LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Geoffrey William HAM DFC

Service No: 420468
Born: Waverley NSW, 22 September 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1941
Unit: No. 524 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Langham
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 524 Squadron Wellington aircraft HZ644), North Sea, 13 January 1945, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William H. and Edith I. Ham, of Epping, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Epping NSW
Remembered: Panel 283, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 123, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Epping War Memorial, Epping NSW
Remembered: Epping Presbyterian Church Memorial Organ, Epping NSW

DFC Citation: Flight Lieutenant R H McGregor (RAFVR) and Pilot Officer G W Ham (as Pilot and Navigator of the aircraft respectively) have taken part in a good number of sorties, some of them in extremely adverse weather. They have displayed commendable skill and courage and throughout have set a high standard of devotion to duty. On one occasion during a sortie in December 1944, they sighted 6 E boats leaving Ijmuiden. Flight Lieutenant McGregor immediately turned to the attack. In spite of fierce anti-aircraft fire, an excellent run was made and the bombs straddled the vessels. One of the boats fell out of formation and then apparently sank. After making another attack on the enemy force they shadowed the vessels and reported their position while further attacks were made by other aircraft. Flight Lieutenant McGregor and Pilot Officer Ham displayed exceptional resolution during this notable sortie.

At 1546 hours on 13 January 1945 Wellington HZ644 took off from Langham to carry out an armed reconnaissance against enemy shipping off the Friesian Islands. The patrol was to commence at 54.00N 007.00E and after covering an area up to 5350N 0815E to follow the inner convoy route to Borkum, and from thence to make for base due at 1946 hours. No messages were received from the aircraft which did not return to base. No reports were received from later aircraft on similar mission other than heavy anti-aircraft fire from Nordernay to Borkum. Beaufighters and a Warwick aircraft made searches during daylight, but no trace of the aircraft or crew were found. It was assumed that the crew members were lost at sea. The crew were on their 29th mission when they failed to return.

The crew members of HZ644 were:

Warrant Officer Edgar Jack Datson (426552) (Wireless Operator/Air)
Pilot Officer Geoffrey William Ham DFC (420468) (Navigator)
Warrant Officer David Kirtley (1332561) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air)
Flight Lieutenant Ronald Hamilton McGregor DFC (123234) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Gerald Anthony Sarson (1602501) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Dennis Jenner Howard Sayers (1334177) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air)
Warrant Officer Ralph Webster (426418) (Wireless Operator/Air)

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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/17/952
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line