OLSEN George Glenn 436361

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant George Glenn OLSEN

Service No: 436361
Born: Mullewa WA, 17 February 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 December 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Lancaster aircraft ND971), Germany, 6 December 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Hanover War Cemetery, Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Charles and Alicia Margretta Olsen, of Cue, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Mullewa WA
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

The tendency towards larger bombing forces and a much higher proportion of pathfinder aircraft to main force for oil attacks during winter months was again apparent on 6th December when a late evening attack was made by No. 1 Group against the Leuna plant at Merseburg. This, like Politz, had originally been designated as a target for the USAAF, but repeated attacks had failed to put it out of action, and it was becoming increasingly difficult for American daylight forces to keep up their attack. As an individual target it was much larger and more important than any of the original Bomber Command list. It was much farther away than the Rhenish synthetic plants and it was very well defended by ground guns. No. 1 Group provided 291 Lancasters, No. 3 Group 123 Lancasters and No. 8 Pathfinder Force Group 71 Lancasters and 12 Mosquitos for the record force of nearly 500 aircraft dispatched against a single oil target. The 24 crews of No. 460 Squadron and the 46 crews captained by Australians from other squadrons set out late in the afternoon for a four-hour flight to the target in conditions of dense cloud and sub-normal temperatures which so frequently found out the weak spots in both machine and man. Most of them agreed on return that the sky markers laid by Pathfinder Force in ten-tenths cloud were plentiful and well grouped. Pilots of No. 460 who bombed at heights ranging from 17,000 to 20,000 feet were less hopeful than others that the well-grouped target indicators were in fact well placed; they feared that the main concentration of bombs would fall away from vital parts of the plant.

The relative absence of fire and smoke after bombing resulted in cautious claims, especially so as the force had passed almost directly over Giessen which was burning furiously after an attack timed for 45 minutes earlier than the Leuna raid. Final assessment of damage was in fact difficult because, when reconnaissance photographs were finally obtained, they covered not only the Bomber Command but three USAAF attacks. These photographs revealed that the Germans had made considerable progress with repair and reconstruction; evidence although not conclusive tended to show that Leuna had been reduced to almost one-third of its potential. The Bomber Command raid had more than justified itself. It had also stung the Luftwaffe into a higher level of fighter activity than was normal at this time. Many combats were reported and although four Lancasters (including one of No. 460) failed to return, air combats were not one-sided. Flight Sergeant Andrews (1) and Flight Sergeant Hammond (2) of No. 460 and Flight Sergeant O’Brien (3) and Flight Sergeant Johnson (4) of No. 576 by good gunnery fire-control probably destroyed enemy fighters which attacked their aircraft.
(1) Warrant Officer James Raymond Andrews (439636) was discharged from the RAAF on 6 December 1945.
(2) Warrant Officer Thomas Grenville Hammond (431175) was discharged from the RAAF on 15 March 1946.
(3) Flying Officer Leslie Carlide O’Brien (32604) was discharged from the RAAF on 30 November 1945.
(4) Flying Officer Arthur Neil Johnson (433062) was discharged from the RAAF on 24 October 1945.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 222

Lancaster ND971 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1645 hours on 6 December 1944 to bomb Merseburg, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg), 1 x 1000 lb (450kg) and 8 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs, 2 x 14 clusters and 20 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty four aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid and only one aircraft ND 971 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft collided with another Lancaster, probably No. 635 Squadron (RAF) Lancaster aircraft ND 707 and crashed 1km east of Weddingen, 5kms WNW of Vienenburg, Germany. An explosion occurred as the two aircraft fell. Six crew members of ND971 and five crew members of ND707 were killed and three became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of ND971 were:

Flying Officer James Horace Andrews (154833) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Harold Walley Charlesworth (2225458) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Jack Kenneth Jury (3032199) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant David Howell Moule (1652638) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant George Glenn Olsen (436361) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Russell Sadler (1381538) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer Peter Odiarne Walter (427273) (Pilot) Thrown clear by the explosion and became a Prisoner of War*, Discharged from the RAAF: 1 February 1946

* The DVA On-Line Record does not show Pilot Officer Walter as having been a PoW.

The crew members of ND707 were:

Sergeant Fred Forster (1897586) (RAFVR)
Flying Officer William Edgar Hearn (151490) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer John Warder Jordan (187254) (RAFVR)
Sergeant R Lyons (1798236) (RAFVR) PoW
Sergeant J McNab (1374460) (RAFVR) PoW
Sergeant Horace Ernest Medlock (1812678) (RAFVR)
Flying Officer Kenneth Donald Wallingford (J/35107) (RCAF)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Chorley W R, Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War – Volume 5 Aircraft and Aircrew Losses 1944, Midland Counties Publications, 1997
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, 166/31/284

Bibliography:

Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985