Squadron Leader John Edwin Ashley WILLIAMS DFC

Commanding Officer No. 450 Squadron, 18 October 1942 – 2 November 1942

From Australia serving in the Royal Air Force

Service No: 40652 (RAF)
Born: Date, Location unavailable
Enlisted in the RAF: 1938
Unit: No. 450 Squadron
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), March 1943
Died: Prisoner of War (Executed) (POW from the loss of No. 450 Squadron Kittyhawk aircraft FR270 on 31 October 1942), 29 March 1944, Poland, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Pozan Old Garrison Cemetery, Poland
CWGC Additional Information: Of New Zealand
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Commemorative Roll, Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Squadron Leader Williams had five official victories in air combat at the time of his capture. He was born in New Zealand but was raised in Sydney before joining the RAF. He is recognised by the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia.

On 24/25 March 1944, 76 allied prisoners of war broke out of the Stalag Luft III Prison Camp near Sagan, Germany (now Zagan, Poland) (the Great Escape). All but three were recaptured and of those, 50 including six Australians were executed by the Gestapo. Those six Australians executed were:

Squadron Leader James Catanach DFC MID (400364) (No. 455 Squadron) Executed 29 March 1944
Flight Lieutenant Brian Herbert Evans MID (42745) (RAF) (No. 49 Squadron (RAF)) Executed 31 March 1944
Warrant Officer Albert Horace Hake MID (403218) (No. 72 Squadron (RAF)) Executed 31 March 1944
Flight Lieutenant Thomas Barker Leigh (46462) (RAF) (No. 76 Squadron (RAF)) Executed 31 March 1944
Flight Lieutenant Reginald Victor Kierath MID (402364) (No. 450 Squadron) Executed 29 March 1944
Squadron Leader John Edwin Ashley Williams DFC (40652) (RAF) (No. 450 Squadron (RAAF)) Executed 29 March 1944

On 31 October 1942, Squadron Leader Williams force landed Kittyhwak FR270 near the Sidi Barrini Road, Libya, while on a strafing mission and was captured.


Australian War Memorial Commemorative Roll On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/64/183


Brown, R. (Russell) Desert Warriors Australian P-40 Pilots at War in the Middle East and North Africa 1941-1943, Banner Books Maryborough QLD 4652, 2000
Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954

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