05/06.06.1944 No 464 Squadron Mosquito NS897 Sq/Ldr. Oxlade
Operation: Long Range Intruder Patrol
Date: 05/6th June 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit: No. 464 Squadron (RAAF) (motto: Aequo animo - 'Equanimity')
Type: Mosquito IV
Base: RAF Gravesend, Kent
Location: 1 Mile North of Gueures, South West of Dieppe, France.
Pilot: Sq/Ldr. Arthur Geoffrey Oxlade AUS/400733 RAAF Age 23. Killed
Nav: Fl/Lt. Donald McKenzie Shanks AUS/400839 RAAF Age: 35. Evaded capture.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Gravesend in Kent at 22:50 hrs joining another 19 aircraft on an intruder operation to bomb rail yards and other targets in support of the armies during the 'D' Day landings.
Sq/Ldr. Arthur Geoffrey Oxlade (courtesy Michel Beckers)
On the way to the target area at Mayenne the Mosquito was hit by flak, which set fire to the underneath of the aircraft. However the crew (having been together for since 1942 and therefore trusted one another judgement totally) they decided to continue to the target. The flames went out and they continued the patrol for another thirty minutes before making their return flight.
En route the Port engine cut out due to the earlier damage and the Pilot feathered the engine. Very shortly afterwards the Starboard engine then cut out whilst they were at about 10,000 ft. Sq/Ldr. Oxlade ordered Fl/Lt. Shanks to bale out which he did at about 1,500 ft. landing just North of the village Gueuress at 01:00 hrs.
As he was descending he saw the aircraft crash and explode. 45 minutes later the main bombs on the aircraft exploded.
With the help of the French Resistance and local people Fl/Lt. Don Edwards managed to evade capture, returning to his unit on the 07th September 1944.
Fl/Lt. Donald McKenzie Shanks - Evasion report:
'We took off at 23:00 hours to do a recce of roads south of the invasion area. We were coned at 2000 feet to the south of Montfoe and the aircraft caught fire from flak hits. We carried on and the fire went out. On the return journey over Yvetot one engine cut out and the pilot was forced to feather it. No sooner was that done when the other engine caught fire. The bale out was ordered and I did so when under 2000 feet. I don’t think the pilot had time to bale out'.
'I landed north of Gueures. The aircraft hit the ground and blew up. Later the bombs blew up. The chute was tangled in a tall tree. I was forced to leave it there and climb down. I went south and shortly knocked on the door of a farmhouse. A Frenchman and woman told me to get away quickly as the farm was a German Hqrs. I walked past a German guard on the gate and walked east for 2kms. I hid for 2 days in a hedge living on escape tablets. At dusk on 7/6 I walked cross country, reached Ablement and entered a farmhouse. The farmer sheltered me until 13/6 when I moved to Mont Candon in order to see a flying bomb site close by and wanted to study the thing at close quarters. Flying bombs commenced on 16/6. On 25/6 was moved by the Resistance organisation to Montreuil en Caux. On 1/9 made contact with Canadian troops. Returned to unit on 7/9/44'.
Fl/Lt. Donald McKenzie Shanks, Survived the war. Born on the 06th November 1909 at South Yarra, Victoria, Australia. Passed away in 1983.
Left: The Gazette, 1947 (courtesy Michel Beckers)
Sq/Ldr. Arthur Geoffrey Oxlade. Gueures Communal Cemetery. Son of Arthur Harold and Olive May Oxlade, of 16 Hannaslea Street Box Hill, Victoria. Australia. Born in Etuca, Victoria on the 8th April 1920, enlistered in Melbourne, Australia on the 13th October 1940.
Right: Grave of Sq/Ldr. Occlude (courtesy Kate Tame) Any relative requiring a higher resolution of the grave please dont hesitate to contact us.
Researched for relatives of the crew with thanks to Kate Tame for grave photographs, National Archives of Australia, Commonwealth Graves Commission. Our colleague in the Netherlands, Michel Beckers.