Flight Sergeant Ronald Bernard SPENCER

Service No: 425771
Born: Zeehan TAS, 9 August 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 26 April 1942 (at Brisbane QLD)
Unit: No. 514 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Waterbeach
Died: Air Operations: (No. 514 Squadron Lancaster aircraft DS816), France, 16 June 1944, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Croisilles British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Cyril Robert Holtum Spencer and Evangeline Holtum Spencer
Roll of Honour: Red Hill QLD
Remembered: Panel 130, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 2308 hours on the night of 15 June 1944, Lancaster took off from Waterbeach detailed to bomb railway yards at Valenciennes, France. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was shot down by a night fighter and six of the crew members were killed and one evaded capture and returned safely to the UK.

The crew members of DS816 were:

Sergeant Arthur Albert Holmes (519212) (RAF) (Rear Gunner)
Flying Officer Arnold Hughes Morrison DFC (411168) (Navigator) Evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 30 May 1945
Sergeant Henry Albert Osborn (1715000) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant John Porrelli (1594519) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Pilot Officer Charles Frank Prowles (177531) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Ronald Bernard Spencer (425771) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant Raymond Surtees (1670154) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)

In a later report, Flying Officer Morrison stated: “About eight minutes after bombing the target, we were attacked presumably by a night fighter. Cannon shell raked the port side and the port wing was set on fire. The aircraft was losing height rapidly and at about 8000 feet, the Captain ordered the crew to “prepare to abandon”. By 2000 feet, the Air Bomber had not been able to remove the front escape hatch I am, not certain whether the Rear Gunner, Mid Upper Gunner or the WOP had baled out through the rear escape hatch. But the remainder stayed in the aircraft. The pilot landed the aircraft on a fairly flat field and the aircraft disintegrated and was set on fire. I was unconscious for a while, and while still in a dazed condition looked without result to the numerous small fires for the remainder of the crew. I was informed by the Germans that their bodies were in the wreck and buried in the cemetery at Croissilles, France. “


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 A705, 166/38/564

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