Flying Officer Robert Patrick TERPENING DFC

Service No: 424312
Born: Honolulu, Hawaii, 2 May 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 August 1942 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 582 Squadron (RAF)
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 2 March 1945
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 582 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB983), Northamptonshire, 28 April 1945, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Maurice Everett and Hester May Terpening; husband of Elisabeth Terpening, of Elizabeth Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 131, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

DFC Citation: “In December 1944, Flying Officer Terpenning was detailed to take part in an attack on Cologne in daylight. When approaching the target the aircraft was hit by ack-ack fire. Severe damage was sustained. The port inner engine was set on fire and the propeller had to be feathered;
the port outer and the starboard inner engines then began to fail. Despite this, Flying Officer Terpenning continued his bombing run. Shells were bursting all around but he pressed home his attack. On turning away from the target the aircraft was attacked by five fighters. Although both gun turrets had been put out of action and all but one gun were unserviceable, Flying Officer Terpenning and his crew conducted a gallant fight. The aircraft was repeatedly hit by cannon shell and the situation became extremely serious. Nevertheless, Flying Officer Terpenning succeeded in his resolve to reach Allied territory. It became necessary to leave the crippled aircraft by parachute. Even so, this brave Captain ensured that all members of his crew got clear before jumping himself. This officer displayed coolness, courage and captaincy of a high order.” (London Gazette 2 March 1945 Page 1206)

On a training flight on the 28 April 1945, Lancaster PB983 iced up after flying into a snow cloud and lost power on both port engines. At 100 feet, all control was lost and the aircraft crashed at 1150 hours near Deenethorpe airfield, 5 miles east north east from the centre of Corby, Northamptonshire. Two of the crew members were killed in the crash and the other five were injured.

The crew members of PB983 were:

Warrant Officer Arnold Andreas Anderson DFC (426001) (Wireless Air Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 14 March 1946
Flight Lieutenant A E C Derrett (82961) (RAFVR) (First Navigator) Injured
Aircraftman Class II R G Lloyd (3036306) (RAFVR) (Supernumerary) Injured
Warrant Officer Allan William McIlrath, DFC (428985) (Mid Upper Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 14 March 1946
Pilot Officer R A B Newman (1868086) (RAFVR) (Second Navigator) Injured
Flying Officer Robert Patrick Terpening DFC (424312) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer John Grylls Watson DFM (424485) (Air Gunner)


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, 166/39/552


Feast, Sean Master Bombers: the experiences of a Pathfinder Squadron at war, 1944-1945, Grub Street, London, 2008

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