Flight Sergeant Ernest Lee LANCASTER

Service No: 408770
Born: Kilarney QLD, 18 March 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 23 May 1941 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 51 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Snaith
Died: Air Operations: (No. 51 Squadron Halifax aircraft DT670), France, 17 April 1943, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Choloy War Cemetery, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Henry Nelson Lancaster and Catherine Lancaster, of Oakleigh, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Korumburra VIC
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 2023 hours on the night of 16 April 1943 Halifax DT670 took off from Snaith detailed to bomb Plzen, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire which damaged the engines and it crashed at Chalons-sur-Marne, (Marne) France. Five of the crew members were killed, one taken prisoner and one evaded capture.

The crew members of DT670 were:

Flying Officer Raymond Frederick Clements (124706) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant F P Dards (1691788) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW
Sergeant Thomas Frederick Hayden (1244010) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Douglas Frederick Inch (1271750) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Ernest Lee Lancaster (408770) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Robin Morris Mumme (700735) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant H Riley (1079476) (RAFVR) (Navigator) Evaded capture

Sergeant Riley later reported “Before reaching the target the port was hit by flak. We continued on and the target was bombed. At 0340 hours on 17 April whilst turning on to the last leg of the trip to England we were attacked by a night fighter. Clememts informed the Captain that something was happening to the starboard engine. Then there were several explosions in the bomb aimer’s compartment possibly by cannon shells. I spoke to the Captain over the intercom and asked him if he could hold the plane which was weaving violently. He replied “No No, get out get out”. I was standing beside Lancaster when the order to abandon was given. As he did not have his intercom on I assisted him to prepare to abandon. Lancaster fell away from the aircraft very well without any apparent injury. I followed him but did not see his parachute open when I descended. On landing I saw the crashed aircraft about 150 yards away but did not approach owing to a civilian in the vicinity. I did not see Lancaster again. I landed in a very heavily wooded area of the Marne district France.”


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, 163/136/198

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