Squadron Leader Richard Thomas FITZGERALD DFC

Service No: 295249
Born: Moora WA, 11 June 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 May 1940
Unit: No. 35 Squadron (RAF), RAF Graveley, Cambridgeshire
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 16 November 1943 (Citation Title: No. 77 Squadron RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 35 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ND597), Germany, 24 March 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Patrick Daniel and Mary Margaret Fitzgerald, of Namban, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Moora WA
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Honour Avenues, Kings Park WA

DFC Citation: “Flight Lieutenant Fitzgerald of 77 Squadron RAF has completed very many sorties during which he has bombed such targets as Berlin, Cologne, Mannheim and Hanover. He has displayed great skill and enterprise setting an example which has won the confidence of his crew. On one occasion when attacking Cologne, his aircraft was badly damaged by ack-ack fire. Coolly and skilfully Flight Lieutenant Fitzgerald flew clear of the defences went on to execute his attack and afterwards flew safely back to base. His superb effort was worthy of the highest praise.” (London Gazette 16/11/43 Page 5023)

Lancaster ND597 took off from RAF Graveley at 1844 hours on the night of 24/25th March 1944 to bomb Berlin. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was later established that ND 597 when homeward bound was attacked by a night fighter and exploded in the air. The aircraft crashed at 2300 hours on 24 March 1944 at Welsleben, which is approximately 10 miles south of Magdeburg, Germany. Five crew members were killed and two became Prisoners of War. The two survivors were ejected from the plane by the blast of the explosion.

The crew members of ND 597 were:

Flight Sergeant Stanley Harvey Boulton (1272722) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner) PoW
Warrant Officer Robert Alexander Brewington (405673) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Cecil John Dineen (53475) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Squadron Leader Richard Thomas Fitzgerald DFC (295249) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant William Scott Muego (133621) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer) PoW
Flying Officer John Francis Savage (426690) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Frederick Kenneth Smith (1433744) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)


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

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