Warrant Officer John Bruce OSBORN

Service No: 408733
Born: Canterbury VIC, 20 March 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 May 1941
Unit: No. 51 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Snaith
Died: Air Operations: (No. 51 Squadron Halifax aircraft LV880), France, 11 April 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Davenscourt Communal Cemetery, Somme, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Hubert Theodore and Violet May Osborn, of Deepdene, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Camberwell VIC
Remembered: Panel 128, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 2120 hours on the night of 10 April 1944 Halifax LV880 took off from Snaith detailed to bomb rail installations at Tergnier, France. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was attacked by a night fighter and the port wing set on fire. The Pilot attempted to blow out the fire by diving steeply but this was unsuccessful and moments after the order was given for the crew to put on parachutes. The aircraft then exploded and crashed at Davenscourt (Somme), 7 kms north north east of Montdidier. Four of the crew members were killed, two were taken prisoner and one evaded capture.

The crew members of LV880 were:

Flight Sergeant Mervyn James Fairclough (427078) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 25 October 1945
Pilot Officer Horace Mervyn Hall (410158) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Charles Thomas Hartley (J/26313) (RCAF) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant P W Hegarty (1894062) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW
Flying Officer Frederick Godfrey Kirkwood (422577) (Navigator) Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 6 May 1946
Warrant Officer John Bruce Osborn (408733) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Gordon Joseph William Peck (1812386) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

Flight Sergeant Fairclough later reported “We were attacked by a night fighter from below. The port wing was set on fire and the Captain tried to put it out by diving the aircraft. He also ordered put on parachutes. I went forward to see if the abandon order had been given as I couldn’t make contact. I was thrown to the floor and couldn’t get up, but finally blown out when the Aircraft exploded. Later learnt that the abandon order had been given. Captured a few months late by the Gestapo.”


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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/31/174

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