WILLIAMS Robert Devon 415370

LEST WE FORGET

Warrant Officer Robert Devon WILLIAMS

Service No: 415370
Born: Collie WA, 19 January 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 September 1941
Unit: No. 454 Squadron
Died: Air Operations: Mediterranean: January-June 1944 (No. 454 Squadron Baltimore aircraft FA499), Mediterranean Sea, 27 February 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Herrow Hopetoun Williams and Catherine Maud Williams, of Duranillin, Western Australia
Roll of Honour: Bunbury WA
Remembered: Column 282, Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On 27th February Flying Officer Dawe failed to return from a sortie up the west coast of Greece and another Baltimore was intercepted by two Me-109Fs near Antikithera and was severely damaged in a prolonged running fight, although the pilot was able to crash-land safely at Derna.
Unsuccessful searches for possible survivors from Dawe’s crew continued for three days side by side with a new spate of activity in the western Aegean consequent on reports that a new enemy convoy was ready to sail from Greece.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 90

At 0730 hours on 27 February 1944, Baltimore FA499 took off to carry out a shipping reconnaissance off the west coast of Greece. No sightings were reported but at 1043 hours a distorted message was received which seemed to indicate the aircraft was in distress. Wireless conditions were bad and the aircraft strength was very weak.

At about 1130 hours, homing bearings were requested by the aircraft, and the call sign transmitted at frequent intervals. At 1206 hours a first class bearing was received by the aircraft, which showed that it was on course for base. From this point on all stations were in contact with the aircraft which apparently received frequent bearings. At 1306 hours a distress message was heard and gave its position of distress as 34.30N 021.10E, about 100 miles north of Benghazi. At 1318 hours communication with the aircraft was lost by all stations, and it was considered that a ditching was made at this time near the given position. Extensive searches were made but apart from a petrol tank and small pieces of wreckage, no trace of the missing crew was found. It was considered that the aircraft broke up on ditching, as the sea was very rough at the time.

The crew members of FA499 were:

Flying Officer Arnold William Dawe (416940) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer John Rowe (415359) (Navigator)
Warrant Officer John Augustine Siebert (416897) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Robert Devon Williams (415370) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)

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, 166/43/544