Pilot Officer John Joseph FLETCHER

Service No: 414668
Born: Jundah QLD, 25 October 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1941
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft DV299), France, 10 June 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: St Gemmes-Le-Robert Cemetery Communal Cemetery, Mayenne, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Norman Archie and Annie Christina Catherine Fletcher; husband of Grace Fletcher, of Newmarket, Queensland, Australia
Roll of Honour: Upper Coomera QLD
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

A very strong presence of night fighters prevailed on the night of 10 June 1944 when Acheres, Dreux, Orleans and Versailles were all bombed, because, with most of the bridges over the Loire and Seine already destroyed, the network of railways southwest of Paris was of vital importance to the Germans. Crews of No. 460 attacking Acheres reported several combats with night fighters, as did those of Nos. 463 and 467 over Orleans, but, although 18 bombers were lost, neither guns nor fighters could deflect the attacks and all these centres were damaged.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 133

Lancaster DV229 took off from RAF Waddington at 2219 hours on the night of 10 June 1944 to bomb the marshalling yards at Orleans, France. The bomb load was 2 x 1000 lb (pound) (450 kg) and 14 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. It was later established that the aircraft crashed at St Gemmes-Le-Robert and one crew members was killed, four became Prisoners of War and two evaded capture. Sixteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of them DV 229 failed to return.

The crew members of DV229 were:

Flight Sergeant Maxwell Rae Barry (419764) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 21 January 1946
Pilot Officer Joseph John Fletcher (414668) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Glen William King (426352) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 23 October 1945
Flight Sergeant Anthony William Matthews (418756) (Bomb Aimer) Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 February 1946
Flight Sergeant Frank Herbert Redford (427743) (Mid Upper Gunner) Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 25 July 1945
Warrant Officer Noel William Robinson (404682) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 24 April 1946
Sergeant A K Smith (949366) (RAF) (Flight Engineer) PoW

In a 1945 report the then Warrant Officer King stated “Returning from the target at Orleans when the port outer motor blew up. Shortly after the port inner packed up and we lost height. Ordered to abandon aircraft at 3,000 feet. I landed about 10 miles north east of Laval at 0138 hours on 11/6. Walked for rest of night and on early morning came in contact with a French farmer who took me home in village of Jublains. Later that evening I met the Engineer, WOP, Rear Gunner. We stayed together in the outhouse on this farm. We were visited by a Priest, 2 Policemen and a member of the organization. On 17/6 the Policeman took us by car with a Red Cross to see a British Colonel at a farm 10 kms from Alencon. We agreed to join a Maquis camp and at 1930 were taken by a Frenchman in the direction of a camp. We came across a party of German soldiers unloading an ammo truck which had overturned, and were forced to help unload and load the truck. We were then taken with the Frenchman to a Headquarters at Le Mans. On the 20th we were all interned taken to Angers and put in a civil prison. On 30/6 taken to a POW Centre at Chartres then to Stalag Luft. Liberated by Russians on 22/4/45.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ME696 (Pilot Officer Ronald Laing Nicholson (417220) (Pilot)) on 10 June 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, 166/13/248

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