LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer William LAWRENCE

Service No: 408771
Born: Bendigo VIC, 6 July 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 23 May 1941
Unit: No. 7 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit (RAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 7 Operational Training Unit Wellington aircraft HX735), Atlantic Ocean, 18 May 1943, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Robert John and Martha Lawrence, of Albert Park, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Bendigo VIC
Remembered: Panel 188, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Wellington HX735 crashed during a non-operational flight over the Atlantic sea on 18 May 1943. The aircraft was detailed for a non-operational dusk navigation exercise and took off at 1815 hours, the weather being very good with a slight ground haze. The last report from the aircraft gave its position as 56.35N 010.00W. From there the course could be set for Barra Head. At 2252 hours Long Kesh heard the aircraft but the signals were very weak. No more was heard from the aircraft after this. It would appear that the navigator failed to make the landfall at Barra Head and continued on course until over the North of Scotland. Aircraft searches the next day and a Wellington search on the west coast of Scotland failed to locate any trace of the aircraft or crew. Two bodies were later washed ashore and it was assumed that the remaining 4 crew members were lost at sea.

The crew members of HX735 were:

Sergeant Frank Ronald Bradbury (1212185) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Burns (1029148) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Peter Bryson Code (J/14853) (RCAF) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant William Mycock (1477933) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flying Officer William Lawrence (408771) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Donald Castleman Stone (127880) (RAFVR) (Pilot)

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, 166/24/105