MARTIN John Francis 16203

LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer John Francis MARTIN

Service No: 16203
Born: Fremantle WA, 14 December 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 April 1940
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM871), France, 25 June 1944, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Bussus-Bussuel Communal Cemetery, Somme, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Francis William and Veronica Rechinda Martin; husband of Doreen Madge Martin, of Subiaco, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On the night of 24th-25th June, although No. 466 had a quiet trip to Le Grand Rossignol, Nos. 463 and 467 had an unhappy introduction to Noball (1) targets when a force from No. 5 Group was sent against Prouville. Between them the two RAAF units supplied 34 Lancasters and eight other Australian pilots flew in the total force of 112 aircraft. At first all augured well because the weather was clear with only a slight haze and the initial illumination and marking was done punctually. Before the attack got under way, however, intense enemy searchlight activity in cooperation with guns and fighters threatened to disrupt the work of the pathfinder “backers-up”, so the master bomber ordered the main force to refrain from bombing and to circle the target until a deliberate
attack could begin.

The 20-minutes delay caused by this zealous attempt to make the best possible attack gave enemy fighters and guns ample opportunity to take heavy toll of the bombers, 13 being destroyed. Wing Commander Donald Roy Donaldson (400631) who had taken over command of No. 463 as recently as 18th June was shot down by gunfire and two other Lancasters of his squadron captained by Pilot Officer Jeoffrey Maxwell Tilbrook (417248) and Pilot Officer John Francis Martin (16203) failed to return. No. 467 also lost two crews while the Lancaster captained by Pilot Officer Johns DFC (425021) was so heavily damaged by cannon fire from a night fighter that the rear turret was almost completely severed and the gunner blown out without his parachute. The aft end of the aircraft was set on fire and with the inter-communication set out of action the mid-upper gunner baled out . Nevertheless the fire was brought under control and, although the badly-damaged Lancaster was difficult to control and was virtually defenceless, Johns insisted on continuing his journey and bombed the target. … Flight Lieutenant Forrest (415635) of No. 61 Squadron (RAF) also failed to return from this raid.

(1) The code name for all anti V-weapon (German cruise (V1) and ballistic (V2) missile) operations was CROSSBOW, that for targets, e.g. ski sites and supply depots, was “NOBALL”

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – page 176-7

Lancaster LM571 took off from RAF Waddington at 2249 hours on the night of 24/25th June 1944 to bomb a construction site for flying bombs at Prouville, France. Bomb load 14 x 500 lb (pound) (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eighteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and three of these including LM 571 failed to return. 72 tons of bombs were aboard the Squadron’s aircraft. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed at Bussus-Bussuel (Somme), 12kms east of Abbeville.

The crew members of LM571 were:

Flight Sergeant Bramwell Rockliff Barber (408433) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant George William Bateman (417327) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Lionel Gregory Leslie Hunter (424761) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Warrant Officer Bernard Edward Kelly (415430) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Thomas Alexander Malcolm (418755) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 8 March 1946
Pilot Officer John Francis Martin (16203) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Peter Donald Taylor (1324017) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LM574 (Pilot Officer Jeoffrey Maxwell Tilbrook (417248) (Pilot)) on 25 June 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LM587 (Wing Commander Donald Roy Donaldson DFC (400631) (Pilot) (Commanding Officer No. 463 Squadron)) on 25 June 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ND729 (Flight Lieutenant Roland Reginald Cowan DFC (425278) (Pilot and)) on 25 June 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM450 (Pilot Officer Arthur Albert William Berryman (415495) (Pilot)) on 25 June 1944.

No. 467 Squadron suffered a further operational casualty (Flight Sergeant John James Fallon, (414546) (Rear Gunner)) on 25 June 1944.

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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/27/488