Pilot Officer Francis Albert PRESTON

Service No: 407972
Born: Clifton Hill VIC, 30 October 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 February 1941 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 100 Squadron (RAF), RAF Grimsby, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 100 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM333), Netherlands, 23 August 1943, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Bergen General Cemetery, Noord-Holland, Netherlands.
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Harold Claude and Hannah Mary Preston, of Henley Beach, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Henley Beach SA
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Lancaster LM333 took off from RAF Grimsby at 2030 hours on the night of 23/24th August 1943, detailed to bomb Berlin. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft encountered heavy anti-aircraft fire on crossing the Dutch coast at a height of 21/22,000 feet. Evasive action was attempted but the port outer engine failed and soon caught fire.
The bale out order was given and four baled out through the rear escape hatch. The aircraft crashed at Lagebericht (Noord-Holland) near Bergen. Two crew members were killed, four became Prisoners of War and one escaped capture.

The crew members of LM333 were:

Sergeant J J Adelstein (R/154369) (RCAF) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW
Sergeant Harold Chadwick (1020104) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant E J Gargini (1385333) (RAF) (Navigator) PoW
Sergeant A E Henry (1383201) (RAF) (Wireless Air Gunner) PoW
Sergeant J Noble (1341382) (RAF) (Air Bomber) PoW
Pilot Officer Francis Albert Preston (407972) (Pilot)
Sergeant R Fidler (1549502) (RAF) (Rear Gunner) Evaded capture

Sergeant Fidler later reported “I saw the Navigator, Wireless Operator and Mid Gunner bale out of the rear exit. Before I left by the rear exit I asked the pilot what height we were at He replied 19,000 feet. The bombs were still on the aircraft when I left. I do not think we were hit by anti-aircraft fire as I heard the Flight Engineer talking about the port outer when we were crossing the English coast when outward bound. The fire spread rapidly and I saw flames stream past the rear turret.”


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, 166/33/65


Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990

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