SMITH Eric Alfred 415280

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant Eric Alfred Leith SMITH MID

Service No: 415280
Born: Darlington WA, 30 August 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 August 1941
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Awarded the Mentioned in Despatches (MID)
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft DV280), Netherlands, 22 June 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Uden War Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Horatio Joseph and Janie Parks Smith, of Mount Lawley, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

The importance which the Germans placed on defence of the synthetic oil plants was amply shown on 21st-22nd June when Bomber Command mounted two raids, this time with smaller forces each of approximately 130 aircraft. The two Waddington squadrons (Nos. 463 and 467) provided 34 Lancasters for the first attack on the hydrogenation plant at Scholven-Buer near Gelsenkirchen but again a heavy undercast spoilt any attempts at precision bombing and only slight damage was inflicted on the plant for an expenditure of 570 tons of bombs and the loss of eight aircraft in the whole force. Few crews on return were able to claim an uneventful trip. No. 467 lost two Lancasters, had two more badly holed by flak and another, piloted by Flying Officer Sayers (1), slightly damaged during two separate encounters with night fighters, one of which was seen to be hit by his gunners’ return fire and plummet down with its port engine on fire. No. 463 lost only one Lancaster but another piloted by Pilot Officer Hattam (2) was heavily engaged by flak during the steady run-in to the target. Flight Lieutenant Baker of No. 97 bombed successfully but then his port-outer engine caught fire and he was soon afterwards hit by ground gunfire and had to evade fighters as well; from the same squadron a very experienced pilot, Squadron Leader Lewis Arthur John McLeod DFC (413409), failed to return. Losses and damage might even have been higher but for a new evasion technique employed by this force during its withdrawal. By prearrangement the force altered course and went down to a lower level, which appeared to cause difficulties for the ground gunners and also to mislead the night fighters, which lost contact.

(1) Flight Lieutenant John Lyall Sayers DFC & Bar (414844) was discharged from the RAAF on 7 May 1946.
(2) Flying Officer Raymond Frank Hattam DFC (410331) was discharged from the RAAF on 2 January 1946.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 202-3

Lancaster DV280 took off from RAF Waddington at 2305 hours on the night of 21/22nd June 1944 to bomb a synthetic oil plant at Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (450 kg), 15 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Seventeen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these DV 280 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Polder de Meer between Berghem (Noord-Brabant) and Macharen some 5 kms north north east of Oss.

The crew members of DV280 were:

Sergeant Ronald Ernest Fittall (1897158) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Arthur Bennett Gossip (411262) (Second Pilot)
Pilot Officer K Forth (171196) (RAFVR) (Navigator) PoW
Sergeant John Henry Hollis (1866571) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Percival Henry Milton Jones DFM (1390870) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Harry Frederick Raynham (151064) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Lieutenant Eric Alfred Leith Smith MID (415280) (Pilot)
Sergeant Derek Colin Sykes (1653469) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LL971 (Flight Lieutenant Lindsay Russell Brine (406636) (Pilot)) on 22 June 1944.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED532 (Pilot Officer Edgar Vincent Dearnaley DFC (414341) (Pilot)) on 22 June 1944.

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, 163/162/312