LEST WE FORGET
Warrant Officer Geoffrey William HARNETT
Service No: 400987
Born: Harrow England, 14 April 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 7 December 1940 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 454 Squadron, Gambut III Landing Ground, Libya
Died: Air Operations: (No. 454 Squadron Baltimore aircraft FA 224), Crete, 23 July 1943, Aged 26 Years
CWGC Additional Information: Son of George Powell Harnett and Mary Edith Harnett, of Romsey, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Eldorado VIC
Remembered: Column 277, Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
From Egypt the Hudsons of No. 459 Squadron flew 284 sorties in defence of convoys during July and August 1943 without meeting any threat from either enemy aircraft or U-boats. No. 451 Squadron continued to provide readiness sections of aircraft for the defence of the Delta and for convoy protection but they also were untroubled by the enemy. The only offensive activity of this period in which Australians participated was a minor tragedy. After sharing in the general anti-submarine patrols No. 454 Squadron provided eight Baltimores for a special raid against Crete on 23rd July. Three wings of ADEM (Air Defence Eastern Mediterranean) Hurricanes (including six of No. 451) led by Beaufighters were to sweep ahead of the Baltimore formation which was further protected by twelve Spitfires. The fighters met negligible air opposition but the Baltimores which attacked factories, barracks, road traffic and other targets of opportunity on the east end of the island, were met by concentrated and effective anti-aircraft fire. Five Baltimores were shot down and a sixth barely reached the North African shore, and thirteen Hurricanes also failed to return from this expensive venture.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 579
The crew members of FA224 were:
Flying Officer Christopher Frederick Cox (407493) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Geoffrey William Harnett (400987) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer Ronald Oswald Harris (401624) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer John Frederick Rich (400998) (Navigator)
No 454 Squadron lost Baltimore FA247 (Flight Sergeant Edgar Francis Baker (403249) (Wireless Air Gunner)) on 23 July 1943.
No. 454 Squadron lost Baltimore FA409 (Flying Officer Arthur Frederick Betteridge (400772) (Pilot)) on 23 July 1943.
No 454 Squadron lost Baltimore AG869 (Warrant Officer Francis Paul Bayly (407402) (Pilot)) on 23 July 1943.
No. 454 Squadron lost Baltimore AG998 (Warrant Officer Keith Stewart Wedgwood (401260) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)) on 23 July 1943
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
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, 163/17/237