Flying Officer John Bithel PLUMRIDGE

Service No: 428353
Born: Caulfield VIC, 5 March 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 10 October 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Station Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB740), Germany, 4 December 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur John and Lily Plumridge, of Murrumbeena, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Melbourne VIC
Remembered: Panel 111, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 4-5 December 1944
Target: Heilbronn
Total Force: Dispatched – 292, Attacking – 284
RAAF Force: No. 463 Dispatched – 21, Attacking – 21; No. 467 Dispatched – 20, Attacking – 20
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,267
Total Aircraft Lost: 12
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 1; No. 467 – 1

Two forces were dispatched on 4th-5th December against Karlsruhe and Heilbronn and both achieved moderate success, but, whereas No. 460 had a quiet night over Karlsruhe, Nos. 463 and 467 had trouble both with icing and with enemy fighters which swarmed to the bomber stream after some loads of incendiaries had been dropped by accident or in emergency on the outward journey. Twelve bombers were shot down including one from each RAAF squadron while Flying Officer Huxtable (1), Flight Lieutenant Kynoch (2), Flying Officer Shanahan (3) and Flight Lieutenant Redwood (4) all had to fight off enemy attacks.

(1) Flying Officer Denzil Christopher Huxtable DFC (421733) Discharged from the RAAF: 3 December 1945
(2) Flight Lieutenant William Morris Kynoch DFC (419657) Discharged from the RAAF: 11 April 1946
(3) Flight Lieutenant Peter Kenneth Shanahan (425902) Discharged from the RAAF: 11 January 1946
(4) Flight Lieutenant Henry George Redwood DFC (428804) Discharged from the RAAF: 29 November 1945

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 307-8

Lancaster PB740 took off from RAF Waddington at 1642 on 4 December 1944 to bomb Heilbronn, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 14 x 106 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these PB740 failed to return. It was later established that Flight Sergeant Penman survived the crash and became a Prisoner of War, and that the other six crew members had been killed.

The crew members of PB740 were:

Flight Sergeant Charles Leslie George (430654) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Geoffrey Hayman (433207) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Ernest Penman (428930) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 November 1945
Flying Officer John Bithel Plumridge (428353) (Pilot)
Flying Officer George Dudley Rawson (424797) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flying Officer George Frederick Sinden (432361) (Navigator)
Sergeant John Leslie Wood (1894948) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

In a later report Flight Sergeant Penman said “After repeated attacks by enemy fighters, the aircraft was on fire and out of control. Emergency ‘jump’ order given for which no acknowledgement needed. Tail gunner not heard after first attack and suspect he was a casualty. I was out first. All members of crew in aircraft after I left at 9000 feet. Aircraft on fire and in a spin. Saw no chutes on landing. After landing attempted to walk 50 miles west towards allied lines. Challenged by Volkstun, searched and escape kit gave me away. Released from Luft 111A in April 45 by Russians. Escaped from Russians on 7 May 45.”

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster PB792 (Flying Officer Jocelyn King Waring (434058) (Pilot)) on 4 December 1944.

No. 467 Squadron Lancaster LM100 lost Rear Gunner (Sergeant Ronald Arthur William Steele (1867974) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)) on 4 December 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, 166/32/585

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