alexander Einsaar DFM (407318) (Pilot) Rescued, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 November 1945
Sergeant Tom Ellis Exell (401305) (Observer)
Sergeant Ralph Isaac Ploskin (1186052) (RAFVR) (Observer)
Sergeant Alan Edwin Watts (1301739) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant L B Willcocks (1183698) (RAF) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) Rescued

In a later statement by Sergeant Einsaar reported “As there were no ships sighted, at approximately 1200 hours the aircraft turned in a northerly direction to a DR position from Tripoli. Approximately half an hour later we were attacked by a strong force of MR 1090s and MR 210s. They made three attacks and the aircraft was badly damaged. Two hours from Base on the way back one engine ran out of fuel. We were within 30 kms from base when the second engine ran out of fuel. The fuel tanks had been holed by canon shells. The aircraft was belly landed on the water and burst into flames. Sergeant Watts was killed outright in the attack. Sergeant Willcocks was hit in the leg and severely burnt on landing. Sergeant Exell’s Mae west was unserviceable, and I supported him for one and a half hours when I was compelled to release him. He had died before I let go. Sergeant Ploskin was unhurt but was not seen again after the ditching. Dinghies were dropped by search aircraft but were too far away.”


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, 163/109/109


Napier, Michael Winged Crusaders: the exploits of 14 Squadron RFC & RAF 1915-1945, Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley UK, 2012

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