GALLAGHER Ronald David 427459

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Ronald David GALLAGHER

Service No: 427459
Born: Coolgardie WA, 15 December 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 July 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ED803), Germany, 22 January 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Francis Gordon and Jessie May Gallagher, of Victoria Park, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Victoria Park WA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Date: 22-22 January 1944
Target: Magdeburg
Total Force: Dispatched – 648, Attacking – 585
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 21, Attacking – 19; No. 462 – 11, 10; No. 466 – 16, 13; No. 467 – 13, 13
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,024
Total Aircraft Lost: 55
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 466 – 1; No. 467 – 1

Again on 21st-22nd January the raid on Magdeburg was another nearly total failure. The diversionary attack on Berlin failed to distract the enemy fighters which waited for the bomber stream near Hamburg and then flew with it to the target. Only one Australian Lancaster was attacked, but several crews found that their visual-warning radar sets were jammed by enemy counter-measures and voiced the fear that fighters were homing on transmissions from these sets. One Halifax of No. 466 was badly damaged in a collision with another bomber and had to return early while several more RAAF aircraft were damaged by gun fire. Visibility at the target was good but enemy decoy markers misled the later Pathfinders so that nearly all the bombs fell outside the city. Australian crews were sharply divided in their reports, those early at the target declaring that only scattered incendiary fires were apparent while the late arrivals, who undoubtedly bombed decoys, were enthusiastic about the huge fires apparent on the ground. Only the southern suburbs sustained real damage with results of military value at the Krupp Crusonwerke tank factory.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 655, 658

Lancaster ED803 took off from RAF Waddington at 2020 hours on the night of 21 January 1944 to bomb Magdeburg, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 56 x 30 lb (14 kg), 1200 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Fifteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these ED803 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Eickendorf on 22 January 1944 presumably the result of enemy action. Eickendorf is 12 miles south of Magdeburg, Germany.

The crew members of ED 803 were:

Sergeant John Anthony Atkinson (970210) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Reginald Robert Corcoran (423648) (Bomb Aimer)
Flying Officer Kenneth William Perry Francis (422482) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Ronald David Gallagher (427459) (Rear Gunner)
Pilot Officer Jack Mitchell (408312) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Lawrence Wilfred Pearse (406550) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant William Summers (1373631) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB702 (Pilot Officer Robert Norman Allan (416830) (Pilot)) on 21 January 1944.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX312 (Flight Sergeant Conrad George Johnston (412066) (Pilot)) on 22 January 1944.

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, 166/15/177