LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Peter Louis SYMONDS

Service No: 408054
Born: Devonport TAS, 6 September 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 15 August 1940
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JA902), Germany, 2 January 1944, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Stanley Le Plastrier Symonds and Lillian Alice Symonds, of Hampton, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Launceston TAS
Remembered: Panel 259, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Note: The above table does not include the loss on takeoff of No. 460 Squadron Lancaster JB 738.

Date: 2-3 January 1944
Target: Berlin
Total Force: Despatched – 383, Attacking – 311
RAAF Force: No. 460 Despatched – 19, Attacking – 15; No. 463 – 8, 6; No. 467 – 8, 7
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 1,116
Total Aircraft Lost: 27
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1; No. 467 – 1 (Does not include the loss of No. 460 Squadron Lancaster JB738)

Equally disappointing was the repeat attack made the following night when a number of small factors again combined to prevent good results. Five of thirteen Lancasters of No. 467 could not be prepared in time and one of No. 460 crashed on take-off. The late start made to avoid moonlight and gale conditions over Germany ruled out feint routeing tactics, and the bomber stream was hotly beset throughout its passage. Icing conditions forced several crews to jettison all or part of their bomb load before reaching Berlin, and some crews who received orders during flight to abandon their sortie had actually bombed alternative targets before over-riding instructions were issued for them to carry on to Berlin. The capital was still covered by cloud and the Australians, worried persistently by a swarm of night fighters, were forced to choose between widely-placed sky markers. There was little confidence in the accuracy of the bombing. The casualty rate (nearly 7 per cent) compared with the military results of these last two attacks appeared unduly high.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 643-4

Lancaster JA902 took off from RAF Waddington at 2313 hours on the night of 2/3rd January 1944 to bomb Berlin. Bomb load 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg) bomb, 48 x 30 lb (14 kg), 900 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Six aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these JA902 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed into water which has since been reclaimed to form the Noord-Oost-Polder.

The crew members of JA902 were:

Sergeant Albert Edward Cowell (1860362) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer John Watson Gage (151085) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Colin Hemingway (417839) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Francis Noel Looney (423290) (Bomb Aimer)
Pilot Officer Peter Louis Symonds (408054) (Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant William Donald Toohey (426401) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Jack Weatherill (410021) (Pilot)

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB606 (Flight Sergeant Reginald William Rowley) (409747) (Pilot)) on 2/3 January 1944.

No. 460 Squadron lost Lancaster JB738 (Flight Lieutenant Barring Armitage Knyvett (402869) (Pilot)) on 2 January 1944.

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, 166/38/386

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