Civilian War Correspondent

Service No: Not applicable
Born: Mulline WA, 20 March 1904
Australian War Correspondent, The Sydney Sun
Died: Air Operations: Long Distance Raids (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W4881), Germany, 2 December 1943, Aged 39 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-45 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Husband of Maree Patience Stockton, of Elwood, Victoria, Australia

Date: 2-3 December 1943
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Dispatched – 458, Attacking – 401
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 25, Attacking – 24; No. 463 Dispatched – 5, Attacking – 4; No. 467 Dispatched – 13, Attacking – 13
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,686
Total Aircraft Lost: 40
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 5

Thus far the campaign, while not achieving success comparable to the holocaust at Hamburg, had won satisfactory results against the most heavily-defended target in Germany, but the fifth raid on 2nd-3rd December was a costly failure. The winds actually met in flight varied from those forecast considerably in strength and by 90 degrees in direction. Many navigators failed to discover this before they had been blown well south of track and the bomber stream scattered. Some crews of No. 460 found new winds by means of H2S navigation, but because they were so radically opposed to the forecast, in many cases the new information was ignored. Worse still the change in winds cleared away fog which had been blanketing the German airfields and enemy fighters were present over Berlin from the outset to oppose the disorganised bombing force as it arrived. Few of the Pathfinders successfully identified Rathenow from which they were to make a timed run, and consequently target indicators and bombs were scattered over many square miles to the south of Berlin.

It was a very black night for No. 460; it lost five Lancasters, and three more had to struggle home on three engines. Several aircraft from the other Australian squadrons were damaged by gun fire during their return, when use of forecast winds again caused confusion so that they faced not only the defences of Berlin but the defences of the Ruhr during the same flight. The nightly battle of bluff on this occasion prevented clear thinking by some of the Australian navigators, who clearly saw Pathfinder route markers, but, as they were so far distant from their own track, they dismissed them as enemy decoys, and continued to head into danger.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 637, 639-40

Lancaster W4881 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1844 hours on 2 December 1943 to bomb Berlin. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 48 x 30 lb 914 kg) and 840 x 4 lb 92 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war investigations established that the aircraft crashed at Paderdamm near Brandenburg, Germany. Five crew members were killed and three became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of W4881 were:

Pilot Officer Neville Jack Anderson DFC (24541) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 September 1945
Flight Sergeant Arthur Wellesley Catty (1585325) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer) PoW
Sergeant Arthur George Cole (1311910) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer James Herbert John English DFC (413843) (Pilot and Aircraft Captain)
Flight Sergeant Alexander Elias Kan (409716) (Rear Gunner)
Sergeant William Leslie Miller (1058755) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer) PoW
Warrant Officer II Ivan Rodin (R/92002) (RCAF) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Mr Norman Stockton (Australian War Correspondent)

In a statement Pilot Officer Anderson reported “the aircraft was shot down by night fighters– a running fight for 10 minutes. A fatal burst underneath caused fires among the incendiaries in the bomb bay and the port inner tank. The aircraft was later on fire astern also. From the Pilot came the words “stick with it boys”. My sincere belief was that the pilot was endeavouring to crash the aircraft on to the target but it was too well ablaze. The port side tail plane burnt off and the aircraft went into a spiral dive, then something blew up and I was blown out at about 17,000 feet. Also Miller and Catty who became Prisoners. The aircraft crashed about 12 miles SE of Groningen. I believe the pilot hung on too long (who had an outstanding fighting spirit) trying to finish the job after the time we should have abandoned. English was probably killed in the crash – I am practically positive he did not have his chute on. Rodin was probably killed in the turret, and Kan probably died in the turret or when the aircraft crashed.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB608 (Flight Lieutenant Thomas Derek Hudson Alford (420333) (Piloto)) on 2 December 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB611 (Squadron Leader Edward Geoffrey Manson Corser DFC MID (405122) (Pilot)) on 2 December 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster DV296 (Flight Sergeant Colin Howard Edwards (24574) (Pilot)) on 2 December 1943.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster LM316 (Flying Officer Alan Roy Mitchell (409933) (Pilot)) on 2 December 1943.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
WA Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages


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

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