LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Oscar Skelton FURNISS
Service No: 423700
Born: Auburn NSW, 12 July 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 July 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA901), France, 4 May 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, Pas de Calais, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Oscar and Bertha Furniss, of Wentworth Falls, New South Wales, Australia. Dip. Agric. (Hawkesbury)
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Wentworth Falls War Memorial, Wentworth Falls NSW
Other attacks designed to cripple German potential in subsequent battles (following the D-Day landings) were, however, in progress at the same time, and during May Bomber Command made heavy attacks on two of the largest German military camps in western Europe. Thus on 3rd-4th May 338 heavy bombers, including 17 from No. 460, 12 from No. 463 and 10 from No. 467 raided Mailly-le-Camp, a tank depot and park then housing considerable elements of the 21st Panzer Division, the main training centre in France for German armoured units. To ensure good results, a calculated risk was taken in dispatching this force in good visibility and bright moonlight. The Luftwaffe reacted promptly, and in very heavy engagements 42 bombers, including seven (1) from the RAAF squadrons were shot down. The bombing from between 5,000 to 8,000 feet was very efficient, however, and the damage inflicted was on a tremendous scale. In one section of the camp, out of 47 buildings housing the transport section and barracks, 34 were totally destroyed and the others severely damaged, while in another large group of barrack buildings almost all were heavily hit. The report of the commander of the 21st Panzer Division stated:
The main concentration was accurately aimed at the most important permanent buildings, the ammunition stores and an anti-aircraft battery . . . in that part of the camp which was destroyed, concentration of bombs was so great that not only did the splinter proof trenches receive direct hits, but even the bombs which missed choked them up and caused the sides to cave in . . . .
(1) Eight Lancaster aircraft from RAAF Squadrons were lost on 4 May 1944, but No. 460 Squadron Lancaster ND860 was crewed by members of No. 101 Squadron (RAF) who were from the RAFVR.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 37
Lancaster JA901 took off from RAF Waddington at 2149 hours on the night of 3/4th May 1944 to bomb military camps at Mailly-le-Camp, France. The bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 16 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Ten aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these JA 901 failed
to return. Captured German documents recorded that the aircraft was shot down early on the morning of 4 May 1944 at Merz on Seine, 14 kms south of Rommilly, France.
The crew members of JA901 were:
Pilot Officer Colin Dickson (422038) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Hilton Hardcastle Forden (424403) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Oscar Skelton Furniss (423700) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Robert Isaiah Hunter (426882) (Wireless Operator Air) Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 1 July 1946
Flight Sergeant Stanley David Jolly (426606) (Bomb Aimer) Evaded capture: Discharged from the RAAF: 19 October 1945
Sergeant Horace Skellorn (2209827) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Philip Joseph Weaver (1836169) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Jolly later reported “Returning from the target the aircraft was on fire presumably as a result of enemy aircraft. The Captain instructed the crew to abandon. I heard no one acknowledge. The aircraft was under control but on fire when I abandoned at about 5,000 feet. I saw one chute in the air possibly the Flight Engineer. No contact was made with any of the crew after landing.”
Flight Sergeant Hunter later reported “The aircraft was on fire when I baled out at about 5/6000 feet. I had extensive burns. I was in the hands of the Resistance movement and in hospital until liberated by the Americans on 28 August 1944. I do not think the Navigator and two gunners left the aircraft.”
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ME740 (Flight Sergeant Herbert James George Fry (416945) (Pilot)) on 4 May 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND630 (Pilot Officer Joseph William Smart (409760) (Pilot)) on 4 May 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ME728 (Pilot Officer Norman David Livingstone Lloyd (414050) (Pilot)) on 4 May 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB741 (Flying Officer Francis William Baker (54076) (RAF) (Pilot)) on 4 May 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND860 (Flight Lieutenant William Edgar Hull (125522) (RAFVR) (Pilot)) on 4 May 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster LM531 (Warrant Officer George Kenneth Gritty (1375424) (RAFVR) (Pilot)) on 4 May 1944.
No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LM439 (Flying Officer Graham Fryer (420654) (Pilot)) on 4 May 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, 166/14/198
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line