LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant John Downton WHITBY

Service No: 422822
Born: Barmedman NSW, 5 May 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 23 May 1942
Unit: No. 224 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station St Eval
Died: Air Operations: (No. 224 Squadron Liberator aircraft BZ915), off the French Coast, 7 June 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Webidale Whitby and Ivy Whitby, of Barmedman, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Barmedman NSW
Remembered: Panel 262, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 132, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Barmedman War Memorial, Barmedman NSW
Remembered: Temora and District War Memorial, Temora NSW
Remembered: Commonwealth Bank of Australia Honour Rolls, Sydney NSW

In the early hours of 7 June 1944 Liberator BZ915 took off from St Eval to patrol the coast of Ushant, France, but failed to return to base. The last signal received from the aircraft at 0207 hours stated that they were attacking the enemy, the position of the aircraft then was off the French Coast near Ushant. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft. In a 1949 report it was stated that all efforts to find any trace of the aircraft or crew were unsuccessful, and the crew members had been recorded as missing lost at sea.

The crew members of BZ915 were:

Flight Sergeant Leonard James Barnes (1390853) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Mechanic/Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Ronald Henry Buchan-Hepburn (414988) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Arthur Collins (626539) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Max Elwin Dickenson (408388) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Harold John Earl (422464) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Geoffrey John Harry Fairs (657007) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Bruce Alfred Hands (422512) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Phillip William Hogan (420386) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Albert Alexander Kennedy (418506) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Downton Whitby (422822) (Navigator)

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 A9301, 422822
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

Jay, Alwyn, Endurance; Coastal Command Liberator Operations 1941-5, Banner Books, Maryborough QLD, 4650, 1996