Warrant Officer Alexander Douglas FINLAYSON DFM

Service No: 408569
Born: Melbourne VIC, 20 January 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 April 1941
Unit: No. 199 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Lakenheath
Died: Air Operations: (No. 199 Squadron Stirling aircraft EE917), Netherlands, 31 August 1943, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Eindhoven (Woensel General) Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alexander Duncan and Euphemia Nicholson Finlayson, of Yerong Creek, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Yerong Creek NSW
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Victory Memorial Gardens Cenotaph, Wagga Wagga NSW

DFM Citation: “This NCO Has shown outstanding ability and devotion to duty of the highest order.
When returning from a raid on Essen on 5th March 1943, he was rear gunner in a Wellington bomber which was attacked repeatedly by an enemy fighter. Despite the damage that was caused in this aircraft, he continued to fire at the enemy at each attack, causing it to break off its engagement When returning from the attack on Dortmund on the night of 4th May 1943, Sergeant Finlayson was rear gunner of a Wellington bomber which was shadowed by two enemy fighters. When one of these closed to attack, this NCO regardless of the imminent danger, held his fire until the enemy aircraft was in comfortable range, and then handling his guns with cool determination, with two bursts of fire shot down the attacker. By his coolness and presence of mind this NCO undoubtedly saved the lives of the crew and much valuable equipment. His courage, skill and devotion to duty in action have been an inspiration to the crew and I consider his devotion to duty fully merits the immediate award of the DFM.” (London Gazette 4 June 1943) Remarks by the Station Commander: “Sergeant McLaren the Air Bomber in Sergeant Harlem’s crew confirms that an enemy aircraft attacked by Sergeant Finlayson burst into flames and was seen to hit the ground. Instead of calling for evasive action as a means of defence, this NCO preferred to attack the enemy under the best circumstances possible and for his ability and courage in accomplishing the difficult feat of shooting down an enemy night fighter, I strongly recommend him for the immediate award of the DFM.

At 0040 hours on the morning of 31 August 1943, Stirling EE917 took off from Lakenheath detailed to bomb Munchengladbach, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at 0356 hours at Eind (Limburg), 6 kms north east of Weert and all the crew members were killed.

The crew members of EE917 were:

Sergeant Royston Hazeldine George Ellis (918424) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Harry Eli Elphick (1206631) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Alexander Douglas Finlayson DFM (408569) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Frank Ernest Gee (412129) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Athol Asher Harlem (408833) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant William Bailes Julian (1079475) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Ian Nichol McLaren (988491) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant John Thomas Smith (1603576) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)


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, 166/13/119
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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