462 Squadron.com

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6 September 2017
Crew 28, Pilot Frank Edward Nelder 462 Squadron RAAF

 

Crew 28, 462 Squadron RAAF, Driffield 1944, Pilot Frank Edward Nelder, Nav Ernest Hartley Richardson, B/A John Maurice Grace, W/OP Edward Phillip Austin, F/Eng Douglas Darrah Pettit, MU/AG Malcolm Langley Wood, R/AG Allan Farmer.
Crew photo supplied by and used with the permission of Simon Tout,
nephew of Edward Phillip Austin.

All headstone photos on this page were supplied by,
and used with the permission of John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013;
graves at
Hotton Cemetery, Belgium.

The same photo on page 204 of "To See the Dawn Again" has the names of MU/AG Wood and F/Eng Pettit incorrectly reversed. On enlargement, the "Sparkes" badge is visible on W/OP Austin's upper sleeve; an "AG" half-wing is visible on both Farmer's and Wood's jackets; an "E" half wing is visible on Pettit's jacket, thus confirming the identification as recorded by Austin on the reverse of the photo. Pettit was also the only Sgt and his 3 stripes are also visible, whereas each of the five F/Sgts have the extra "Crown" above the 3 stripes. A "B" half-wing is visible on Richardson's jacket, however the letter section of Grace's half-wing has been obscured by his whistle.

 

 

Crew 28, 462 Squadron RAAF at Driffield 1944. This photo was taken outside the "Respirator Workshop", which seems to be the favoured location of many crew photos at Driffield. The crew are identified on the reverse of the photo as shown below, with the notes from the Crew's W/OP, Austin.

Back row, from left:- Wireless Operator Austin, Rear Gunner Farmer, Mid Upper Gunner Wood, Flight Engineer Pettit.

Front row, from left:- Bomb Aimer Grace, Pilot Nelder, Navigator Richardson.

They were the crew of Halifax III LL599 Z5-E "Easy", which failed to return from an Op. to Essen, Germany on the night of 23/24 October 1944. This aircraft is shown on the Halifax page, in flight over the North Sea on 14 October 1944, Pilot Triggs and Crew on a daylight raid to Duisburg (Ruhr valley).

Captain/Pilot: Frank Edward NELDER, KIA
Navigator: Ernest Hartley RICHARDSON, KIA
Bomb Aimer: John Maurice GRACE, Evader, returned to the UK
Wireless Operator: Edward Phillip AUSTIN, KIA
Flight Engineer: Douglas Darrah PETTIT, KIA
Mid-Upper Gunner:
Malcolm Langley WOOD, KIA
Rear Gunner: Allan FARMER, KIA

Links to Additional Crew Information and Crew Ops;
and Aircraft Loss File (to be added)

 

Reference sources – Australian WW2 Nominal Roll; The National Archives of Australia (Service Files, Casualty Files, Loss of Aircraft File, 462 Squadron Operational Record Book); Australian War Memorial (Roll of Honour); Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

 

 

Identification of Crew 28, 462 Squadron RAAF, Driffield 1944, Pilot Frank Edward Nelder, , Nav Ernest Hartley Richardson, B/A John Maurice Grace, W/OP Edward Phillip Austin, F/Eng Douglas Darrah Pettit, MU/AG Malcolm Langley Wood, R/AG Allan Farmer.
Reverse of Crew photo supplied by and used with the permission of Simon Tout,
nephew of Edward Phillip Austin.

 

 

 

Identification of Crew 28 of 462 Squadron RAAF at Driffield 1944.

Transcription of the reverse of the Crew photo owned by W/OP Austin. Nicknames, written in blue, appear to be in different handwriting, perhaps added later.

CREW OF "POPEYE" H – HOWE HALIFAX
BACK ROW
F/SGT AUSTIN. W.O.P. (Foo)
F/SGT FARMER. REAR GUNNER. (Joe the Goose)
F/SGT WOOD. MID. UPPER " (Herman the Head)
SGT PETTIT. FLIGHT ENGINEER. (Groucho)

FRONT
F/SGT GRACE. BOMB AIMER. (December Jack)
P/O NELDER PILOT & SKIPPER (Pin Head)
F/SGT RICHARDSON NAVIGATOR (Poopdeck Pappy or the Ancient Mariner)

The Ancient Mariner nickname for Nav Richardson may have been because he was 10 to 15 years older than the six other members of the crew, whose years of birth ranged from 1921 to 1925.

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Frank Edward Nelder, 419561 RAAF, later Pilot for Crew 28, 462 Squadron, Driffield.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9300, 419561

Frank Nelder at enlistment in the RAAF, aged 19 years and 2 months, on 26 August 1942 at No. 1 Recruiting Centre, Melbourne. He was wearing an Army uniform, as he had previously served as a Signaller in No. 2 Coy., 3rd Aust. Corps, Private V.310645; enlisted on 23 december 1941; discharged 15 August 1942, for enlistment in the RAAF. His height was recorded at 6 ft 1¼ inches. (All of his RAAF Service File documents list 26 August 1942 as his date of enlistment, not 26 July as recorded in the online WW2 Nominal Roll.)

Headstone of grave of Frank Edward Nelder, 419561 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

 

 

Captain/Pilot

Name: Frank Edward NELDER
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 419561
Date of Birth: 25 June 1923
Place of Birth: Brunswick, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 26 July 1942 (sic, 26 August in Service File)
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: Alfred NELDER
Date of Death: 23 October 1944
Rank at Death: Pilot Officer (sic)
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Brunswick, Victoria

From Crew Arrival Form, 462 Sqdn:-
Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 5 September 1944 from 1652 HCU (Marston Moor); Pilot Officer as of 4 June 1944; Pilot; single; next of kin Alfred Gordon Nelder, father, of Brunswick, Vic.

Casualty details from CWGC:-
Flying Officer (sic), 419561, RAAF, date of death 23 October 1944, age 21. Grave reference I.E.10, Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium. Son of Alfred Gordon Nelder and Lily Nelder of Brunswick, Victoria, Australia.

 

 

Transcription of Headstone (shown at left)

FLYING OFFICER
F.E. NELDER
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
23RD OCTOBER 1944 AGE 21

EVER REMEMBERED BY
MOTHER, FATHER AND SISTER
"GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN"
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Headstone on grave of Ernest Hartley Richardson, 427259 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

Transcription of Headstone (shown above)

427259 FLIGHT SERGEANT
E.H. RICHARDSON
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
23RD OCTOBER 1944 AGE 33

EVER REMEMBERED
BY HIS LOVED ONES

 

 

 

Navigator

Name: Ernest Hartley RICHARDSON
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 427259
Date of Birth: 16 December 1910
Place of Birth: Cottesloe, Western Australia
Date of Enlistment: 15 June 1942
Place of Enlistment: Perth, WA
Next of Kin: Daphne MONGER (sic)
Date of Death: 23 October 1944
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Bencubbin. WA

From Crew Arrival Form, 462 Sqdn:-
Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 5 September 1944 from 1652 HCU (Marston Moor); Flight Sergeant as of 14 April 1944; Navigator B; married 28 December 1940, wife Daphne Mavis Richardson on Bencubbin, West Australia; additional contact Mary Jane Richardson, mother, of Victoria Park.

Casualty details from CWGC:-
Flight Sergeant, 427259, RAAF, date of death 23 October 1944, age 33. Grave reference I.E.8, Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium. Son of William Horatio and Mary Jane Richardson; husband of Daphne Mavis Richardson, of Bencubbin, Western Australia.
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John Maurice Grace, 419701 RAAF, later Bomb Aimer for Crew 28, 462 Squadron, Driffield.
Photo from the National Archives of Australia: A9300, 419701

John Maurice Grace, 419701 RAAF, later Bomb Aimer, 462 Squadron, Driffield. From his RAAF Service File, this photo appears to have been taken on the day of his enlistment in the RAAF, aged 19 years and 9 months, on 12 September 1942, at No. 1 Recruiting Centre, Melbourne.

John Grace had previously served as a Signaller in 8th Australian Recce Battn. Sig. Platoon, Private V.305656; he enlisted on 23 December 1941, and was discharged in September 1942 for enlistment in the RAAF.

 

 

 

Bomb Aimer
Sole survivor of the crew, and Evader, returning safely to the UK.

Name: John Maurice GRACE
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 419701
Date of Birth: 14 December 1922
Place of Birth: Moonee Ponds, Victoria
Date of Enlistment: 12 September 1942
Place of Enlistment: Melbourne, Victoria
Next of Kin: Glennon GRACE (father)
Date of Discharge: 21 December 1945
Rank at Discharge: Flying Officer
Posting at Discharge: RAF Oakington
Prisoner of War: No

From Crew Arrival Form, 462 Sqdn:-
Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 4 September 1944 from 1652 HCU (Marston Moor); Flight Sergeant, Navigator B on Bomb Aimer Duties; single; next of kin G.M. Grace, father, of Ascot Vale, Melbourne, Victoria.

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Headstone on grave of Edward Phillip Austin, 429105 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

Transcription of Headstone (shown above)

429105 FLIGHT SERGEANT
E.P. AUSTIN
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
23RD OCTOBER 1944 AGE 23

GREATER LOVE HATH NO MAN

 

Wireless Operator

Name: Edward Phillip AUSTIN
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 429105
Date of Birth: 3 June 1921
Place of Birth: Epping, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 24 October 1942
Place of Enlistment: Sydney, NSW
Next of Kin: Patricia AUSTIN (wife)
Date of Death: 23 October 1944
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Cheltenham, NSW

From Crew Arrival Form, 462 Sqdn:-
Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 5 September 1944 from 1652 HCU (Marston Moor); Flight Sergeant as of 19 August 1944; Wireless Operator Air Gunner; married 2 September 1943, wife Patricia Joan Austin of Cheltenham, New South Wales.

Casualty details from CWGC:-
Flight Sergeant, 429105, RAAF, date of death 23 October 1944, age 23. Grave reference I.E.7, Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium. Son of Edward Picton Austin and Alice Pauline Austin; husband of Patricia Joan Austin of Cheltenham, NSW.

Austin had previously served in the Australian Army, as Private N.175021, in 35 Battalion; he enlisted on 14 May 1941 and was discharged to enlist in the RAAF on 23 October 1942.
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Headstone on grave of Douglas Darrah Pettit, 1895178 RAFVR, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

Transcription of Headstone (shown above)
1895178 SERGEANT
D.D. PETTIT
FLIGHT ENGINEER
ROYAL AIR FORCE
23RD OCTOBER 1944 AGE 19

DEEP IN OUR HEARTS
HE LIVETH YET
WE LOVED HIM TOO DEARLY
TO EVER FORGET

 

Flight Engineer

RAFVR service file not available.

Name: Douglas Darrah PETTIT
Service: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Service Number: 1895178 **
Date of Birth: 9 February 1925
Next of Kin: Amy Pettit (wife)
Date of Death: 23 October 1944
Rank at Death: Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No

** From the website http://www.ab-ix.co.uk/rfc_raf.pdf which details RFC and RAF Service Numbers: No. 1890001 to No. 1899799 were allocated from January 1943 at Euston. This batch includes 1895178 for Pettit.

From Crew Arrival Form, 462 Sqdn:-
Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 5 September 1944 from 1652 HCU (Marston Moor); Service number 1895178 RAF; date of birth 9 February 1925; Flight Sergeant as of 29 May 1944; Flight Engineer; married 3 June 1944, wife Amy Maybn Pettit, of Reading, Berkshire; additional contact Frederick Charles Pettit, father, of Reading, Berkshire.

Casualty details from CWGC:-
Sergeant, Flight Engineer; 1895178 RAF Volunteer Reserve; date of death 23 October 1944, age 19. Grave reference I.E.9, Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium. Son of Frederick Charles and Ada Sophie Pettit; husband of Amy Maybn Pettit of Shinfield, Berkshire.
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Headstone on grave of Malcolm Langley Wood, 435026 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

Transcription of Headstone (shown above)

435026 FLIGHT SERGEANT
M.L. WOOD
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
23RD OCTOBER 1944 AGE 21

NEVER WAS SO MUCH OWED
BY SO MANY TO SO FEW

 

Mid Upper Gunner

Name: Malcolm Langley WOOD
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 435026
Date of Birth: 17 October 1923
Place of Birth: Mosman, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 9 March 1943
Place of Enlistment: Sydney NSW
Next of Kin: Kenneth WOOD (father)
Date of Death: 23 October 1944
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Mosman, NSW

From Crew Arrival Form, 462 Sqdn:-
Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 5 September 1944 from 1652 HCU (Marston Moor); Flight Sergeant as of 11 May 1944; Air Gunner (M/U); single; next of kin K.W. Wood, father, of Mosman, NSW.

Casualty details from CWGC:-
Flight Sergeant; 435026 RAAF; date of death 23 October 1944, age 21. Grave reference I.E.5, Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium. Son of Kenneth William and Ethel Maud Wood, of Mosman NSW.

Wood had previously served as a Private N.236025, in No 2 Aust Corps, TPS Supply Company; he enlisted on 23 December 1941 and was discharged on 03 March1943 to enlist in the RAAF.
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Allan Farmer, 436820 RAAF, at enlistment on 1 May 1943 at Perth, Western Australia, later Rear Gunner in 462 Squadron, Driffield.

Allan Farmer at enlistment on 1 May 1943
at No. 4 Recruiting Centre, Perth, Western Australia,
aged 20 years and 9 months, and 5 ft 9 Inches tall.

Allan Farmer had previously served in the Militia from 05 November 1941 to 13 September 1942; and in "A" Company of the 30th Australian Inf. Battn. at the rank of Lance Corporal, Sce No NX.124577 (N.180552), from 14 September 1942 to 26 April 1943, when he was discharged for enlistment in the RAAF.

Headstone on grave of Allan Farmer, 436820 RAAF, 462 Squadron.
Photo by John Dann, UK, © Copyright 2013.

 

Rear Gunner

Name: Allan FARMER
Service: Royal Australian Air Force
Service Number: 436820
Date of Birth: 17 July 1922
Place of Birth: Balmain, New South Wales
Date of Enlistment: 1 May 1943
Place of Enlistment: Perth, Western Australia
Next of Kin: Arthur FARMER (father)
Date of Death: 23 October 1944
Rank at Death: Flight Sergeant
Posting at Death: 462 Squadron
Prisoner of War: No
Roll of Honour: Sydney, NSW

From Crew Arrival Form, 462 Sqdn:-
Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield on 5 September 1944 from 1652 HCU (Marston Moor); Flight Sergeant as of 9 June 1944; Rear Gunner; single; next of kin Arthur Farmer, father, of Balmain, Sydney, NSW.

Casualty details from CWGC:-
Flight Sergeant; 436820 RAAF; date of death 23 October 1944, age 22. Grave reference I.E.6, Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium. Son of Arthur and Annie Emily Farmer, of Balmain, NSW.

 

 

Transcription of Headstone (shown at left)

436820 FLIGHT SERGEANT
A. FARMER
ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE
23RD OCTOBER 1944 AGE 22

HIS DUTY FEARLESSLY
AND NOBLY DONE.
EVER REMEMBERED


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Additional Crew Information – sourced from the RAAF Service files of Nelder, Grace and Farmer, available from the National Archives of Australia (NAA, Series A9300, A9301); RAAF casualty Files of Nelder and Grace (NAA, Series A705); 462 Squadron Operation Record Books (Forms 540 and 541); Crew Arrival Forms; Service files for RAFVR were not available; and as of 5 March 2017, the RAAF Service Files for Richardson, Austin and Wood were not available.

Crew Summary

14 March 1944 – Nelder and Grace both posted to 27 Operational Training Unit (OTU), Lichfield.
03 April 19944 – Farmer posted to 27 OTU.
As crews usually formed at an OTU, it is assumed that Richardson, Austin and Wood were also posted to 27 OTU at around the same time, and that their crew of 6 was formed soon after their arrival.

03 June 1944 – Nelder's file has an entry for time 41 Base, Acaster Malbis (most likely with his crew, but not recorded in files of Grace or Farmer)

23 June 1944 – Nelder, Grace and Farmer posted to 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit (HCU), Marston Moor, presumably as a crew of 6, including Richardson, Austin and Wood. At this HCU, Flight Engineer Pettit would have joined the crew.

05 September 1944 – The Crew of seven were posted to 462 Squadron Driffield from 1652 Heavy Conversion Unit, Marston Moor; with however, John Grace's Arrival Form dated as 4 September 1944.
Nelder was Posted To the squadron at the rank of Pilot Officer (Sept 1944 ORB, Form 540, page 12); and
Grace, Richardson, Austin, Farmer and Wood all Flight Sergeants (Sept 1944 ORB, Form 540, page 13); and
Pettit's posting was not recorded in the ORB, but his rank was Sergeant on all Form 541 Ops.

Ops – Nelder, 9 Ops, his first Op as a 2nd Pilot on 10 September 1944 with Crew 22, Pilot Wilson; followed by 8 Ops with his usual crew. The six usual crew members all had 8 Ops from 17 September 1944 with Pilot Nelder, no substitutions.
See later section for Op details.

23 October 1944 – Crew Failed to Return; Posted as Missing; 6 Killed in Action;
Bomb Aimer Grace was the Sole Survivor and an Evader.

Extra information of each member of crew – from Service Files if available, or Crew Arrival Forms (amount of detail varies). Variations in dates for the same event are recorded in different documents.

Pilot Frank Edward NELDER 419561 RAAF

From Crew Arrival Form – Trained as Pilot; flown in DH82, Wirraway, Oxford, Wellington, Halifax II aircraft; attended Pilots courses and BAT course; Medical Category not recorded; religion Baptist.

From RAAF Service File A9300, and RAAF Casualty File A705

14 January 1942 – Enrolled in the RAAF Reserve; age 18 years and 6 months; single; previously sworn in for Military service as Private V.310645 under training at No. 3 Coy, Southern Com. Signals, Home Forces; Civil occupation Bank Clerk at National Bank, Preston, Victoria; height 6 ft 1¼ inches; weight 11 st 9 lb; 6/6 vision; 20/20 hearing; medical Category A3B A1B; fair complexion, blue eyes, fair hair.

26 August 1942 – Enlisted in RAAF at No. 1 Recruiting Centre, Melbourne; for the duration of the war and 12 months after; aged 19 years and 2 months; single; other details similar to RAAF Reserve application; previous service as Signaller in 3rd Aust Corps, discharged on 25 August 1942 for enlistment in the RAAF. Education to Intermediate Cert; home address Brunswick, Vic; next of kin Alfred Gordon NELDER (father) of West Brunswick, Victoria.

26 August 1942 – Posted to 1 Initial Training School (1 ITS), Somers, Victoria
26 August 1942 – Classified as Aircraftman 2 (AC2), mustered as Aircrew V
03 November 1942 – Remustered as Aircrew V (P)
05 December 1942 – Reclassified as LAC
05 December 1942 – Remustered as Aircrew II (P)

10 December 1942 – Posted to 11 Elementary Flying Training School (11 EFTS) Benalla, Victoria

13 February 1943 – Posted to 7 Service Flying Training School (7 SFTS), Deniliquin, NSW; (posting also recorded in error as 13 March) Course 31 Passed
16 February 1943 – Commenced Initial training at 7 SFTS
13 April 1943 – Commenced Advanced Training at 7 SFTS

03 June 1943 – Awarded Flying Badge (some documents as 03 June, several others have date of 08 June; one has a stamped but blotched 3, which could be misinterpreted as an 8, and possibly later transferred to other documents in error)
03 June 1943 – Remustered as Airman Pilot
03 June 1943 – Promoted to (T) Sergeant

04 June 1943 – Posted to 1 Embarkation Depot (1 ED), Ascot Vale, Victoria
04 June 1943 – Commenced pre-embarkation leave, to 09 June 1943

20 June 1943 – Posted to 2 ED, Bradfield Park, NSW
22 June 1943 – Posted to OSHQ/UK
22 June 1943 – Embarked from Australia for the UK

04 September 1943 – Disembarked in UK (also recorded as 05 Sept)
04 September 1943 – Posted to 11 Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre (11 PDRC), Brighton (also recorded as 05 Sept)

19 October 1943 – Posted to 14 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit (14 (P) AFU), RAF Station, Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland; Course 66
02 November 1943 – Attached to RAF Fraserburgh, in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, 14 (P) AFU (to 07 March 1944)
03 December 1943 – Promoted to (T) Flight Sergeant
07 December 1943 – Attached to No 1518 Beam Approach Training (B.A.T.) Flight, (to 21 December 1943)

14 March 1944 – Posted to 27 Operational Training Unit (27 OTU), Lichfield (Crew of 6 formed); training in Wellington Bombers

23 June 1944 – Posted to 41 Base, Acaster Malbis
23 June 1944 – Attached to Aircrew Training School

03 June 1944 – Discharge as Airman from RAAF on Appointment to Commission, and sign off of Airman's general Conduct Sheet a Acaster Malbis
04 June 1944 – Appointment to Commission with rank of Pilot Officer
10 July 1944 – Posted to 1652 Conversion Unit (1652 CU) for conversion to Halifax Bombers

04 September 1944 – Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield for Operational Duties
10 September 1944 – Promoted to Acting Flying Officer
10 September – first Op as 2nd Pilot (see later section for details of this and other Ops at 462 Squadron)
03 October 1944 – Commenced leave, to 09 Oct 1944

23 October 1944 – Missing in Air Ops, Target Essen, Germany; later re-classified as Killed in Air Ops.

Service Conduct Sheet "Certified No Entry" by RAF Records
General Conduct Sheet – "Certified No Entry" by Officer in Charge at departure from each of his Postings
Aircraft Flown – Tiger Moth; DH82 ( 60 hours); Wirraway (101 hours 30m); Oxford; Wellington and Halifax

From Nelder's RAAFR Casualty File A705

26 October 1944 – Telegram from RAAF to Next of Kin (father) Mr A G Nelder, advising that his son was Missing as a result of air operations; Sympathy was expressed, with any further information to be conveyed immediately.

26 October 1944 – letter from Squadron Leader B J MacDermott, Officer Commanding 462 Squadron, to Mr A G Nelder, confirming the telegram, conveying deepest sympathy and advising that his son's belongings would be gathered and placed into storage in the Central Depository of the RAF; and expressing a hope that his son was either in safe hands, or a Prisoner of War; any further information received to be conveyed immediately. (Letter noted as being signed and forwarded on 27/11/44.)

30 October 1944 – Advice to RAAF HQ from Air Ministry Kingsway, that F/Sgt J M Grace 419701 RAAF had arrived back in the UK on 27 October.

02 November 1944 – Lettergram from RAAF to Mr A G Nelder advising of the safe return of F/Sgt Grace to the UK, with regret that there was no further news of his son Frank, or of the remainder of the crew.

16 November 1944 – letter from Secretary of Air to Mr A G Nelder, with the following advice ..... (quote)

"The member of your son's crew who is now safe in
the United Kingdom, Flight Sergeant J.M. Grace, has now been
interrogated and states that while flying at twenty thousand
feet, approximately ten miles North East of Aachen in Western
Germany, the aircraft suffered a hit causing it to dive out
of control and spin. Nothing was heard over the inter-
communication system. Flight Sergeant Grace was in the nose
of the aircraft and unable to move. Apparently the aircraft
disintegrated and Flight Sergeant Grace next remembers falling
by himself. Flight Sergeant Grace believes he is the only
survivor as he was the only member to be wearing a parachute
at the time. Next day in Aachen Flight Sergeant Grace
identified parts of an aircraft as being one of the Squadron
planes, but he cannot supply any additional information
regarding the fate of your son or other members of the Crew.

Permit me to extend the sincere sympathy of this
Department in the anxiety you are suffering and assure you
that when further information comes to hand it will be conveyed
to you immediately."
.... (end quote)

14 February 1945 – Letter from RAAF OSHQ Kingsway to RAAF Melbourne, and enclosure of items – 8 photographs and one Silver "Jewelex" watch (damaged) – received from No 609 QM Graves registration Company, and belonging to Nelder.

16 February 1945 – letter from RAAF OSHQ Kingsway to RAAF Melbourne, referred to Crews of Halifax LL599 and Lancaster LM691; advised details of initial burial of Nelder and crew; Nelder had been identified by his identity card and buried in Plot D, Row 2, Grave 33 in the Henri Chapelle Cemetery; personal effects found on the body (watch and photos) had been forwarded separately (on 14 Feb); clarification was being sought on the burial details of other members of both crews, who had been reclassified as "Killed in Action".

01 March 1945 – Telegram to Mr A G Nelder advising that his son, previously reported as Missing, was now reclassified as having lost his life on 23 October 1944, the change in status as a result of his late son's Identity Card being forwarded with a report from British Authorities in France, which stated that he was buried in an Allied Cemetery at Henri Chapelle.

09 March 1945 – Telegram from RAAF to Mr A G Nelder advising that his late son had been promoted to the rank of Acting Flying Officer with retrospective effect from 10 September 1944.

20 March 1945 – letter from RAAF Central Repository Store, Melbourne to Mr A G Nelder advising that his son's damaged watch and 8 photos had been despatched to him. However his son's other personal effects from the UK would take some time.

23 March 1945 – letter from Mr A G Nelder to OIC, RAAF Central Repository Store, Melbourne expressing the delight of himself and his family, and their good fortune after receiving his son's damaged watch and photographs, and offering sincere thanks for same.

April 1945 – undated letter from Mr Alf G Nelder to RAAF Casualties Melbourne (received 10 April), advising change of address for despatch of his son's personal effects.

10 April 1945 – after consideration as a appropriate case for its issue, a Royal Message of Condolence was despatched to Mr A G Nelder.

19 April 1945 – correspondence regarding Particulars of Will of Frank Nelder, dated 22 April 1942, sole beneficiary his mother Lily Nelder, and Executor his father Mr A G Nelder; application for Probate.

13 December 1945 – Nelder's personal effects received at RAAF Central Repository Kit Store, Melbourne
14 December 1945 – Nelder's personal effects (including Commonwealth Bank Pass Book and National Bank Cheque Book previously held in storage) forwarded to his father and receipt signed on 18 December 1945.

4 Feb 1947 – Mr A G Nelder signed for receipt of the Commission of his late son, F/O Frank Nelder.

24 April 1947 – reburial of F/O F E Nelder at Hotton British War Cemetery, Luxembourg, Belgium,
Plot I, Row E, Grave 10.

30 Sept 1947 – letter from RAAF Casualty Section to Mr A G Nelder, advising of the re-burial and grave location, marked with a temporary cross to be replaced by a permanent headstone at a later date.

08 November 1948 – photograph of the temporary cross on the grave of F/O Nelder despatched with covering letter to Mr A G Nelder (no copy in Casualty File, however similar photos may be seen in the Rate Crew page).

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Navigator Ernest Hartley RICHARDSON 427259 RAAF

From Crew Arrival Form – Trained as Navigator B; flown in Anson, Battle, Wellington X, Halifax II aircraft; attended courses at AOS, BAGS, ANS, AFU, OTU, CU; Medical Category not recorded; religion Church of England.

Bomb Aimer John Maurice GRACE 419701 RAAF

From Crew Arrival Form – Trained as Navigator B assigned to Bomb Aimer Duties; flown in Anson, Oxford, Battle, Wellington, Halifax II aircraft; attended courses at AOS, BGS, ANS, GRS, AFU, OTU, CU; Medical Category not recorded; religion Roman Catholic; single; Next of Kin father, G M Grace of Ascot Vale, Melbourne; additional contact person N A Tighe, of Essendon, Melbourne.

From RAAF Service File A9300 and Casualty File A705

To be added – please visit again

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Wireless Operator Edward Phillip AUSTIN 429105 RAAF

From Crew Arrival Form – Trained as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner; flown in Wackett, Anson, Wellington, Halifax II aircraft; attended courses at 3 WAGS, 1 BAGS, NCO School at Whitley Bay, 1 (O) AFU, 27 OTU, 4 GATS, 1652 CU; Medical Category not recorded; religion Church of England; Additional contact person, family friend Mr A Munro of "Argyle" Cheltenham, NSW.

Flight Engineer Douglas Darrah PETTIT 1895178 RAFVR

From Crew Arrival Form – Trained as flight engineer; trained in Halifax II and Halifax V aircraft; fit for aircrew duties Medical Category A1; religion Church of England.

Mid-Upper Gunner Malcolm Langley WOOD 435026 RAAF

From Crew Arrival Form – Trained as air gunner (mid-upper); flown in Moth, Battle, Wellington, Halifax aircraft; attended courses at 1 BAGS, 27 OTU, 4 GATS, 1652 CU; fit for aircrew duties Medical Category A1 A3B; religion Presbyterian.

Rear Gunner Allan FARMER 436820 RAAF

From Crew Arrival Form – Trained as Wireless Operator/Air Gunner and Air Gunner; flown in Oxford, Battle, Wellington, Halifax II aircraft; attended courses for W/AG and AG; fit for aircrew duties Medical Category A1; religion Methodist.

From RAAF Service File A9301 (Casualty File A705 was not available as of 5 March 2017)

02 May 1942 – Application for enlistment as an airman in the RAAF, preferred Trade Wireless Telegraphy Operator (Ground or Air), or Wireless Air Gunner; previous experience five months training as Bren Gunner in Militia, still serving as Private N180552; previous civil occupation Boot Manufacturer's Assistant; education to 2nd year at Commercial School; height 5 ft 10 inches; weight 10 st 8 lb; single; application completed on his 20th birthday; signed by Allan Farmer and his father Arthur Farmer.

31 March 1943 – Application for Aircrew; aged 20 years and 8 months; height now recorded as 5 ft 9 inches, weight 10 st; medium complexion, hazel eyes, light brown hair; 6/6 vision; home address Balmain, Sydney; single; education at Balmain Commercial School, gaining 2nd year Certificate in 1936 Examination (Subjects passed were English, Business Principles, Book-keeping, Shorthand, Maths I and II, Geography and History; sports ice hockey and swimming; civil occupation Warehouse Assistant; previous in Militia 05/11/1941 to 13 Sept 1942, and AIF 14 Sept 1942 to current in "A" Company, 30th Aus Inf Btn; Medical category A3B A1B; Methodist; application also signed by father Arthur Farmer on 08 April 1943.

27 April 1943 – Posted to Reception Section of 5 ED, to 01 May 1943

01 May 1943 – Enlisted in the RAAF at 4 Recruiting Centre (4 RC), Perth, Western Australia, for the duration of the war and 12 months thereafter (a similar form dated 27 April 1943 for Citizen Air Force)
01 May 1943 – Classified as AC 2 on enlistment
01 May 1943 – Mustered as Aircrew V
01 May 1943 – Posted to 4 RD, Busselton, Western Australia
01 May 1943 – Commenced No. 224 Recruit Drill Course to 28 May 1943, Passed

18 May 1943 – Official Identity Card issued at 4 RD

18 June 1943 – Posted to 5 Initial Training School (5 ITS), Clontarf, WA

10 August 1943 – Remustered as Aircrew V (G)
14 August 1943 – Promoted to LAC
19 August 1943 – Posted to 1 Wireless & Air Gunnery School (! WAGS), Ballarat, Victoria

15 November 1943 – Posted to 3 Bombing & Air Gunnery School (3 BAGS), West Sale, Victoria, commenced No. 39 Course

09 December 1943 – Passed No 39 Air Gunners Course
09 December 1943 – Awarded Air Gunners Badge
09 December 1943 – Promoted to (T) Sergeant
09 December 1943 – Remustered as Air Gunner

10 December 1943 – Posted to 2 ED, Bradfield Park, Sydney NSW

27 January 1944 – Embarked from Australia for the UK
12 March 1944 – Disembarked in the UK

12 March 1944 – Posted to 11 PDRC, Brighton (also listed as 13 or 14 March)

03 April 1944 – Posted to 27 OTU, Lichfield (also listed as 04 April)

09 June 1944 – promoted to (T) Flight Sergeant at 27 OTU

23 June 1944 – Posted to 41 Base, Acaster Malbis and 1652 CU Marston Moor

04 September 1944 – Posted to 462 Squadron, Driffield
17 September 1944 – commenced Air Ops from this date, see details in later section
03 October 1944 – Commenced leave, to 09 Oct 1944

23 October 1944 – Posted as Missing
24 October 1944 – Posted to War Casualty Acc. Dept.

Service Conduct Sheet – "Certified No Entry"
General Conduct Sheet – "Certified No Entry" at all postings
Qualified for Service Medals – War Medal 1939/45; France & Germany Star; Defence Medal; 1939-45 Star

08 November 1944 – Reported as "Missing in Air Ops, Essen, Germany" as of 23 October 1944

06 September 1945 – Previously Missing, now reported "Killed in Air Ops, near Aachen, Germany" as of 23 October 1944.

No Casualty File, however official notifications were most likely similar to those sent to Nelder's next of kin.

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Ops by Crew 28 at Driffield, Yorkshire – Extracted from 462 Squadron RAAF Operational Record Book (Forms 541, Detail of work carried out, and Forms 540, Summary of Events).
Pilot Nelder flew a total of 9 Ops, his first Op as a 2nd Pilot on 10 September 1944 with Crew 22, Pilot Wilson, followed by 8 Ops with his usual crew. The six usual crew members all had 8 Ops from 17 September 1944 with Pilot Nelder, no substitutions.
They flew together as a crew in Halifax NA521 Z5-H for seven Ops. Austin's crew photo was marked as the "The crew of Popeye H-Howe", no doubt because at the time of the photo all of their flights had been in Z5-H. However on their last fatal flight, they flew in LL599 Z5-E.

10 September 1944 – Op 1; Nelder as 2nd Pilot with Captain F/O Paul Dean Wilson 417687 RAAF and Crew 22, in Halifax III MZ341; up at 1438 and down at 1851; Bombed primary target from 10,000 ft at 1707 hours; Photographic report shows A.P. (Aiming Point); one of 16 squadron aircraft for bombing attack on target Le Havre; all attacked and returned safely; the attack was reported as highly successful.

17 September 1944 – Op 2; Nelder & crew in Halifax III NA521 Z5-H; up at 0702 and down at 1031; Bombed primary target from 9,000 ft at 0851 hours; Photographic report of Target Area (T/A); one of 13 squadron aircraft for bombing attack on target Bolougne (sic, Boulogne?); 12 attacked the target, one returned early with engine problems, and all returned safely to Base; the attack appeared to have been well carried out, and bombing reported as well concentrated, and results were good.

23 or 24 September 1944 – Op 3; Nelder & crew in Halifax III NA521 Z5-H; up at 1857 and down at 0022. Bombed primary target from 17,500 ft at 2130 hours; Photographic report of cloud only; one of 14 squadron aircraft for bombing attack on target Neuss (Ruhr Valley); all attacked and ten returned safely to Base, and four landed away – Jackson at Manston with engine trouble; Byrom with hydraulics trouble at Stradishall and Sanderson with engine trouble at Stradishall; and Robertson at Sudbury overshot the runway. (Date conflict between ORB Form 540 and Forms 541, one listed as 23 September and the F541 as 24 September.)

25 September 1944 – Op 4; Nelder & crew in Halifax III NA521 Z5-H; up at 0649 and down at 1025. Abortive OET. Orbited once then heard Master Bomber give "London" from 0824 to Abandon. 4 x 1000 bombs jettisoned safe from 5000 ft at 0838 hours; one of 14 squadron aircraft for bombing attack on target Calais; Due to 10/10th cloud cover, and cloud base below 2,000 ft, all abandoned mission and returned safely, 13 returned to Base, and Taylor landed away at Bovington with unserviceable engine.

30 September 1944 – Op 5; Nelder & crew in Halifax III NA521 Z5-H; up at 0938 and down at 1413; heard Master Bomber; bombed alternative target of Essen at 9/10th cloud cover but with good visual from 18,500 ft; 3 bombs hung up and jettisoned in sea; Photographic report of cloud and small patches of ground detail unplotted; one of 14 squadron aircraft airborne for bombing attack on target Bootrop (sic, Bottrop); due to weather conditions over primary target area with 10/10th cloud cover, Master Bomber gave "Sourgrapes" and all attacked alternative targets as ordered; attack was "not a great success"; all returned safely, six aircraft damaged by Flak.

14 October 1944 – Op 6; Nelder & crew in Halifax III NA521 Z5-H; up at 0635 and down at 1148. Bombed primary target from 20,000 ft at 0909 hours; Photographic report – centre was 2,300 yds NNW of Aiming Point; one of 14 squadron aircraft airborne for bombing attack on target Duisburg; all attacked the target and returned safely to Base, with four aircraft damaged by Flak; target was "well pranged but results difficult to observe" owing to cloud and smoke over target area.

15 October 1944 – Op 7; Nelder & crew in Halifax III NA521 Z5-H; all departed shortly after midnight o the night of 15 October, up at 0014 and down at 0611. Bombed primary target from 19,000 ft at 0326 hours; Photographic report – Faint ground detail unplotted TIS and Fires; one of 13 squadron aircraft airborne for bombing attack on target Duisburg; weather perfect 11 aircraft returned safely to base after successful raid; one missing but emergency call received (Cookson and crew later reported safe in Belgium), Cockerill landed at Woodbridge with flak damage (Pilot injured and Rear Gunner baled out over England).

21 October 1944 – Op 8; Nelder & crew in Halifax III NA521 Z5-H; up at 1608 and down at 1835; Aborted and Recalled; 17 aircraft detailed for bombing attack on Hanover, nine cancelled just before take off; mission was cancelled just after set course; proceeded to sea and jettisoned bombs.

23 October 1944 – Op 9; Nelder & crew in Halifax III LL599 Z5-E; up at 1643; Failed to return; reported Missing; one of 16 squadron aircraft airborne for bombing attack on target Essen; 11 attacked target, 2 returned early (one with oil system failure and one with No 1 tank unserviceable), 2 had bombs hung up over target; 13 returned safely to base, with one landing away (Cuttriss at Woodbridge) and one missing (Nelder); 10/10 cloud over target; bombing results not visible.

Halifax III LL599 Z5-E was carrying 1 x 2,000 lbs H.C. bombs, 7 x 1,000 lbs S.A.P. bombs, and 3 x 500 lbs G.P. bombs, and 7,000 rounds of .303 ammunition. It also carried 1,678 gallons of fuel which allowed for about six and a half hours flying time.
It was also carrying the following equipment – IFF (Identification Friend or Foe), and Navigational Aids GEE.

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Aircraft Loss File

Apparent collision between Halifax LL599 (Nelder) and Lancaster LM691 (Hamilton) – both missing from same Op; wreckage and casualties recovered from same area.

 

Crew of Lancaster III LM 691 of 625 Squadron
Pilot: S/Ldr C W C Hamilton 88647, Sole Survivor
F/Eng: Sgt V Stringer, 1874823
Bomb Aimer: F/O J P M Brady, 423280 RAAF (body identified by Bomb Aimer John Grace)
Navigator: F/O G Laing 152788
W/OP: F/Sgt H Martin 183447
MU/AG: Sgt I L Murdock 1896046
R/AG : Sgt J C Durham 1592562

Correspondence indicates that there was some confusion regarding the number of deceased and their Squadron.

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