Flight Sergeant Joe OSHLACK

Service No: 410560
Born: Warsaw, Poland, 16 May 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 30 January 1942 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 466 Squadron, RAF Station Leconfield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 466 Squadron Halifax aircraft HX242), France, 3 June 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Tourville-la-Campagne Communal Cemetery, Eure, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Samuel and Ceila Oshlack, of Elwood, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Elwood VIC
Remembered: Panel 110, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Brother of Leading Aircraftman Charles Bernard Oshlack (56853)

Date: 2-3 June 1944
Target: Trappes Rail Centre
Total Force: Dispatched – 128, Attacking – 124
RAAF Force: No. 466 Dispatched – Unavailable, Attacking – 15
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 481
Total Aircraft Lost: 16
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 466 – 2

The last raid of the series, against Trappes near Paris on 2nd-3rd June, was again well executed but once more enemy fighters were waiting over the target; with the aid of moonlight and special flares they found many opportunities to attack. Two Halifaxes of No. 466 were shot down; another piloted by Flight Lieutenant J. H. Stevens (1) was severely damaged by an Me-210 and at one stage of the homeward journey lost height until it was almost at ground level, although Stevens managed to keep his aircraft under control and reached base. The Halifax flown by Pilot Officer Bancroft (2) of No. 158 Squadron was damaged even more extensively in a desperate encounter with a Ju-88. All the instruments and the inter-communication system were damaged, the hydraulic system was destroyed, causing the bomb-doors and flaps to fall open, and a large hole, three feet long and the full width of the aircraft, was smashed in the floor . Another gaping hole appeared near the radio position, both turrets were useless, one of the petrol tanks was holed, and fires broke out in the bomb bay and near the rear bulkhead. Bancroft wrestled with the controls of this battered hulk while his navigator, Pilot Officer Fripp (3) aided by the only two other survivors, tackled and extinguished the fires. The compasses had been destroyed but luckily the upper sky was clear and Bancroft steered by the North Star and reached Hurn airfield.

(1) Flight Lieutenant John Humphreys Stevens DFC (416802) Discharged from the RAAF: 6 September 1945
(2) Flying Officer Bruce Douglas Bancroft DFC GM (421635) Discharged from the RAAF: 8 February 1946
(3) Flying Officer Charles Fredrick Alwyn Fripp DFC (423092) Discharged from the RAAF: 3 December 1945

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 28, 30-1

Halifax HX242 took off from RAF Leconfield at 2220 hours on the night of 2/3rd June 1944 to bomb the railway yards at Trappes, France. Fifteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including HX242 failed to return. Post war enquiries by a Missing Research and Enquiry Team established that the aircraft was seen approaching the village of St Armand des Hautes, Terres, France, at about 0200 hours on 3 June 1944. The aircraft suddenly exploded in mid air presumably due to enemy action and wreckage fell in a field 3 miles west of the village. All the crew members were killed.

The crew members of HX242 were:

Flight Sergeant Kenneth George Coleman (418810) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Bryan James Dowling (419165) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Joseph George (1869090) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant John Ernest Thomas Kingham (411336) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Joe Oshlack (410560) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Thomas Ridgway (425752) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Owen Leslie Tyte (424928) (Navigator)

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax HX271 (Pilot Officer Archibald Lancelot Smith (422309) (Pilot)) on 3 June 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, 166/31/199

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