RILEY John Richmond 415182

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant John Richmond RILEY

Service No: 415182
Born: Fremantle WA, 13 June 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 21 July 1941
Unit: No. 101 Squadron (RAF), RAF Holme-upon-Spalding Moor, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 101 Squadron Lancaster aircraft RD608), Germany, 9 April 1943, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: None Available
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Lancaster RD608 took off from RAF Holme-upon-Spalding Moor on the night of 9/10th April 1943, detailed to carry out a raid on Duisberg, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the target area at 21,000 feet and it crashed. Flight Sergeant Riley and Sergeant Bird were killed, and the other crew members became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of RD 608 were:

Sergeant Thomas Arthur Bird (1337140) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner)
Pilot Officer Earle Milton Nelson DFC (401227) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 October 1945
Sergeant E V Newstead (638014) (RAF) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Flight Sergeant Roy Alexander Parnell (411514) (Wireless Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 15 November 1945
Flight Sergeant Ronald Bowen Anzac Pender DFC (411517) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 29 October 1945
Flight Sergeant John Richmond Riley (415182) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Charles William Shields (408098) (Air Bomber) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 1 April 1946

Pilot Officer Nelson later reported “as a result of enemy action which we encountered on the night of 9th April 1943, we were set on fire. I was unable to extinguish the flames and ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. I gave this order on the visual indicator as the inter com was out of action. I saw everyone bale out with the exception of both Flight Sergeant Riley and Sergeant Bird who should have abandoned the aircraft via the rear exit. I was told by German authorities that these two had lost their lives. The aircraft was a mass of flames and I abandoned it at 2,500 feet. I was shown personal items belonging to both the men which showed no signs of being burnt, so my impression was that they must have baled out too late.”

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, 166/35/45