LEST WE FORGET

Warrant Officer Robert Kyffin THOMAS

Service No: 416296
Born: Adelaide SA, 16 November 1909
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 April 1941
Unit: No. 156 Squadron: Long Distance Raids (RAF), RAF Warboys, Cambridgeshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 156 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JB472), Germany, 2 December 1943, Aged 34 Years
Buried: Becklingen War Cemetery, Soltau, Niedersachsen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Geoffry Kym Thomas and Harriott Birrell Thomas, of Medindie, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 131, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Lancaster JB472 took off from RAF Warboys at 1712 hours on the night of 2/3rd December 1943, detailed to bomb Berlin. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft crashed in Fallngbostel, Germany. Six of the crew members were killed and one became a prisoner of War.

The crew members of JB472 were:

Flight Sergeant Neville John Edmonds (411685) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Robert Ernest Inglis (21442) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Norman MacDonald (420351) (Navigator) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 2 March 1946
Warrant Officer Robert Kyffin Thomas (416296) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant Phillip Eric Wells (1432681) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer Reginald Russell Wicks (409356) (Pilot)
Warrant Officer Kenneth Alan Wood (403616) (Rear Gunner)

In a later PoW report the then Warrant Officer MacDonald stated: “The Rear Gunner reported an attack by a night fighter. The Captain acknowledged and took evasive action, and just then we were hit. The Inter Com was unserviceable. The crew put on chutes. The aircraft was in a steep dive. At about between 17,000 and 15,000 feet there was a violent explosion. I was sucked out of the starboard side of the aircraft. I recovered consciousness at about 4,000 feet opened up the chute and landed OK.. I believe the pilot jettisoned the bombs endeavouring to save the crew and the aircraft which crashed 30 kms north of Hanover. I walked about 15 kms to a village railway station and was hiding in a goods yard when two Germans captured me. The German officers escorted me several miles to inspect the wreck of our aircraft and informed me that the six crew members were dead. Later that evening they showed me identity photographs of the six and asked me to identify the bodies.”

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, 166/39/179

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