LOVE William John 415339

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant William John Hamilton LOVE

Service No: 415339
Born: Wagin WA, 4 July 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 September 1941
Unit: No. 578 Squadron (RAF), RAF Burn, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 578 Squadron Halifax aircraft LW586), Germany, 24 February 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Allan Hamilton Love and Agatha Winifred Love, of Mosman Park, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 125, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On the night of 24h February 1944, Halifax LW586 took off from RAF Burn at 1839 hours, detailed to bomb Schweinfurt, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was attacked from astern at 12,000 feet by a night fighter whose fire set light to the starboard engines, and one of the port side motors. As Pilot Officer Rolfe baled out he was aware that the aircraft was a mass of flames. It was reported that the aircraft crashed at Unter Alterheim, 16 kms south west of Wurzburg. Six of the crew were killed and Flying Officer Rolfe became a Prisoner of War.

The crew members of LW586 were:

Sergeant William Henry Bell (1385160) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flying Officer Ronald William Welch Coggins (151239) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant Sidney Harry Geake (1174459) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Frank Stephen Godden (1210979) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Stanley Hayes (2208054) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant William John Hamilton Love (415339) (Pilot)
Flying Officer J W Rolfe (144322) (RAF) (Navigator) PoW

In a PoW Report Flying Officer Rolfe stated: “While flying over enemy territory we were attacked and both starboard engines and the port outer engine were set on fire. The flames were increasing and the bombs could not be jettisoned . In a further attack the Rear Gunner was wounded and I heard nothing more from the Mid Upper Gunner, who until then had been directing the evasive action. The Pilot ordered “abandon” and as I left the aircraft there was another attack. I saw and heard our aircraft go past. After being taken prisoner, I was shown some of the Bomb Aimer’s belongings, he had been found dead. I have heard nothing more and in my opinion the remainder of the crew were killed.”

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/25/120