LEST WE FORGET
Flight Lieutenant Allan John RATE
Service No: 423892
Born: Carlton NSW, 22 April 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 July 1942
Unit: No. 462 Squadron, RAF Foulsham, Norfolk
Died: Air Operations: (No. 462 Squadron Halifax aircraft MZ447), Germany, 24 February 1945, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of George William and Alice May Rate, of Hurlstone Park, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Hurlstone Park NSW
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
No. 462 Squadron flew 155 sorties on 15 nights and one day during February and 83 sorties on 13 nights during the first three weeks of March. The combined Window-dropping and bombing raids during February were all in the Ruhr and Rhineland, mainly as decoys from the true target chosen that night but sometimes purely to confuse enemy raid reporting systems when no actual attack was contemplated. By its very nature this “coat-trailing” was hazardous, but crews intruded and withdrew safely with conspicuous success until 24th-25th February when four out of ten Halifaxes sent to the Ruhr failed to return.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 432
Halifax MZ447 took off from RAF Foulsham at 1658 hours on the night of 24/25th February 1945 to carry out a spoof and bombing raid in the Ruhr area. The aircraft were detailed to mingle with a diversionary sweep heading towards Northern France. Ten aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and four of these including MZ447 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was hit by flak and crashed about 2130 hours at Boisheim, 4kms south east of Breyell, Germany, and close to the border with Holland.
The crew members of MZ447 were:
Flight Sergeant R A Gould (1801500) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer) PoW
Sergeant James Holloway (1812795) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Malcolm John Husband (1717816) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Flying Officer Desmond Noel Kehoe (415429) (Special Duties (Radar) Air/Ground)
Flight Sergeant Edwin Joseph Maslin (1469853) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Stewart John Alfred Pegram (1895058) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant Allan John Rate (423892) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Victor Joseph Trunk (434431) (Wireless Air Gunner)
In a later statement Flight Sergeant Gould reported “I was first to bale out as far as I know. The Navigator was putting on his chute when I jumped. I don’t know whether the Rear Gunner was able to get out. My chute was caught up and I was so concerned in getting this to open I did not see what was happening to the aircraft or where it crashed. The chute partially opened before I hit the ground and broke the fall.”
A report from RAAF Headquarters London on file A705, 166/40/357 stated “On 24/2/1945 towards 2130 hours a 4 engine English bomber was shot down over LS section Boishem. The plane received a direct hit from ack-ack and became a total wreck. The bodies of seven British aviators were recovered and taken to Bryell. The remains of Flight Lieutenant Rate, Pilot Officer Trunk and Flying Officer Kehoe were identified.”
No. 462 Squadron lost Halifax MZ461 (Flying Officer Vivian Clive Ely (426221) (Pilot)) on 24 February 1945.
No. 462 Squadron lost Halifax PN429 (Flight Sergeant Patrick John Paul Carlon (432936) (Mid Upper Gunner)) on 24 February 1945.
No. 462 Squadron lost Halifax MZ448 (Flight Lieutenant Frederick Harold Ridgewell (149967) (RAFVR) (Pilot)) on 24 February 1945
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Chorley W R Royal Air Force Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War – Volume 6 Aircraft and Aircrew Losses 1945, Midland Counties Publications, 1998
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, 166/35/477