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6 November 2017
Neville Owen REED 435209 RAAF

 

Sgt Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, later posted to 462 Squadron.
Photo supplied by and used with the permission of the family of
Rear Gunner Neville Owen Reed.

 

Photo at left of Sgt Neville Owen Reed, possibly taken soon after receiving his Air Gunner's Badge, and subsequent promotion to Sergeant on 6 January 1944. He was later posted to 462 Squadron as Rear Gunner.

Name: Neville Owen REED
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 435209
Date of Birth: 30 January 1922
Place of Birth: Caboolture, Queensland
Date of Enlistment: 29 March 1943
Place of Enlistment: Brisbane, Queensland
Next of Kin: Audrey REED
Date of Discharge: 8 March 1946
Rank at Discharge: Warrant Officer
Posting at Discharge: 9 Aircrew Holding Unit
Prisoner of War: No

Rear Gunner in Crew 36, Pilot Friend.
Rear Gunner and survivor of Crew 23, Pilot Cookson, 14/15 October 1944.
Rear Gunner and survivor of Crew 52, Pilot Astill, 14 January 1945.
Please visit those pages for information about those crews and incidents.

Links to Reed's Army Service, RAAF training, three crews, casualties from
two aircraft losses, Belgian Medal, his later life, and connections with M.J. Hibberd.

Group of nine airman at rank of Aircraftman 2, including AC2 Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, who was later posted to 462 Squadron.

 

Group of nine airman at rank of Aircraftman 2, training in Australia.
AC2 Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, is in the back row, 2nd from the left. He was later posted to 462 Squadron.

The photo is undated, but, based on their rank, it was probably sometime in June or early July 1943. Reed was promoted to LAC on 17 July 1943. The others in the group are not named. They are all from the larger group shown in the next photo.

If you can identify any of the un-named people in any of these photos, or can assist with dates and locations, please make contact.

Unless otherwise captioned, all photos on this page were supplied by and used with the permission of the family of Rear Gunner Neville Owen Reed.

 

Group of thirty five airman at rank of Aircraftman 2, including AC2 Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, who was later posted to 462 Squadron.

Group of thirty five airman at rank of Aircraftman 2, training in Australia.

AC2 Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, is in the back row, 5th from the right. He was later posted to 462 Squadron.

The photo is undated, but, based on their rank, it was probably sometime in June or early July 1943. Reed was promoted to LAC on 17 July 1943. The others in the group are not named. They include the smaller group shown in the previous photo.

 

Sgt Brian William Horrocks 435497 RAAF (later 466 Squadron) and Sgt Neville Owen Reed (later 462 Squadron) and female friends at the beach, 1944.

 

On the left – Brian William Horrocks 435497 (later 466 Squadron), and
on the right – Neville Owen Reed 435209 (later 462 Squadron),
with two un-named young ladies at the beach.

The photo is undated, and the location is not named. It was probably sometime early 1944, as both Airmen are wearing their Air Gunner's badges. Reed received his Air Gunner's Badge and subsequent promotion to Sergeant on 6 January 1944. The photo may have been taken during pre-embarkation leave.

 

Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron, with un-named NCO.

Left: An un-named F/Sgt.
Right: Sgt or F/Sgt Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, later in 462 Squadron. The time and place is not known.

 

Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, with un-named Air Crew or Ground Crew at Rear Turret of Halifax III, possibly 462 Squadron.

From the left:
1. & 2. un-named, possibly ground crew?
3. un-named Air Gunner?
4. Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF (462 Squadron), at the Rear Turret of a Halifax III, possibly at 462 Squadron.

The photo is undated and the location not named, but could be at Driffield, between September and December 1944, or at Foulsham, between January and May 1945.

 

Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron, and Brian William Horrocks 435497 RAAF 466 Squadron, and two other un-named Airforce personnel.

 

From the left:
1. not named;
2. Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF (462 Squadron);
3. Brian William Horrocks, 435497 RAAF (466 Squadron);
4. not named.

The time and place is not known, possibly on a beach in the UK?

Horrocks was Mid-upper Gunner in a 466 Squadron Crew, in Halifax NP975 which failed to return from Bingen on 22 December 1944. He and the Rear Gunner of that Crew (Charles Owen John Scafe 435097 RAAF) both survived and became PoWs. Horrocks was safe in the UK on 17 May 1945. Is Scafe one of the other two in the photo?

 

 

Caterpillar Club Membership Card for F/Sgt Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF.

 

Caterpillar Club Membership Card for F/Sgt Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF.

He qualified for membership twice – on 14/15 October 1944, as Rear Gunner in Halifax III MZ296 Z5-L, Pilot Cookson, and again on 14 January 1945, as Rear Gunner in Halifax III LL598 Z5-A, Pilot Astill.

Caterpillar Club Certificate of Membership for F/Sgt Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron.

 

 

 

Caterpillar Club Certificate of Membership for F/Sgt Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, signed by Leslie L. Irwin.

Celebrations by air crew on VE Day 1945 at 462 Squadron, Foulsham, including Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF.

 

Air crew from 462 Squadron, Foulsham on VE Day 1945.
Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, is sitting in the front row, wearing pyjamas and gumboots.

The same photo is in the book "Phoenix – Book 2: The Reincarnation" by A.G. Batten. The caption there is as follows:

Standing: Greg Farrell, Ron Gibson
Middle Row: Bill Caddy, Jack Wall, Mick Toohey, Ron Irminger, Vic Chaffer, Frank Andrew, Grant Boys, Lionel Dittmann, Ernie Stanton.
Front: Stan Tills, Nev Reed.

Gibson was a Flight Engineer; Caddy and Andrew were Mid Upper Gunners, Boys and Reed were Rear Gunners; Dittmann was Bomb Aimer; Stanton was a Wireless Operator; all of the others were Special Duties. (Please see 462 Squadron and Squadron Crews for a similar photo and more details.)

 

Warrant Officer Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, and wife Audrey on their Wedding Day, 20 October 1945.

 

 

 

Warrant Officer Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, and wife Audrey on their Wedding Day, 20 October 1945.

Neville Owen Reed was aged 22, a Bachelor, at the residence of 3 Knightsbridge Gardens, Romford, Essex. His bride was Miss Audrey Symes, aged 19, of Five Oaks Lane, Chigwell near Romford, Essex. They were married at The Church of The Ascension, Collier Row, Romford, Essex, by License, with the Church of England ceremony carried out by Vicar William Robert Howe. The Bride's father was John Albert Symes, a Wholesale Tobacconist. The Groom's father was also named Owen Reed and was a Forester. The Groom's profession was listed as a "Soldier" in the RAAF.

Mrs Audrey Reed left England on the ship "Atlantis" on 23 April 1946 as a "War Bride".

 

WW2 Medals of Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron - 1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, France and Germany Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Australian Service Medal 1939-45, and Belgian medal - La Croix de Guerre 1940 avec Palme.

 

 

WW2 Medals of Neville Owen Reed, 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron.

From the left:
1939-45 Star, Pacific Star, France and Germany Star,
Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45, Australian Service Medal 1939-45. Belgian Medal, "La Croix de Guerre 1940 avec Palme" is on the far right. The Pacific Star was received for his Army Service prior to his enlistment in the RAAF.

Reed also qualified for a Returned from Active Service Badge.
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Army Service – Neville Owen Reed, Q1314/QX45190
Information sourced from the Reed family; the Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; and from Neville Owen Reed's Army File (National Archives of Australia Series J1193 "Member's Folder", i.e. soldiers' pay and gratuities), and Certificate of Discharge 66174.. As of September 2014, Reed's Army Service File (NAA Series B883) had not been digitised.

5 September 1940 – enlisted in the Australian Army for Home Defence, Citizen Military Forces, at Kelvin Grove; previously worked for the Postmaster-General's Department, Brisbane.
6 September 1940 – Army Pay Identification Form recorded his initial Army Number as Q1314, Pay Book Number 152143, Rank of Private; no children, no dependants; father Owen Reed and mother May Reed, both of 31 Granville Street, West End, Brisbane, Queensland; siblings Gloria aged 16, Cameron aged 13 and Betina aged 11; religion Methodist. His Army Pay Book recorded his enlistment age as 18, and his father Owen Reed as his next-of-kin. His appointment active pay rate was 5 shillings per day. The address of his parents later changed to Glass House Mountains, North Coast Line, Queensland.
13 September 1940 – at Lytton, Queensland.
19 December 1940 – at Grovely, Brisbane, Queensland.

12 March 1941 – Lytton (Signaller N. O. Reed Q1314, in No. 4 Coy., N. Comd., Signals, Lytton, Queensland).
18 March 1941 – at Port Moresby Signals; (Signaller N. O. Reed, Moresby Fortress Signals, Port Moresby, New Guinea).
21 May 1941 – pay increased to 6 shillings per day, on Classification to Trade Group III, at Port Moresby Signals.
7 November 1941 – pay increased to 7 shillings per day.

8 June 1942 – at Greenslopes, Queensland.
3 July 1942 – at 112 A. G. H.
30 July 1942 – issued with 25 Clothing Coupons.
14 Aug 1942 – pay increased to 7 shillings and sixpence per day (Trade Group III).
28 August 1942 – at 6 D. D. (meaning of abbreviation, and location of this posting not known).

6 October 1942 – transferred to the Australian Imperial Force.
4 November 1942 – his Army Service Number changed from Q1314 to QX45190, with pay records amended on 26 February 1943.
6 November 1942 – pay increased to 9 shillings and sixpence per day.

26 February 1943 – approval granted for the discharge of QX45190 GNR N. O. Reed, 1 AUST ARTY TRG REGT, being required for service with the RAAF as air crew (with 4 others, 2 of whom were from the same Regiment). Orders were that those five soldiers were to be marched out at 0830 hours on 10 March 1943 "for finalisation" and to permit enlistment in the RAAF.

27 March 1943 – discharged to RAAF, with final Army pay up to and including 27 March 1943; some back pay calculated due to increases in daily pay rate not previously allocated. His rank at discharge was Signaller (also noted as Signalman).

His Certificate of Discharge records his Period of Service as 2 years 204 days (= 934 days), including Active Service of 2 Years 14 days (= 744 days). According to his pay records, his Overseas Army Service amounted to 427 days (= 1 year 62 days), for which he received the Pacific Star, as shown in the photo of his Medals above.

(Note: Greenslopes was a Military Hospital in Brisbane, and Reed was at Greenslopes for nearly a month. 112 Australian General Hospital, at Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, was a hospital for "walking wounded", and Reed was at 112 A. G. H. for nearly 2 months before being posted on to 6 D. D. This may mean that Neville Owen Reed returned to Australia from Port Moresby due to injuries or illness. However this has not been confirmed. He may also have returned overseas before his discharge from the Army.)

Army Pay Book for Neville Owen Reed QX45190 (Q1314), later 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: J1193, QX45190.

Army Summary from Aus. WW2 Nominal Roll

Name: Neville Owen REED
Service: Australian Army
Service Number: QX45190 (Q1314)
Date of Birth: 30 January 1922
Place of Birth: Caboolture, Queensland
Date of Enlistment: 5 September 1940
Locality on Enlistment: West End, Qld
Place of Enlistment: Kelvin Grove, Qld
Next of Kin: Owen REED
Date of Discharge: 27 March 1943
Rank at Discharge: Signalman
Posting at Discharge: 8 MD FORT SIGS
Prisoner of War: No

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RAAF Training, Neville Owen Reed, 435209, initially as Pilot, then as Air Gunner.

Information has been sourced from the Reed family; RAAF Certificate of Service and Discharge dated 28 March 1946 and RAAF Flying Log Book (both held by the Reed family); the Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; Neville Owen Reed's RAAF Casualty File (National Archives of Australia Series A705); and 462 Squadron Operational Record Books. As of September 2014, Reed's RAAF Service File (NAA Series A9301) had not been digitised.
Link to view the RAAF Certificate of Service and Discharge for Neville Owen Reed.

With reference to Reed's RAAF Flying Log Book, that log book only covers Pilot training that he completed between August 1943 and 14 October 1943 at Narromine and Uranquinty in NSW. He later converted to Air Gunnery Training. The Reed family do not have the Log Book covering his Gunnery training, and later postings in the UK including OTU, HCU and 462 Squadron.

Service details from the above sources ....

29 March 1943 – enlisted in the RAAF, effective 28 March 1943; aged 21 years and 2 months; former civil occupation as a Postal Employee. He was 5 feet 8 inches tall, with brown hair, brown eyes and fair complexion. He was classified Aircraftman Class 2 (AC2), and mustered Aircrew V. The Certificate of Service and Discharge also lists scars behind his left armpit, and on his lower right shin. (Were these scars from injuries sustained during his Army Service in Port Moresby? If so, they would explain his time at Greenslopes and 112 A. G. H. in June-July 1942.)

11 June 1943 – remustered to Aircrew V (P), classification AC2.
17 July 1943 – remustered to Aircrew II (P), and promoted to Leading Aircraftman (LAC).
2 August 1943 – commenced No. 39 Pilot Course at 5 Elementary Flying Training School (5 EFTS), Narromine, NSW.
20 September 1943 – Assessment at end of Course.
September/October 1943 – Pilot flying training at 5 Service Flying Training School (5 SFTS), Uranquinty, NSW.

Pilot's Flying Logbook for Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF (later Rear Gunner in 462 Squadron).

Pilot Training for Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF.

Left: Pilot's Flying Logbook

Centre below: Pages covering daytime training flights from 20th to 29th August 1943, as 2nd Pilot and also flying solo; "C" Flight; Aircraft de Havilland DH 82, and also in Link Trainer.

Below left: Page signed and dated 28 August 1943,
indicating thorough understanding of instruction in actions to be taken in the event of a fire in DH 82 aircraft;
and being fully conversant with Tiger Moth Aircraft (Aircraft & starting up drill; Petrol, oil & ignition systems; action in event of fire; abandoning aircraft drill; 5 EFTS S.S.O's Part 3A – Flying; and restarting engine in flight before solo aerobatics.

Below right: Summary of Flying & Assessments for Course 39, which commenced 2 August 1943. Dual 30h 20m day; 3h night; Pilot 30h 10m day; Total 63h 30m (plus another 40m as daytime passenger). Reed was assessed as a Pupil Pilot at the Required Standard, but with comment that he "should pay more attention to wind direction". Signed on 20 September 1943 by Squadron Leader K. E. Wedgwood, of FTS Narromine, NSW.

 

Page for late August 1943 from Pilot's Flying Logbook for Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF (later Rear Gunner in 462 Squadron).

 

Signature and Certification Page dated 28 August 1943, from Pilot's Flying Logbook for Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF (later Rear Gunner in 462 Squadron). Assessment Page dated 20 September 1943, from Pilot's Flying Logbook for Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF (later Rear Gunner in 462 Squadron).

 

25 October 1943 – remustered to Aircrew V (G), classification LAC; attended No. 40 Air Gunners Course at Air Gunnery School (AGS).

06 January 1944 – remustered as Air Gunner, promoted to Sergeant after attaining his Air Gunner's Badge.

(Details of embarkation from Australia; arrival in the UK, and subsequent posting are not known. See below for assumptions based on crew info.)

06 July 1944 – promoted to Flight Sergeant, Air Gunner.

06 July 1945 – promoted to Warrant Officer, Air Gunner. (He married in the UK on 20 October 1945, in RAAF uniform, at the rank of W/O.)

08 March 1946 Discharged from the RAAF "On Demobilisation" at the rank of Warrant Officer.
His Character on Discharge was noted as V. G. and his Trade Proficiency as Satisfactory.

From information in Pilot W. D. Friend's service file, the 462 Squadron ORB and Air Crew Arrival Forms, the following UK postings have been assumed .....

April 1944 – posted to 27 OTU, Lichfield, training in Wellington aircraft, and crewed up with Pilot Walter Donald Friend (Don), Navigator Phillip Swarbrick (Phil), B/A Stanley James Minett (Jim), Wireless Operator Sydney Robert Fuller (Syd), and Mid-Upper Air Gunner Mervyn George Isaac (Merv).

07 July 1944 – posted to 41 Base, Aircrew Training School, Acaster-in-Malbis, Yorkshire, No 4 Group.
31 July 1944 – posted to 41 Base, 1658 HCU, Riccall, Yorkshire, No 4 Group for conversion to Halifax aircraft. Here the Flight Engineer George Arthur Edgar Sanday would have joined the crew, to make an aircrew of seven.
16 September 1944 – posted to 462 Squadron Driffield, Yorkshire, No 4 Group, Bomber Command; operational flying duties in Halifax aircraft. Moved with the Squadron when it relocated from Driffield to Foulsham at the end of December 1944.

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Service information for Neville Owen Reed, with three crews

1. Ops carried out as Rear Gunner for Crew 36, Pilot Friend. (Please visit that page for further details.)

Op 1 6 October 1944, Target Sterkrade, Halifax III LL610, daytime bombing attack.
Op 2 7 October 1944, Target Kleve, Halifax III NP971, daytime bombing attack.

2. Ops carried out as substitute Rear Gunner for Crew 23, Pilot Cookson, 14/15 October 1944, replacing that crew's Rear Gunner, W E Toews R.278376 RCAF. (Please visit that page for further details.)

Op 1 – 14/15 October 1944, Target Duisburg, Halifax III MZ296 Z5-L, night bombing attack.

3. Ops carried out as Rear Gunner for Crew 52, Pilot Astill, 14 January 1945. (Please visit that page for further details.)

Op 1 5 January 1945, Target Heligoland, Halifax III MZ479, night SPOOF, with 8th man F/Sgt A W Caddy 441345 RAAF to dispense WINDOW.
Op 2 6 January 1945, Target Ruhr, Halifax III NR284, night SPOOF, with 8th man F/Sgt D Whitehead 1322318 RAF to dispense WINDOW.
Op 3 14 January 1945, Target Mannheim, Halifax III LL598 Z5-A, night SPOOF, with 8th man 1894484 Sgt L E Miles to dispense WINDOW.

Total of 6 Ops. The 462 Squadron ORB has been checked and no further Ops are on record for Reed, either as Rear Gunner, or Mid-Upper Gunner, or as Special Duties WINDOW dispenser. It would seem therefore that after his second crash in Astill's crew, he no longer flew on Ops. He was still with 462 Squadron on VE Day May 1945 (see group photo shown previously), so may have been allocated other duties. He may have flown on training or ferrying flights, or in Ruhr tours after cessation of hostilities, but those non-op flights are not listed with individual crew names in the ORB. Reed's log book is not available.

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Aircraft Loss Files for two aircraft

1. Loss of Halifax III MZ296 Z5-L, after a bombing attack on Duisburg on the night of 14/15 October 1944. All seven of the crew survived, but two were injured Rear Gunner Neville Owen Reed, and the Navigator Owen Dallas Pratt, 425934 RNZAF; Crew 23, Pilot Cookson (Please visit that page for further details.) Reed was in hospital in the UK by 24 October 1944.

Reed wrote of his experience to his mother Mrs O. Reed. This was later published in The Australian Women's Weekly, 10 March 1945, page 15. This is transcribed as follows (to view the original, please click on the link).

Airman bails out at 10,000 feet
Looked after by Belgian family

Returning after a raid on Duisburg an R.A.F. plane ran out of petrol over Belgium.
The crew had to bail out at 10,000 feet and an Australian flight-sergeant injured his foot in landing. He was looked after by a Belgian family.
F/Sgt. N. Reed tells of this experience in a letter to his mother, Mrs. O. Reed, Glass House Mountains, Qld.
"I was on that extra heavy raid on Duisburg, flying with another crew as one of their gunners was sick. They were all good chaps, and we were certainly a Dominions crew. Three Aussies, two New Zealanders, one Canadian, and one Englishman.
"We were hit by flak, and just after we left the target we found that we did not have enough petrol to reach England.
"By the time we were well into Belgium we only had six minutes' flying time left. As we did not know where any dromes were in Belgium, we started jumping.
"It wasn't as hard to bail out as I thought it would be. When you know that you have to go, you just dive out and hope for the best. I won't say that I was cool, calm and collected when I found myself falling. I did not think about counting, but just pulled the ripcord. They would never get me in the para-troopers. Still, they only fall a few hundred feet and their chute is opened for them.
"We jumped from about 10,000 feet, and as it was dark I could not judge the height when I got near the deck. Boy, did I hit hard. It knocked the wind right out of me and I thought I had broken both feet. Luckily, I only landed about 30 yards from a house.
"I crawled some of the way, and then found that I could hop on my left foot. When I hammered on the door I woke just about the whole village. At first I could not make anybody understand me, but they helped me to a house where some of the family spoke English after a fashion.
"They treated me very well, and seemed to know something about medicine. They fixed my foot up to make it comfortable, and gave me some kind of strong drink. After that they cooked a couple of eggs for me. Knowing that they were short of food I tried to stop them.
"My hair stood an end when I asked where the nearest British Army was, and they said 'Not here.' For a second I thought I had been blown behind the German lines, and I knew I'd be flat out getting away with a broken right foot.
"Actually, I was well inside our lines and our army had a field dressing station about four miles away.
"From there I was sent to a general hospital in Brussels.
"Visitors came every day, and even though they were short of food they always brought stacks of fruit, like grapes, pears, apples, and peaches.
"I came back to England by air ambulance, and will be able to walk with a plaster on my foot by next Monday."

2. Loss of Halifax Halifax III LL598 Z5-A, the aircraft caught fire and crashed 30 minutes after take-off, killing 6 of the crew. Flight Engineer Sgt George Arthur Edgar Sanday, and Rear Gunner F/Sgt Neville Owen Reed both parachuted to safety; Crew 52, Pilot Astill (Please visit that page for further details.)

Reed wrote of his experience to his grand-mother Mrs W. M. Reed. This was published in The Australian Women's Weekly, 5 May 1945, page 15. This is transcribed as follows (to view the original, please click on the link).

Narrow escape for airman in second crash              

As an R.A.A.F. sergeant tried to bail out from his crashing plane his feet jammed in the turret. He was caught in the slipstream and could not move.
He was thrown clear just before the plane crashed, was able to open his parachute, and landed safely.
On a previous raid over Germany this sergeant had been forced to bail out at 10,000 feet and had broken one foot.
He is F/Sgt. N. Reed, and describes his second narrow escape in a letter to his grandmother, Mrs. W. M. Reed, Glass House Mountains, Queensland.
He writes:
"We took off for a night raid on Germany, and had been flying only a few minutes when one of our motors caught fire.
"The pilot could not get the fire out, and it quickly spread to one of the petrol tanks, which exploded and blew half a wing off.
"The pilot ordered us to bail out before the tank exploded, but things happened very fast.
"I was all ready to bail out and just had to toss myself out back-wards.
"My body got out all right, but my legs were caught in the turret. The slipstream was so strong I could not move, so I just got dragged along through the air with my feet still caught in the turret.
"When I think of it now, I wonder how I kept so calm. Strange to say, I wasn't frightened after I found I could not get away. I just thought, 'I hope it won't be long now before I hit the ground, and it is all over.'
"Just then the slipstream tore me out of one of my big flying-boots which had been caught. Then I found I was falling free of the plane.
"While I was caught by the leg and foot the wind blew my 'chute-pack off my chest, so before I could open it I had to get the harness, which was attached to the 'chute, and pull it down from above my head.
"Just as my 'chute opened our plane hit the ground. This time I was careful to make a good landing. I didn't want to break my foot again. It was much easier to land as it was still daylight.
"The engineer was the only other one to get out.
"When the wing blew off, the plane went rolling over and over, so the rest of the boys could not have been able to move to their escape positions.
"One thing, it all happened and was over within a few seconds."

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Belgian Medal "La Croix de Guerre 1940 avec Palme" More information is being sought. It is probable that this Medal resulted from actions by Reed in Belgium, after the crash of Halifax III MZ296 Z5-L, on 14/15 October 1944, Target Duisburg.

Below Left: Certificate for "La Croix de Guerre 1940 avec Palme" awarded to Neville Owen Reed by HRH, the Prince Regent of Belgium. The Medal is shown in the far right of the photo of his WW2 Medals shown previously.
Below Right: Letter from the Secretary of the Department of Air, Commonwealth of Australia, regarding this Award.
Translation and transcriptions are included below.

Royaume de Belgique Certificate for La Croix de Guerre 1940 Avec Palme, awarded to Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron.

Letter regarding Belgian Medal, La Croix de Guerre 1940 Avec Palme, awarded to Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron.

1. Transcription and Translation of "Royaume de Belgique" (above left).

ROYAUME DE BELGIQUE
Le Ministre de la Défense Nationale
a l’honneur de faire savoir au
Warrant Officer : Neville Owen REED,
que, par Arrêté de S. A. R., le Prince Régent, du 16.1.1947, No 3424,
LA CROIX DE GUERRE 1940 AVEC PALME,
lui a été décernée,
“Pour le courage et a bravoure dont il a fait preuve dans
les glorieuses batailles qui ont amené la libération de la
Belgique.”

..................................................

KINGDOM OF BELGIUM
The Minister of National Defence
has the honour to inform the
Warrant Officer: Neville Owen REED,
that, by an Order of HRH the Prince Regent, of 16.01.1947, No. 3424,
MILITARY CROSS WITH PALM 1940,
was awarded to him,
"For the courage and bravery he displayed in
the glorious battles that led to the liberation of
Belgium."

2. Transcription of letter (above right) from the Secretary of the Department of Air, Commonwealth of Australia,
dated 2 March 1948, Reference RAAF.55/1/577, Number 62596, addressed to Mr. N. O. Reed, Glasshouse
Mountains, N. C. Line, Queensland.

I desire to inform you that His Majesty, the
King, has been graciously pleased to grant unrestricted
permission for the acceptance of the Croix de Guerre, 1940,
with Palme, awarded to you by the Belgian authorities for
services rendered in the cause of the Allies.

Notification of this award appeared in the
Commonwealth of Australia Gazette of the 5th February, 1948.
Arrangements for the actual presentation of the emblem of
this award will be made as soon as it is received from
overseas.

On behalf of the Minister for Air and members
of the Air Board, I desire to extend congratulations on the
award to you of this decoration.

Below: Copy of re-issued Attestation Certificate dated 21 November 2014 for the "War Cross 1940 with palm" awarded to Neville Owen Reed by HRH, the Prince Regent of Belgium in 1947. This new Certificate was received from the Delegate of the Belgian Minister of Defence, Brussels in November 2014 by Reed's daughter Janice, who had made enquiries in Belgium requesting details of the original Award. The transcription is included underneath, and is very similar to the English translation of the original 1947 Certificate.

Neville Owen Reed,435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron, Croix de Guerre avec Palme, Attestation Certificate re-issued November 2014.
Transcription of Attestation.

KINGDOM OF BELGIUM
The Minister of Defence has the honour to notify that
Mr. Neville Owen REED
was granted the War Cross 1940 with palm
by the Decree of the Prince Regent Nr 3424 dated 16th January 1947,

"for courage and heroism he has shown during the glorious battles that have led to the liberation of
Belgium."

Brussels, 21st November 2014.

For the Minister of Defence,
The Chief of the Notary Office,
By delegation
(signed) Eric NIEDERPRÜM
Senior Captain

 

Below: Copies of sections of the original "Besluit Prins Regent Nr 3424 van 16 januari 1947".
Translation "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947".

The original document is seven (7) hand-written pages. The left side is written in French, and the right side may be Dutch.
This is awaiting translation.
Page 1 upper section, including Article 1 is shown below, named here as "Section a". The lower section has the start of the list of recipients.
Pages 2 to 6 inclusive continue with three lists of names of recipients.
Page 2 Neville Owen REED is included in the first list of Warrant Officers, named as "Section b" below.
Page 6, lower section, including Article 2 and Article 3, as shown below, named as "Section c".
Page 7, signed and dated for Charles, the Prince Regent on 16 January 1947, named as "Section d" below.

The first list of recipients includes their full name, and Service number, and is in the sequence of Warrant Officers, Flight Sergeants, Sergeants. Some, but not all, include the Air Force, e.g. Aus, NZ or RAFVR.
This is followed by a second list of Warrant Officers, Flight Sergeants, Sergeants, Corporals, Leading Aircraftman, and Air Craftman 1st Class, all with full names and Service numbers, and again some include the Air Force. (The reason for two lists has not been determined.)
The third and final list of names are a mix of Navy Personnel, including A. B. Seamen, A. B. Boatswains, Donkey-men, Donkeymen-Greaser, and a Steward, Cook, and Assistant Steward; all with full names but no Service numbers.
Each page of names was bracketed and stamped with "Bijou expédié le __" and "BREVET expédié le __" and date "3 Avr 1947".

 

Below: Section a. Page 1 of "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947",
upper section including preamble and Article 1.

Besluit Prins Regent Nr 3424 van 16 januari 1947 - Section a (Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron)."Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947".

 

Below: Section b. Page 2 of "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947",
Warrant Officer Neville Owen REED (AUS 435209).

Besluit Prins Regent Nr 3424 van 16 januari 1947 - Section b (Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron). "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947".

 

Below: Section c. Page 6 of "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947",
lower section, including Article 2 and Article 3.

Besluit Prins Regent Nr 3424 van 16 januari 1947 - Section c (Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron). "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947".

 

Below: Section d. Page 7 of "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947",
signed and dated for Charles, the Prince Regent in Brussels, on 16 January 1947.

Besluit Prins Regent Nr 3424 van 16 januari 1947 - Section d (Neville Owen Reed 435209 RAAF, 462 Squadron). "Prince Regent Decree Number 3424 of 16 January 1947".

A request has been made locally to have the document translated into English, as online translations have not been useful.
If you are fluent in either the French or Dutch language, and can volunteer to translate, please make contact.

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Later Life of Neville Owen Reed

20 October 1945 – Marriage to Miss Audrey Symes in Sussex (wedding photo shown previously). His next-of-kin details in his RAAF records were amended, as shown in the Australian WW2 Nominal Roll.

23 April 1946 – Mrs Audrey Reed departs England as a "War Bride" on the ship "Atlantis".

After his return to Australia, Neville Owen Reed was re-employed as a Postal Worker, firstly at Clermont west of Rockhampton, Queensland, and then at Sarina (Qld).  Before the first daughter was born in September 1947, Neville and Audrey Reed moved to Gympie (Qld) where Neville went into a laundry business with an ex-Army friend by the name of Bill Bucknall.  They then purchased a Dry Cleaning business also in Gympie.  It was while living in Gympie that he heard he had been awarded the Belgium Medal ("La Croix de Guerre 1940 avec Palme") but he did not ever mention the reason for the Award to his family. The family returned to England in December 1949 and Neville worked in his Father-in-law’s wholesale tobacconist business until January 1957 when the family returned to Australia.

Unfortunately, the Reed family do not have any records of his time spent in 462 Squadron. Although a man with a great memory and recall of events, he spoke very little of his time during the War, in either the Army or the Air Force. Perhaps this was because he had survived two aircraft crashes after having parachuted to save his life, although injured on both occasions. He also carried with him the knowledge of the deaths of all his former crew mates. He died on 20 October 1990, in Perth, Western Australia. Sadly this was also the date of his 45th Wedding Anniversary.
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Connections – it is interesting to compare Rear Gunner Reed with Rear Gunner Maxwell James Hibberd.

Reed had flown six Ops, and had survived 2 aircraft crashes, but with injuries. He qualified for Caterpillar Club membership twice. Excluding his original Pilot (Walter Donald Friend), Reed was the sole survivor of the other six members of that crew. Five had been killed in action with Alan Edwin Astill's Crew (14 Jan 1945). The other survivor of that crash, Sanday, was killed in action with Vivian Clive Ely's crew (24 Feb 1945). Reed did not become a PoW, but was assisted by Belgians, and returned safely to the UK. He died in 1990 aged 68.

Hibberd had also flown 6 Ops (the first not counted due to engine failure and early return), and had survived one aircraft crash, also with injuries. He also qualified for Caterpillar Club membership. He was the sole survivor of his original crew who were killed in action with Pilot Alfred Desmond John Ball (10 April 1945). Hibberd was captured and became a PoW. He died in 1988, aged 63.

Both had enlisted in Brisbane, Queensland – Reed 435209 on 29 March 1943, and Hibberd 435342 on 22 April 1943. They had been posted to 27 OTU at Lichfield, and later to 41 Base at Acaster-in-Malbis, but at different times. They were Flight Sergeants during their postings at 462 Squadron in Foulsham in 1945, so would most likely have met at the Sergeant's Mess there, although this cannot be confirmed. After the War, both spoke very little of their WW2 experiences to their families. They both probably carried a heavy mental load, possibly suffering from what today is known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Their survival contradicted the popular opinion that the Rear Gunner had the shortest life expectancy of any member of a bomber crew.

If you can identify any of the un-named people in any photos, or assist with dates and locations, please make contact.

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