LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant John Warren Alexander FARTHING
Service No: 421860
Born: Rose Bay NSW, 6 October 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 March 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JB738), Germany, 2 January 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire UK
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frank and Olive Alice Farthing, of Bellevue Hill, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Date: 2-3 January 1944
Total Force: Dispatched – 383, Attacking – 311
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 15; No. 463 Dispatched – 8, Attacking – 6; No. 467 Dispatched – 8, Attacking – 7
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,116
Total Aircraft Lost: 27
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 463 – 1
Note: The above table does not include the loss on takeoff of No. 460 Squadron Lancaster JB738 which crashed on take-off.
Equally disappointing was the repeat attack made the following night when a number of small factors again combined to prevent good results. Five of thirteen Lancasters of No. 467 could not be prepared in time and one of No. 460 crashed on take-off. The late start made to avoid moonlight and gale conditions over Germany ruled out feint routeing tactics, and the bomber stream was hotly beset throughout its passage. Icing conditions forced several crews to jettison all or part of their bomb load before reaching Berlin, and some crews who received orders during flight to abandon their sortie had actually bombed alternative targets before over-riding instructions were issued for them to carry on to Berlin. The capital was still covered by cloud and the Australians, worried persistently by a swarm of night fighters, were forced to choose between widely-placed sky markers. There was little confidence in the accuracy of the bombing. The casualty rate (nearly 7 per cent) compared with the military results of these last two attacks appeared unduly high.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 643-4
Lancaster JB738 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2330 hours on 2 January 1944 detailed to bomb Berlin. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 48 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 840 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. After take-off and rising normally, JB738 commenced turning to port and the rate of turn increased until about half a circuit had been completed. It then banked vertically and dived into the ground where the bombs exploded. The aircraft crashed at 2336 hours about 10 miles south west of Grimsby at Binbrook village.
The crew members of JB738 were:
Flight Sergeant Julian Dobinson (410467) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant John Warren Alexander Farthing (421860) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Henry John Gill (420874) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Barrington Armitage Knyvett DFC (402869) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Colin Reginald Pickworth (421122) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Edwin John Ross DFM (407562) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Ronald Dennis Trett (1801670) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB606 (Flight Sergeant Reginald William Rowley) (Pilot)) on 2/3 January 1944.
No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster JA902 (Pilot Officer Jack Weatherill (410021) (Pilot)) on 2 January 1944.
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, 166/13/166
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985