LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer John Francis WATERS

Service No: 408542
Born: Benalla VIC, 2 November 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 26 April 1941
Unit: No. 172 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station Chivenor
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 172 Squadron Wellington aircraft NB831), off the English Coast, 15 July 1944, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Somerset
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Clive Guilfoyle Waters and Mary Wilson Waters, of Brighton Beach, Victoria, Australia. M.P.S.
Roll of Honour: Brighton VIC
Remembered: Panel 132, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On the night of 14/15 July 1944 Wellington NB831 took off from Chivenor detailed to carry out a Leigh Light night time training exercise. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. At 0325 hours the aircraft was seen by the crew of a launch taking part in the exercise to crash into the sea approximately 5 miles from Lundy Island.

The crew members of NB831 were:

Flight Sergeant Norman Stanley Birch (1315909) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Wouter Hazeu (1549980) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Flying Officer Thomas John Paul Magee (J/21751) (RCAF) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Henry Bruce McAuley (421281) (RNZAF) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer John Francis Waters (408542) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Frederick Asby Wilkinson (1331024) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)

In a later Report into a Flying Accident the Commanding Officer of the Squadron stated: “the incident occurred at night while over the sea. The weather was fair and not a contributory factor. The crew were under training and had not flown on operations previously. It is impossible to state the exact cause of the accident, but the effect was an error of judgement in height while searching for a target at low altitude using the Leigh Light.” The Officer Commanding RAF Station Chivenor stated “It appears the accident was due to an error of judgement on the part of the pilot possibly ‘flying down the beam’.”

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, 166/43/764