LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Charles Haley HARGREAVES
Service No: 421596
Born: Haberfield NSW, 8 January 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 February 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ND738), Germany, 31 March 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles and Alice Edith Hargreaves, of Gordon, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Gordon NSW
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Date: 30-31 March 1944
Total Force: Dispatched – 795, Attacking – 608
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking –2; No. 463 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 17; No. 466 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 16
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,148
Total Aircraft Lost: 95
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 3; No. 467 -2
On 30th-31st March during the last heavy raid of the winter, Bomber Command suffered its worst single reverse of the whole war. Ninety-five aircraft failed to return, another eleven were damaged beyond repair while the target at Nuremberg was only slightly damaged. All four Australian squadrons were again included in the force. From the outset everything went badly. Conditions over the North Sea made it impossible to arrange any large-scale diversion there as had proved so successful for the earlier Frankfurt-on-Main raids. Some fifty Halifaxes were sent mine-laying in Heligoland Bight but were ignored by the German controllers who concentrated night fighters in groups at Bonn and Frankfurt-on-Main where they easily intercepted the bomber stream. The difficulty of predicting changeable March winds again led to serious errors in navigation so that the bombers soon spread over a broad belt to the north of the true track. Moreover the high cloud which was expected to give adequate concealment along the route dispersed altogether over Belgium and left the aircraft exposed in the light of a half-moon and silhouetted against lower clouds. A running battle was fought over a distance of nearly 250 miles from Aachen eastwards and then southwards, with more and more fighters joining in as the enemy correctly divined the probable target. At least twenty Australian aircraft were intercepted, but although most of them escaped by skilful flying or spirited return fire, Australian losses included the very experienced Utz, a flight commander of No. 460, who was killed. Comparatively the Halifaxes suffered most heavily, losing thirty out of the total of ninety three dispatched, and so No. 466 was fortunate that all its aircraft returned safely. Thirty burning aircraft were counted between Aachen and Nuremberg by Flight Lieutenant Smith s of No. 467 and it is probable that at least fifty bombers were shot down before reaching the target. Another 187 failed to attack at all.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 660, 661-2
Lancaster ND738 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2219 hours on 30 March 1944 to bomb Nuremberg, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 2000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 24 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 1800 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. The aircraft failed to return to base after the mission. Twenty four aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid and three failed to return. A message was received from ND 738 when about 45 miles south east of Selsey Bill on the south coast of England. There was no indication of any difficulty at the time. The aircraft became overdue, but searches found no trace of the aircraft. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed near Graefenberg at 0100 hours on the 31 March and all the crew were killed.
The crew members of ND738 were:
Flying Officer John Edward Beaumont (140860) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Charles Haley Hargreaves (421596) (Pilot)
Sergeant Glynn Jones (1684714) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant Alfred Edward Leggett (1894509) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant George David Moody (1114037) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Sergeant Donald Frank Siddall (1525027) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant William Henry Spargo (418689) (Bomb Aimer)
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ED750 (Pilot Officer Peter Robert Anderson (28817) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND361(Squadron Leader Eric Arthur Gibson Utz DFC & Bar (403438) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster DV240 (Pilot Officer Ronald Ernest Llewelyn (410423) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM376 (Flight Lieutenant Arthur Bruce Simpson DFC (408881) (Pilot)) on 31 March 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, 166/17/520
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985