LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant John Thomas KERR

Service No: 425024
Born: Cairns QLD, 6 February 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 7 December 1941
Unit: No. 53 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station St Eval
Died: Air Operations: Coastal Command 1944-5 (No. 53 Squadron Liberator aircraft BZ873), Atlantic Ocean, 21 May 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Patrick John and Grace Longworth Kerr, of Innisfail, Queensland, Australia
Roll of Honour: Innisfail QLD
Remembered: Panel 261, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 2050 hours on the night of 20 May 1944 Liberator BZ873 took off from St Eval to carry out a Leigh Light anti-submarine patrol over the Atlantic. At 0120 hours on 21 May a signal was received from the aircraft ‘investigating possible U boat’. The signal was cancelled a few minutes later and since then nothing further was heard. The aircraft failed to return to base. The patrol was down the French coast then out to sea down the Spanish coast to Gibraltar and back. The aircraft was expected back about 0800 hours on 21 May. The body of one crew member was washed ashore on the north coast of Spain. The body of another crew member was found floating at sea by a fisherman who established the identity but did not recover the body.

The crew members of BZ873 were:

Warrant Officer Frederick William Atherton (528618) (RAF) (Wireless Air Gunner) Buried at sea
Flying Officer Geoffrey Alexander Bowman (149526) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Robert Dougall Christie (1483509) (RAFVR) (First Navigator)
Sergeant George Harrison (1116256) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air) Remains recovered
Flight Sergeant Alan Francis Johnson (425311) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Thomas Kerr (425024) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer William McTaggart DFM (53450) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Walter William Moore (423171) (Second Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Jack Kenneth Richards (8934) (Second Pilot)
Flying Officer Herbert William Watkins (420313) (Wireless Air Gunner)

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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/22/250

Bibliography:

Jay, Alwyn Harold (421336), Endurance; Coastal Command Liberator Operations 1941-5, Banner Books, Maryborough QLD, 4650, 1996