JEFFREYS John Alan 415149

LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer John Alan JEFFREYS

Service No: 415149
Born: Fremantle WA, 17 April 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 July 1941
Unit: No. 61 Squadron (RAF), RAF Syerston, Nottinghamshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 61 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM360), over the Netherlands, 3 November 1943, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire UK
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Alfred and Amelia Jeffreys; husband of Florence Isobel Jeffreys, of Perth, 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

Lancaster LM360 took off from RAF Syerston at 1659 hours on the night of 3 November 1943 detailed to bomb Dusseldorf, Germany. The aircraft returned home with the Pilot unconscious, the Navigator dead, and two of the crew wounded. The control panel was smashed, the hydraulics out of order, one rear gun could be operated only manually, the inter-com was U/S and the oxygen supply had failed.

The Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Reid was hit when the aircraft was first damaged by machine gun fire from a Me110, ten minutes after the Dutch coast was crossed. He flew on to Dusseldorf, no other member of the crew knowing he was wounded. Then he collapsed and was unconscious most of the way home, but recovered sufficiently to land the aircraft. While the Pilot was unconscious, the aircraft was piloted by the Flight Engineer, Flight Sergeant Norris, who was also wounded and had to be assisted by the Bomb Aimer.

The aircraft was first attacked by an Me110 which came astern from 250 yards, both the rear and mid upper gunners fired and claimed to have scored hits. A few minutes later a FW190 attacked from the port beam and racked the whole of the fuselage with cannon shells. The rear gunner’s turret was out of order after the first attack and one gun could only be fired manually. After the second attack the mid upper gunner’s turret was out of order and his oxygen and electric supplies cut off. He came out of the turret and found the Wireless Operator, lying full length over the dead Navigator.

After the first attack the crew gave all the oxygen to the Pilot who was navigating by the stars. After the bombs were dropped over the target, the aircraft went into a dive, and the engineer pulled the Pilot off the stick and levelled the aircraft. The Bomb Aimer states that that was the first he knew of anyone being wounded. When he found that the Navigator was dead, he went to the turret but all that were left of the instruments was one pencil and a pad. He then went to assist the Engineer. On the way back from the target the Flight Engineer and the Bomb Aimer had great difficulty controlling the aircraft which occasionally went into a dive and lost nearly 6,000 feet in height. The Pilot several times regained consciousness and on finding an airfield over England
he revived sufficiently and did everything possible for a perfect landing. Having no flaps
the crew had to use the emergency equipment but when the wheels touched down they collapsed and a belly landing had to be effected.

The Wireless Operator died in hospital the following morning. The Flight Engineer, who had shrapnel wounds in the shoulder and left arm, did not reveal he was wounded until he was climbing out of the aircraft.

The crew members of LM360 were:

Flight Sergeant C Baldwin (RAF) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Emerson (RAF) (Rear Gunner)
Pilot Officer John Alan Jeffreys (415149) (Navigator) Killed
Flight Sergeant John James Mann (1199260) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner) Fatally wounded, Died: 5 November 1943
Sergeant J Norris (RAF) (Flight Engineer) Wounded
Flight Lieutenant William Reid VC (Pilot) Wounded
Flight Sergeant L G Rolton (RAF) (Air Bomber)

Flight Lieutenant Reid was subsequently awarded the Victoria Cross.

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, 166/20/76