WALKER Alexander Beck 436305

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Alexander Beck WALKER

Service No: 436305
Born: Balmain NSW, 24 October 1911
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 December 1942 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 467 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM677), Germany, 4 March 1945, Aged 33 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Mitchell C. and Susan Beck Walker, of Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 111, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On 5 January 1945 Flying Officer Eggins (424717) and Flight Sergeants Cahill (428103), Grady (433554), Madden (426633), Richardson (428189) and Walker (436305) baled out from Lancaster PB695 following a collision with No. 189 Squadron (RAF) Lancaster ME 300 near Royan, France, in which Flight Sergeant Maxwell Browne (423075) was killed.

The final act at Ladbergen was delayed for only one week, as on 3rd-4th March a slightly larger force of 222 aircraft from No. 5 Group set out with 1,000 tons of bombs. Weather was again poorer than expected at the target and the preliminary markers fell over a wide area. Good raid discipline in the face of apparently strengthened defences led to concentrated bombing of the most favourable cluster of target indicators, assessed as being close to the true aiming point. Each RAAF squadron sent 15 Lancasters, and, although crews were satisfied with their attacks, they suffered relatively heavily for the scrupulous way in which they pressed them home, the units between them losing four of the seven aircraft missing from the whole operation. Among the three crews lost by No. 467 were Wing Commander Langlois (416685), acting Commanding Officer, and Flying Officer Taylor (25299), the new gunnery leader. The bombers faced a further hazard on return to base, for this was the night when the Luftwaffe, in a desperate attempt to offset the declining effectiveness of its night-fighter defences over Germany, dispatched some 140 night fighters (mainly Ju-88’s) on long-range intruder tasks over Bomber Command bases. The Australians arrived at Waddington to find enemy fighters attacking the airfield. A bomb dump was set on fire but all the Lancasters landed safely.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 413

Lancaster LM677 took off from RAF Waddington at 1854 hours on the night of 3 March 1945 to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Canal at Ladbergen. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off, it being one of three Squadron aircraft that failed to return from the raid out of fifteen Squadron aircraft taking part. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed at Havixbech, 16 kms west north west from the centre of Munster. Germany.

The crew members of LM677 were:

Flight Sergeant Clyde McCartney Cahill (428103) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Robert Bruce Eggins (424717) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant James Joseph Brian Grady (433554) (Bomb Aimer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 10 May 1946
Flight Sergeant Patrick Joseph Madden (426633) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Graham Arthur Rodney Pritchard (1191010) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Russell Vernon Richardson (428189) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Alexander Beck Walker (436305) (Air Gunner)

In a report Flight Sergeant Grady stated “about 5 minutes from target, skipper decided to do a banking search. During this bank to starboard there was a terrific vibration through the aircraft and she spiralled to port. Captain gave order to put on chutes and standby. Captain regained control for about 30 seconds. After which ‘jump, jump’. I baled out about 8,000 feet and believe I was the first. The three to follow me Pilot, Engineer and Nav were definitely in the aircraft. I walked in a westerly direction for about 4 hours then hid up for the day. At night started off again and came upon a railway with goods train when picked up by two German soldiers. The Germans informed me there were six bodies in the aircraft and they had been buried at Munster. Released by the US Army at Mooseberg on 29 April 1945.”

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster NG502 (Flight Sergeant Robert Eric Davey (437403) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)) that was shot down by German intruders over England on 4 March 1945.

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster NG469 (Flight Lieutenant Francis John Howells DFC (419044) (Pilot)) on 3/4 March 1945.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax NR179 (Pilot Officer Alan Percy William Shelton (428602) (Pilot)) that was shot down by German intruders over England on 4 March 1945.

No. 466 Squadron lost Halifax NR250 (Flying Officer Albert Edward Schrank (434508) (Pilot)) that was shot down by German intruders over England on 4 March 1945.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster PB806 (Wing Commander Eric Le Page Langlois DFC (416685) (Pilot) (Commanding Officer No. 467 Squadron)) on 3/4 March 1945.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ME 453 (Flying Officer Roland Telford Ward (428814) Captain (Pilot)) on 3/4 March 1945.

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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/43/1081