Pilot Officer Walter Theodore FARMER

Service No: 416843
Born: Renmark SA, 31 October 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 October 1941
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Bottesford, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft DV233), Germany, 23 September 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur Rawson Farmer and Ethelynd Lucy Farmer, of Renmark North, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Renmark SA
Remembered: Panel 191, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Date: 23-24 September 1943
Target: Mannheim
Total Force: Dispatched – 630, Attacking – 571
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 16; No. 467 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 16
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,862
Total Aircraft Lost: 32
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 467 – 2

The third occasion (following raids on Mannheim on 9 August and 5 September 1943) proved slightly more favourable to the defenders. As before, heavy gun fire soon gave way to fighters hastily summoned to Mannheim, and these, besides cooperating with searchlights, laid lines of white flares over the bomber stream to assist their own attacks. Thus, although the raid had been further compressed into a space of thirty-three minutes (a rate of one aircraft every 3.5 seconds), again over 5 per cent of the bombers were lost. Equally important, although the Pathfinders had done their job well, there was an ominous creep back of the bomb line into open country as inexperienced crews or those unsettled by the formidable defences hastily bombed the first fire they saw. Nevertheless enough extra damage was inflicted on both Mannheim and Ludwigshaven during this raid to remove them from the priority bombing list, although the most important target of all—the I .G. Farben factories at Ludwigshaven – had escaped lightly.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 594, 595

Lancaster DV233 took off from RAF Bottesford at 1904 hours on the night of 23/24th September 1943 to bomb Mannheim, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by an ME110 whose opening burst killed Flight Sergeant Adair. The aircraft caught fire and crashed near the bahnhof at Goddelau, approximately 40 kms north of Mannheim. Two crew members were killed and the other five became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of DV233 were:

Flight Sergeant Charles Edward Adair (11615) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant Peter Cansfield (1130732) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW
Sergeant Ronald Victor Chinnery (1642934) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Sergeant Thomas William Darvill (1331414) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW
Pilot Officer Walter Theodore Farmer (416843) (Pilot)
Sergeant J Knowles (1148898) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer) PoW
Flying Officer Alfred Charles Puttick (134545) (RAFVR) (Navigator) PoW

In later statements Sergeants Knowles and Chinnery said “It was highly improbable that Pilot Officer Farmer had sufficient time to enable him to effectively abandon the aircraft.” Sergeants Darvill and Sergeant Knowles reported “Flight Sergeant Adair was unable to exit from the rear turret after receiving instructions to abandon the aircraft. Sergeant Cansfield made two attempts to save him but due to the fire could not reach the turret and he was forced to abandon the aircraft.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster DV174 (Flight Sergeant Bruce Albert Plant (23729) (Pilot)) on 23 September 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster EE135 (Pilot Officer Arthur Long (413396) (Pilot)) on 23 September 1943.


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, 166/13/134

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