PITTS Warren Henry 436480

LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer Warren Henry PITTS

Service No: 436480
Born: Perth WA, 17 December 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 January 1943
Unit: No. 227 Squadron (RAF), RAF Balderton, Nottinghamshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 227 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PA259), Germany, 21 March 1945, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery,
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Henry Arthur and Catherine Nina Pitts, of Perth, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 128, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

The Germans gave priority to repairing the Bohlen oil installations because of their relative distance from English bomber bases, and within a fortnight Bomber Command assessed that some units were again in operation. Thus on 20th-21st March No. 463 sent 16 and No. 467 17 crews in a force of 224 which in much better weather dropped 946 tons of bombs in the most concentrated of the series of attacks against Bohlen. Photographs, obtained 12 hours after the main attack, showed fires burning in various parts of the plant; apart from severe and widespread damage to vital units the internal marshalling yards had been heavily hit and it was estimated that Bohlen was unlikely to be substantially operative for at least two months. In the event, because of the progress of the armies, no further bombing attack was necessary, but this last attack was relatively costly as 10 bombers were lost, including one of No. 463 and one each piloted by Australians of Nos. 50, 57, 61, 97 and 207 Squadrons, while another Australian pilot failed to return from a small feint attack by 12 aircraft against Halle which was intended to divert enemy fighters from Bohlen.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 427

Lancaster PA259 took off from RAF Balderton at 2339 hours on the night of 20/21st March 1945, detailed to attack a synthetic oil plant at Bohlen, Germany, after first making a feint run over Halle. Nearing the turning point at Halle, and flying at 15,000 feet, the aircraft came under attack from a night fighter. The aircraft disintegrated and crashed on 21st March 1945 near Eschwege, killing three crew members and five became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of PA259 were:

Sergeant Leonard Earl Baxter (J/95240) (RCAF) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Robert Wade Fytton (2201064) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant Raymond Douglas King (427913) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 31 January 1946
Sergeant L Marshall (1597160) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) PoW
Flight Sergeant Bernard Theo Long (427409) (Wireless Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 9 January 1946
Flying Officer W T Neilsen (162188) (RAFVR) (Navigator) PoW
Flying Officer Warren Henry Pitts (436480) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant W A Roots (1614594) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber) PoW

In a later PoW report Flight Lieutenant King stated “The aircraft was attacked by 2 or 3 enemy
fighters and was badly damaged and on fire. The aircraft could not be controlled and I gave the order to bale out. A few seconds later the aircraft blew up and crashed approximately 20 miles east of Eschwege.”

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster PB845 (Flying Officer Richard Stewart Bennett (436327) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 50 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster ME441 (Pilot Officer Allan Neil Levy (429153) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 57 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster LM653 (Flight Lieutenant Aubrey Robert Palling (428261) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945

In addition to the loss of LM653, No. 57 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster RA530 (Flying Officer Charles Alan Cobern (5870) (Pilot)) which crashed soon after take-off on 20 March 1945.

No. 61 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster RA560 (Flying Officer John Frederick Swales (422989) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 97 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA973 (Flight Lieutenant John Dennis Cottman (418813) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

No. 207 Squadron (RAF) lost Lancaster PA196 (Flying Officer Raymond Allan Lewis (19892) (Pilot)) on 21 March 1945.

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, 166/32/711