Sergeant Bruce KNILANDS

Service No: 9431
Born: Glebe NSW, 20 July 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 February 1940
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ED711), Germany, 17 April 1943, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Robert James Knilands and Florence Ellen Knilands, of Hornsby, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Hornsby NSW
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 16-17 April 1943
Target: Pilsen
Total Force: Dispatched – 327, Attacking – 242
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 15; No. 467 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 15
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 617
Total Aircraft Lost: 37
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 3; No. 467 – 2

This diversion (attack on Mannheim, Germany) was indeed more successful than the main effort because Australian and other crews reported navigational difficulties in locating distant Pilsen. One Australian bombed Nuremberg, two others searched over a wide area without finding the Pathfinder flares and then set course for base, attacking Erlangen and Koblenz en route. Night fighters harried the Lancasters which found that the bright moonlight was hazard outweighing the expected advantage of easier navigation, and this view appears substantiated by the heavy losses. To add to these disappointments the Pathfinder flares were misplaced and most of the bombs fell on a small town south-west of Pilsen.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 497-8

Lancaster ED711 took off from RAF Breighton at 2059 hours on 16 April 1943 to attack Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. Bomb load carried was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 3 x 1000 lb (450 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from ED 711 after take off and it did not return to base. The aircraft was one of 15 aircraft from the squadron to take part in the raid. Following post war enquiries it was established that the aircraft crashed on 17 April 1943 near Boeblingen, approximately 9 miles south west of Stuttgart. All the crew members were killed.

The crew members of ED711 were:

Flight Sergeant Robert Henry Baker (401730) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer William Roy Kenneth Charlton (411121) (Navigator)
Sergeant Bruce Knilands (9431) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer Alfred Kenneth Parker (412265) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Alan Keilier Smith (1378794) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant James Scott Stewart (409331) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Francis Henry Ward DFM (411207) (Bomb Aimer)
Pilot Officer David Edward White DFM (408896) (Pilot)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster W4331 (Flight Sergeant Ian Gordon Miller (411165) (Pilot)) on 17 April 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster aircraft W4942 (Flight Sergeant John Norman Williams (416135) (Pilot)) on 16 April 1943.

During the diversion attack on Mannheim, No. 466 Squadron lost Wellingtons HE501 (Pilot Officer Colin Foley Tozer (406585) (Pilot)) on 16 April 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED780 (Flight Sergeant Raymond Clarence Stuart (406702) (Pilot)) on 16 April 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED651 (Sergeant Bruce Craig Wilson (408545) (Pilot)) on 17 April 1943.


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, 166/23/92


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

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