Flying Officer William Joseph KENNEDY

Service No: 402362
Born: Haberfield NSW, 19 March 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 19 August 1940
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Station Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Wellington aircraft Z1413), France, 7 May 1942, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Avesnes-Sur-Helpe Communal Cemetery, Nord, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Charles and Mildred Elizabeth Kennedy, of Kirribilli, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 6-7 May 1942
Target: Stuttgart
Total Force: Dispatched – 77, Attacking – 54
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 10, Attacking – 10
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 93
Total Aircraft Lost: 4
RAAF Aircraft Lost: 2

On May 6-7, navigation to the target was vastly improved, and eight Australian crews claimed to bomb the town itself through thick haze. Most of the bombs actually fell in open country, though some damage was done to the Bosch works and railway lines around the city.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 329-330

Flying Officer Kennedy and crew were detailed to operate against Stuttgart, Germany, on the night of 6/7th May 1942. Z1413 took off from RAF Breighton at 2130 hours on 6th May but failed to return to base after the mission.

The crew members of Z1413 were:

Pilot Officer Frederick Roland Ferry (406089) (Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 January 1946
Flying Officer William Joseph Kennedy (402362) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer Ian Frederick Keys (406180) (Second Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 7 January 1946
Sergeant Selwyn Hamilton Sharp (402527) (RNZAF) PoW
Sergeant Jack Mitchell Stephenson (400762) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 4 January 1946
Pilot Officer Henry Rowland Train (402913) (Observer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 31 October 1945

In a later statement by Pilot Officer Train he said “yhe aircraft was shot down at approximately 0250 hours on 7 May 1942 at a position about 10 miles south east of Maubeuge. All other members of the crew left the aircraft safely. I was last out at about 1,000-2,000 feet with Flying Officer Kennedy still at the controls although preparing to leave. He did not say that he was then wounded although there was a hole in the perspex in front of him. When my parachute opened the aircraft was burning on the ground. The Germans picked me up about 36 hours later and took me to the scene of the crash. The remains of one of the crew members was still in the wreckage. He later was told by Pilot Officer Ferry that the remains were buried at Maubeuge.”

In his statement Pilot Officer Ferry stated “Kennedy was doing a magnificent job at the controls and this factor undoubtedly enabled the lives of the rest of the crew to be saved. Ferry also reported “the aircraft was attacked by an ME110 and the port engine and wing was set on fire. The Captain ordered the crew to bale out and the crew acknowledged. The Captain was unable to bale out and he crashed with the aircraft. The aircraft was at 1,200 feet and in a shallow dive when I baled out. It crashed near Eppe le Sauvage, France. I was four days at large and then betrayed by a French farmer and captured by the French police.”

Sergeant Stephenson said “Flying Officer Kennedy was killed when the aircraft, of which he was Captain, crashed in a wood approximately 15kms from the village of Eppe le Sauvage in France, near the Belgium border.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Wellington Z1254 (Squadron Leader Colin Leslie Gilbert (39458) (RAF) (Pilot)) on 7 May 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, 163/40/44


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

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