Flight Lieutenant Ronald James MORTIMER DFC

Service No: 255684
Born: Sale VIC, 21 November 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 January 1940
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 21 December 1945 (Citation Title: No. 463 Squadron)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LL740), Germany, 25 February 1944, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Percy Samuel and Priscilla Beatrice Mortimer, of Morwell, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Sale VIC
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 24-25 February 1944
Target: Schweinfurt
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 LL740 took off from RAF Waddington at 2022 hours on the night of 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 when flying at 19,500 feet outbound and while passing Stuttgart, was hit by cannon fire from a night fighter. The starboard wing burst into flames and the pilot reported severe structural damage to his cockpit and forward fuselage. With the fire spreading and threatening to engulf the entire wing area, the bale out order was given. The pilot died when the plane crashed at Murr, 9kms north north east of Ludwigshafen. Two crew members were killed five became Prisoners of War. The survivors were unanimous in that they owe their lives to Flight Lieutenant Mortimer’s unselfish behaviour.

The crew members of LL740 were:

Flying Officer William John Back Baggie (420848) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 October 1945
Pilot Officer Maxwell Dease (415073) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 14 March 1946
Sergeant H Everard (619714) (RAF) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Sergeant G Lloyd (1489947) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW
Pilot Officer Leonard Ernest Jackson (403028) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 11 December 1945
Flight Lieutenant Ronald James Mortimer DFC (255684) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer Ian Cedric Young (409963) (Bomb Aimer)

In a 1945 statement by Flying Officer Baggie he reported “We were attacked by a night fighter (unseen). Prepare to abandon order was given and acknowledged. None of crew were injured. The starboard inner and wing were on fire, and cockpit and fuselage badly damaged. The fire increased and bale out order given. The Bomb aimer and Engineer baled out before me with the other four still in the aircraft. I baled out at about 18,000 feet. The starboard wing was on fire. The Pilot had control but the aircraft was losing height and going round in slow circles. The aircraft crashed about 35 kms west of Stuttgart. The Germans said that Mortimer and Young were killed. I contacted the other four at the Dulag. I landed in a field and was captured by Germans on the edge of the town of Moohr. Was a POW until released on 2 May 1945.”

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 LM444 (Flight Lieutenant Charles James Martin (413219) (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, 166/28/255

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