RICHARDSON Ernest Hartley 427259

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Ernest Hartley RICHARDSON

Service No: 427259
Born: Cottesloe WA, 16 December 1910
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 June 1942
Unit: No. 462 Squadron, RAF Driffield, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 462 Squadron Halifax aircraft LL599), Germany, 23 October 1944, Aged 33 Years
Buried: Hotton War Cemetery, Hotton Luxembourg, Belgium
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Horatio and Mary Jane Richardson; husband of Daphne Mavis Richardson, of Bencubbin, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Bencubbin WA
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Date: 23-24 October 1944
Target: Essen
Total Force: Dispatched – 1,055, Attacking – 955
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 26, Attacking – 24; Mo. 462 – 16, 12; No. 466 – 16, 15
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 4,538
Total Aircraft Lost: 8
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 462 – 1

Note: The above table does not include the accidental loss of No. 460 Squadron Lancaster PB351 on 23 October 1944.

After Duisburg came Essen, the home of Krupps, which had a symbolic significance to aircrew as the prime heavy industrial target. The first raid on 23rd-24th October was again in great strength, Nos. 460, 462 and 466 providing 58 bombers in a force of 1,055. Essen was covered in heavy cloud and, although “Wanganui” sky flares were well laid and maintained by the pathfinders, approximately 10 per cent of crews failed to attack. Those who bombed could give no precise assessment of their accuracy although they reported a strong glow from fires which increased as the attack progressed. Only eight bombers were lost against this notoriously difficult target but Flying Officer Hagstrom (1) of No. 466 and Flying Officer Bennett (2) of No. 78 did well to coax their badly-damaged Halifaxes back to base. Two Australians were fortunate to escape death. Flight Sergeant Cannon, a mid-upper gunner of No. 460, was knocked unconscious when his Lancaster was hit by flak during the run up to Essen, and when the aircraft crashed on return to England he was thrown clear and although seriously injured was the sole survivor.

(1) Flying Officer Harold Ronald Hagstrom DFC (420876) was discharged from the RAAF on 11 January 1946.
(2) Flying Officer John Bertram Bennett DFC (418911) was discharged from the RAAF on 11 September 1945.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 302-5

Halifax LL599 took off from RAF Driffield at 1643 hours on 23 October 1944 to bomb Essen, Germany. Sixteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and of these LL 599 failed to return. While making for base the aircraft collided with No. 625 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM 691 (Flying Officer John William Brady (423280) (Air Bomber)) and both machines exploded about 2100 hours scattering wreckage in a field south of Aachen.

The crew members of LL599 were:

Flight Sergeant Edward Phillip Austin (429105) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Allan Farmer (436820) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Maurice Grace (419701) (Bomb Aimer) Baled out, Rescued by US forces, Discharged from the RAAF: 21 December 1945
Flying Officer Frank Edward Nelder (419561) (Pilot)
Sergeant Douglas Darrah Pettit (1895178) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Ernest Hartley Richardson (427259) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Malcolm Langley Wood (435026) (Mid Gunner)

Flight Sergeant Grace reported that “from the French coast until the time of the accident we were in 10/10ths cloud. Over Aachen about 1925 hours a terrific bang occurred and the Aircraft went into a screaming dive. I was blown out of the Aircraft. I imagine I was the only one saved as no other chutes were in the air. Believe we were struck by another aircraft as no flak or night fighters around at the time. Landed at place called Haaren not far from Aachen about 2140 hours on 23 October. Walked east for 20 minutes in wrong direction then retraced my steps to go west and making detour to avoid a house. Someone called out to me. I walked in that direction with hands above head and identified myself to Americans. Stayed night with them and taken next day to British Liaison Officer.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster PB351 (Pilot Officer Denis Richard Garth Richins (422298) (Pilot)) on 23 October 1944.

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, 166/35/420