GERTZEL William 427460

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant William GERTZEL

Service No: 427460
Born: Perth WA, 23 July 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 July 1942
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft LV919), Belgium, 13 May 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Schoonshelof Cemetery, Antwerpen, Belgium
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Clarice Gertzel, of Perth, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Date: 12-13 May 1944
Target: Hasselt Rail Centre
Total Force: Dispatched – 111, Attacking – 106
RAAF Force: No. X466 Dispatched – Unavailable, Attacking – 15
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 437
Total Aircraft Lost: 7
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 466 – 2

All the attacks except those on Aachen (Main) and Ottignies resulted in important damage, although at several places more than one attack was required, especially at Villeneuve St George and Aulnoye where the enemy made a surprising recovery from the earlier attacks, and at Hasselt where on the first occasion difficult bombing conditions led the master bomber to abandon the operation and send aircraft back with their bombs (which had occurred on the previous night – May 11-12).

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 28

Halifax LV919 took off from RAF Leconfield at 2151 hours on the night of 12/13th May 1944 to bomb marshalling yards at Hasselt. Fifteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including LV919 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at 0400 hours on 13 May 44 at Zondereigen (Antwerpen), 10kms north north west of Turnhout and practically on the border with Holland.

The crew members of LV919 were:

Flying Officer Leonard Victor Barnett (418332) (Pilot)
Sergeant Alexander Mitchell Berry (1861471) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Lavington Edmund John Freck Chinnery (429924) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant William Gertzel (427460) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant William Andrew Gillard (429849) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flying Officer Geoffrey Phillip Pinn (424212) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Harold John Smith (410515) (Bomb Aimer)

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax LV826 (Pilot Officer Eric Henry Gaggin (425000) (Pilot)) on 12/13 May 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, 166/15/246