LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Leo Reginald BARNDEN

Service No: 437207
Born: Adelaide SA, 18 June 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 May 1943
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ND822), Lincolnshire, 14 January 1945, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Leo Peter and Melbena Mary Barnden, of Mile End. South Australia.
Roll of Honour: Thebarton SA
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

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 (1).

(1) Herington’s text does not account for ND 822 which was lost as the result of an accident. Details of the four Lancasters piloted by Australians that were lost as the result of enemy action on 14/15 January 1945 are given below.

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

Lancaster ND822 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1903 hours on 14 January 1945 to bomb a synthetic oil producing plant at Merseburg-Leuna, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) and 12 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Sixteen aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid. ND 822 returning from the raid crashed between Hainton and Louth in Lincolnshire. A subsequent Court of Inquiry reported “the aircraft was returning early from the mission with its bomb load. The Pilot called Binbrook at 2141 saying that the starboard inner engine was unserviceable and sort permission to land. The aircraft was told to prepare to land on runway 040 but not to descend below 500 feet, and that if he could not pancake he would be diverted. Further attempts at radio communications were not successful and the aircraft was seen at approximately 2145 hours to be making a circuit of Ludford Magna airfield in order to land on 020. The outer circle lights were on, but the runway lighting and the glide path indicators were switched off. The aircraft was seen to turn in an easterly direction heading inside the outer circle, to dive steeply, strike a cottage and crash in fields straight ahead. It was believed that ND822 arrived and stayed in the Ludford Magna area under the impression it was over Binbrook.”

The crew members of ND822 were:

Flight Sergeant Leo Ronald Barnden (437207) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant John Grindle Forrest (1591075) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Sergeant Reginald William Hamilton (433507) (Navigator)
Warrant Officer Kelvin Hutchings (428774) (Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Bernard Bruce Peterson (432970) (Rear Gunner) Fatally injured, Died 20 January 1945
Pilot Officer Gerald Duncan Walker (423014) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Edward Robert Winton (432928) (Wireless Operator Air)

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

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 NN 722 (Flying Officer Kenneth Allan Cook (418227) (Pilot)), No. 50 Squadron Lancaster LM 234 (Flying Officer Alexander Hunter Nicol (426979) (Pilot)) and No. 106 Squadron Lancaster PB 122 (Flying Officer Donald Robert McIntosh (426234) (Pilot)).

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, 166/5/895

Bibliography:

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

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