Flight Sergeant Leo Michael RYAN

Service No: 409452
Born: Traralgon VIC, 2 August 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 August 1941
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Station Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ED420), Germany, 24 December 1943, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Ambrose Michael, and Mary Ann Ryan, of Traralgon, Victoria. Australia
Roll of Honour: Traralgon VIC
Remembered: Panel 193, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Date: 23-24 December 1943
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Dispatched – 379, Attacking – 338
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 15, Attacking – 15; No. 463 Dispatched – 12, Attacking – 9; No. 467 Dispatched – 8, Attacking – 6
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,288
Total Aircraft Lost: 15
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 463 – 1

Harris sent his Lancaster force to Berlin on 23rd-24th December. As a new expedient to aid navigation and timing, selected navigators from each squadron reported to base the actual wind they were encountering at various stages of the journey. These reports were immediately collated by meteorological officers and if necessary a new synoptic wind value was broadcast to the bomber stream. Thus all navigators would employ a common wind and the force would remain compact. But although the bombers reached Berlin compactly and the sky was only partly overcast, the raid was a failure. Sixteen out of thirty-seven Pathfinder aircraft had unserviceable H2S (radar) and only one-quarter of the normal primary markers were dropped. Thus when bombing commenced there was no reliable aiming point and the familiar errors of indiscriminate release resulted in most of the bombs falling miles to the south-west of Berlin. Five of the Australian crews from Waddington failed to attack, two returning early through technical failures and three bombing targets other than Berlin. A well-executed spoof raid on Leipzig drew away enemy fighters and no fighter flares appeared over Berlin until the attack was almost over. All the Australians were in the first wave and had a relatively uneventful flight, although one crew had to jettison part of the incendiaries to avoid a fighter and another Lancaster was badly damaged by gun fire when it strayed off course and flew over Hanover.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 637, 641

Lancaster ED420 took off from RAF Waddington at 0020 hours on the night of 23/24th December 1943 to bomb Berlin. The bomb load was1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 48 x 30 lb (14 kg), 990 x 4lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twelve aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these ED420 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Kaulsdorf in the eastern suburbs of
Berlin, some 12kms east south east from the city centre, and all the crew members were killed.

The crew members of ED420 were:

Sergeant William Harry Carter (1454154) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Robert Strachan Gall (134066) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Kenneth Robert Ralph Glover (420875) (Rear Gunner)
Pilot Officer Arthur William Heap (414027) (Pilot)
Sergeant Daniel McCreadie (1388067) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Leo Michael Ryan (409452) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Frederick James Tunnicliff (1813154) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)


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, 166/36/162

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