Flight Sergeant Richard Gilbert SYMONDS

Service No: 437322
Born: Port Pirie West SA, 27 August 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 2 January 1943
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LL789), Germany 12 September 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Richard Gilbert and Evelyn May Symonds, of Black Forest, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Port Pirie SA
Remembered: Panel 111, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Stuttgart was left alone by Bomber Command for six weeks until 12th-13th September when it was hit by No. 5 Group. The two Waddington squadrons dispatched 34 Lancasters (No. 463 – 14 aircraft, No. 467 – 20 aircraft, out of 217 bombers) and dropped 157 tons of bombs (out of 880) in this attack, more than 60 per cent of which were incendiary bombs. Favoured by better weather than previously and with less opposition from fighters, both pathfinders and the main force arrived promptly and dropped their loads so quickly and accurately that raging fires soon swamped enemy Air Raid Protection capabilities, more than 25 city blocks were completely burnt out and fresh damage was caused throughout the industrial and residential suburbs. With half the city uninhabitable this target, like Kiel, was removed from the priority attack list.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 297-8

Lancaster LL789 took off from RAF Waddington at 1913 hours on the night of 12/13th September 1944 to bomb Stuttgart, Germany. The bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 14 x 4 lb (2 kg) clusters. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at 2330 hours at Pfahlbronn about 2 kms west south west of Alfdorf. Five of the crew were killed and two became Prisoners of War.

The crew members of LL789 were:

Sergeant Thomas Ballantyne (1823293) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Arthur Lang Bright (420856) (Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 29 October 1945
Sergeant Earl Kitchener Bulloch (R/162158) (RCAF) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Peter Callow (423445) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Gilbert Thomas Kirby (434682) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Victor Colin Manchester (437530) (Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 January 1946
Flight Sergeant Richard Gilbert Symonds (437322) (Navigator)

In a later statement Flying Officer Bright said “Aircraft hit. Starboard rudder useless. Hard to weave. DR compass U/S. When straightening up to adjust compass received direct hit under starboard wing and mid upper turret. Fire broke out and could not control it. Ordered bale out. Aircraft now out of control and in vicious spiral dive. Controls useless apart from elevators. Bomb aimer baled out then Engineer ht 5,000 ft. I jettisoned Pilots escape hatch and tried to get out. Suddenly was thrown out about 1,000 feet. Landed practically on aircraft . Picked up by Germans next day. Released May 1945.”

Flying Officer Manchester stated “Aircraft hit by flak. Starboard tail fin badly damaged. Abandon
ordered. As far as I know no crew injured. Rear turret doors hit and unable to open them. BA and Eng. baled out, when hit again. Both starboard motors on fire before I could chop my way out of rear turret. Pilot escaped thru top hatch. Ht when hit 13,000 feet. Crashed within 10 minutes of target. Met pilot two days after crash. Fate of rest hearsay but believe others killed. Captured by Germans 13/9/44. Released by Russians from Stalag Luft 1 on 2/5/45.”

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM 226 (Flight Lieutenant David Dorey Browne (418804) (Pilot)) on 12 September 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, 166/38/689

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