Flying Officer William Herbert LEES

Service No: 403750
Born: Rose Bay NSW, 7 April 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 March 1941
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Leconfield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft LV 827), Germany, 18 March 1944, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Herbert John and Frances Lees; husband of Olive Lees, of Bournemouth, Hampshire, England.
Roll of Honour: Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 18-19 March 1944
Target: Frankfurt
Total Force: Dispatched – 846, Attacking – 769
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 21, Attacking – 21; No. 463 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 16; No. 466 Dispatched – 12, Attacking – 10; No. 467 Dispatched – 22, Attacking – 22
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 3,086
Total Aircraft Lost: 22
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 1; No. 466 – 3

When Bomber Command returned to Frankfurt-on-Main on 18th-19th March 1944, however, it carried a record bomb load. No. 5 Group alone dropped over 1,000 tons of bombs and No. 467 earned special praise in creating a record for a two-flight squadron in dispatching twenty-two aircraft carrying 118 tons of bombs. As cover for this vast air armada a diversion was made by 100 aircraft which laid mines near Heligoland, and these machines pre-occupied the enemy fighters from northern Germany until it was too late for them to catch up with the bomber stream. Local fighter defences were active over Frankfurt-on-Main but although four Lancasters of No. 467 were intercepted each escaped without damage. Despite thick haze the Pathfinder markers were easily seen and checked by H2S which gave a good picture of the target. Australians were particularly careful to avoid dummy target indicators, which were again in evidence, as well as decoy fires blazing in open country six miles north of the city. The only hindrance to good bombing was an undue concentration of aircraft over the target, so that, unable to manoeuvre, some RAAF crews had to bomb outer markers with the result that the attack strayed to the east of the city centre and the largest concentration of bombs ultimately occurred in the river-dock areas.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 651-2

Halifax LV827 took off from RAF Leconfield at 1918 hours on the night of 18/19th March 1944 to bomb Frankfurt, Germany. Twelve aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and three of these including LV827 failed to return.

The crew members of LV823 were:

Warrant Officer Gordon Edgar Doggett (414775) (Bomb Aimer)
Flying Officer Leonard Arthur Gream (406618) (Rear Gunner)
Flying Officer William Herbert Lees (403750) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Edward Sargeant Newell (410253) (Navigator)
Sergeant Harold Gordon Price (1496337) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Cyril Roberts (1457708) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Malcolm Douglas Watson (420314) (Pilot)

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster EE191 (Pilot Officer James William Gardner (413977) (Pilot)) on 18/19 March 1944.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax ZW369 (Flight Lieutenant Lancelot Douglas Curnow (286104) (Pilot)) on 18/19 March 1944.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX231 (Flight Sergeant John Edward Richards (415357) (Pilot)) on 18/19 March 1944.


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, 166/24/398

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