LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer Donald James JENNINGS

Service No: 408152
Born: Hobart TAS, 19 October 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 January 1941
Unit: No. 461 Squadron, Sullom Voe Detachment, Shetland Islands, Scotland
Died: Air Operations (No. 461 Squadron Sunderland aircraft ML735), off the Norwegian Coast, 1 October 1944, Aged 26Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Earnest James Jennings and Ailsa Jennings; husband of Marjorie Jean Jennings, of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 257, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

Flying Officer Jennings was in the crash of Wellington Z8785 on 26 February 1942 in which Sergeant William Allen Godfrey (406392) (Air Gunner) was killed.

Patrols in Norwegian waters began on 30th September and continued throughout October: A total of 39 independent sweeps and searches in cooperation with naval hunting groups all proved negative, but one Sunderland was lost on 1st October. Flight Lieutenant H M Godsall and crew in
Sunderland ML 735 (UT-A) failed to return from a patrol along the Norwegian coast. Nothing further was heard of the missing flying-boat and it was assumed that it was taken by surprise by enemy fighters and shot down.

Extract from Ashworth, N. (Norman) The ANZAC Squadron: A history of No. 461 Squadron RAAF 1942-5, Hesperian Press Victoria Park WA 6100, 1994 – Page 207

Operations from Sullom Voe were partly governed by intelligence from the Norwegian underground. They regularly wirelessed reports of U-boat movements, of departures and arrivals, and this information often determined where the aircraft would fly. Sometimes the patrols were against the Norwegian coast, sometimes they were west beyond the Faroes, sometimes north knocking at the door to the Arctic Circle. They were never less than cold; often they were downright freezing. Number 461’s Sunderlands were not adequate for the climate. As always, they were stripped of everything which the crews conceivably could do without. For operations in the Bay of Biscay where cold did not often reach the level a man could not endure in silence, all heating arrangements, along with other non-essentials, had been removed. This made way tor extra equipment, for a heavier petrol load, for more armament, and a greater endurance in the air. The boys accepted this as logical and right and would not have had it any other way, but in the Shetlands and over the bitter seas which surrounded them the crews were suddenly confronted by the fact that cold was affecting their efficiency. Despite the truly incredible amount of clothing they wore they felt naked.

Mere fabric seemed incapable of stopping the cold. Its powers of penetration were remarkable. A sojourn in the Sunderland’s toilet however brief was pure torture in the air although not without its humour. The crews entered their aircraft wearing very nearly every item of apparel they possessed. There were times it was almost impossible to walk for it; there were times when it required considerable effort to force the body into the pilot’s seat or the turret because the pressure of clothing resisted every movement. But it still didn’t stop the cold.

When the pilot began to fly the chill would creep into his feet and his legs and they would begin to ache. Before long the ache was just a numbness in his limbs and spine and if he had been called upon to really fly his aircraft, to weave through flak or match the manoeuvres of an enemy fighter, he may have been incapable of doing it. Perhaps that was what happened to Marsh Godsall on the second of October, because he vanished with his crew on that day without an SOS and without trace.

The boys looked for Godsall for days but couldn’t find a thing. Group knew well there was no hope, but the squadron wanted to search so Group allowed them to. But Group knew, and the boys knew too, that men could not stay alive in that water for long. Life would not last for very many minutes.

Extract from Southall, I.F. (Ivan Francis) (418900) They Shall Not Pass Unseen, Angus and Robertson Sydney NSW, 1956 – Pages 185-6

The crew members of ML735 were:

Warrant Officer Patrick Hope Brewin (418247) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Cottam (1147382) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer John Colin Cottier (423654) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Percival Richard Criddle (417621) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Herbert Marshall Godsall MID (429427) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Donald James Jennings (408152) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Francis Reed (619357) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer Leslie George Remblance (619992) (RAFVR) (Flight Mechanic Engines / Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant George Lindsay Toose (423267) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Henry Hume Turnbull MID (418211) (Navigator)
Flying Officer Edwin Brand Willis (419103) (First Pilot)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9186, 148 (No. 461 Squadron Operations Record Book)
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

Baff, K.C (Kevin), Maritime is Number Ten; the Sunderland era, K.C. Baff Netley SA, 1983
Joubert, P.B. (Sir Phillip Bennet) Birds and Fishes: the story of Coastal Command, Hutchinson and Company London, 1960
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Anson, Hudson and Sunderland in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992

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