Sergeant Laurence James SAMS

Service No: 407834
Born: Hammersmith, England, 4 October 1909
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 January 1941 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Wellington aircraft Z1462), Germany, 26 July 1942, Aged 32 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Charles James Sams and Ethel Daisy Sams, of Mount Byron, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Date: 25-26 July 1942
Target: Duisburg
Total Force: Dispatched – 313, Attacking – 252
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 15, Attacking – 14
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 547
Total Aircraft Lost: 11
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2

Four nights later (26 July 1942) weather again spoilt the attack, and RAAF crews were forced to bomb the most promising fires or gun positions in the estimated position of Duisburg. Subsequent photographic reconnaissance revealed additional devastation to factories, public and private property, but no large areas were destroyed.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 326-7

Squadron Leader Leighton and crew were detailed to operate Z1462 against Duisburg, Germany, on the night of the 25/26th July 1942. The aircraft took off from RAF Station Breighton at 2351 hours on 25th July and since then nothing has been heard of the aircraft or crew. The aircraft was one of fifteen aircraft from the Squadron that took part in the raid.

The crew members of Z1462 were:

Squadron Leader John William Edward Leighton MID (Twice) (40053) (RAF) (Pilot)
Sergeant Laurence James Sams (407834) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Raphael Sherman (404804) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 2 November 1945
Sergeant Clarence Frederick Sinclair (405219) (Observer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 October 1945
Sergeant William George Taylor (6201) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

In a later statement Sergeant Sinclair said “We were attacked twice by enemy night fighters. The first attack set the starboard engine in fire. The second set the fuselage on fire near the auxiliary tanks. The order to bale out was given, acknowledged by all except the Rear Gunner. I went to check on the Rear Gunner but he was dead. The first attack was about five minutes before the target. I met Sherman at Stalag 3. He saw the aircraft explode after he baled out. The other three were in the aircraft when it blew up.”

Sergeant Sherman later reported “after baling out I walked for three days in the direction of Zuider Zee, obtaining food from several Dutch farmers. On the third day I was offered food and a bed by another Dutch farmer. Whilst I was asleep the farmer bought the police.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Wellington Z1399 (Flight Lieutenant Clifford Henry Burgess (406344) (Pilot)) on 26 July 1942.


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, 163/160/252


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

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