EYRE Thomas Frank 427077

LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer Thomas Frank EYRE

Service No: 427077
Born: Katanning WA, 17 October 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 May 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft NF917), Germany, 11 November 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Kiel War Cemetery, Kiel, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas and Evelina Beatrice Eyre, of Muradup, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Kojonup WA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

The Australians in No. 5 Group made a night raid on 11th-12th November against two refineries at Harburg, south of Hamburg. No. 463 provided 14 and No. 467 19 Lancasters on this occasion, while more than 20 of the other aircraft in a total force of 245 were piloted by Australians. To pilots of No. 463 this was an uneventful routine duty, conducted in fair weather with two thin layers of stratus cloud beneath the bomber stream. Some fighter flares were seen while crossing the Heligoland Bight and there was fierce ground gunfire in the vicinity of the target. But the raid was one of minimum penetration of enemy territory and pilots who arrived in the first wave of bombers found the target well marked and were able to bomb and turn for home without delay. Crews of the other Waddington squadron, No. 467, had a less fortunate night; they lost two Lancasters and a third piloted by Flying Officer Kynoch (1) was first damaged by flak during the run up to the target and then subjected to two attacks by fighters as it turned for home. Although the Lancaster was further badly damaged by the second fighter attack, Kynoch, with the assistance of his bomb aimer, Flying Officer Chalk (2), safely flew it to an emergency airfield in the United Kingdom. A similar feat was performed during the same raid by Flight Lieutenant Cornish (3) of No. 83 Squadron (RAF). Indeed, although many crew reports echo the opinion of No. 463 that this was an uneventful raid, the loss of 7 Lancasters out of 245 was actually the highest percentage lost on any oil raid during the three winter months of 1944.

(1) Flight Lieutenant William Morris Kynoch DFC (419657) was discharged from the RAAF on 11 April 1946.
(2) Flight Lieutenant John Alphonse Chalk (419946) was discharged from the RAAF on 18 February 1946.
(3) Flight Lieutenant Peter Cannon Cornish DFC & Bar (410458) was discharged from the RAAF on 26 August 1946.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 219-220

Lancaster NF917 took off from RAF Waddington at 1630 hours on 11th November 1944 to bomb Harburg, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 1000 lb (pound) (450 kg) bomb, 14 x 4 lb (2 kg) clusters. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Nineteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including NF 917 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed near Ramelsloh, about 16kms south of Hamburg.

The crew members of NF917 were:

Sergeant Harry Boardman (549441) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Edward George Charman (427184) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Thomas Frank Eyre (427077) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant George French (434380) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Goodfellow (424753) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Edward John Leake (429084) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Thomas Alexander Nilen (436772) (Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 November 1945

In a later report Flight Sergeant Nilen said “At 20,250 feet on course to target, visibility bad with misty cloud all above and below. We were all on lookout for target but must have overshot. I suddenly picked up Target Indicators behind, so Skipper decided to orbit and come on to target on current heading. Just as we dropped the starboard wing we were hit. I surmise it was in the bomb load. The ship must have disintegrated. When I came to I was travelling down, so I pulled the ripcord and landed breaking my leg in so doing. Only for having my seat type chute I would not have had a chance. Believe all the crew were killed. Picked up by Germans. Prisoner on 13/11/44 until 29/5/45 when liberated by American Army. I was in various German hospitals with broken leg for approximately 3 months.”

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster NN714 (Flying Officer Murray James Feddersen (419989), (Pilot)) on 11 November 1944.

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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/12/122