LEST WE FORGET
Squadron Leader Eric Arthur Gibson UTZ DFC and Bar
Service No: 403438
Born: Glen Innes NSW, 18 June 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 January 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 27 October 1942 (Citation Title: No. 12 Squadron RAF)
Awarded the Bar to the Distinguished Flying Cross (Bar)
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ND361), Germany, 31 March 1944, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Hanover War Cemetery, Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Arthur Augustus Utz and Florence Isabel Utz, of Armidale, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Armidale NSW
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Armidale Dumaresq Council War Memorial Library, Armidale NSW
Date: 30-31 March 1944
Total Force: Dispatched – 795, Attacking – 608
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking –2; No. 463 Dispatched – 18, Attacking – 17; No. 466 Dispatched – 16, Attacking – 12; No. 467 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 16
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,148
Total Aircraft Lost: 95
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 3; No. 467 -2
On 30th-31st March during the last heavy raid of the winter, Bomber Command suffered its worst single reverse of the whole war. Ninety-five aircraft failed to return, another eleven were damaged beyond repair while the target at Nuremberg was only slightly damaged. All four Australian squadrons were again included in the force. From the outset everything went badly. Conditions over the North Sea made it impossible to arrange any large-scale diversion there as had proved so successful for the earlier Frankfurt-on-Main raids. Some fifty Halifaxes were sent mine-laying in Heligoland Bight but were ignored by the German controllers who concentrated night fighters in groups at Bonn and Frankfurt-on-Main where they easily intercepted the bomber stream. The difficulty of predicting changeable March winds again led to serious errors in navigation so that the bombers soon spread over a broad belt to the north of the true track. Moreover the high cloud which was expected to give adequate concealment along the route dispersed altogether over Belgium and left the aircraft exposed in the light of a half-moon and silhouetted against lower clouds. A running battle was fought over a distance of nearly 250 miles from Aachen eastwards and then southwards, with more and more fighters joining in as the enemy correctly divined the probable target. At least twenty Australian aircraft were intercepted, but although most of them escaped by skilful flying or spirited return fire, Australian losses included the very experienced Utz, a flight commander of No. 460, who was killed. Comparatively the Halifaxes suffered most heavily, losing thirty out of the total of ninety three dispatched, and so No. 466 was fortunate that all its aircraft returned safely. Thirty burning aircraft were counted between Aachen and Nuremberg by Flight Lieutenant Smith of No. 467 and it is probable that at least fifty bombers were shot down before reaching the target. Another 187 failed to attack at all.
Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 660, 661-2
Lancaster ND361 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2153 hours on 30 March 1944 to bomb Nuremberg, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 156 x 30 lb (14 kg and 420 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 and three including ND 361 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft was shot down by an enemy night fighter and crashed on 31 March at Oberhausen, approximately 100 kms south of Nuremberg.
The crew members of ND361 were:
Pilot Officer Arthur George Jackson Chadwick-Bates DFC (412480) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Tom Dawson (1372580) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Kenneth Edwin Green (1604776) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer John Howarth (50972) (RAF) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Pilot Officer Ronald James McCleery DFC (413641) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 6 November 1945
Pilot Officer John Hamilton Thomson DFM (412774) (Bomb Aimer)
Squadron Leader Eric Arthur Gibson Utz DFC & Bar (403438) (Pilot)
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND738 (Flight Sergeant Charles Haley Hargreaves (421596) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.
No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND750 (Pilot Officer Peter Robert Anderson (28817) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster DV240 (Pilot Officer Ronald Ernest Llewelyn (410423) (Pilot)) on 31 March 1944.
No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster LM376 (Flight Lieutenant Arthur Bruce Simpson DFC (408881) (Pilot)) on 31 March 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, 166/41/10
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