05/06.06.1944 464 Squadron Mosquito FB.IV NS897 Sqn Ldr. Arthur G. Oxlade
Operation: Long Range Intruder Patrol
Date: 5th/6th June 1944 (Monday/Tuesday)
Unit No: 464 Squadron (RAAF) (motto: Aequo animo - 'Equanimity'), 2nd Tactical Air Force
Type: Mosquito FB.IV
Base: RAF Gravesend, Kent
Location: 1 mile north of Gueures, SW of Dieppe, France.
Pilot: Sqn Ldr. Arthur Geoffrey Oxlade 400733 RAAF Age 23. KiA
Nav: Flt Lt. Donald McKenzie Shanks 400839 RAAF Age 35. Evaded capture.
Above: severely damaged De Havilland Mosquito FB.VI, MM401 'SB:J', of No. 464 Sqn, RAAF based at RAF Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, parked at RAF Friston Emergency Landing Ground (ELG), Sussex. The aircraft, flown by Sqn Ldr. A.G. Oxlade and Flt Lt. D.M. Shanks, was hit by Flak while attacking a flying-bomb site in the Pas-de-Calais on the 21st February 1944. The port engine was shattered, and the port undercarriage and most of the outer starboard wing was blown off. Despite the damage, the crew flew MM401 back and crash-landed safely at RAF Friston ELG. The port engine nacelle is seen here supported by a caterpillar tractor to enable the aircraft to be moved off the runway. The aircraft was initially categorised Cat B (repairable), but this was changed to Cat E (a write-off) after the full extent of the damage became clear. (Courtesy of the IVM Non-Commercial Licence)
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.
Sqn 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. Sqn Ldr. Oxlade ordered Flt 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 mins later the main bombs on the aircraft exploded.
With the help of the French Resistance and local people, Flt Lt. Edwards managed to evade capture, returning to his unit on the 7th September 1944.
Flt Lt. 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'.
Donald McKenzie Shanks, Survived the war. Born on the 6th November 1909 at South Yarra, Victoria, Australia. Passed away in 1983.
Above: Grave of Sqn Ldr. Oxlade (courtesy Kate Tame)
Above: The Gazette, 1947 (courtesy Michel Beckers)
Sqn Ldr. Arthur Geoffrey Oxlade. Gueures Communal Cemetery. Inscription: "LOVED SON OF A.& O. OXLADE OF BOX HILL, VICTORIA "EVER IN OUR HEARTS". Born on the 8th April 1920 in Echuca, Victoria. Son of Arthur Harold and Olive May Oxlade, of 16 Hannaslea Street Box Hill, Victoria. Australia.
He enlisted in Melbourne, Australia on the 13th October 1940.
The grave of Sqn Ldr. Oxlade is the sole CWGC British grave in the Gueures Communal Cemetery. The village and commune is 13 km (8 mls) SW of Dieppe and 4 km (2½ mls) south of Ouville, a village on the Dieppe to St. Valery-en-Caux road some 12 km (7½ mls) from Dieppe.
Researched by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) for relatives of the crew with thanks to Kate Tame for grave photographs, National Archives of Australia. Our colleague in the Netherlands, Michel Beckers (Sep 2015). Editorials and map added by Kelvin Youngs (Webmaster) (Dec 2019). Thanks to Paul McGuiness for the correction to Next of Kin details for Sqn Ldr. Oxlade (May 2022). Other corrections by Aircrew Remembered (May 2022). Addition of image and description of MM401 (Aug 2023).
Other sources list below: