Flying Officer Sidney Michael RUSS

(also listed as Sidney Michael O’BRIEN on the DVA record)

Service No: 414506
Born: Putney, England, 29 March 1911
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 October 1941 (at Brisbane QLD)
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W 4818), Germany, 5 May 1943, Aged 32 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles and Jessie Naylor Russ, of Ealing, Middlesex, England.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 4-5 May 1943
Target: Dortmund
Total Force: Dispatched – 596, Attacking – 495
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 19, Attacking – 17; No. 466 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 13; No. 467 Dispatched – 20, Attacking – 20
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,436
Total Aircraft Lost: 31
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 466 – 1

During May two heavy attacks were projected against Dortmund (4 May and 23 May 1943) No. 30), an important steel, synthetic oil and transport centre. This is the largest town in the Ruhr after Essen and as the terminus of the Dortmund-Ems canal had the same importance to the eastern Ruhr that Duisburg had in the west. Both raids were favoured by excellent weather and visibility, so that although enemy defences were active the majority of the attackers arrived in a compact body. Three Australian bombers were damaged by gun fire on each occasion, but most crews reported that they ran in, aimed at well placed markers, and were away again before they could be singled out by searchlights or guns. Dense palls of smoke obscured huge fires on both nights and the centre of the city was almost entirely burnt out. Seven branches of the Hoesch combine, one of the largest steel-producing under takings in Germany, were temporarily put out of action and other steelworks, engineering factories and railway facilities were heavily damaged. The havoc caused by this simultaneous wrecking of industry, housing and transport for a short time made Dortmund the most disorganised city in Germany. In the second raid for the first time over 2,000 tons of explosive and incendiary bombs were dropped in one night. This scale of attack not only swamped enemy defences but resulted in geometric rather than arithmetic progression of damage compared with lighter attacks. In some respects the virtual elimination of this industrial centre after only two attacks, and at a total cost of sixty-nine aircraft, was one of the most remarkable successes yet gained.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 485-6

Lancaster W4818 took off from RAF Breighton at 2220 hours on 4 May 1943 to bomb Dortmund, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 48 x 30 lb (14 kg) and 540 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Following post war enquiries it was established that the aircraft crashed at Schieringhausen, some 8 kms WSW of Lunen. And all the crew members on their first operation and were killed.

The crew members of W 4818 were:

Flight Sergeant John Lawrence Barry (20047) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Eugene John Candish (412479) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Alan Hilton (412139) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Desmond Nelson Jaekel (416680) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Sidney Michael Russ (414506) (Navigator)
Sergeant William James Turpin (1476394) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant William Williams (405597) (Air Gunner)

No. 466 Squadron lost Wellington HE530 (Sergeant Francis Graham Latham (412543) (Rear Gunner)) on 5 May 1943.


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, 166/36/58


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985