LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Ian Alexander THOMSON
Service No: 421771
Born: Aberdeen, Scotland, 21 August 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 March 1942 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ND569), Germany, 20 February 1944, Aged 20 Years
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William and Jane Thomson, of Penshurst, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 262, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Hurstville War Memorial, Hurstville NSW
Date: 19-20 February 1944
Total Force: Dispatched – 823, Attacking – 730
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking – 23; No. 463 Dispatched – 18, Attacking- 17; No. 466 Dispatched – 14, Attacking – 11; No. 467 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 17
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,291
Total Aircraft Lost: 78
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 2; No. 463 – 1; No. 466 – 1
The third and largest raid on 19th-20th February, which opened the week of all out effort against Luftwaffe resources, was an anticlimax. The German fighters ignored a large-scale demonstration by mine-laying aircraft near Kiel and while investigating intruder activity over Dutch airfields, by an unlucky chance met the main bomber stream at the beginning of its journey. One Halifax of No. 466 was harassed persistently by three Ju-88’s for a long part of the route and other Australians were forced to evade fighters. Adding to this dispersion of the bomber stream, incorrect wind forecasts upset the entire navigation plan. Most bombers arrived early at the scheduled turning
points and milled round with greatly-increased risks from collisions as well as offering ideal targets for fighters. Twenty bombers were seen to go down in flames and another four as a result of collisions before the target was reached. The main stream was again early over Leipzig and crews of No. 460 who were in the first wave found Lancasters orbiting and bombing on all headings, even before the appointed time. When the Pathfinders laid their markers the attack settled down and most of the Australians were confident that a satisfactory concentration was achieved. On the following day, 184 American Fortresses made a precision attack on Leipzig and the result of these two attacks was extensive damage in five of the ten largest war factories, including the Erla aircraft works, the A.T.A.G. assembly plant and an aircraft-engine works.
Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 654
Lancaster ND569 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2348 hours on 19 February 1944 to bomb Leipzig, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 56 x 30 lb (14 kg), 1260 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Twenty four aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid. Two of these aircraft including ND 569 failed to return. Five crew members were killed and two became Prisoners of War. Post war searches to locate the aircraft and the other five crew members in the vicinity of Zietz, 35 kms miles south of Leipzig were unsuccessful. German reports said that Flight Sergeant Thompson plus one other crew member had been buried at Troglitz about 5 kms from Zietz, but only one grave was found and the remains could not be identified.
The crew members of ND 569 were:
Sergeant Gordon Alwyn Fidler (1543138) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Kevin Kieran Groves (421803) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 21 November 1945
Flight Sergeant Stanley Vincent Mackrell (410248) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Norman James Randell (423323) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Jeffery Ernest Tappenden (425072) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 26 October 1945
Flight Sergeant Ian Alexander Thomson (421771) (Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Leslie Herbert George Weller (1895614) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Groves in a statement said “After bombing the target, a fighter got below us. As we started evasive action the plane was raked from front to back with cannon fire. The Pilot ordered the crew to bale out with the two port engines on fire and the aircraft out of control. Injuries to the crew were unknown. He did not hear any crew acknowledge bale out. The navigator saw the engineer go to the forward hatch. When I passed through the bomb aimer’s compartment both the engineer and the bomb aimer were missing so presumed both had baled out as the hatch was open. When I left the pilot was still in position. There was no word from either of the gunners. The fuselage from beyond the wireless operator’s position back was all on fire. I baled out at 3,000 feet. The aircraft seemed in a very steep dive. The fire in the fuselage was too severe and prevented me going out the rear hatch. As I went forward past the pilot I saw the two port engines on fire and the port wing. I made contact with the navigator on the ground. I was captured three hours later.”
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB610 (Pilot Officer Kenneth James Godwin (412945) (Pilot)) on 19/20 February 1944.
No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster DV338 (Flying Officer Ernest Athol Fayle (412396) (Pilot)) on 19/20 February 1944.
No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax LV781 (Warrant Officer James Francisco Moran (415168) (Pilot)) on 19/20 February 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, 166/35/222
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line
Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985