Flight Sergeant Henry Leslie WILSON

Service No: 418769
Born: Windsor VIC, 24 February 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 19 June 1942
Unit: No. 50 Squadron (RAF), RAF Skellingthorpe, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 50 Squadron Lancaster aircraft LM234), Germany, 15 January 1945, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Norman Garnet Wilson and Jessie Taylor Wilson, of Bentleigh, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Bentleigh VIC
Remembered: Panel 132, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 14 January, the largest force dispatched by Bomber Command against an oil target was sent to hammer the large oil, synthetic ammonia and methanol plant at Leuna-Merseburg. This installation had suffered 19 USAAF and one RAF attack already since 12th May 1944 and had been almost continuously out of operation as successive raids swamped the frantic efforts of an army of repair workers. The plant itself was considered to be in a basically sound condition and if left alone for two months was assessed as capable of achieving nearly three-quarters of its planned capacity . Previous raids had destroyed pipelines and ancillary services rather than main production units, so this mass raid, mounted in two waves, was intended to create heavier and more lasting destruction .
Each of the Waddington squadrons sent 14 Lancasters in the first wave of 220 aircraft for a satisfactory attack made through thin cloud and haze. Both flak and fighters were active and 9 Lancasters were lost including 4 piloted by Australians.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 399-400

The four Lancasters piloted by Australians lost as the result of enemy action were as follows.

Lancaster LM234 took off from RAF Skellingthorpe at 1555 hours on the night of 14/15th
January 1945, detailed to bomb the synthetic oil plant at Leuna, Germany. . Nothing was
heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. It was later established that the aircraft crashed in the heart of Forst Retchmannsdorf, 14 kms south west from Saalfield, Germany.

The crew members of LM234 were:

Flight Sergeant William Edward Boutcher (424956) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant L F Duffy (1880811) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner) PoW
Sergeant Dennis Frank Kirby (1605950) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant W F McClelland (1795902) (RAFVR) (Rear Gunner) PoW
Flying Officer Alexander Hunter Nicol (426979) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Henry Leslie Wilson (418769) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Alexander MacDonald Young (163626) (RAFVR) (Navigator)

Sergeant McClelland later reported “the aircraft crashed on a hill and caught fire. Duffy and I were the only ones to extricate ourselves from the wreckage. The Germans informed me that all the others were killed.”

No. 463 Squadron lost Lancaster NG193 (Flying Officer Ronald Alfred Leonard (408485) (Pilot)) on 15 January 1945.

The other aircraft lost that were piloted by Australians were No. 9 Squadron Lancaster NN722 (Flying Officer Kenneth Allan Cook (418227) (Pilot)) and No. 106 Squadron Lancaster PB122 (Flying Officer Donald Robert McIntosh (426234) (Pilot)).

In addition, No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster ND822 (Pilot Officer Gerald Duncan Walker (423014) (Pilot)) as the result of an accident and this fifth aircraft loss is not accounted for in Herington’s text.


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, 166/43/1092

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