LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer John Michael WARD

Service No: 437237
Born: Adelaide SA, 10 January 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 5 December 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft PB255), Netherlands, 24 December 1944, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Oostelbeers Roman Catholic Churchyard, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Cyril Michael and Kathleen Hayes Ward, of Clarence Park, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Adelaide SA
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Even more successful was a repeat raid against Nippes marshalling yards at Cologne on the 24th-25th, conducted this time by Lancasters of No. 1 Group. The attack was made in clear weather and crews of No. 460 who identified the target without difficulty confirmed that the marking was accurate. After 550 tons of bombs had fallen smoke rose several thousand feet into the air; nearly all the tracks were cratered and the marshalling yard was covered in debris from shattered rolling-stock The locomotive depot and the engine and wagon repair shops were badly damaged in this and the earlier raid on 21-22 December.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 387

Lancaster PB255 took off from RAF Binbrook at 1450 hours on 24 December 1944 to bomb Cologne. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg), 1 x 1000 lb (450 kg) and 8 x 500 lb (225 kg) bombs. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Eleven aircraft from the squadron took part in the raid and one PB 255 failed to return.

The crew members of PB255 were:

Flight Sergeant Graham Fowler Day (433717) (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Cyril Keith Deed (30953) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Robert John Dickie (430773) (Navigator)
Sergeant Thomas Charles Newman (923554) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Michael Carleton Skarratt (420763) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Russell Ian Stewart (434335) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flying Officer John Michael Ward (437237) (Bomb Aimer)

A Canadian Chaplain reported that on 24 December 1944 at 1850 hours an aircraft crashed at Oostelbeers, Holland. An explosion occurred, the aircraft disintegrated and occupants were killed. The aircraft and crew were identified by the watch of Flight Sergeant Stewart.

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, 166/43/1059

Bibliography:

Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

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