ROURKE Gerald Alan 415683

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Gerald Alan ROURKE

Service No: 415683
Born: Liverpool England, 24 February 1910
Enlisted in the RAAF: 7 December 1941 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 78 Squadron (RAF), RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 78 Squadron Halifax aircraft JD329), Germany, 31 July 1943, Aged 33 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James Frederick and Mary Louisa Rourke; husband of Edith Jean Rourke, of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Kalgoorlie WA
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Halifax JD329 took off from RAF Breighton at 2208 hours on the night of 3031st July, 1943, detailed to bomb Remscheid, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base.

The crew members of JD329 were:

Sergeant John Francis Harper (1083168) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Angus Herbert Marshall (15753710 (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Gerald Alan Rourke (415683) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Ronald Shelton (1484074) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Keith Arnold Skidmore (421759) (Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 October 1945
Flying Officer G I Whitehouse (133710) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer) PoW
Sergeant David Williams (149466) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

Flight Sergeant Skidmore later reported “After bombing we were picked up by searchlights between Cologne and Dusseldorf. We were then hit by flak which I believe killed the Navigator. Upon the first attack by a night fighter, I was out from the Intercom and also the oxygen tube had come off my face mask. At the time of the attack I was putting out window down the flare chute but was told to stay where I was by the pilot. After the second attack I got in my turret but it was no use as my clothing was well alight. I got out again to put on my chute and tried to open the entry hatch but it was jammed. I then must have collapsed as the next thing I remember is falling in the air. I pulled the rip cord and made a fairly decent descent. I was captured 13 hours after the crash. The Bomb Aimer explained to me that the aircraft had exploded just after he jumped.”

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, 166/36/92