LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer Cecil Terence O’BRIEN

Service No: 404257
Born: Barcaldine QLD, 10 September 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 19 July 1940
Unit: No. 459 Squadron, Idku, Egypt
Died: Air Operations: (No. 459 Squadron Hudson aircraft FH247), Idku, 10 July 1942, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Alexandria (Hadra) War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas and Catherine O’Brien, of Capella, Queensland, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Capella QLD
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Cyrenaican ports were repeatedly bombed—at Benghazi by Halifaxes, on loan from the United Kingdom, and Liberators; and at Tobruk by the Wellingtons of No. 205 Group which were released from the land battle on 7th July. Even the supplies which cleared the ports had to face a long road haul up to the front line under continual danger of attack from light bombers, and farther forward from fighter – bombers. This strategic task of systematically throttling the supplies of the Panzer Army Africa remained the prime task of RAF units throughout the late summer of 1942 except when the needs of the Eighth Army in attack or defence necessitated a temporary return to tactical ground support.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 253

On 9th July, No. 459 Squadron received orders to send all available aircraft to Idku, east of Alexandria for operations. Nine Hudsons were sent and on arrival at Idku, a small airstrip described as a narrow strip of sand fringed by tall palm trees, crews learnt that they were to make their first concerted attack against a known enemy convoy attempting to reach Tobruk. Tobruk, earlier in Australian hands, had been occupied by German forces for less than three weeks at that time.  Part of the operations problem lay in the choice of the Idku airfield with which crews were unfamiliar. On 10 July 1942, two aircraft crashed in the dark of the pre-dawn take-off with the loss of both crews; FH 247 failed to clear the palm trees and crashed in flames, while V9027 (Flight Sergeant Frank Gibney Livingston (400891) (Pilot)) was found early next morning upside down just off-shore.

Extract from Vincent, D. (David) The RAAF Hudson Story Book 1, D. Vincent Highbury SA 5089, 1989 – Page 234

The crew members of FH247 were:

Flight Sergeant Joseph William Clarke (404580) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Arthur Edmund Dignum (931915) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Herbert Edmond Lake (401383) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Cecil Terence O’Brien (404257) (Pilot)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9816, 145 (No. 459 Squadron Unit History)