Flight Sergeant Bruce Cowper MacKNIGHT

Service No: 429979
Born: Neutral Bay NSW, 17 July 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 13 October 1942
Unit: No. 9 Squadron (RAF), RAF Bardney, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 9 Squadron Lancaster aircraft NN722), France, 14 January 1945, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Choloy War Cemetery, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Lindsay Kenneth and Ettie Adelia MacKnight, of Cremorne, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: North Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 126, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: North Sydney War Memorial, North Sydney NSW
Remembered: St Peter’s Anglican Church World War II Roll of Honour, Cremorne NSW

On 14 January, the largest force dispatched by Bomber Command against an oil target was sent to hammer the large oil, synthetic ammonia and methanol plant at Leuna-Merseburg. This installation had suffered 19 USAAF and one RAF attack already since 12th May 1944 and had been almost continuously out of operation as successive raids swamped the frantic efforts of an army of repair workers. The plant itself was considered to be in a basically sound condition and if left alone for two months was assessed as capable of achieving nearly three-quarters of its planned capacity. Previous raids had destroyed pipelines and ancillary services rather than main production units, so this mass raid, mounted in two waves, was intended to create heavier and more lasting destruction.
Each of the Waddington squadrons sent 14 Lancasters in the first wave of 220 aircraft for a satisfactory attack made through thin cloud and haze. Both flak and fighters were active and 9 Lancasters were lost including 4 piloted by Australians.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 399-400

The four Lancasters piloted by Australians lost as the result of enemy action were as follows.

Lancaster NN722 took off from RAF Bardney on the night of 14/15th January 1945 to bomb a synthetic oil plant at Leuna, Germany Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Koetschen a little over one mile south of Merseburg., which is located 20 miles north of Leipzig. Six crew members were killed and one later died as a Prisoner of War.

The crew members of NN722 were:

Flying Officer Kenneth Alan Cook (418227) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Michael John Kerrigan (434528) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Died on 22 March 1945
Flight Sergeant Bruce Cowper MacKnight (428879) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant John Erskine Brown MacLean (434641) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Maurice James McNamara (429719) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Howard Taylor (3011426) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Robert Watt (1579768) (RAFVR) (Navigator)

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster NG193 (Flying Officer Ronald Alfred Leonard (408485) (Pilot)) on 15 January 1945.

The other aircraft lost that were piloted by Australians were No. 50 Squadron Lancaster LM234 (Flying Officer Alexander Hunter Nicol (426979) (Pilot)) and No. 106 Squadron Lancaster PB122 (Flying Officer Donald Robert McIntosh (426234) (Pilot)).

In addition, No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND822 (Pilot Officer Gerald Duncan Walker (423014) (Pilot)) as the result of an accident and this fifth aircraft loss is not accounted for in Herington’s text.


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, 166/26/752
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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