LEST WE FORGET

Sergeant Geoffrey Aloysius O’KEEFE

Service No: 416071
Born: St Kilda VIC, 21 June 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 31 March 1941 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 104 Squadron (RAF), Landing Ground 237, Libya
Died: Air Operations (No. 104 Squadron Wellington aircraft W5401), Mediterranean, 6 January 1943, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Andrew Stanislaus O’Keefe and Constance Mary O’Keefe, of Tooma, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 12, Colum 2, Malta Memorial, Malta
Remembered: Panel 128, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

The DVA record shows Sergeant O’Keefe enlisting from New South Wales; however he has a South Australian Service Number (416XXX) and is listed on the SA Memorial.

Wellington W5401 of No. 104 Squadron took off at 1754 hours on 6 January 1943 together with 7 other aircraft to bomb the docks at Tunis. As a result of bad weather over the target area, the formation changed course for Sousse. Heavy anti-aircraft fire was encountered at Sousse, and two aircraft reported seeing an explosion at 7, 000 feet at 2130 hours, and immediately after saw an aircraft on fire on the ground 3 to 5 miles south south west of Sousse. W 5401 failed to return to base.

The crew members of W5401 were:

Sergeant John Joseph Kellett (1049367) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Thomas Lonsdale (112533) (RAFVR) (Observer)
Sergeant James Joseph Redmond (1183634) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Sergeant Geoffrey Aloysius O’Keefe (416071) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Squadron Leader Ivan Cornwallis Strutt DFC (72438) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Isadore Nicholas Yudell (R/91968) (RCAF) (Second Pilot)

The bodies of Squadron Leader Strutt and Flight Sergeant Yudell were reported to have been recovered but the place of recovery and burial was not stated. Post war searches failed to find any trace of any burial site or graves nor any trace of the remaining missing crew members.

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, 166/31/1

© Copyright Highgate RSL. All rights reserved.