LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer John Frederick HERBERT

Service No: 400799
Born: Corryong VIC, 29 December 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1940
Unit: No. 143 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station North Coates
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 143 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft T3447), Lincolnshire, 27 January 1943, Aged 22 Years
Buried: North Cotes (St Nicholas) Churchyard, Lincolnshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frederick Thomas Harvey Herbert and Florence Amelia Herbert, of Corryong, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Corryong VIC
Remembered: Panel 123, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On the night of 27 January 1943 Beaufighter T3447 took off from North Coates detailed to carry out a non- operational night navigational exercise. The aircraft crashed and the crew of two was killed. The weather at the time of the exercise was fair and the visibility very good. The accident occurred close to base as the aircraft was returning from the exercise.

The crew members of T3447 were:

Flying Officer John Frederick Herbert (40799) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Joseph Cormack McPherson (987187) (RAFVR) (Navigator)

In a report on the accident, the Squadron Commanding Officer and the Station Commander at RAF North Coates stated: “the cause of the accident cannot definitely be established. The Pilot had reported he had sighted the base and had completed half a circuit flashing his letter, and was given the green light by the Air Control Pilot. The aircraft then flew away from the aerodrome on a steady course at about 800 feet losing height and crashed approximately 5 miles away. The aircraft was behaving in a normal manner and both engines were running smoothly. An inspection of the crash showed the aircraft went in very flat. Both airscrews were in course pitch when the wreck was examined and it was reasonable to suppose that both engines had continued to run correctly up to the time of the crash. If there was no failure of any of the control surfaces, it must be assumed that the pilot decided to lose a certain amount of height prior to positioning himself for his approach and that during this time he misread his altimeter or that his altimeter had become unserviceable.”

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, 166/17/31