04.01.1945 No. 148 Squadron SOE Halifax V LL380 F/O. Walker
Operation: Icarus 102 - Tibet 101
Date: 04th January 1945 (Thursday)
Unit: No. 148 Squadron SOE (Special Operations Executive)
Type: Halifax V
Base: RAF Brindisi, Italy
Location: Okoli, Yugoslavia
Pilot: F/O. Gordon Murray Walker AUS/418610 RAAF Age 21. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. W.M. Breen 1896143 RAFVR Believed evaded capture (1)
Nav: W/O. Andrew Wallace Lyon AUS/427522 RAAF Age 30. Killed
Air/Bmr: W/O George Robert Colquhourn Lowe AUS/419502 RAAF Age 31. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Charles William Rowe AUS/428361 RAAF PoW No: 7736 Camp: Stalag Luft 1 (1)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. R.J. Towner 1897766 RAFVR Believed evaded capture (1)
Air/Gnr: Sgt. Roy A. Bromley 1804442 RAFVR PoW Camp: Stalag Luft 1 (1)
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off from RAF Brindisi in Italy at 07:08 hrs on a SOE operation to Grabovica - another aircraft saw them drop its load over the target area, nothing further was heard from the aircraft.
It appears that they were flying at 5,000 ft when they were hit by flak at least 3 times. The pilot, F/O. Walker ordered the crew to bale out which all the crew did apart from the Pilot and the navigator. W/O. Lyon was laying by the front escape hatch - he had been killed by the anti-aircraft fire. W/O. Rowe was the last to bale out at a reported 350 ft.
The Halifax aircraft was totally burnt out on crashing.
Local Partisans with a local doctor helped treat Sgt. Breen who had been badly burned on his face and hands and together with Sgt. Towner they evaded capture. Sgt Rowe was captured and spent the short remainder of the war as a PoW. It seems that Sgt. Lowe was shot and killed whilst descending in his parachute - the Partisans recovered his body and buried him initially in a wood near Sisak. The Yugoslavian fighters informed the other crew members that the Germans buried F/O. Walker and W/O. Lowe with a full military funeral in the village of Velika Ludina. All the crew were reinterred after the end of the war at the CWGC Cemetery in Belgrade.
(1) Fl/Sgt. Rowe - Liberated by the allies 17th May 1945. From 110 Pleasant Street, Ballarat, Victoria. Also care of Miss Pauline Ridings, 10 Allen Avenue Brooklyn Park, South Australia
(2) Sgt. Breen of 84 Calvert Road, Trepnich, London SE10. Sgt. Towner of 109 Nelson Avenue, Tonbridge, Kent. Sgt. Bromley of 64 Manor Farm Road, Hittenn Park, Southampton - all survived the war.
F/O. Gordon Murray Walker. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 10A.D.7. Born on the 11th April 1923 at Mldura, Victoria, the son of William and Eunice Agnes Jean Walker, of 8 Abbott Street, Sandringham, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription reads: "Thy Will Be Done".
W/O. Andrew Wallace Lyon. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 10A.D.8. Born on the 01st July 1914 at Fremantle, Western Australia, the son of Francis Andrew and Freda Louisa Caroline Lyon and husband of Joy Lyon, of 1 McEwan Crescent, Mosman Park, Western Australia. Grave inscription reads: "He Loved Peace".
W/O George Robert Colquhourn Lowe. Belgrade War Cemetery. Grave 10A.D.6. Born on the 09th January 1924 at Manly, New South Wales, the son of Arthur Milbourne Lowe and Marie Isabelle Lowe, of Ewalong, Tottenham, New South Wales Australia and husband of Barbara Lowe, of Landware Hall, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk, England. Grave inscription reads: "At The Going Down Of The Sun And In The Morning We Remember".
Researched for Katrina Black (relative of W/O. Lyon ) and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to sources as shown as well as the National Archives Kew - Air/27/996.