20/21.04.1944 218 Squadron Stirling III LJ448 HA-D F/O. Gregory McG. Doolan
Operation: Railway depot at Chambly, France.
Date: 20/21st April 1944 (Thursday/Friday)
Unit: No.218 Squadron
Type: Short Stirling III
Serial No. LJ448
Base: RAF Woolfox Lodge, Rutland
Location: Asnières-sur-Oise, France.
Pilot: F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan AUS/421008 RAAF Age 23. Killed
Nav: F/O. Anthony Edward Vidler 137146 RAVFR Evaded
Fl/Eng: Sgt. Cecil Thomas Bishop 1608815 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Air/Bmr: F/O. Arthur John Douglas Levy AUS/422210 RAAF Evaded
W/Op/Air/Gnr: P/O. Francis Herbert O'Neil AUS/420989 RAAF Evaded
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Dennis Rupert Pepall 1416755 RAFVR Evaded
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Clive Robinson 631248 PoW No: 3595 Camp: Stalag Kopernikus
Reason For Loss:
Taking off at 21:03 hrs from RAF Woolfox Lodge to bomb the railcards at Chambray, France - together with 13 other aircraft from the Squadron. Weather conditions for the operations on the outbound flight were recorded as good with no moon.
LJ448 was hit by flak during its bomb run with an explosion at the flight engineers panel and then a fire had taken hold forward of the mid upper turret.
The pilot, 23 year old Australian F/O. Doolan ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. Five of the crew escaped from the front hatch at 6,000 ft.
Left to right: F/O. Gregory Doolan, Sgt. Cecil Bishop, Sgt. Dennis Pepall.
F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan and friends
Written on the back: Beside the wheel of my 'Old Faithful' (F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan)
The aircraft crashed near Asnières-sur-Oise, throwing the bodies of the two crew who were killed some 200 yards from the wreckage.
Statement of account from P/O. Francis Herbert O'Neil:
As bombs were released over the target, a very loud explosion occurred in the bomb panel region. The Flight Engineer immediately reported that the aircraft was in flames from the mid-upper turret. Intercommunications were now unserviceable. We opened the front hatch but saw no sign of the bomb aimer. F/O. Vidler jumped first followed by P/O. O’Neil - the others followed.
F/O. Gregory McGowan Doolan. Asnières-sur-Oise Communal Cemetery, France. Son of Ambrose Vincent and Kathleen Violet Doolan, of Binnaway, New South Wales, Australia.
Sgt. Cecil Thomas Bishop. Asnières-sur-Oise Communal Cemetery, France. Son of Thomas J. Bishop and Ethel L. Bishop, of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
With thanks to Ambrose and Lisa Doolan for photographs of the pilot and graves. (nephew) Sent in to Aircrew Remembered June 2015.