Pilot Officer John Barrie NANSCAWEN

Service No: 419332
Born: Ballarat VIC, 13 September 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 July 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Station Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft NG455), Germany, 8 February 1945, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Walter Joseph and Mary Agnes Nanscawen, of Malvern, Victoria, Australia. A.C.I.A.
Roll of Honour: Malvern VIC
Remembered: Panel 111, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

While prosecuting its campaign against rail towns with the twin objectives of inhibiting military movements and reducing supply and production capacity in such centres, Bomber Command had by no means forgotten targets that were important purely because they permitted distribution of raw materials or parts essential to the increasingly dispersed enemy war factories. Of these the inland waterway systems and in particular the Dortmund-Ems and Mitteland canals were prime targets, increasingly so as the Russians advanced into the Silesian coalfields thus making German industry even more dependent on coke and coal shipments from the Ruhr .

Thus on 7th-8th February No. 5 Group was sent again to bomb the Dortmund-Ems canal at Ladbergen where repairs had finally been made after the raid on New Year’s Day. German defences had also been strengthened and, although the bombers and ground searchlight teams were alike hindered by heavy cloud, fighters were active. Eleven Lancasters of No. 463 and 13 of No. 467 were included in the total force of 188 which dropped 820 tons of bombs during opportunist glimpses of the target through breaks in the cloud or on the glow of ground markers. As in previous attacks much of the load consisted of delayed-action bombs to hinder repair work.

On the return journey Flying Officer Peart (1) of No. 463 was strongly attacked by a Ju-88 but he manoeuvred his Lancaster so skillfully that his gunners were able to open fire at the same time as the fighter, which caught fire as it bore into close distance, and after being hit by further bursts from Peart’s gunners crashed in flames and exploded. Unfortunately Wing Commander Douglas, who had led No. 467 since October 1944 and had previously commanded No. 460 during the invasion of France, failed to return from this operation.

(1) Flying Officer Leslie Christie Peart DFC (419583) Discharged from the RAAF: 21 December 1945

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 412-3

Lancaster NG455 took off from RAF Waddington at 2102 hours on the night of 7/8th February 1945 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Thirteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these NG455 failed to return.

The crew members of NG455 were:

Flying Officer L W E Baines (J/35083) (RCAF) (Second Bomb Aimer) PoW
Flight Sergeant Boyd Owen Bean (429444) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 25 October 1945
Wing Commander John Keith Douglas DFC AFC (403564) (Pilot) Commanding Officer No. 467 Squadron
Pilot Officer John Barrie Nanscawen (419332) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant B H Parker (2211668) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Pilot Officer James Alexander Strickland (419231) (Wireless Operator Air) Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 October 1945
Pilot Officer Henry Montgomery Stanbrook Stuart (410113) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Mervyn George Thompson (426783) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 18 October 1945

Pilot Officer Strickland later reported “On 7 February we took off from Waddington to carry out a bombing raid on the Dortmund-Ems Canal. Fifteen minutes after we had bombed the target I felt the aircraft give a terrific lurch and then the pilot gave the order ‘bale out’ ‘bale out’. I baled out about 10,000 feet and landed in a ploughed field some 30 miles south of Munster. I got rid of the chute, harness and Mae West which I hid in a ditch. With the aid of a compass I made off in a westerly direction. This was around 0020 hours on 8th February.” Thereafter PO Strickland walked until 12th February reaching Winterswijk where he received assistance from a Dutch family, and was directed to a safe house in Varsseveld where he found shelter until 30th March. He was then brought back to the allied lines by an advanced British reconnaissance unit.

Flight Sergeant Bean later reported “About ten minutes on return from target and flying straight and level, the aircraft shook. Port wing burst into flames. The Rear Gunner and I saw nothing. Presume an upward firing fighter which came out of the cloud below. Skipper ordered ‘jump jump’. Not acknowledged. Think Bomb Aimer hit as he looked dazed and made no attempt to get out. I was first out the rear door and saw WOP right behind me. Port wing ablaze from main petrol tank. Aircraft under control but crashed 12 miles NW Munster. Germans said three killed. Think Navigator tried to help Bomb Aimer and waited too long. As I descended saw Aircraft on ground to west of me. Half hour after landing heard explosion from direction of aircraft Caught by German farmer after dawn broke.”


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, 166/29/199

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