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6 September 2017
Mid-Upper Gunner – Flight Sergeant John Mickle Tait, 430788, RAAF

 

Mid-Upper Gunner, Flight Sergeant John Mickle Tait, 430788, RAAF, later in 462 Squadron.

 

 

 

Mid-Upper Gunner, Flight Sergeant John Mickle Tait, 430788, RAAF,while based at 1652 HCU, Marston Moor, Yorkshire, late 1944. He had been promoted to Flight Sergeant on 3 August 1944.

John's Service History.
John's Casualty History.

John's Headstone inscription & CWGC record
John's Badges and Medals
John's Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour record
Tait family Genealogy.
Connections with Air Gunner M.J.Hibberd

 

John Mickle Tait, 430788 RAAF, at enlistment, later in 462 Squadron (NAA photo).
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9301, 430788

 

 

 

 

John Mickle Tait, 430788 RAAF, at enlistment and still in civilian clothes, height about 5 feet 6 inches.

(Photo – NAA Service File).

For more photos of this Airman, please use links on the Locations page, or by going direct to the pages for 27 O.T.U. Church Broughton, 1652 H.C.U. Marston Moor, and 462 Squadron Foulsham (B Flight Air Gunners).

 

F/Sgt John Mickle Tait, 430788, 462 Squadron, RAAF ready to fly, and standing beside the rear turret of a Halifax III.

 

 

John Mickle Tait, 430788 RAAF, "ready to fly", and standing beside the Boulton-Paul rear turret of a Halifax III. He is wearing his mae-west and parachute harness, flying boots, a neck scarf, and carrying what appears to be his flying helmet with radio and oxygen connections.

The photo is undated, and without a recorded location. Snow is visible on the ground, so it may be at 1652 HCU, Marston Moor, Yorkshire, in late 1944 or early 1945.

However, John and the crew were posted to operational duties at 462 Squadron, at Foulsham, Norfolk, on 16 February 1945, so the photo location was most likely at Foulsham. Long shadows on the ground could indicate readiness to fly on a scheduled night op. Other photos of 462 Squadron Halifaxes at Foulsham also appear to have some snow on the ground, and have with similar backgrounds.

Photo supplied by the Tait family and used with their permission.

 

462 Squadron RAAF Honour Roll on the Memorial Wall at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, with a Remembrance Poppy beside the name of F/Sgt John Mickle Tait, 430788.

 

 

 

462 Squadron RAAF Roll of Honour at Panel 109 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia, with a Remembrance Poppy beside the name of Tait J.M. (F/Sgt John Mickle Tait).

This Roll of Honour lists the Australians in 462 Squadron RAAF who were killed in action during WWII, and includes the names of the other Australian members of the crew of Halifax III NA240 Z5-V, who died with F/Sgt J.M.Tait.
Pilot F/O A.D.J.Ball, Navigator F/Sgt N.V.Evans, Bomb Aimer F/O M.Frank, and Wireless Operator W/O R.R.Taylor.

Please visit the Australian War Memorial page, to view other photos of this Roll of Honour and information on the Australians listed.

Photo supplied by the Tait family and used with their permission.
Copyright © 2010 J.G.Tait.

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Information from WW2 Nominal Roll website
Name: John Mickle TAIT
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 430788
Date of Birth: 6 March 1925
Place of Birth: Ascot Vale, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 22 March 1943
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: George Tait
Date of Death: 10 April 1945
Rank: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 (RAAF) Squadron
Roll of Honour: Essendon, Victoria

The following information is from the National Archives of Australia – Service File, Series A9301; Casualty File, Series A705;  Loss of Aircraft File, Series A11385; 462 Squadron ORBs “Form 540 Summary of Events” and “Form 541 Detail of Work Carried Out”. Service File records sometimes vary by date – any discrepancies are recorded below. (Comments & corrections are bracketed in italics.) Various documents have been quoted in full because the quality of the original digital copies precludes their reproduction here. Some information has also been taken from M.J.Hibberd personal papers held by his Widow.

22 January 1943 – Application for Air Crew at RAAF Recruiting Centre, Russell Street, Melbourne. Date & place of birth was 6 March 1925, at Ascot Vale, Melbourne. His private address was 52 Maribyrnong Road, Moonee Ponds. Next of Kin listed was his father, George William, Chemist, of the same address. His marital status was Single; and he was a British Subject, of pure European descent, with both parents having Australian nationality at their birth. From 1936 to 1941 his schooling was at Geelong College, Newtown, Geelong, and Scotch College, Glenferrie (?) Road, Hawthorn. He studied for his Intermediate Certificate at Scotch College in 1941 with first-class passes in the subjects History, English, Drawing and Physics; a pass in Algebra; but fails in French, Arithmetic and Geometry.  His occupation since leaving school was as a Wool Classer employed by the Victorian State Wool Committee. He indicated that he was prepared to serve for the duration of the war and up to 12 months thereafter. He answered No to having any flying experience; No to prior Naval, Military or Air Force Service; No to prior applications to join RAAF or Active Citizens Force; and No to having had any prior medical examinations for Air Force or Civil Flying. Sports played were football, hockey, shooting, riding and swimming.  His height was 5 ft 7 inches & his weight was 9 stone 3 pounds. He had no prior civil convictions. The application for Air Crew Form P/P.80 was signed by both John and his father George William Tait, as John was under 21, being aged only 17 years and 10 months.

5 March 1943 – Medical examination for RAAF in Melbourne – Medical category A1B/A3B

22 March 1943 – Attestation for Air Crew of Citizen Air Force, at No. 1 Recruitment Centre (R.C.), RAAF Station, Point Cook, Melbourne, aged 18 years as of 6 March 1943, born at Ascot Vale, Victoria. Most of the details are as per the Application for Aircrew listed above. British Subject, occupation Wool Classer. His physical description was: – Height 5 feet 5 ¼ inches (differs from 5’7” at application in January 1943); Weight 126 lb (= 9 stone); Chest Measurement 31½ inches normal, 34½ inches expanded;  Vision 6/6 both eyes; Complexion Fair med.;  Eye Colour Hazel; Hair Colour fair med., Religious Denomination Presbyterian; No wounds, scars or other distinctive marks. John signed the Oath on 6 March 1943, and the Attesting Officer and John both signed the Declaration on 22 March 1943.
22 March 1943 – Posting to No. 1 R.C. RAAF Station, Point Cook, Melbourne.
22 March 1943 – Classification Air Craftman 2 (AC2) on enlistment, at No 1 R.C.
22 March 1943 – Mustering Air Crew V
29 March 1943 – Declaration signed before a Commissioner for taking Affidavits, by J.M.Tait of 52 Maribyrnong Rd, Moonee Ponds, declaring that he was born at Ascot Vale in the State of Victoria on the 6th of March 1925.
12 April 1943 – Airman’s Record Sheet (Active Service – Overseas) – mustering Air Crew V, Current Engagement for “Duration of the war and up to a period of 12 months thereafter”. Next of Kin listed was Mr G.W.Tait, father, of 52 Maribyrnong Road, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne. An additional person to be informed of Casualties was Mr B.A. Howells, 4 Carlingford St., Elsternwick, Melbourne.

12 April 1943 – Posting from No. 1 R.C. Point Cook, to No. 1 Initial Training School (I.T.S.), Somers, Victoria
13 July 1943 – Remustered as Air Crew V (P), while posted to No. 1 I.T.S.
7 Sept 1943 – Assessment at Rank AC2, Mustering Aircrew V (P) – Character V.G., Under Training.
11 Sept 1943 – Promotion to Leading Air Craftman (LAC)
11 Sept 1943 – Remustered as Air Crew II (P)

16 September 1943 – Posting to No. 10 Elementary Flying Training School (E.F.T.S.), Temora, NSW
22 Sept 1943 – 4 days Annual Recreation Leave (Form P/P.28)
24 Sept 1943 – Reclassified as LAC, Aircrew II (P), while posted to No. 10 E.F.T.S.
11 Oct 1943 – Assessment at Rank LAC, Mustering Aircrew II (P) – Character V.G., Under Training.

14 Oct 1943 – Posting to No. 5 E.F.T.S., Narromine, NSW
11 Nov 1943 – Assessment at Rank LAC, Mustering Aircrew II (P) – Character V. G., Under Training.
12 Nov 1943 – Posting to No. 2 Embarkation Depot (E.D.), Bradfield Park, Sydney, NSW
22 Nov 1943 – Re-categorised as Air Gunner
6 Jan 1944 – Remustered as Air Crew V (G) while posted to No. 2 E.D.

6 Jan 1944 – Posting to No. 1 Air Gunnery School (1 A.G.S.), RAAF, West Sale, Victoria.
3 Feb 1944 – General Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by Adjutant F/Lt, of Instructional Wing, No. 1 A.G.S., West Sale, Victoria.
3 Feb 1944 – Assessment at Rank LAC, Mustering Aircrew V (G) – Character V. G., Under Training.
3 Feb 1944 – Course of Instruction completed with Pass result, No. 1 Air Gunnery School, Course 41 (G) from 9 Jan 1944 to 3 Feb. 1944. (Same location, course, & period of training as M.J.Hibberd.)
3 Feb 1944 – Awarded Air Gunners’ Badge, while posted to No. 1 AGS (same date as M.J.Hibberd.)
3 Feb 1944 – Remustered as Air Gunner, while posted to No. 1 AGS (same date as M.J.Hibberd.)
3 Feb 1944 – Promotion to Sergeant, while posted to No. 1 AGS (same date as M.J.Hibberd)

4 Feb 1944 – Posting to No. 1 Embarkation Depot (E.D.), Ransford (on this date M.J.Hibberd was posted direct to No. 2 E.D., Bradfield Park, Sydney; one of Tait’s service file records has this posting as the 4 Feb. 1944, another has it as 11 Feb. 1944.)
22 Feb 1944 – General Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by Adjutant F/O, of No. 1 E.D., RAAF.

24 Feb 1944 – Posting to No. 2 Embarkation Depot (E.D.), Bradfield Park, Sydney.
1 March 1944 – Embarked from Brisbane, Australia for the UK. (Same embarkation location and date as M.J.Hibberd)
10 March 1944 – Service Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by F/O in Charge of Records
7 April 1944 – Disembarked UK (same date as M.J.Hibberd.)
7 April 1944 – Attachment to RAF

8 April 1944 – Posting to 11 Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre (P.D.R.C.), Brighton, UK (same date as M.J.Hibberd; one of Tait’s service file records has this posting as 7 April 1944.)
6 June 1944 – General Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by Adjutant P/O, of No 11 P.D.R.C. Brighton.

6 June 1944 – Posting to 27 Operational Training Unit (O.T.U.) Lichfield (same date as M.J.Hibberd). After their posting to Lichfield, the Crew of 6 RAAF airmen was formed – Pilot A.D.J.Ball, Air Bomber M.Frank, Navigator N.V.Evans, Wireless Operator R.R.Taylor, Air Gunner J.M.Tait, Air Gunner M.J.Hibberd. They trained in Wellington Bombers and were based at the nearby satellite air field at Church Broughton. They remained as a crew through their further postings. (Please view photos on the page for 27 O.T.U. Church Broughton.)

3 Aug 1944 – Promotion to Flight Sergeant, while posted to 27 O.T.U. (same date as M.J.Hibberd)
25 Aug 1944 – Assessment at Rank F/Sgt, Mustering Air Gunner – Character V.G., on strength for training only.
25 Aug 1944 – General Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by Adjutant W/O, of 27 O.T.U., Lichfield

25 Aug 1944 – Posting to 41 Base, Acaster Malbis, Yorkshire, UK (same date as M.J.Hibberd, and the other members of the newly formed Crew.)
16 Sept 1944 – Possibly on Leave from 16/09/44 to 20/09/44. (This leave period is recorded in the RAAF Service Files for fellow crew Evans, Frank, and Taylor, but no UK leave information is included in the Service Files for MJH or Tait. I have assumed that all members of a crew would generally be issued leave for the same periods.)
27 Oct 1944 - Possibly on Leave from 27/10/44 to 05/11/44. (This leave period is recorded in the RAAF Service Files for fellow crew Evans, Frank, and Taylor, but no UK leave information is included in the Service Files for MJH or Tait. Ball was hospitalised with Pneumonia and on sick leave from 24/10/44 to 29/11/44. I have assumed that all members of a crew would generally be issued leave for the same periods.)

7 Nov 1944 – Posting to 74 Base, 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit (H.C.U.), Marston Moor, Yorkshire, UK (same date as M.J.Hibberd, and the other members of the Crew). Training flight information while posted to 1652 H.C.U. (extracted from the logbook of Rear Gunner Fl/Sgt M.J.Hibberd) can be read on the M.J.Hibberd Service History page. No logbook is currently available for J.M.Tait but it is assumed that as Gunners a newly formed crew, their logbook details would have been the same. (Please view photos on the page for 1652 H.C.U. Marston Moor.)
31 Dec 1944 – Assessment at Rank F/Sgt, Mustering Air Gunner – Character V.G., on strength for training only.
16 Feb 1945 – General Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’, F/Lt, of RAF Base Station, Marston Moor

16 Feb 1945 – Posting to 462 Squadron RAAF, 100 Group, Foulsham, Norfolk. (Same date as M.J.Hibberd and the other members of the Crew. One of Tait’s service file records has this posting as being to No. 4 Group which was incorrect, because 462 Sqdn RAAF relocated to Foulsham to join 100 Group in late Dec 1944.)

Information from National Archives of Australia "Loss of Aircraft Halifax III "V" NA240 10/11 April 1945" Series A11385, Digital Copy of item 3552009 (Page 42 of 52 pages)

462 Squadron Air Crew Arrival Form (Filled out by Aircrew in his own handwritten block letters – transcription of original).
Date – 16.02.45 on posting from – 1652 C. U. Marston Moor
On the Authority of – (blank)
1. Number – 430788 2. Surname – Tait
2. Christian Names – John Mickle
3. Substantive Rank – Flight Sgt Date – 4/8/44
4. Acting Rank - Nil Date – (blank)
5. Decorations – Nil Date – (blank)
6. Type of Service – Aircrew
7. Aircrew Category (in full) – Mid Upper Gunner
8. Types of Aircraft Flown – Tiger Moth, Anson, Wellington, Halifax
9. Courses Attended – None other than Aircrew training
10. Date of Birth – 6th March 1925
11. If Married – (blank) Date – (blank)
12. Next of Kin a) Relationship – Father
b) Full Name – George William Tait
c) Address – 52 Maribyrnong Rd, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, Vic
13. Additional Person to be Informed a) Relationship / (blank)
b) Full Name / (blank)
c) Address / (blank)
15. Religion – Presbyterian
16 Medical Category - (blank)

Operations while at 462 Squadron – please refer to the page for Rear Gunner Fl/Sgt M.J.Hibberd's Service History, which details logbook and Squadron ORB information for the Crew during their posting to 462 Squadron. No logbook is available for J.M.Tait but it is assumed that as Gunners in a newly formed crew, their logbook details would have been the same. (Photo of B Flight Air Gunners may be viewed on the page for 462 Squadron Foulsham)

3 April 1945 – Departed on leave to London, returning on 09/04/45 or 10/04/45. (This leave is recorded in the RAAF Service Files for fellow crew Ball, Evans, Frank, and Taylor, but no UK leave information is included in the Service Files for MJH or Tait. I have assumed that all members of a crew would generally be issued leave for the same periods.)
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Casualty Details

10 April 1945 – Last flight in Halifax III NA240 Z5-V, on a Special Duties Operation to Leipzig.
10 April 1945 – 462 Sqdn ORB Form 541 – "Halifax NA240: up at 1910, missing; SDO F/O J.Heggarty RAF (VR) 179888. This aircraft took off on a Protective Patrol with the Main Force to Leipzig and failed to return from that Operation. There has been no news since taking off, and the crew has been reported Missing".
10 April 1945 – F/Sgt J.M.Tait posted as Missing.
10 April 1945 – Death of F/Sgt J.M.Tait presumed on this date (see 12 Dec 1945 entry below).

11 April 1945 – 462 Sqdn ORB Form 540 – "............................. No news has been received of the Aircraft “V”/462 – Captain – P/O A.D.Ball missing from Operations on the night of the 10th".
11 April 1945 – Cable Signal P51 SECRET for immediate transmission, from 462 (RAAF) Squadron to – Air Ministry Kingsway; No. 100 Group; Records Gloucester; H.Q.B.C.; 43 Group; RAAF Overseas Headquarters Kingsway; and repeated to – Senior Accountant; Officer Station Adjutant; C.T.O.; Committee of Adjustment. The cable advised of the loss of Halifax III NA-240 Z5-V, listing the engine details, Operation details, Crew by service number, rank and full names; bomb load; special equipment; next of kin already informed (those in the UK), and those yet to be informed (in Australia & Canada) – Cable was signed by Flight Lieutenant D.G.Highman Adjutant of 462 Squadron for the Squadron Leader.
11 April 1945 – Letter from Squadron Leader L.G.Scharer of 462 Squadron to The Under-Secretary of State, Air Ministry, London confirming signal P.51 of the same date. This letter gave information about the missing Halifax, the Pilot, target, ammunition and bomb load, fuel, and crew by name, rank, service number and crew position.
11 April 1945 – Posted to War Cas. N/E Accts. Depot (one of Tait’s Service File records has the date of 14 April 1945, others have 11th, another has the 10th.)
11 April 1945 – Cable from Air Ministry Kingsway to RAAF HQ (Australia), and RAAFLO Ottowa – reference PCX9 April 11AUSCAS 571 – detailing loss of Halifax, list of crew, list of all next of kin, and those already informed in the UK, and those to be informed. In this file the details on J.M.Tait and next of kin & address is underlined.

13 April 1945 – Casualty Notification form with service details raised by D.P.S. (Cas); stamped as recorded on Casualty Index on 17 April 1945 (Finance Serial No. 9447), initialled as being checked for Rank.

13 April 1945 – Telegram from Air Force, Melbourne, lodged Melbourne 5:25pm, and delivered at 6pm to Mr. G.W.Tait, 52 Maribyrnong Rd, Moonee Ponds Vic, advising …….(telegram quote)

“430788 Flight Sergeant J.M.Tait missing stop regret to inform you that your son Flight Sergeant John Mickle Tait is missing as result air operations on 11th (sic) April 1945 stop known details are he was member of crew Halifax aircraft detailed to attack enemy target at Leipzig Germany which failed to return to base stop the Minister for Air joins with Air Board in expressing sincere sympathy in your anxiety stop when any further information is received it will be conveyed to you immediately.”

14 April 1945 – Letter from Squadron Leader L.G.Scharer of 462 Squadron to Mr G.W.Tait confirming the Air Board telegram of notification of his son being missing …….. (quote)

Dear Mr Tait
Before you receive this letter, you will have been notified by the Air Board, Melbourne, that your Son, Flight Sergeant John Mickle Tait, was reported missing from an operational flight over enemy territory.
It is with the deepest regret that I am writing to confirm this unhappy news, and to convey to you the heartfelt sympathy of the Squadron in your great anxiety.
On the night of the 10th March, (sic) 1945, the aircraft of which your Son was Air Gunner, took off to carry out an attack on enemy territory. This flight represented one of the many courageous efforts called for from the Royal Australian Air Force in this way, and it was undertaken with efficiency and resolution, for which your Son and his crew were an inspiration to us all. Unfortunately the aircraft did not return.
The most searching enquiries through all possible channels have so far revealed nothing, but naturally it will take some time for possible information to reach this country from enemy sources. Meanwhile, we can only hope that Flight Sergeant Tait and the other members of his crew are either in safe hands or prisoners of war.
A committee of officers, known as the “Standing Committee of Adjustment” has gathered all your Son’s personal belongings together and they will be forwarded to the Central Depositary of the Royal Air Force. In due course, you will receive a further communication concerning them from the Australian Air Board.
May I again express my personal sympathy and profound regret that it should fall to my lot to convey to you tidings such as these, knowing as I do, what an anxious time it will mean for you.
Yours very sincerely
L.G.Scharer Squadron Leader.

14 April 1945 – Cable from RAAF HQ Australia to Overseas HQ RAAF Kingsway …….. (quote)

“RESTRICTED AUS.430788 F/SGT TAIT J.M. MISSING (.) URGENT ENQUIRY BY MINISTER FURTHER NEWS (.) REQUEST ADVISE (.) AIRMIN PCX.9 APR.11 AUSCAS 571 REFERS”
(The file copy of this cable dated 14 April also has a handwritten notation “when reply rec. inform Minister”. The reference is to the cable entry for 11 April above.)

16 April 1945 – Cypher Message from OHQ RAAF Kingsway to RAAF Headquarters Australia ..…. (quote)

“Al49 CAS 754 16 APRIL. RETRICTED.
YOUR L467PA APRIL 14. AUS 430788 F/SGT TAIT JM MISSING NO FURTHER NEWS”

17 April 1945 – Casualty Notification with date of 11 April  1945 amended to 10 April 1945; addition of Business address of Next of Kin (Father) – 85 Puckle St., Moonee Ponds; addition of notation “ALSO INFORM MINISTER(capitals & underlined in original, refers to Minister for Air).

26 April 1945 – Casualty Notification and Discharge Advice No. 396, Missing Air Operations, Target Leipzig Germany, 11 April 1945 (sic)

1 May 1945 – General Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by Adjutant F/Lt D.G.Highman, of 462 Squadron, RAAF Foulsham.
1 May 1945 – Assessment at Rank F/Sgt, Mustering Air Gunner – Character V.G., Proficiency “A” Air Gunner – Satisfactory; Proficiency “B” – Satisfactory. Signed Wing Commander P.M.Paull, of 462 Squadron.

2 May 1945 – Cypher Message from OHQ RAAF Kingsway to RAAF HQ Australia ….. (quote)

AL107 CAS985 MAY2 RESTRICTED
AUS 430788 F/SGT TAIT JM MISSING. COMMANDING OFFICERS LETTER SYMPATHY FORWARDED YOU 23 APRIL STATES CASUALTY OCCURRED NIGHT MARCH 10. REQUEST AMEND READ 10 APRIL. 
(On a second file copy of the letter dated 14 April, is a handwritten notation “original forwarded 16/5/45,” and the incorrect month of March has been over written with April.)

12 May 1945 – Cable from RAAF Overseas HQ London to RAAF HQ Melbourne …. (quote)

AL 696 CAS 117 12 MAY UNCLASSIFIED
MISSING MEMBERS (.) FOLLOWING 27 (sic) MEMBERS REPORTED SAFE THIS COUNTRY NOW AT 11 PDRC BRIGHTON AUS 435342 HIBBERD M.J., ORIGINAL SIGNAL ON FILE 32/6/16 OTHER MEMBERS OF CREW MISSING: TAIT J.M., FRANK M., BALL A.D.J., EVANS N.V., TAYLOR R.R.
(Tait J.M. underlined in file)

16 May 1945 – Lettergram from Air Force, Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait …………. (quote)

“INFORMATION RECEIVED THAT ONE AUSTRALIAN MEMBER OF YOUR SON’S CREW FLIGHT SERGEANT M.J.HIBBARD (sic) IS NOW SAFE IN THE UNITED KINGDOM STOP CREW CONSISTED OF EIGHT MEMBERS STOP REGRET NO NEWS OF YOUR SON FLIGHT SERGEANT JOHN MICKLE TAIT OR REMANDER OF CREW”

?? May 1945 – Cable from G.W.Tait, Moonee Ponds, to Squadron Leader Scharer at 462 Squadron (file has undated copy of cable only; cable assumed as sent sometime after the 16 May 1945, when the lettergram was received) ……….. (quote)
“Sincere thanks for letter re F/Sgt John Tait, can F/Sgt Hibberd give any information about John”

31 May 1945 – The above cable from G.W.Tait, forwarded from 462 Sqdn to RAAF Overseas Headquarters, with an accompanying memo signed by Officer Commanding 462 Sqdn D.G.Highman, RAF Foulsham (former Adjutant) stating that no action had been taken by the Squadron in relation to the cable, and requesting that any action deemed necessary be taken by RAAF O.S.H.Q.

5 June 1945 – Letter from Air Vice Marshal RAAF Os HQ Kodak House, Kingsway London to Dept. of Air Melbourne …..…… (quote)

“Aus/430788 Flight Sergeant Tait, J.M. (Missing).
Forwarded herewith for necessary action by your Department is an un-posted airgraph addressed to Writer Rogers S.M., W.R.A.N.S. Quarters, H.M.A.S. Magnetic, Townsville, Queensland, which was found amongst the personal effects of the above named member”.
A handwritten notation on this letter advises that the airgraph was forwarded on 23/645.
(If you are, or know S.M.Rogers, please make contact.)

5 June 1945 – Cable from RAAF OHQ London to RAAF Melbourne …….. (quote)

“AL/50 CAS/391 5 JUNE STOP UNCLASSIFIED STOP AUS 430788 F/SGT TAIT J M MISSING STOP REQUEST ADVISE MR G W TAIT WHO HAS CABLED  SQUADRON THAT AUS 435342 F/SGT HIBBERD M J CAN GIVE NO NEWS”

6 June 1945 – Lettergram from Air Force Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait advising the detail of the cable received by them on 5 June 1945 ………………. (quote)

“THIS DEPARTMENT HAS BEEN REQUESTED TO REPLY TO YOUR CABLE TO YOUR SON’S SQUADRON AND ADVISE THAT FLIGHT SERGEANT HIBBERD CAN GIVE NO NEWS CONCERNING YOUR SON FLIGHT SERGEANT JOHN MICKLE TAIT OR THE REMAINDER OF THE CREW.”

28 June 1945 – Cable from RAAF HQ Melbourne to Overseas HQ RAAF Kingsway ……… (quote)

“UNCLASSIFIED AUS 430788 F/SGT. TAIT J.M. MISSING (.) SIGNAL URGENTLY PRECIS AMPLIFIED STATEMENT BY HIBBERD INCLUDING DETAILS HIBBERD’S ESAPE AND AIR MAIL FULL STATEMENT EARLIEST (.) NEXT OF KIN PRESSING MINISTER"

29 June 1945 – Cypher Message from RAAF Overseas HQ, Kodak House, Kingsway, London to RAAF HQ Melbourne…..(quote)

AL625 CAS689 29 JUNE RESTRICTED
AUS430788 F/SGT JM TAIT MISSING. HIBBARD (sic) STATES “BELIEVE REST OF CREW KILLED WHEN AIRCRAFT CRASHED IN TARGET AREA. REST OF CREW PROBABLY UNABLE TO LEAVE AIRCRAFT OWING SPECIAL EQUIPMENT” NO OTHER INFORMATION IN STATEMENT RE TAIT. HIBBARD (sic) NOW EMBARKED FOR AUSTRALIA SUGGEST HE BE INTERVIEWED ON HIS ARRIVAL. COPY STATEMENT BEING FORWARDED FAST AIR MAIL”.

29 June 1945 – Letter from RAAF Overseas HQ, Kodak House, Kingsway, London to The Secretary, Dept of Air Victoria Barracks, Melbourne enclosing copy of statement made by F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd before his embarkation from the UK..

3 July 1945 – Lettergram from Air Force Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait advising the contents of the Cypher Message of 29 June1945.

27 July 1945 – Department Minute Sheet recording a phone call ......... (quote) “confirmed that Department cannot permit N/K (Next of Kin) to interview repatriate. Mr Tait expressed appreciation of policy in view distress to Hibberd and himself which would result from a meeting”.
(Between the dates of 13 April 1945 and 16 June 1946, the Minute Sheet in the Casualty File for J.M.Tait has 22 entries by RAAF Staff, noting each contact between Mr G.W.Tait, the RAAF Casualty Section, and the Office of the Minister for Air in relation to information about missing F/Sgt J.M.Tait. Mr G.W.Tait was pressing for permission to interview ex-PoW F/Sgt Hibberd.)

30 July 1945 – Letter from RAAF Casualty & Repository Section, Sydney to RAAF HQ Melbourne, with copy of Statement by M.J.Hibberd taken on board H.M.T.S. “Andes” on 28th July 1945 prior to his disembarkation, for any HQ action.

28 August 1945 – Cable from RAAF HQ to 3 MRU requesting another interrogation of casualty F/SGT M.J.Hibberd, and advising that ...... (quote) …. NEXT OF KIN TAIT PRESSING FOR DETAILS AND DESIRED PERSONALLY INTERROGATE HIBBERD” …..

28 August 1945 – Letter from Mr G.W.Tait to F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd to his home address but redirected to him (postmarked 4 Sep 1945) at RAAF Ward 5, 112 AGH, Greenslopes (Military Hospital). In this letter Mr Tait said he had already written to MJH’s father extending a welcome home. He also offered hospitality should MJH wish to visit the Tait home. Mr Tait then asked several questions regarding identification of members of the crew & if MJH had seen identity discs or bodies, and whether MJH or Germans had found any parts of the plane.  He went on to say that he had been in contact several times with the mother of Bomb Aimer Murray Frank, Mrs Frank also having had contact from Murray’s wife in Canada, and requested any news that he could pass on to her. He & Mrs Tait wished MJH all the best of good fortune in this life and passed on kind regards to his parents. Their consolation was that son George (John’s brother) in the A.I.F. would return. (The original letter & envelope is held with the personal papers of M.J.Hibberd held by his Widow.)

30 August 1945 – Copy of statement by M.J.Hibberd after his 4th interrogation on that day, forwarded to Air Force HQ, Melbourne.

19 September 1945 – Letter from Officer Commanding 462 Squadron D.G.Highman, RAF Foulsham, to the Under Secretary of State, Air Ministry (Archives), Hayes, Middlesex …….. (quote)

“I have the honour to refer to the flying accident on the night of the 10th April, 1945 in which Halifax III aircraft serial number NA.240 was reported missing and to enclose flying log books in respect of the undermentioned members of its crew.
F/O A.D.Ball (Aus/427182) – Pilot
F/O M.Frank (Aus/409523) – A/B  (error in service number – actually 409532)
F/S N.V.Evans (Aus 436113) – Nav
W/O R.R.Taylor (Aus/432346) – W/Op (Air)
F/S J.M.Tait (Aus/430788) – A/G
Sgt F.Brookes (546437) – F/Eng
P/O J.Heggarty (179888) – A/G. Spec. Operator
(Survivor and ex-PoW Rear Air Gunner F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd (Aus/435342) had reclaimed his log book which is still with his family).

16 October 1945 – Letter from Air Force Casualty Section, Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait detailing information obtained from the 4 interrogations ex-PoW F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd. No further information was available regarding the fate of F/Sgt J.M.Tait.

16 October 1945 – Memo from W/Cdr RAAF Casualty to Secretary of the Minister, advising that as the next of kin of 430788 F/Sgt Tait, J.M. had been pressing urgently for information, Mr G.W.Tait had been advised verbally of the substance of the letter signed & posted that day. A copy was enclosed for information in case of further enquiries by the Minister.

12 November 1945 – Letter from Casualty Section RAAF Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait advising that no further news was available regarding his son reported as Missing in air operations. Official presumption of death was being considered, and would be advised at an early date. Mr Tait was to be advised of this date by letter and his son’s name would be published in a casualty list in the Press.

13 Nov 1945 – General Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by Adjutant S/L, of War Casualty (N.E.) Accts Dept.

16 November 1945 – Letter from Casualty Section RAAF Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait advising that for official purposes the death of his son was presumed to have occurred on 10 April 1945.

26 November 1945 – Letter of sympathy from Arthur S. Drakeford of Victoria Barracks, Melbourne to G.W.Tait, extending sympathy and deep regret from the Department of Air regarding official presumption of the death of his son.

6 December 1945 – Minute Sheet entry "Considered an appropriate case for the issue of a Royal message of Condolence", noted as despatched on 11 Dec 1945.

6 December 1945 – Application by G.W.Tait to the Department of Air, Victoria Barracks, Melbourne for the issue of two Certificates of Death on War Service, required for the purpose of “Proving death for Insurance purposes, and one to be retained personally”. Certificates were to be issued to AMP Society, Melbourne and G.W.Tait.

12 December 1945 – Casualty Notification and Discharge Advice Serial No. 614 – previously reported missing and now presumed dead by O.H.Q., with Presumption of Death on 10 April 1945.

17 Dec 1945 – Service Conduct Sheet, certified ‘No Entry’ by Air Officer in Charge of Records, RAF.

4 March 1946 – Letter from Mr G.W.Tait at his business address of 85 Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds, to Air Vice Marshall Jones ……………….. (quote)

Dear Sir
My son F/Sgt J.M.Tait No 430788 was reported missing on operations with the RAAF in England on April 10th 1945. Since then death has been presumed by the Air board in notification dated 22/1/46. File 166/39/538.
Mrs Tait has become obsessed by the idea that there is a possibility of his being alive & perhaps in a hospital unaware of his identity. If you can assure her, that the Air Board is aware of the identity of all personnel in all its institutions, it will be of great comfort to us both.
I will greatly appreciate your personal attention to this enquiry.
Yours faithfully,
G.W.Tait

12 March 1946 – Minute Paper from Wing Commander of Department of Air, Casualty Section regarding Mr G.W.Tait’s letter of 4 March 1946, and the reply as written (below), requesting approval of the letter, for forwarding to the Secretary of Department of Air for signature and despatch. It concludes ....… (quote)

“It will be noted that there have been considerable enquiries and correspondence directed to obtain a full statement from a survivor of the crew, Flight Sergeant Hibberd, M.J. Enclosure 20A summarises this airman’s statement.”

12 March 1946 – Letter from the Secretary of the Chief of Air Staff to Mr G.W.Tait at his business address of 85 Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds ................. (quote)

Dear Sir
I refer to your letter date 4th March, 1946, addressed to the Chief of Air Staff.
It is greatly regretted that you are suffering so much distress as a result of your wife’s strong belief that your son is still alive.
I deeply regret to say that, although your son’s body has not been recovered, it may be concluded beyond al doubt that he has lost his life. Had your son survived the operation in which he became missing, his identity as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force would have been established by his identity disc, clothing or papers in his possession.
It is not possible that a member of Royal Australian Air Force would be admitted as patient of a Royal Australian Air Force hospital and remain unidentified. All these hospitals are aware of the identity of their inmates.
It is not unusual for parents of missing members of the Air Force to entertain the belief that such members are alive and unidentified. I desire to say that, to the knowledge of this Department, no Royal Australian Air Force member reported missing in operations has, after an interval of lost identity, been subsequently found alive.
The Chief of Air Staff trusts that the foregoing observations may afford you some comfort, inasmuch as they may tend to remove any doubts regarding the probability of your son’s death.
I desire to convey the personal sympathy of the Chief of Air Staff and the sympathy of this Department in the great anxiety and loss which you have suffered.
Yours faithfully

4 May 1946 – Letter from G.W.Tait to Central Kit Store Repository, RAAF, acknowledging receipt of his late son’s watch direct from Mr J.B.Taylor of 38 Dudley St., Punchbowl, Sydney. The watch had been included in the belongings of Mr Taylor’s late son W/O R.R.Taylor evidently by a mistake on the part of the store personnel.

10 May 1946 – Recommendation by Adjustments Officer of Casualty Section, that effects be forwarded to Executor & Beneficiary, Father, Mr George William Tait, according to the Last Will of 430788 F/Sgt John Mickle Tait, dated 6 May 1943.

13 May 1946 – Disposal of effects authorised as per the recommendation of 10 May 1946.

15 May 1946 – Letter from Officer in Charge of the Central Repository Kit Store, West Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait advising that his son’s personal effects as per an attached inventory, were being forwarded under separate cover, and requesting his signature of receipt on the duplicate copy of the inventory to be returned to the repository.

16 May 1946 – Receipt No. 21226 from RAAF Kit Store Central Repository for 1 carton of personal effects of 430788 F/Sgt J.M.Tait, despatched to Australia on the "Suffolk", C/S 1068. The inventory listed all effects gathered by the Committee of Adjustment on 14 April 1945 (see reference above) in detail, with the following Notes:

The following items have been extracted for forwarding to RAAF HQ Overseas, London:-
Coil films, Snaps, 1 Exposed undeveloped film, 1 Un-posted Airgraph (probably that referred to above on 5 June 1945),
1 Revolver No. 657315 with magazine retained in safe custody.
Post Office Savings Bank Book – Foston, Derby extracted and forwarded by unit to RAAF HQ Overseas, London.
Cash amounting to 1/5d, Postal Order, and stamps to the value of 9d, found amongst the Personal Effects, has been credited to his Service Account.

20 June 1946 – Arrival at RAAF Kit Store Central Repository of additional personal effects of F/Sgt J.M.Tait, being 1 Beretta Automatic No. 657315.

21 June 1946 – Letter from Officer in Charge of the Central Repository Kit Store, West Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait advising that his son’s personal effects in the form of his Beretta Automatic pistol had been received from the UK via the S.S.”Paponui” and was handed to Customs on 20 June 1946.

8 July 1946 – Mr G.W.Tait signed for receipt of his son’s personal effects as per the inventory. Items included a Kodak Compur camera in case, 5 unexposed films, 1 New Testament, 2 group photos, 1 driver’s licence, 1 bundle of photos and negatives.

30 September 1947 – Exhumation of bodies of crew from cemetery at Zaasch.

2 October 1947 – Re-burial of bodies in British War Cemetery HEERSTRASSE, Berlin Plot IV, Row Z, Graves 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.

14 October 1947 – Investigation Report from Berlin Detachment, No.4 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit, RAF Germany – this report details the location, exhumation, identification and reburial of the crew. Body 7 was identified as that of F/Sgt J.M.Tait by his "F/Sgt’s chevrons and crown", and allocated Grave 13 in Plot IV, Row Z. The other crew members were also individually identified and allocated individual graves.

1 March 1948 – Graves Registration Form 135669 – F/Sgt J.M.Tait Aus/430788 462 Squadron RAAF, date of death presumed 10/04/1945, re-interred in the British War Cemetery (Heerstrasse), in the city of Berlin, Germany, plot IV, Row Z, Grave No. 13. (F/Sgt Tait’s grave lies beside that of Special Duties Operator (Air Gunner) – Flying Officer J.Heggarty, 179888 RAFVR in Grave reference 4.Z.12).

9 April 1948 – Letter from the Casualty Section to Mr G.W.Tait advising that a report of his son’s burial had been received from the War Office in London. The letter advised that as a result of investigations, it was established that the remains of his son and other members of the crew had been interred in the Zaasch cemetery. His body had been retrieved and re-interred in the Berlin (Heerstrasse) British Military Cemetery, Germany in Plot IV, Row Z, Grave No. 13 adjacent to the graves of his comrades. The Grave had been marked with a temporary cross inscribed with his son’s name & service particulars. Later correspondence would ascertain the Family’s wishes concerning the inscription on the permanent headstone.

5 July 1948 – Letter from RAAF Overseas Head Quarters, Canberra House, London to The Secretary, Air Board Melbourne forwarding a copy of Report No.4 Missing Research and Enquiry Unit dated 14 Oct 1947 relating to the recovery of the remains of the crew and means of identification. The letter also confirmed the receipt of the final graves registration forms as per the report (see 14 Oct 1947 entry and 1 March 1948 entry above). It also added that Air Ministry had accepted Graves 11 and 12 respectively for Sergeant Brookes & Flying Officer Heggarty.

5 August 1948 – Letter from The Secretary, Air Board Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait informing him of the Report No. 4 (see previous entry) and confirming that following exhumation, the remains of his son and the other six crew had been re-interred in Plot IV, Row Z, Grave No. 13 in the Berlin (Heerstrasse) British Military Cemetery.

24 October 1949 – Letter from The Secretary, Air Board Melbourne to Mr G.W.Tait enclosing a photo of his son’s grave in the Berlin (Heerstrasse) British Military Cemetery.
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Headstone inscription for Mid-Upper Gunner – Flight Sergeant J.M.Tait, 430788 RAAF, Grave reference 4.Z.13
(see photo on page crash/graves_Berlin)

(RAAF logo)
430788 FLIGHT SERGEANT
J.M. TAIT
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
10 APRIL 1945 AGE 20

THY WILL BE DONE

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Casualty Details
Name: John Mickle Tait
Nationality: Australian
Rank: Flight Sergeant
Regiment: Royal Australian Air Force
Age: 20
Date of Death: 10/04/1945
Service No: 430788
Additional Information: Son of George William and Jessie Myrtle Tait, of Moonee Ponds, Victoria, Australia
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave reference: 4.Z.13
Cemetery: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery
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Badges and Medals awarded to John Mickle Tait
Air Gunners Badge (3 Feb. 1944)
1939-45 Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45
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Australian War Memorial
Roll of Honour – John Mickle Tait
Service number: 430788
Rank: Flight Sergeant
Unit: 462 Squadron
Service: RAAF
Conflict: 1939-1945
Date of Death; 10 April 1945
Place of Death: Germany
Cause of Death: Flying Battle
Source: AWM148 Roll of Honour Cards, 1939-1945 War, Air Force
John Mickle Tait’s name is located at Panel 109 in the Commemorative Area at the Australian War Memorial.
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Tait Family Genealogy
Genealogy References (all spelling as listed in the references).
CD – Federation Index Victoria 1889-1901 (Index to Births, Deaths & Marriages in Victoria), August 1997, ISBN 0 7311 0618 0.
CD – Edwardian Index, Victoria 1902-1913 (Index to Births, Deaths & Marriages in Victoria) ISBN 0 7311 0614 8.
CD – Digger Marriage Index, Victoria 1921-1942, May 2003, ISBN 0 7311 5305 7.
CD – Death Index Victoria 1921-1985, Dec 1998, ISBN 0 7311 5302 2.
Ascot Vale, Moonee Ponds, and Essendon, as mentioned in the following records, are adjacent suburbs located in the north-west of Melbourne, towards Essendon Airport (Victoria).
Information on living family members has been kept private.

Grandparents of Air Gunner F/Sgt John Mickle TAIT.
Marriage
Geo TAIT (birthplace Creswick) to Janet ANDEAN (birthplace Kangaroo Hills) in year 1892 Reg. No. 6864.

Parents of Air Gunner F/Sgt John Mickle TAIT.
John's Father, George William TAIT
(Father George, Mother Janet ANDEAN).
Birth – year 1895, birth place Creswick, Reg. No. 11375 (One of 5 male children born to these parents – John Innes 1893, Geo Wm 1895, Alex Roderick 1898, Gordon Duncan 1900, Douglas Clarke 1902 – all born in Creswick.)
Marriage – Geo Wm TAIT to Jessie Agnes Myrt MICKLE, in year 1924, Reg. No. 5340.
Death – George William TAIT at Esse (Essendon?), in year 1958, Age 63, Reg. No. 9162, Father George, Mother Janet ANDEAN (birth year 1895, marriage 1924).

John's Mother, Jessie Agnes Myrtle MICKLE (Father Thomas, Mother Jane LEESON).
Birth – year 1899, birth place Berwick, Reg. No. 8203 (One of 6 children born to these parents – Lillian Mary 1889, Arth Clarence 1891, Olive Irene 1893, Edith Jean 1895, Daphne Idina 1896, Jessie Agnes Myrtle 1899 – all born in Berwick.)
Marriage – Jessie Agnes Myrt MICKLE to Geo Wm TAIT, in year 1924, Reg. No. 5340.
Death – Jessie Agnes Myr TAIT, at Esse (Essendon?), in year 1958, age 58, Reg. No. 14414, Father John MICKLE, Mother Laura LEGGO (birth year 1899, marriage 1924). (There appears to be a discrepancy in the parent’s name on this death record – a marriage record of Jno Alex MICKLE to Laura Murton LEGGO in 1893 has been located, but this does not match any of the birth records for Jessie Agnes Myrtle MICKLE and her 5 siblings, all with father Thos/Thomas and Mother Jane LEESON/LEETON).

Children of George William TAIT and Jessie Agnes Myrtle TAIT (née MICKLE).
John Mickle TAIT
Birth (from RAAF Service File) – 6 March 1925 at Ascot Vale, Father George William TAIT, Mother Jessie Agnes MICKLE, 52 Maribyrnong Rd, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne Vic (the Mickle in the name John Mickle TAIT comes from his mother’s maiden surname.)
George Gordon TAIT
Birth – 18 July 1926, at Ascot Vale.
(John's younger brother George enlisted in the Australian Army – please see WW2 Nominal Roll listing below.)

Name: George Gordon TAIT
Service: Australian Army
Service Number: VX97972
Date of Birth: 18 July 1926
Place of Birth: Ascot Vale
Date of Enlistment: 10 July 1945
Locality of Enlistment: Moonee Ponds, Vic
Place of Enlistment: Royal Park, Vic
Next of Kin: Jessie Tait
Date of Discharge: 26 November 1947
Rank: Lance Corporal
Posting at Discharge: 2/1 Guard Regiment
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Connections with M.J.Hibberd
Both John Mickle Tait (JMT) and Maxwell James Hibberd (MJH) had the same birth date of 6 March 1925 and became good mates during their short RAAF service life together.

JMT made application for Aircrew on 22 January 1943 in Melbourne, MJH on 23 January 1943 in Brisbane.

JMT enlisted on 22 March 1943, MJH on 22 April 1943.

JMT was posted to No. 1 A.G.S. West Sale on 6 January 1944; MJH was posted to No. 1 A.G.S. on 7 January 1944. Both were in Course Number 41. Both received their Air Gunnery Badge on 3 February 1944, as well as re-classification to Air Gunner V and promotion to Sergeant on this date. It is probable that they first met while on this course.

JMT was posted to No. 1 Embarkation Depot (E.D.), Ransford on 4 February 1944, whereas on this date MJH was posted direct to No. 2 E.D., Bradfield Park, Sydney.

JMT was posted to No. 2 E.D., Bradfield Park, Sydney on 24 February 1944, where he and MJH may have met again.

JMT & MJH both embarked from Brisbane on 1 March 1944 and both disembarked in the UK on 7 April 1944. The assumption is that they traveled on the same ship to the USA, by the same train across the country to New York, by the same ship to the UK, and then by the same train to Brighton. (Please see details of this journey on the M.J.Hibberd Service History page.)

JMT & MJH were both posted to 11 Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre (P.D.R.C.), Brighton, UK on 8 April 1944. (From training together at No. 1 AGS West Sale and until their posting at 11 PDRC, MJH and Air Gunner Bob Hetherington had been good mates, and had planned on being in the same crew if possible once they reached the UK. However these plans were dashed when Bob was posted to a different Operational Training Unit and after further training, was posted to 461 Squadron in Coastal Command.)

JMT & MJH were both posted to 27 O.T.U. Lichfield on 6 June 1944, where they formed their crew. From then on, their records match with dates and places. Perhaps having met while training at 1 A.G.S. and later in transit to the UK and at Brighton, this was the basis for JMT and MJH to join the same crew – JMT as the Mid-Upper Gunner and MJH as the Rear Gunner.

JMT and MJH were both promoted to Flight Sergeant on 3 August 1944.

While at 1652 H.C.U. Marston Moor, they purchased a car together (Please see car photos on the 1652 H.C.U. Marston Moor page.)

They crewed together for just 10 months from after the 6 June 1944 at 27 O.T.U., until the crash of 462 Squadron Halifax NA240 Z5-V on the night of 10 April 1945 while on a Protective Patrol with the Main Force to Leipzig.
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