LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Lewis THORNTON

Service No: 410107
Born: Preston VIC, 19 December 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 November 1941
Unit: No. 608 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 608 Squadron Hudson aircraft FK804), off the Italian Coast, 27 January 1944, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Thomas Thornton and Elsie Irene Thornton, of East Preston, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 16, Column 2, Malta Memorial, Malta
Remembered: Panel 131, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 1420 hours on 27 January 1944 Hudson FK 804 took off on from Gaudo (Salerno Bay) to carry out an anti-submarine patrol south east of the bridgehead south of Rome. The weather was fine and the visibility 10/15 miles. The aircraft was due back at 2030 hours, but wireless silence was maintained until 2020 hours when a bearing from Malta was requested. This was passed and acknowledged at 2025 hours. Then a distress call was received at 2043 hours and the aircraft received several first class bearings from Malta between 2043 and 2100 hours. After this the aircraft transmitted “may be forced to land engine trouble”, with a final SOS being sent at 2110 hours. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft and it failed to return to base. The bearings indicated that FK804 had force landed near the western tip of Sicily. Air Sea Rescue searches did not locate the missing aircraft or crew members. Post war searches established that Sergeant Cox had been buried in the Catania British Cemetery. The body of Warrant Officer Ferris was washed ashore at Sidi Barrani in June 1944 and was buried in an isolated grave. It was recorded that the two missing crew members had lost their lives at sea.

The crew members of FK804 were:

Sergeant Ronald George Cox (1322991) (RAFVR) (Pilot) Remains recovered
Warrant Officer I Walter Harold Ferris (R/110726) (RCAF) (Wireless Operator Air) Remains recovered
Flight Sergeant Lewis Thornton (410107) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Joseph Robert Trasler (1321967) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)

References:

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, 166/39/217