Warrant Officer Royston William PURCELL

Service No: 412686
Born: Werris Creek NSW, 9 March 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 July 1941
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM475), France, 10 May 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Lezennes Communal Cemetery, Nord, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Patrick Hubert and Emma Katherine Purcell, of Enfield. New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Enfield NSW
Remembered: Panel 111, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 10-11 May 1944
Target: Lille Marshalling Yards
Total Force: Dispatched – 89, Attacking – 86
RAAF Force: Dispatched – Unavailable, Attacking – 31 (total)
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 419
Total Aircraft Lost: 12
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 3; No. 467 – 3

The heaviest setback suffered by the RAAF squadrons was on 10th-11th May when Waddington provided 31 of the total force of 86 Lancasters which attacked Lille, near the Belgian border. Squadron Leader Locke (1) of No. 97 Squadron (RAF) controlled this force and the bombing was very concentrated and effective. Gun defences were not unduly heavy but in numerous combats with enemy fighters Nos. 463 and 467 each lost one flight commander and two other crews, or 20 per cent of the crews sent out.

(1) Squadron Leader Harry Baker Locke DSO DFC (401980) was discharged from the RAAF on 1 July 1947.

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

Lancaster LM475 took off from RAF Waddington at 2157 hours on the night of 10/11th May 1944 to bomb rail facilities at Lille, France. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 16 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. A signal was received from LM 475 on W/T at 2330 hours and a further signal at 2345 hours. Nothing further was received. Seventeen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and three of these including LM475 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Lezannes, Rochin in the south eastern suburbs of Lille, France.

The crew members of LM475 were:

Sergeant Eric Reginald Hill (1352851) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Alastair Dale Johnson (425413) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Jeremiah Parker (658844) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Gilbert Firth Pate (423311) (Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Royston William Purcell (412686) (Navigator)
Squadron Leader Donald Philip Smeed Smith (400495) (Pilot) Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 10 December 1945
Sergeant Kenneth Harold Tabor (1850279) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

In his report Squadron Leader Smith stated “While the bombs were falling from the aircraft, it was hit either by flak or enemy aircraft and exploded in mid air. I was wearing my seat type parachute. I was thrown clear of the plane and landed safely. I do not know the fate of the crew.”

No. 463 Squadron Lancaster LL881 (Flying Officer Dudley Francis Ward DFC (420413) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster LL882 (Squadron Leader Mervyn Powell DFC (402817) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster HK535 (Flight Lieutenant Eric McLaren Scott (425226) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 467 Squadron Lancaster LL778 (Pilot Officer William Eldred Felstead (420870) (Pilot)) on 10 May 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster EE143 (Pilot Officer Douglas Hislop (414797) (Pilot)) on 10 May 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, 166/33/163

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