Sergeant Richard John LAING

Service No: 403191
Born: Melbourne VIC, 20 December 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 December 1940 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 40 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 40 Squadron Wellington aircraft HX399), Egypt, 19 July 1942, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Clarence Leslie Laing, and of Georgiana Laing, of Lavender Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Lavender Bay NSW
Remembered: Column 266, Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At about 2200 hours on 19 July 1942 Wellington HX399 took off from to attack Tobruk Harbour. It climbed to 3,000 feet and after an hour arrived over Wadi Natrun. It then climbed a further 3,000 feet but soon after an explosion occurred in the starboard engine. The bombs were immediately jettisoned, the fire extinguisher applied and the crew prepared to evacuate. The fire continued and the Captain gave the order to evacuate. After four of the crew had baled out the Captain decided to try and belly land the aircraft. Sergeant Laing the Wireless Operator also stayed in the aircraft and continued sending out distress messages but both were killed in the ensuing crash. They were buried in isolated graves in Egypt but later searches could not locate the grave sites and both are recorded as having no known graves.

The crew members of HX399 were:

Sergeant J Clarke (1375151) (RAFVR) (Observer) Baled out, safe
Sergeant Ian Edward Goss (401211) (Rear Gunner) Baled out, safe, Discharged from the RAAF: 3 December 1945
Flight Sergeant Peter Reginald Kingsford (41482) (RNZAF) (Pilot)
Sergeant Richard John Laing (403191) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Lachlan McTaggart (407486) (Front Gunner) Baled out, safe, Discharged from the RAAF: 27 July 1945
Sergeant John Alexander Tovey (411417) (RNZAF) (Second Pilot) Baled out, safe, Killed: 10 December 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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/136/181