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Archive Report: Allied Forces

Compiled from official National Archive and Service sources, contemporary press reports, personal logbooks, diaries and correspondence, reference books, other sources, and interviews.
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450 Squadron Crest
31.10.1942 No. 450 Squadron Kittyhawk III FR270 Sq/Ldr. Williams

Operation: Strafing

Date: 31st October 1942 (Saturday)

Unit: No. 450 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Kittyhawk III

Serial: FR270

Code: OK-?

Base: LG 175, Egypt

Location: Amirlya, Egypt

Pilot: Sq/Ldr. "Willy" John Edwin Ashley Williams DFC. 40652 RAF Age 23. PoW Stalag Luft Sagan


John Willams was born to Australian parents in Wellington, New Zealand, and from Sydney. According to one source, he grew up in or near the beachside suburb of Manly and was a champion surfer.

He travelled to the United Kingdom where he joined the RAF as a pilot officer on a short service commission in 1938.

On the 14th August 1939 Williams was promoted to acting flight lieutenant, relinquishing the rank on the 27th October 1939, and was made a substantive flying officer on the 17th August 1940. One year later to the day, he was made a substantive Flight Lieutenant.

On the 11th April 1942, Williams received his first combat posting, when he joined No. 112 Squadron RAF, part of the Desert Air Force (DAF), flying P-40 Kittyhawks. Over the next two months, he also served with No. 94 Squadron RAF and No. 260 Squadron RAF.

Although he remained an RAF officer, Williams was redeployed to No. 450 Squadron RAAF on the 14th June 1942.

Taking off from Landing Ground 175 at 13:40 hrs to strafe a 5 mile strip of road. Understood to have been hit he force landed the Kittyhawk on rough ground. Due to the terrain, a rescue landing was not possible. He was soon captured and taken eventually to Stalag Luft Sagan.

During June 1942, he destroyed a Junkers Ju87 and a Bf109 near Gambut. On 5 July, Williams shot down a Ju88. John Williams scored four victories and two damaged in during his time with No. 450 squadron. These kills are believed to have been scored in Kittyhawk AK634 OK-M.

On the night of the 24/25th March 1944 he, along with 76 others escaped from the PoW camp. Most were soon recaptured. He along with 28 year old, Fl/Lt. Reginald Kierath AUS/402364 RAAF from the same Squadron were recaptured on the 29th March. Following orders from Hitler, 50 of the 73 escapees to be executed. The names to be chosen by Gruppenführer Arthur Nebe (1), president of the International Criminal Police Commission, the organisation today known as Interpol.

Sq/Ldr. Williams and Fl/Lt Kierath were both murdered and there bodies cremated in order to try and cover up cause of death - Sq/Ldr. Williams at Breslau on the 06th April 1944 and Fl/Lt Kiereth at Brüx on the 29th March.

(1) Arthur Nebe was also responsible for the murder of several psychiatric patients from Mogilev during killing experiments. Nebe was involved in the July 20 plot against Adolf Hitler, he was to lead a team of twelve policemen to kill Himmler but the signal to act never reached him. After the failed assassination attempt, he fled and went into hiding on an island in the Wannsee. He was arrested in January 1945, after a former mistress betrayed him. Nebe was sentenced to death by the People's Court on 2 March and, according to official records, was executed in Berlin at Plötzensee Prison on 21 March 1945 by being hanged with piano wire from a meat hook, in accordance with Hitler's order that the bomb plotters were to be "hanged like cattle”.

Burial details:

Sq/Ldr. John Edwin Ashley Williams DFC. MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Grave 8.D.1. Born on the 06th May 1919 in Wellington, New Zealand the son of Llewellyn and Mildred S. Williams, then of 26 Rocklands Road, Wollstonecraft, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Also of 10 Prince Albert Street, Mosman NSW, Australia.


Fl/Lt. Reginald Victor Kierath MiD. Poznan Old Garrison Cemetery. Grave 8.D.3. Son of William and Ada Elise Kierath, of Narromine, New South Wales, Australia.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to the research by Errol Martyn and his publications: “For Your Tomorrow Vols. 1-3”, Auckland Cenotaph, Weekly News of New Zealand, Wikipedia, other sources as quoted below:

KTY - 30.08.2017

Acknowledgements: Sources used by us in compiling Archive Reports include: Bill Chorley - 'Bomber Command Losses Vols. 1-9, plus ongoing revisions', Dr. Theo E.W. Boiten and Mr. Roderick J. Mackenzie - 'Nightfighter War Diaries Vols. 1 and 2', Martin Middlebrook and Chris Everitt - 'Bomber Command War Diaries', Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Tom Kracker - Kracker Luftwaffe Archives, Michel Beckers, Major Fred Paradie (RCAF) and MWO François Dutil (RCAF) - Paradie Archive (on this site), Jean Schadskaje, Major Jack O'Connor USAF (Retd.), Robert Gretzyngier, Wojtek Matusiak, Waldemar Wójcik and Józef Zieliński - 'Ku Czci Połeglyçh Lotnikow 1939-1945', Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Aircrew Remembered Databases and our own archives. We are grateful for the support and encouragement of CWGC, UK Imperial War Museum, Australian War Memorial, Australian National Archives, New Zealand National Archives, UK National Archives and Fold3 and countless dedicated friends and researchers across the world.
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