Operation: St. Leu d’Esserent, France
Date: 07/08th July 1944 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: No. 467 Squadron (RAAF) (motto: Recidite Adversarius Atque Ferociter - 'opponents retreat because courageous attack'). 5 Group
Type: Lancaster III
Base: RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire
Location: Courgent, France
Pilot: F/O. Philip Wyatt Ryan Aus/418012 RAAF Age 22. Killed
Fl/Eng: Sgt. George Arthur Hays 1591247 RAFVR Age 19. Killed
Nav: W/O. Clifford Cecil Jones Aus/415032 RAAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Bmr: Fl/Sgt. Verne Edward Cockroft Aus/425605 RAAF Age 24. Killed
W/Op/Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. Leonard Haig Porritt Aus/419481 RAAF Age 23. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. William Deldon Douglas Killworth Aus/408443 RAAF Age 20. Killed
Air/Gnr: Fl/Sgt. James Pat Steffan Aus/429643 RAAF Age 20. Killed
REASON FOR LOSS:
Taking off at 22:22 hrs. one of 18 from the squadron and of a total 208 Lancasters, to bomb the V1 flying bomb stores at St. Leu d’Esserent in France. At the same time 123 Lancasters escorted by 5 Mosquitoes left to bomb the railway centre at Valires.
Escorted by 13 Mosquitoes the St. Leu d’Esserent force made landfall at 00:22 hrs. over Le Havre, From there they flew north westwards towards the north of Paris.
Crew photo Rear L-R: Fl/Sgt. Verne Edward Cockroft, Sgt. George Arthur Hays, Fl/Sgt. William Deldon Douglas Killworth and Fl/Sgt. James Pat Steffan.
Front: W/O. Clifford Cecil Jones, F/O. Philip Wyatt Ryan and Fl/Sgt. Leonard Haig Porritt. (Courtesy NAA)
Lancaster LM338 Wreckage (Courtesy NAA)
The St. Leu force encountered fierce attacks by night fighters with no less than 31 shot down and a further 14 returned with various degrees of damage
LM338 was shot down by either Major Paul Semrau of Stab II./NJG2 at 01:07 hrs over the Septeuil area (the most likely) or Hpt. Gerhard Raht of Stab II./NJG2 at 01:04 hrs over Plaisir-Damville area. They both claimed a Lancaster shot down with either LM338 or a 9 squadron Lancaster JA957 flown by F/O. Peter Douglas Blackham 142196 RAFVR. He was killed along with 5 others of his crew, 1 evaded capture.
Another aircraft from the squadron was also lost:
Lancaster I LM219 PO-G Flown by Fl/Lt. Robert Winter Reynolds 120589 RAFVR killed with 5 other crew, 2 Australian crew members evaded capture.
Burial and personal details:
F/O. Philip Wyatt Ryan. Courgent Communal Cemetery. Grave 4. Born on the 01st January 1922 at Beechworth. Son of Frederick Joseph (died 09th February 1960, age 70) and Alice Claire Ryan (née Wyatt - died 09th March 1978, age 84), of Beechworth, Victoria, Australia.
Sgt. George Arthur Hays. Courgent Communal Cemetery. Grave 3. Son of William and Jane Hays, of Forest Hall, Northumberland, England. Grave inscription: 'Thy Will Be Done'.
W/O. Clifford Cecil Jones. Courgent Communal Cemetery. Grave 6. Born on the 18th July 1920 at Windsor, Queensland. Son of the Revd. Abraham Clifford Jones (died 20th January 1960, age 66), and Elizabeth Maud Jones 9/died 22nd December 1965, age 76), of Ballarat, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription: 'A Son And Brother Beloved And Ever Remembered'.
Fl/Sgt. Verne Edward Cockroft. Courgent Communal Cemetery. Grave 5. Born on the 23rd October 1919 at Rockhampton, Queensland. Son of Harry David and Emma Andrews Cockroft, of Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. Grave inscription: 'Dauntless You Leapt To Heights Untold. Dying, You Live For Ever Beloved'.
Fl/Sgt. Leonard Haig Porritt. Courgent Communal Cemetery. Grave 7. Born on the 30th November 1920 at Beechcroft, Victoria. Son of Thomas Fredrick Rowden Porritt (died 06th January 1930. age 61) and Maud Isabell Porritt (née Dowling - died 27th June 1952, age 70); husband of Mavis Evon Porritt, of Beechworth, Victoria, Australia. Grave inscription: 'Loved And Remembered, Longed For Always'.
Fl/Sgt. William Deldon Douglas Killworth. Courgent Communal Cemetery. Grave 2. Born on the 14th February 1924 at Launceston, Tasmania. Son of David and Ella Louise Killworth, of Scottsdale, Tasmania, Australia. Grave inscription: 'His Duty Nobly Done. Ever Remembered'.
Fl/Sgt. James Pat Steffan. Courgent Communal Cemetery. Grave 1. Born on the 05th January 1924 at Perth, Western Australia. Son of Frank and Delia Steffan, of Mount Lawley, Western Australia. Grave inscription: 'His Duty Nobly Done'.
Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this crew with thanks to Australian National Archives, Theo Boiten 'Nachtjagd Combat Archives 1944, Part 3', Kracker Archives, other sources as quoted below:
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember
them. - Laurence
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