Flying Officer William Bruce SHEARER

Service No: 404994
Born: Townsville QLD, 2 May 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 5 January 1941
Unit: No. 12 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 12 Squadron Wellington aircraft Z8643), Germany, 31 May 1942, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John and Dora Jane Shearer
Roll of Honour: Brisbane QLD
Remembered: Panel 130, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Wellington Z8643 took off from Binbrook at 2336 hours on the night of 30/31 May 1942 to bomb Cologne, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. It was later established that the aircraft had been lost and that Flying Officer Shearer had been killed and the other four crew members had been taken prisoner.

The crew members of Z8643 were:

Sergeant Edward Drake Ansford (41529) (RNZAF) (Observer) PoW
Sergeant Bruce Oliver Brown (403496) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 21 November 1946
Sergeant Geoffrey Arnold Gane (402993) (RNZAF) (Rear Gunner) PoW
Sergeant Conal Francis McKenna (403763) (RNZAF) (Wireless Air Gunner) PoW
Flying Officer William Bruce Shearer (404994) (Pilot)

In a 1945 PoW report the then Warrant Officer Brown stated “Soon after crossing the coast of Holland the starboard engine began smoking badly. I was instructed by the pilot to pump oil, which I did. Shortly after the whole engine nacelle got red hot then burst into flames. The pilot used the fire extinguisher to no effect, and the flames spread to the wing and fuselage. The bale out order was given, and I baled out at about 12,000 feet. The aircraft was still under control. I believe it crashed in the region of Dussleldorf. I landed on Woods near Dorsten. I was captured the next day by a German sentry from a flak battery.”


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

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