LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon HOWIE
Service No: 414938
Born: Ipswich QLD, 12 November 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 December 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JB657), Lincolnshire, 16 December 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles Gordon and Agnes May Howie, of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia; husband of Jean Dulcie Mavis Howie, of Mt. Crosby, Queensland.
Roll of Honour: Ipswich QLD
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Date: 16-17 December 1943
Total Force: Dispatched – 492, Attacking – 450
RAAF Force: No. No. 460 Dispatched – 20, Attacking – 19; No. 463 Dispatched – 12, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 12, Attacking – 11
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,815
Total Aircraft Lost: 25 (+29)
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 4
The air campaign to cripple Berlin began in earnest in mid-November, and eight heavy attacks were made before the end of 1943. … On 16th-17th December the attack was resumed after the enforced lull covering the period of full moon. The factor of adverse weather was still apparent for although Berlin was reached and well hit in a concentrated raid, the Lancasters found on return that their airfields were shrouded in low cloud and fog. In addition to twenty-five bombers shot
down over enemy territory, twenty-nine crashed in the United Kingdom with the loss of 131 lives. The total casualties from this night were thus 54 aircraft or 11 per cent of the force. Four of the accidents caused by the weather involved Lancasters of No. 460. Flight Lieutenant Greenacre
nursed his Lancaster, badly damaged in five fighter attacks, back to England and crashed at an emergency airfield without injury to his crew. A second crippled Lancaster crashed short of the runway at Binbrook with only minor injuries to its crew after the pilot had been ordered to descend to an altitude of 500 feet in the expectation that he would then be clear of cloud. The other two accidents were more serious. One experienced crew was given permission to land but struck a tree during its approach and climbed into cloud again. After half an hour the captain called Binbrook on his radio-telephone set explaining that he was firing Very cartridges, but could not locate the airfield. Soon afterwards this Lancaster crashed into the bomb dump of an adjacent airfield. The remaining aircraft crashed heavily, all the crew suffering injuries, and the rear gunner was killed outright. All other pilots found the period spent circling the base on their return the most harassing part of the trip, for with petrol rapidly running out and the certainty that changed barometric pressure was giving a false reading on their altimeters they had to risk descending through the thick clouds and breaking clear to identify the airfield lights.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 636-641
The third Lancaster (mentioned above), JB657, took off from RAF Binbrook at 1632 hours on 16 December 1943 to bomb Berlin. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 56 x 30 lb (14 kg), 1230 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Twenty three aircraft from the Squadron were detailed for the operation. At 2304 hours JB657 returning from the mission was given permission to land at base. At 2312 hours the Captain called to say the aircraft had hit a tree just below cloud, and at 2348 he called to say he was firing Verey cartridges as he could not see the aerodrome. No further messages were received but the aircraft crashed in an ammunition dump at Stanton Market.
The crew members of JB657 were:
Flying Officer Harold George Day Dedman (415467) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant William Kevin Halstead (414349) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Charles Gordon Howie (414938) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant John McKenzie (573805) (RAF) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Reginald Albert Moynagh (407391) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Harry Harcourt Petersen (413890) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Francis Archibald Randall DFC (413896) (Pilot)
The first Lancaster JB613 (Flight Lieutenant Eric Ross Greenacre DFC (403217) (Pilot)) crashed on an emergency airfield and all crew were saved.
The second Lancaster JB704 (Flight Sergeant Kenneth James Godwin (412945) (Pilot)) crashed short of the runway at Binbrook and all crew were saved.
The fourth Lancaster DV173 (Warrant Officer Mervyn Stafford DFC (405887) (Pilot)) crashed heavily, killing Rear Gunner Flying Officer Hedley Howard Garment (145021) (RAFVR).
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 A9186, 146 (No. 460 Squadron Operations Record Book October 1941 – December 1943); A705, 166/18/405
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985