Flight Sergeant James Louis ROSSITER

Service No: 410729
Born: Adelaide SA, 22 December 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 January 1942 (at Melbourne VIC)
Unit: No. 630 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station east Kirkby
Died: Air Operations (No. 630 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JB561), North West Europe, 4 December 1943, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Sydney James Rossiter and Caroline Sophie Rossiter, of Murray Bridge, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Murray Bridge SA
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 0025 hours on 4 December 1943, Lancaster JB561 took off from East Kirkby detailed to bomb Leipzig, Germany. While en route to the target at 0125 hours, the Mid Upper Gunner and Rear Gunner (Flight Sergeant Rossiter) observed an ME210 appear astern and slightly above the Lancaster at a range of 300 yards. Instructions were given to corkscrew to port, and both gunners opened fire. At the same time the enemy opened fire with cannon and machine gun and the return fire from the Rear Gunner ceased. The Rear Gunner was heard on the Inter Com to explain something but almost immediately the inter-com was rendered unserviceable. The fighter broke away to starboard and attacked the Lancaster from dead astern at a range of 200 yards, again firing cannon and machine gun fire. Corkscrew manoeuvring was maintained and the Mid Upper Gunner continued firing until the enemy aircraft broke away and under the Lancaster.

The starboard outer engine was damaged and on fire and had to be feathered. The Bomb Aimer then observed a twin engine aircraft believed to be the same ME210 appear from the port bow down firing cannon and machine guns. The Bomb Aimer fired a second burst at the fighter and the Mid Upper operating his guns and turret manually, also fired a short burst, and the enemy aircraft broke away. The ME210 then appeared dead astern and opened fire. The Mid Upper returned fire working his guns manually, and he observed a bright flash of flame appear on the enemy fighter which disappeared from sight and was not seen again.

The Intercom being unserviceable, the Flight Engineer went aft to the Rear Turret, but thinking the Rear Gunner was alright he returned to his position after seeing the turret appear to move. Upon landing the Rear Gunner was found to have lost his life with multiple injuries caused by the cannon and machine gunfire. Extensive damage was caused to the Lancaster with two front tyres punctured and the fuselage damaged with shell and bullet holes.

The crew members of JB561 were:

Sergeant W E J Cox (1607195) (RAFVR)
Sergeant R J Bryden (1520000) (RAFVR)
Sergeant F Guy (1840028) (RAFVR)
Sergeant V E Moor (1439447) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant James Louis Rossiter (410729) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant F P Settle (1390062) (RAFVR)
Flight Sergeant J White (657977) (RAFVR) (Pilot)


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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/36/155

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