23.10.1944 No. 463 Squadron Lancaster I PB620 JO-P F/O. Irwin Dack DFC
Date: 23rd October 1944 (Monday)
Unit: 463 Squadron (RAAF)
Type: Lancaster I
Serial: PB620 (1)
Base: RAF Waddington
Location: North Se off Island of Walcheren
Pilot: F/O. Irwin John Dack DFC. AUS/418093 RAAF PoW No: 8704 Camp: Stalag Luft Sagan and Belaria
Nav: Sgt. H.E. Lee 1891948 RAFVR PoW No: 1151 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg
W/Op/Air/Gnr: W/O. James Fraser Maple AUS/423205 RAAF Age 29. Missing
Air/Bmr: W/O. James Robert Mitchell McWilliam AUS/418907 RAAF PoW No: 1157 Camp: Stalag Luft Bankau-Kreulberg
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Alexander Easton 1340743 RAFVR Age 23. Missing
Air Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Robert Coward AUS/432371 RAAF Age 22. Missing
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Charles Frederick Kirby 185652 RAFVR Age 40. Missing
REASON FOR LOSS:
Took off at 14:22 hrs from Waddington, Lincolnshire to attack batteries near the port of Vlissingen. Lancaster PB620 struck by light incendiary flak, the aircraft caught fire and filled with a thick brown smoke. The pilot ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft but the intercom system had already failed at this time - no acknowledgement was received by the crew. W/O. McWilliam baled out at 4000 ft whilst the aircraft was ablaze and saw the aircraft crash into the sea between Walcheren and the mainland.
F/O. Dack was rescued after he landed in a minefield by two German soldiers, who apparently risked their lives in order for this to be done. During his captivity F/O. Dack caught tuberculosis but survived the war.
Another 463 Squadron Lancaster was also lost this night, again by flak:
Lancaster 1 NF977 JO-G Flown by F/O. Cyril Borsht AUS/426416 RAAF, taken PoW with 4 other crew members, 1 evaded capture with 1 other being killed.
(1) Many records show this aircraft to have been PD259, they are in fact not correct - PD259 was lost on a training flight the following night. With thanks to Andy Smith for bringing this to our attention.
W/O. James Fraser Maple. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 259. Son of Herbert Grant Maple and Carrie Maple, husband of Joyce Yeomanson Maple, of 4 Wyralla Avenue, Epping, New South Wales, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. Alexander Easton. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 217. Son of Alexander McGillivary Easton and Allison Easton, of Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland.
Fl/Sgt. Robert Coward. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 260. Born 7th March 1922. Enlisted 8th December 1942 in Sydney, Australia. Son of John and Ruth Coward, of 89 Avergorn Street, Bexley, New South Wales, Australia.
Fl/Sgt. Charles Frederick Kirby. Runnymede Memorial. Panel 211. Son of Charles Frederick Kirby and of Maude Kirby, of Totteridge, Hertfordshire, England. Promoted to P/O after his death.
With thanks to Jeff Gale for additional information on Fl/Sgt. Kirby - May 2016.