LEST WE FORGET
Flight Lieutenant Charles James MARTIN
Service No: 413219
Born: Wagga Wagga NSW, 16 March 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 16 August 1941
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM444), Germany, 25 February 1944, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Richard Gordon Martin and Helen Kathleen Martin, of Seven Hills, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Parramatta NSW
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Victory Memorial Gardens Cenotaph, Wagga Wagga NSW
Date: 24-25 February 1944
Total Force: Dispatched – 734, Attacking – 662
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 17; No. 463 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 14; No. 466 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 16
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,152
Total Aircraft Lost: 33
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2; No. 463 – 2
The third target for Bomber Command in the week expressly devoted to crippling the German Air Force was Schweinfurt, the chief enemy centre for production of ball bearings. A large force of American heavy bombers attacked on 24th February and that same night Bomber Command went out in strength. To avoid the increasing difficulties shown by over concentration of the bomber stream a new device of splitting the force in two and attacking at an interval of two hours was attempted. More than 300 aircraft created diversions in various areas with the result that heavy opposition was only encountered along the last leg into the target. Here the Australians were unpleasantly surprised by the strength and vigour of the ground defences, and among several aircraft heavily damaged was a Lancaster of No. 467 carrying members of the RAF Film Unit sent to make a complete record of the second phase of the raid. Australians in both waves submitted extremely optimistic reports and considered the marking ideal, but in fact the whole raid was misplaced and centred on the villages of Garstadt and Grafenrheinfeld up to five miles south of Schweinfurt.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 660, 1
Lancaster LM444 took off from RAF Waddington at 2026 hours on the night 24/25th February 1944 to bomb Schweinfurt, Germany. The bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 80 x 30 lb (14 kg), 750 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft was hit by enemy fire over the target area at 20,000 feet. The abandon order was given immediately but before any one could move the aircraft rolled over on its back and disintegrated. The aircraft exploded in the air and crashed near Edelshohe, which is 5 miles north west of Schweinfurt. Six of the crew members were killed and one became a Prisoner of War.
The crew members of L444 were:
Sergeant John Theodore Hollow (1606440) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Richard Mortimer Newark Jacombs (413388) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Lieutenant Charles James Martin (413219) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Colin Hillier Martin (417392) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Francis Joseph Pearson (1135624) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Douglas Bruce White (400246) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 8 February 1946
Sergeant Percy Reginald Wynde (967562) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
In a 1945 statement the then Flight Lieutenant White reported “Just after the bombardier reported
photo taken, the pilot ordered bale out. There was no time to acknowledge and immediately after the aircraft turned on its back. I had time to half attach my chute which was close by then I apparently became unconscious and the next I knew I was in the air. The height at which we were hit was 20,000 feet. The aircraft was out of control and on fire. It crashed 10 miles north west of Schweinfurt. As far as I know no others got out. The Germans advised me that the rest of the crew were killed. I believe the aircraft blew up and the others were killed. I was seized by civilian police when looking for a barn to sleep in and taken to local police station about 4.30am on 28/2/44. Released by British near Lubeck 2/5/45.”
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster LM315 (Flight Sergeant Ronald Yates (1454669) (RAFVR) (Pilot)) on 25 February 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND394 (Flight Sergeant Ronald Cedric Ferguson (414996) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) on 24 February 1944.
No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL740 (Flight Lieutenant Ronald James Mortimer DFC (255684) (Pilot)) on 25 February 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, 166/27/363
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line