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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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453 Squadron Crest
14.04.1944 No. 453 Squadron Spitfire Ix MK324 FU-Y P/O. Robert E. Yarra

Operation: Noball

Date: 14th April 1944 (Friday)

Unit: No. 453 Squadron (RAAF)

Type: Spitfire Ix

Serial: MK324

Code: FU-Y

Base: RAF Detling, Kent

Location: Abbeville, France

Pilot: P/O. “Bob” Robert Ernest Yarra AUS/413707 RAAF Age 21. Killed


Taking off for a Noball (1) operation over Abbeville in France. During the dive bombing the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed, killing the pilot.

Above: The Yarra brothers! Jack on the left with his younger brother Robert on the right - Jack was also killed earlier in the war - page dedicated to his loss also on our website. (courtesy AWM)

Robert receivng his wings whilst an LAC after training within the Empire Training Scheme. On right 453 Squadron pilots showing L-R: F/O. Frederick Thomas Thornley AUS/411059 RAAF (2), (front left and not sure of name is correct) Francis Joseph D'arcy AUS/O3524 RAAF, (rear) Sq/Ldr. P/O. Ernest Arthur Roy Esau DFC. AUS/405473 RAAF, P/O. Robert Ernest Yarra AUS/413707 RAAF, (Intelligence Officer) Fl/Sgt. Gordon Henry Catchpole AUS/441637 RAAF, F/O. Matthew Henry Ivor de Cosier AUS/405575 RAAF (3) (courtesy AWM)

(1) Operation “Noball” - This was the Allied overall designation of operations by fighter-bombers and medium bombers against the ‘ski-site’ launching ramps for V-1 flying bombs built by the Germans in northern France and in the Low Countries for the bombardment of the UK.

(2) 27 year old, F/O. Frederick Thomas Thornley shot down and killed on the 15th August 1943 flying Spitfire EE630 FU-V. Buried at Flushing Northern Cemetery (Vlissingen) From Hurstville, New South Wales, Australia.

(3) 20 year old, F/O. Matthew Henry Ivor de Cosier shot down and missing - believed killed 10th December 1942. Flying Spitfire Vb BL899 FU-W. From Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Burial details:

P/O. Robert Ernest Yarra. Abbeville Communal Cemetery Extension. Plot 6. Row H. Grave 3. Born on the 28th January 1923 in Gladstone, Queensland, the son of Alfred Ernest and Harriet Yarra, of Tamworth, New South Wales, Australia.

Researched and dedicated to the relatives of this pilot with thanks to sources as quoted below as well as the Australian Archives:

KTY -31.12.2016

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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', Archiwum - Polish Air Force Archive (on this site), Anna Krzystek, Tadeusz Krzystek - 'Polskie Siły Powietrzne w Wielkiej Brytanii', Franek Grabowski, Norman L.R. Franks 'Fighter Command Losses', Stan D. Bishop, John A. Hey MBE, Gerrie Franken and Maco Cillessen - Losses of the US 8th and 9th Air Forces, Vols 1-6, Dr. Theo E.W. Boiton - Nachtjagd Combat Archives, Vols 1-13. 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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