LEST WE FORGET

Flight Sergeant Thomas Edwin PACKER

Service No: 407453
Born: Adelaide SA, 18 February 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 12 October 1940
Unit: No. 450 Squadron
Died: Air Operations (No. 450 Squadron Kittyhawk aircraft), Middle East, 29 May 1942, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Knightsbridge War Cemetery, Acroma, Libya
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Thomas and Ethel Rebecca Packer, of Paradise, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Campbelltown SA
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

During the whole of 29th and 30th May targets were ideal for both fighters and bombers, which carried out a shuttle service devoted entirely to ground attacks. On two occasions the army reported that more than fifty enemy vehicles had been left burning after attacks by fighter bombers, which were enjoying outstanding success. By 31st May, when the enemy was apparently attempting to withdraw completely, fighter bombers were ordered to revert to their normal duties to prevent high wastage of Kittyhawks, for which there were few replacements. During this five-day period of intensive effort the RAF appeared to have won the first round of the battle, and morale rose high, especially in No. 239 Wing which had more than fulfilled its planned role as an attacking spearhead. No. 3 lost only two pilots through the hazards of low-level attack against static defences, while No. 450 lost one pilot killed (another pilot died in an aircraft accident) and four missing during fairly even battles with enemy aircraft, five of which were claimed as destroyed.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 234

No. 450 Squadron lost:

Sergeant John Nicholson Dean (402936) Killed 29 May 1942
Sergeant Henry William Devlin (401108) Killed (Crashed on takeoff): 29 May 1942
Flight Sergeant Thomas Edwin Packer (407453) Killed 29 May 1942
Pilot Officer Raymond Shaw (402139) Killed 29 May 1942
Flight Sergeant Ian Arthur Nursey (402389) Killed 30 May 1942
Flight Lieutenant Eric Teulon Thompson (404069) Killed: 31 May 1942

No. 3 Squadron lost:

Sergeant Colin Shaw MacDiarmid (404345) Killed 30 May 1942
Sergeant (later Squadron Leader) Andrew William Barr MC DFC & Bar (250774) Shot down 30 May 1942, evaded capture, Discharged from the RAAF: 8 October 1945

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 A9301, 407453

Bibliography:

Brown, R. (Russell) Desert Warriors Australian P-40 Pilots at War in the Middle East and North Africa 1941-1943, Banner Books Maryborough QLD 4652, 2000

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