FORREST John Augustus 416535

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant John Augustus FORREST

Service No: 415635
Born: Bunbury WA, 15 December 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 7 December 1941
Unit: No. 61 Squadron (RAF), RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 61 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM518), France, 25 June 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Abbeville Community Cemetery Extension, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Matthew Augustus Campbell Forrest and Clarice Irene Preston Forrest, of Busselton, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Busselton WA
Remembered: Panel 122, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Flight Lieutenant Forrest was the pilot of Lancaster EE176 when Flight Sergeant Harold William Pronger (425549) went missing on 31 March 1944.

On the night of 24th-25th June, although No. 466 had a quiet trip to Le Grand Rossignol, Nos. 463 and 467 had an unhappy introduction to Noball (1) targets when a force from No. 5 Group was sent against Prouville. Between them the two RAAF units supplied 34 Lancasters and eight other Australian pilots flew in the total force of 112 aircraft. At first all augured well because the weather was clear with only a slight haze and the initial illumination and marking was done punctually. Before the attack got under way, however, intense enemy searchlight activity in cooperation with guns and fighters threatened to disrupt the work of the pathfinder “backers-up”, so the master bomber ordered the main force to refrain from bombing and to circle the target until a deliberate attack could begin.

The 20-minutes delay caused by this zealous attempt to make the best possible attack gave enemy fighters and guns ample opportunity to take heavy toll of the bombers, 13 being destroyed. Wing Commander Donaldson who had taken over command of No. 463 as recently as 18th June was shot down by gunfire and two other Lancasters of his squadron captained by Pilot Officer Tilbrook and Pilot Officer Martin failed to return. … Flight Lieutenant Forrest of No. 61 Squadron also failed to return from this raid.

(1) The code name for all anti V-weapon (German cruise (V1) and ballistic (V2) missile) operations was CROSSBOW, that for targets, e.g. ski sites and supply depots, was “NOBALL”Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 176-7

Lancaster LM518 took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 2237 hours on the night of 24/25th June 1944, detailed to bomb a flying bomb site at Prouville, France. 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 Bienfay (Somme), 4 kms south south west of Abbeville, France. Six of the crew were killed and Sergeant Chapman became a Prisoner of War.

The crew members of LM518 were:

Sergeant K Chapman (1581545) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Flight Lieutenant John Augustus Forrest (415635) (Pilot)
Sergeant Richard Jones (1547292) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Edward James Kemish DFM (1214631) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Macfie (1343646) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Donald Cecil Newman (1339270) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Pilot Officer James Rankin Stratton Wood (176154) (RAFVR) (Navigator)

A report by Sergeant Chapman stated “the aircraft exploded in mid air as a result of enemy action and crashed some 20 miles north north west of Amiens.”

References:

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, 166/14/222