LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Arthur Maxwell JOHNSTON
Service No: 404784
Born: Mount Molloy QLD, 9 March 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1940
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Wellington aircraft Z1381), Netherlands, 3 July 1942, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Michael and Annie Jane Johnston, of Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Cairns QLD
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Date: 2-3 July 1942
Total Force: Dispatched – 325, Attacking – 263
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 14
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 511
Total Aircraft Lost: 12
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2
Strong defences, coupled with heavy cloud extending upwards to 20,000 feet, also spoilt the last of this series of raids on Bremen during the night of 2nd-3rd July. Most of the RAAF crews were unable to identify the town, and Squadron Leader J W E Leighton (1) (RAF) of No. 460 who himself bombed from beneath the cloud, reported that he saw fires and explosions up to ten miles outside the city area. Photographic evidence showed little fresh damage, except at Delmenhorst, nine miles south-west of Bremen, where textile factories already had been heavily damaged by fire during the raid of 25th-26th June.
(1) Squadron Leader John William Edward Leighton MID (40053) (RAF) (Pilot) was lost on 26 July 1942 in No. 460 Squadron Wellington Z 1462.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 315-7
Wellington Z1381 took off from RAF Breighton at 2327 hours on 2 July 1942 to attack Bremen, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eighteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid.
The crew members of Z1381 were:
Sergeant Darryl Downing (407709) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Arthur Maxwell Johnston (404784) (Pilot)
Sergeant David August Radke (405139) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 21 November 1945
Warrant Officer William Gerald Reed DCM (402479) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 17 October 1946
Sergeant William James Taylor (407775) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Maxwell Joseph Andrew Wyllie MID (405001) PoW, Killed 22 April 1943
Sergeant Wyllie was shot on 22 April 1943 while trying to escape from captivity and is buried in the Cracow British Military Cemetery, Poland.
In a later statement Warrant Officer Radke said “Near the Dutch border returning from the target while at about 13,000 feet, the Front Gunner reported ‘two gun flashes in front and directly in line with us’, and then almost immediately we received a hit on the port motor or nacelle. The Pilot ordered me to open the front turret my first attempt being unsuccessful. The plane was diving all the time, seemingly uncontrollable and unresponsive to movement of control column. I handed the pilot his chute turned to see the front gunner getting out of his turret. Ordered by the Pilot to abandon which was done in this order from the port hatch – myself, front gunner, observer. The Second Pilot was still by the main spar when observer left and the pilot still at controls.
About 9000 feet when I left. Aircraft still in dive and burning from port nacelle or wing. Rear gunner baled out independently. The Second Pilot jumped too late (at about 50 feet) and skipper was still at controls when crash occurred. Saw no chutes in the air. Made no contact with other surviving members Wyllie and Reed until 5 hours after capture. Germans showed us the other three member’s personal kit and told us – Skipper was killed when plane crashed. Dowling (2nd pilot) killed when chute failed at low altitude, Taylor was killed when caught in H.T. wires while landing by chute.” WO Reed also in a later statement reported “the aircraft received a direct hit when returning from the target at 8,000 feet. The aircraft was on fire and I abandoned the aircraft. Radke and Wyllie were captured with me. Johnston, Downing and Taylor were all killed.”
No. 460 Squadron lost Wellington Z1470 (Sergeant Alexander Frederick Whittick (404844) (Pilot)) on 3 July 1942.
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, 163/129/207
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985