LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant George YORK

Service No: 428858
Born: Woollahra NSW, 5 February 1915
Enlisted in the RAAF: 10 October 1942
Unit: No.102 Squadron (RAF), RAF Pocklington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 102 Squadron Halifax aircraft MZ647), Germany, 13 August 1944, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Rheinberg War Cemetery, Kamp Lintfort, Nordrhein-Westfal, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of George and Mary Arm York; husband of Margaret York, of Kingsford, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Sydney NSW
Remembered: Panel 133, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

The force assembled for the first raid on Russelsheim on 12th-13th August was composed of 287 Halifaxes and Lancasters drawn from five separate groups, the Australian contribution being 17 Lancasters from No. 463, 17 from No. 467 and 22 aircraft with RAAF captains spread among the other squadrons. There was little cloud and the main bomber stream arrived to find that ground markers had been laid on time by the pathfinders and were both plentiful and well grouped. Moderate heavy ground defences could not spoil the rhythm of attack and German fighters appeared in force only towards the end of the operation, being particularly persistent in their attacks as the gaggle of bombers streamed homewards. Despite these favourable bombing conditions only a dispersed attack developed, although some heavy explosions were reported and many fires seen.

Australian crews gave very conflicting reports at their debriefing. Some thought that bombing was concentrated, others believed it was scattered; many stated that fires were of no great magnitude, but some said that they covered the whole area. Subsequent photographs showed that there was damage only in the south-west area of the huge works and was confined mainly to storage, loading and dispatch sections; residential property to the south-east of the factory had suffered considerably and there was evidence of fires in the surrounding woods. The bomb-load expended had been some 510 tons of high explosive and 450 tons of incendiary bombs, so that as a whole the raid could not be described as having achieved great success. For this moderate result Bomber Command lost
20 aircraft including one from No. 467 and 3 piloted by Australians of Nos. 50, 102 and 622 Squadrons.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 183

Halifax MZ 647 took off from RAF Pocklington at 2150 hours on the night of 12/13th
August 1944, detailed to bomb Russelsheim, Germany. Nothing was heard from the
aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. A Missing Research & Enquiry team later reported “the aircraft was attacked by a night fighter and crashed near Rehborn railway station on 13th August 1944.” Rehborn is about 30 kms north of Kaiserlautern, Germany. All the crew members were killed

The crew members of MZ647 were:

Sergeant James Charles Doughty (1386802) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Jack Vernon Finney (1522018) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air)
Pilot Officer John Grieve Gordon (423711) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Alfred Henry Harvey (423726) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Roy Robert Haylor Osborne (182213) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Kenneth Leslie Walker (1749060 (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Flight Sergeant George York (428858) (Air Bomber)
Flight Lieutenant Philip Edward Young (422825) (Pilot)

The aircraft lost identified in Herington’s extract were No. 467 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PD230 (Flying Officer Rodney James Mellowship (417870) (Pilot)), No. 50 Squadron Lancaster NE135 (Flying Officer Douglas Leslie Haynes (422517) (Pilot)) and No. 622 Squadron Lancaster PD230 (Flying Officer John Harold Busby (418798) (Pilot)).

In addition, RAAF members were lost in No. 514 Squadron Lancaster LM215 (Pilot Officer Henry Frederick Roome (434016) (Second Pilot)), No. 578 Squadron Halifax LM393 (Pilot Officer Owen Scott MacPhillamy MID (423850) (Pilot)) and No. 635 Squadron Lancaster ND694 (Warrant Officer Alwyn Terence Till (410756) (Air Bomber)).

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, 166/45/64