PEARCE Philip John 427934

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Philip John PEARCE

Service No: 427934
Born: Fremantle WA, 11 September 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 October 1942
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM551), France, 19 July 1944, Aged 19 Years
Buried: Choloy War Cemetery, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Richard James Pearce and Charlotte Mary Pearce, of East Fremantle, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: East Fremantle WA
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Revigny, already the objective of two abortive raids by other groups on 12th-13th and 14th-15th July, was nominated as a target for No. 5 Group on 18th-19th July. This was an ill-fated attack as no fewer than 24 of the force of 110 bombers failed to return to base. It was a case of the elaborate nightly RAF tactical deception plan misfiring for once. The enemy ignored the raid against Scholven-Buer, being deceived into thinking it was a diversionary sweep. The Luftwaffe’s strength in Belgium was sent westward into France and ran headlong into the force attacking Revigny. Fighter attacks began over the target and the fighters then hung determinedly around the skirts of the retiring bombers until they crossed the coast. Few crews saw obvious signs of success because long-delay fuses were again used, but later evidence showed that after the attack only one through line remained open. One RAAF pilot criticised the chosen route, which crossed an active searchlight belt in the Pas de Calais. After seeing four Lancasters shot down over the target within two minutes he swung out of the stream and skirted this searchlight belt and reported that other aircraft which had kept to track were shot down. Australian losses were particularly severe. Aircraft piloted by Flying Officer Beverley Hudson Gifford (415220) and Flying Officer James Robert Worthington (406417) of No. 463, Flying Officer Thomas Edward William Davis (420173) and Flying Officer David Beharrie (418334) of No. 467, Flying Officer William David Appleyard (415716) of No. 49, Flying Officer Frank Francis Molinas (425454) of No. 619 and Flying Officer Peter Buck Dennett (418927), Flying Officer Gordon Edward Maxwell (425331) and Flying Officer Bruce William Brittain (414756) of No. 630 were all shot down.

Herington, J. (John) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 Pages 236-7

Lancaster LM551 took off from RAF Waddington at 2253 hours on the night of 18/19th July 1944 to bomb the railway junction at Revigny, France. Bomb load 11 x 1000 lb (pound) (450 kg), 3 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eight aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including LM 551 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and crashed into the Canal de Marne between Locks 53 and 54.

The crew members of LM551 were:

Flight Sergeant John Charles Broughton Boydell (430247) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Alan Wesley Giles Fripp (427314) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Beverley Hudson Gifford (415520) (Pilot)
Sergeant Harold Newell (577927) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Philip John Pearce (427934) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Warrant Officer Raymond George Shipway (413036) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Frank George Spencer (427360) (Bomb Aimer)

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster DV374 (Flying Officer James Robert Worthington (406417) (Pilot)) on 19 July 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster PB234 (Flying Officer David Beharrie (418334) (Pilot)) on 19 July 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster R5485 (Flying Officer Thomas Edward William Davis (420173) (Pilot)) on 19 July 1944.

References:

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, 166/32/446