Flight Sergeant John Norman WILLIAMS

Service No: 416135
Born: Minlaton SA, 14 November 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 29 March 1941
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Breighton, Yorkshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft W4942), Germany, 17 April 1943, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Durnbach War Cemetery, Bad Tolz, Bayern, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Walter Bertie and Elsie Moffat Williams, of Prospect, South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Prospect SA
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Date: 16-17 April 1943
Target: Pilsen
Total Force: Dispatched – 327, Attacking – 242
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 17, Attacking – 17; No. 467 – 17, 15
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 617
Total Aircraft Lost: 37
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 3; No. 467 – 2

This diversion (attack on Mannheim, Germany) was indeed more successful than the main effort because Australian and other crews reported navigational difficulties in locating distant Pilsen. One Australian bombed Nuremberg, two others searched over a wide area without finding the Pathfinder flares and then set course for base, attacking Erlangen and Koblenz en route. Night fighters harried the Lancasters which found that the bright moonlight was hazard outweighing the expected advantage of easier navigation, and this view appears substantiated by the heavy losses. To add to these disappointments the Pathfinder flares were misplaced and most of the bombs fell on a small town south-west of Pilsen.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 497-8

Lancaster W4942 took off from RAF Breighton at 2106 hours on 16 April 1943 to attack Pilsen, Czechoslovakia. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 3 x 1000 lb (450 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. W4942 was one of 15 aircraft from the squadron that took part in the raid. Post war examination of German documents established that the aircraft crashed at 0034 hours on 17 April at Horcheim, approximately 12 miles northwest of Mannheim, Germany.

The crew members of W4942 were:

Sergeant Edward John Ablewhite (1433368) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Courtney Bell (205848) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Alfred William Clarke (1387144) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Edwin Cyril Ebbott (409034) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Edwin Robert King (411335) (Navigator)
Sergeant Leslie Charles Smith (1271374) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator)
Flight Sergeant John Norman Williams (416135) (Pilot)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster W4331 (Flight Sergeant Ian Gordon Miller (411165) (Pilot)) on 17 April 1943.

No, 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ED711 (Pilot Officer David Edward White DFM (408896) (Pilot)) on 17 April 1943.

During the diversion attack on Mannheim, No. 466 Squadron lost Wellington HE501 (Pilot Officer Colin Foley Tozer (406585) (Pilot)) on 16 April 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED780 (Flight Sergeant Raymond Clarence Stuart (406702) (Pilot)) on 17 April 1943.

No. 467 Squadron lost Lancaster ED651 (Sergeant Bruce Craig Wilson (408545) (Pilot)) on 17 April 1943.


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 A9301, 416135


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

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