STEFFAN James Pat 429643
LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant James Pat STEFFAN
Service No: 429643
Born: Perth WA, 5 January 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 13 October 1942
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM338), France, 8 July 1944, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Courgent Communal Cemetery, Yvelines, France
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frank and Delia Steffan, of Mount Lawley, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Mount Lawley WA
Remembered: Panel 111, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Intelligence reports indicated that this attack (on 4-5 July) on St Leu succeeded in blocking all approaches to the caves and that a large quantity of earth above the caves had fallen into them. It was also known that the Germans were making tremendous efforts to repair this damage, and a similar main force of 228 Lancasters attacked again on 7th-8th July. There was fairly heavy cloud over the target at 18,000 feet so the Australians of Nos. 463 and 467 came below this height to attack and again reported good results. Enemy ground gunfire was far more evident than on the first occasion, and, although a “Mandrel” screen was in operation to confuse enemy night fighters, the Germans brought up reinforcements from the Low Countries and 31 Lancasters were shot down, a disappointingly high percentage for an attack on northern France but one which clearly showed the importance in German eyes of protecting St Leu d’Esserent. Daylight reconnaissance later showed large new craters over the entrances to the three main tunnels. Road and rail approaches had been blocked and appeared to be beyond immediate repair. In addition the river banks had been badly cratered which caused flooding. For 10 days after this second attack on St Leu the daily average of flying-bomb attacks fell from about 100 to less than 70.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 180-1
Lancaster LM338 took off from RAF Waddington at 2222 hours on the night of 7 July 1944 to bomb flying bomb storage sites at St Leu d’Esserent, France. Bomb load 11 x 1000 lb (pound) (450 kg), 4 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eighteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and two of these including LM 338 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Courgent (Yvelnes), 12 kms south south west from Mantes La-Jolie.
The crew members of LM338 were:
Flight Sergeant Verne Edward Cockroft (425605) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant George Arthur Hayes (1591247) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer Clifford Cecil Jones (415032) (Navigator)
Sergeant William Deldon Douglas Killworth (408443) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Leonard Haig Porritt (419481) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Phillip Wyatt Ryan (418012) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant James Pat Steffan (429643) (Air Gunner)
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM219 (Flight Sergeant Horace Andrew Cummins (423661) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)) on 8 July 1944.
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, 166/38/598