HORGAN John Byrne 406783

LEST WE FORGET

Warrant Officer John Byrne HORGAN

Service No: 406783
Born: Victoria Park WA, 9 March 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 March 1941
Unit: No. 578 Squadron (RAF), RAF Burn, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 578 Squadron Halifax aircraft LW557), Germany, 15 February 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Gerald and Elizabeth Anna Horgan, of Victoria Park, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 124, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On the night of 15/16th February 1944, Halifax LW 557 took off from RAF Burn at 1749 hours, detailed to bomb Berlin. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was believed that the aircraft crashed due to engine failure, near Tribohm, 6 kms north north east of Marlow. Three crew members were killed and four became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of LW557 were:

Sergeant Ernest Bramwell Blair (1796405) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant F W Hayman (1529837) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner) PoW
Warrant Officer John Byrne Horgan (406783) (Pilot)
Flying Officer J K Kerr (J/24523) (RCAF) (Air Bomber) PoW
Sergeant Walter James Leiper (426888) (A11385) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 August 1974
Flight Lieutenant L J Lindridge (151067) (RAFVR) (Navigator) PoW
Sergeant Mervyn Kenneth Piper (1604993) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

In a PoW report Flying Officer Kerr stated: “Due to technical reasons our aircraft got out of control and the Captain ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft at a low altitude. Warrant Officer Horgan was endeavouring to keep the aircraft steady when I left. It was diving practically vertically at the time. The Germans said their were three bodies in the aircraft . It was due to the prompt action by the Captain that he saved the lives of four members of his crew.”

In his PoW report Flight Lieutenant Linbridge said: “on the night of 15th February flying over enemy territory we were attacked and forced to abandon the aircraft. The Pilot (Warrant Officer Horgan) gave the “prepare to abandon” order which was acknowledged by all except the Mid Upper Gunner Blair. The aircraft was in a spiral dive, losing height rapidly and after trying to regain control the Pilot gave the “abandon” order. The Rear Gunner was the first to acknowledge this and left immediately. The Pilot told us all to “get out quickly” as the aircraft was liable to spin in any minute. The Navigator, WOP and Air Bomber left by the front escape hatch. At Dulag Luft I was told by the Germans that there were 3 bodied in the aircraft ands I think they would be the Pilot, Mid Upper and Flight Engineer.

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, 166/18/288

Bibliography:

Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990