Flying Officer John Hester VENN

Service No: 406063
Born: Dardanup WA, 29 September 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 29 June 1940
Unit: No. 2 Squadron, Darwin NT
Died: Air Operations (No. 2 Squadron Hudson aircraft A16-196), Ambon, 13 May 1942, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frank Evans Venn and Jean Knox Venn, of Dardanup, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Column 8, Ambon Memorial, Indonesia
Remembered: Panel 98, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Reconnaissance showed a substantial concentration of enemy ships at Ambon and nine Hudsons from No. 2 Squadron were assigned to attack them. Led by Squadron Leader McFarlane (1), eight aircraft took off before dawn on 13th May. Approaching the target area the formation divided into two flights. One flight of five—piloted by McFarlane (leading), Flight Lieutenant Simon John Fraser (524), Flying Officer McCombe (2), Flying Officer Arthur John Sharp (402140), and Flying Officer Venn—crossed the Ambon coast to the south-east of the town and, flying just above the hilltops, opened out to sweep low over the bay. The Japanese were surprised. There was no fighter interception and the Hudsons were over their targets before the anti-aircraft batteries opened fire. Each of the five captains selected a different ship, flying in at little more than mast-height to release their loads of four 250-lb general purpose bombs (fused for 11 seconds’ delay). As they struck they were followed in by the other three aircraft—piloted by Flight Lieutenant Dalkin (3) (leader), Flying Officer John Edward Alcock (408056) and Pilot Officer Jaques (4)—who had approached from the east, and each of whom attacked from 1,000 feet with five 250-lb S .A.P. bombs (with one-second delay fuses). The bombs from Venn’s aircraft scored a direct hit on a 3,000-ton ship in which there was an immediate explosion. At such low altitude the crew had no chance to escape; caught directly in the blast of the ship’s explosion, their aircraft disintegrated. All its crew were killed. The ship appeared to be sinking when the other aircraft left the target area after having scored direct hits on two other vessels of about the same tonnage. A near miss on a 5,000-ton ship was also claimed.

(1) Wing Commander Archibald Bertram McFarlane DFC (250207) was discharged from the RAAF on 11 June 1948.
(2) Squadron Leader Ian Archibald McCombe DFC (250813) was discharged from the RAAF on 31 January 1946.
(3) Group Captain Robert Nixon Dalkin DFC (O21919) was discharged from the RAAF on 4 July 1968.
(4) Flight Lieutenant Gordon Alfred Fosbery Jaques (260806) was discharged from the RAAF on 20 June 1944.

Extract from Gillison, D.N. (Douglas Napier) (254475) Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1962 – Page 560

The crew members of A16-196 were:

Sergeant Walter John James (411496) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Brian Andrew Kilpatrick (408552) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant Leonard Arthur Omsby (407871) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer John Hester Venn (406063) (Pilot)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
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, 163/62/12


Bennett, J. (John William) Highest Traditions: the history of No. 2 Squadron RAAF, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Anson, Hudson and Sunderland in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992

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