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Rear Gunner – Flight Sergeant Maxwell James Hibberd, 435342, RAAF Service History

This information has been extracted from M.J.Hibberd’s RAAF Service File (original 1946 version) and May 1979 FOI copy (which contains some transcription errors), MJH’s RAAF Casualty File (some dates differ by one day between records), Log Book, Pay Books, 462 Squadron ORBs “Form 540 Summary of Events” and “Form 541 Detail of Work Carried Out”, personal documents & mementos kept by MJH, family letters, and interviews with former RAAF associates. (Comments & corrections in italics.)

Name: Maxwell James Hibberd
Date of Birth: 6 March 1925
Service Number: 435342

This Service History starts with MJH as an ATC Cadet and follows with his enlistment in the RAAF and training as Air Gunner in Australia, embarkation to the UK, training in the UK, posting to 462 Squadron in 100 Group, Missing in Action in Germany, ex-PoW in UK, repatriation to Australia and demobilisation, and Honours & Awards. Details of the time in Germany as a PoW during April and May of 1945 may be read on the F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd PoW Experiences page.

Unless noted otherwise, please refer also to the M.J.Hibberd Photos page for photos mentioned in the following text.

20/08/42     Joined the ATC (Air Training Corps) as Cadet 21115 with No. 3 Wing, 53 Squadron, in Brisbane. (Photo of Cadet M.J.Hibberd)

23/01/43          Application for Aircrew.

03/02/43          Aircrew Medical Examination and X-Ray.

06/03/43          ATC  enrolment terminated to volunteer for the RAAF.

22/04/43          Enlisted for the duration of the War, and a period of 12 months thereafter, age 18 years and 1 month, height 5’9½” (176.5cm), and weight 136 lb (9st 10lb, 61.7kg)
22/04/43          Mustering – Aircrew V on enlistment.
22/04/43          Classification – AC2 (Air Craftman 2) on enlistment. (Photo of AC2 M.J.Hibberd)
22/04/43          Posting – No. 2 I.T.S. Bradfield Park, Sydney, NSW (Initial Training School).

14/06/43          Mustering – Aircrew V (G).                                                   

19/06/43          Promotion to LAC (Leading Air Craftman).

22/06/43          Posting – No. 3 WAGS Maryborough, Queensland (Wireless & Air Gunnery School) Course Number 40. Training with ‘Wackett’ Aircraft. (Photo of LAC M.J.Hibberd)

25/06/43          Qualified for Air Crew.

12/12/43          Posting – No. 1 ED Ransford (Embarkation Depot).

07/01/44          Posting – No. 1 AGS West Sale, Vic. (Air Gunnery School) Course Number 41. Training with ‘Anson’ aircraft.

24/01/44          In Anson 792, Pilot Sgt Hilyard departing at 1300 hours, during a flight of 1 hour 40 minutes, the Drogue was lost. (Photo of LAC M.J.Hibberd with pipe, was taken after this flight – ref R.B.Hetherington)

03/02/44          Re-classification to Air Gunner V.
Proficiency Assessment as Gunner – “Has reached the required standard” (signature of signing Officer not decipherable).
Certification of Qualification signed by F/O McTavish, O.C. 41 Gunnery Course, Air Gunnery School, West Sale with effect from 4 February 1944.
Total hours on Graduation 16 hours 25 minutes daylight flying, log book signed by the Officer Commanding B Flight, a F/Lt. (signature of signing Officer not decipherable).
03/02/44          Received Air Gunnery Badge, Course 41.
03/02/44          Promotion to Sergeant.

04/02/44          Posting to No. 2 E.D. Bradfield Park, Sydney, NSW (Embarkation Depot). (Photo of Sgt M.J.Hibberd and Sgts Harris, Hetherington and Wilson at Luna Park, Sydney.)

28/02/44          Departed No. 2 E.D. Bradfield Park, & transported by Troop Train to Brisbane, Queensland. (Ref: detailed diary kept by R.B.Hetherington, & the diary pages covering the period from 28/02/44 to 19/05/44.)
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01/03/44          Attachment to RAF, UK (to 28/07/45)
01/03/44          Wednesday evening, Brisbane, Queensland – boarded the ship "USAT Sea Corporal", along with Sgts R.B.Hetherington, A.L.Harris & G.R.Wilson.

02/03/44          Thursday morning – embarked from Brisbane for the USA across the Pacific Ocean.

06/03/44          Monday – celebrated 19th birthday at sea.

17/03/44          Friday – arrived in San Francisco Bay. Disembarked, & transported by Ferry to Fort McDowell, Angel Island (next to Alcatraz Island). 6 hours leave in San Francisco.

19/03/44          Sunday – transported by cargo ship to Oakland on Sunday. Boarded Troop Train to travel across the USA to New York.

24/03/44          Friday – arrived at Fort Shanks Army Camp, New York.

26/03/44          Sunday to Wed 29/03/45 – 4 days leave in New York City.

30/03/44          Thursday – boarded ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth’.

31/03/44          Friday – embarked USA bound for the UK.

06/04/44          Thursday – arrival at Gourock, Scotland in the Firth of Clyde.
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07/04/44          Good Friday – disembarked the “Queen Elizabeth”, and transferred by Ferry to board a Troop Train. Transported by Troop Train through Greenock, then Glasgow, and then to Brighton, Sussex, on the south coast of England.
07/04/44          Posting – No. 11 PDRC, Brighton (Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre).

08/04/44          Easter Saturday – arrived at Brighton UK. Billeted at the Grand Hotel on the 7th Floor. (Photo of Sgts M.J.Hibberd & R.B.Hetherington in Brighton on the Hetherington page)

26/04/44          Wednesday – Disembarkation Leave with R.B.Hetherington, transported by train to London, and then on to Carlisle in the Lakes District.

03/05/44          Wednesday – arrival at Warrington, and then by bus to RAF Base Padgate – Intake no. 317 – for kitting out and awaiting future posting.

06/06/44          Posting – No. 27 OTU, Lichfield (Operational Training Unit) based at Church Broughton Airbase, Derby. Crew of 6 formed for training with Wellington Bombers. Pilot A.D.J.Ball (Alf), Navigator N.V.Evans (Neil), Wireless Operator R.R.Taylor (Ron), Bomb Aimer M.Frank (Murray), Mid Upper Gunner J.M.Tait (Johnny), and Rear Gunner M.J.Hibberd (Max). Assigned to ‘A’ Flight for June/July, and ‘B’ Flight for July/August. (Photos on 27 OTU page.)

18/06/44          RAF Identity Card No. 288372 issued, rank of Sgt – RAF Form 1250 (R). Personal description – build – Med; eye colour – Lt Gray; hair colour – Brown; height – 71” (= 5’11” = 180.3cm, growth of 1.5” or 3.8cm since enlistment on 22/04/43.)        

21/06/44          Log book certified that MJH had received instruction in & fully understood the following Crew Drills: – 1. Parachute Drill, 2. Dinghy Drill, 3. Crash Landing Drill.

19/07/44          Log book for 8 hours 25 minutes daylight flying time during June & July in ‘A’ Flight at 27 OTU signed by F/O E.Piper(?) for O.C. ‘A’ Flight. (Actual hours for this log book page add up to 9 hours & 5 minutes, so log book is short by 40 minutes. Neither MJH, nor by the signing Officer had noticed this.)

01/08/44          Log book for July 1944 for ‘B’ Flight, 27 OTU signed by S/L Henderson (?) O.C. ‘B’ Flight. Totals now 38 hours & 5 minutes daylight flying, and 7 hours 45 night flying (not including the shortfall of 40 minutes daylight flying from first page of log book.)

03/08/44          Promotion to Flight Sergeant.

12/08/44          ‘Nickel Raid” – First sortie over enemy territory dropping Propaganda Leaflets. Departed 22:10, flight of 6 hours 10 minutes, in Wellington Mk III ‘BB-T’, recorded “Light Flak”, landed on 13/08/44 at 4:20am.

16/08/44          Log book for August 1944 for ‘B’ Flight, 27 OTU and Summary for whole of 27 OTU posting signed by F/Lt Burkhardt (?) O.C. ‘B’ Flight. Totals now 38 hours 5 minutes daylight flying, and 39 hours 15 minutes night flying. (not including the shortfall of 40 minutes daylight flying from first page of log book. The last three August flights were also incorrectly recorded as being July dates, but apparently not noticed by either MJH or the F/Lt.)

17/08/44          Gunnery Record: Air to Air Firing 14 Exercises, with 2800 rounds; Air to Ground Firing 14 Exercises with 5200 rounds; 25 yards range 600 rounds; Cine Gun Exercises x 10, Spotlight Trainer x 6. Signed by the Senior Gunnery Leader, a Flight Lieutenant of 27 OTU (signature not decipherable).
17/08/44          Proficiency Assessment as Gunner – “Average” signed by the Senior Gunnery Leader, a Flight Lieutenant of 27 OTU (same F/Lt as for Gunnery Record)

25/08/44          Posting – No. 41 Base, Acaster Malbis, Yorkshire, UK.

16/09/44          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. Anecdotal evidence is that the photo of F/Sgt MJH and Sgt Lucky Jones was taken at the Earl Haig Statue in Edinburgh sometime in late 1944, at the same time as the King visited the city. On the 15/09/44 MJH withdrew £9.10.00 at Acaster Malbis, more than usual, so possibly for use while he was on leave. When in Edinburgh, he and Sgt Lucky Jones had been disappointed that they were unable to visit inside Edinburgh Castle. They did however visit Glamis village, the location of Glamis Castle, the main home of the Queen's own Family, the Bowes-Lyons. The village folk all spoke fondly of the Queen and her Family, and how easily they mixed with the locals. While in Edinburgh, MJH felt he was very privileged to meet King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. That meeting was at a Leave Centre where a group of Servicemen were all relaxed one happy social evening when a staff member dashed in saying “Hurry up and tidy yourselves up because the King & Queen are calling in”. MJH had quite a long conversation with King George VI and was very impressed with what the King remembered about Gatton College in south-east Queensland. The King and Queen had visited the College as Duke and Duchess of York in 1927, some 17 years before. MJH had been a student at Gatton College for 2 years prior to enlisting in the RAAF, and returned there to complete his studies after the War. The group of Airmen had been disappointed that Princess Elizabeth was not with the King & Queen, but she was on official duties elsewhere. If anyone can provide an exact date of when the King and Queen visited a Servicemen's Leave Centre in Edinburgh in late 1944, please make contact.)

18/10/44          Last flight in log book for October 1944. Month total of 3 hours 45 minutes daylight flying, signed but not dated by F/O Morris(?) of ‘A’ Flight, 1652 HCU. Cumulative total of 41 hours 50 minutes daylight flying, and 39 hours 15 minutes night flying.

27/10/44          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.)

07/11/44          Posting – No. 74 Base, 1652 HCU Marston Moor, Yorkshire, UK (Heavy Conversion Unit). Flight Engineer F.Brookes (Fred) joins to form a Crew of 7. Training in Halifax II and V Bombers in October, and Halifax III Bombers for December 1944, January & February 1945. Assigned to ‘A’ Flight throughout this posting. Aircraft code GV for Halifax III Bombers. (Photos on 1652 HCU page)

21/11/44          Provisional Driver’s Licence 40903 valid for 12 months from 21 Nov 1944 to 20 Nov 1945, issued by the County Council of West Riding, Yorkshire, under the name of Mr Maxwell James Hibberd of 2 Sgt’s Mess, RAF Stn, Marston Moor, York.
A small car was jointly purchased with Mid Upper Gunner Johnny Tait during their posting to 1652 HCU, Marston Moor. (Refer photo of car in snow at 1652 HCU page.)

28/12/44          Last flight in log book for December 1944. Month total of 5 hours 35 minutes daylight flying, signed but not dated by F/O Morris(?) of ‘A’ Flight, 1652 HCU. Cumulative total of 47 hours 25 minutes daylight flying, and 39 hours 15 minutes night flying.

30/01/45          Last flight in log book for January 1945. Month total of 17 hours 55 minutes daylight flying, and 4 hours 30 minutes night flying, signed but not dated by F/O Morris(?) of ‘A’ Flight, 1652 HCU. Cumulative total of 83 hours 15 minutes daylight flying, and 46 hours 10 minutes night flying. (Errors in addition give incorrect cumulative totals.)

10/02/45          Acted as Best Man (age 19 years & 11 months) at wedding of older brother Flying Officer Noel Victor Hibberd RAAF 425653 (age 22 years & 1.5 months) to Muriel Bertha Allen at Saint Michael’s Church of England, Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK. Noel was a RAAF Pilot no longer on flying duties. He had previously flown Sterling Bombers, then Lancaster Bombers with RAF 218 Squadron, No. 3 Group, at Woolfox Lodge Airbase, Stamford, Lincolnshire, UK. (Photo of wedding on M.J.Hibberd photos page, and 2 photos on N.V.Hibberd page.)

13/02/45          Last flight in log book for February 1945. Month total of 9 hours 35 minutes night flying, and Summary for whole of 1652 HCU posting signed but not dated by F/O Morris (?) of ‘A’ Flight, 1652 HCU. Cumulative total of 83 hours 15 minutes daylight flying, and 55 hours 45 minutes night flying. (Errors in addition give incorrect cumulative totals.)
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16/02/45          Posting to 462 Squadron RAAF, 100 Group, Bomber Command, based at Foulsham, Norfolk, UK. This was the same date of posting as other members of the Crew, who were assigned to ‘B’ Flight for this First Tour of Duty. 462 Squadron was a Special Duties Squadron carrying out Radio Counter Measures, flying in Halifax III Bombers modified for carrying special equipment. Special Duties Officers were assigned to each operational flight to form a Crew of 8, and in some instances a crew of 9. The Special Duties Operator for this crew’s last 2 operations was German-speaking Flying Officer John Heggarty. (Photos on 462 Squadron page.)

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 40 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 – A 435342 2. Surname – HIBBERD
2. Christian Names – MAXWELL JAMES
3. Substantive Rank – FLIGHT SGT Date – 4/8/44
4. Acting Rank – (blank) Date – (blank)
5. Decorations – (blank) Date – (blank)
6. Type of Service – AIRCREW
7. Aircrew Category (in full) – REAR GUNNER
8. Types of Aircraft Flown – ANSON, WELLINGTON, HALIFAX
9. Courses Attended – AIRCREW TRAINING FOR A.G.
10. Date of Birth – 6 / 3 /25
11. If Married – (blank) Date – (blank)
12. Next of Kin a) Relationship – FATHER
13. Additional Person to be Informed a) Relationship BROTHER
b) Full Name NOEL VICTOR HIBBERD (NO. AUS425653)
15. Religion – C OF E
16 Medical Category – (blank)

March and April 1945 – Actual Log Book entries and actual Squadron ORB information, extracted from monthly reports using “Form 540 Summary of Events” and “Form 541 Detail of Work Carried Out”. Information has been transcribed as originally recorded with all spelling and other errors. (Comments & corrections in italics.)

03/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – Weather was fine but still cold, with excellent flying conditions. During the afternoon ONE training cross country flight was carried out by P/O A.D.Ball. This flight was also the first training flight for the A.B.C. Special Duty Operators, and the first time that A.B.C. aircraft had flown in this Squadron.
04/03/45          Log Book – Halifax III Z5-S, Pilot F/O Ball, Day cross country training exercise. Flight time of 4 hours 25 minutes. (This log book entry appears to be incorrectly dated, and should probably be 03/03/45, assuming the above ORB entry was correct.)
04/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – A clear sunny day but the weather deteriorated rapidly towards dusk, with night operations cancelled before takeoff. (No training flights mentioned for this day which supports the theory that the log book entry for 04/03/45 is incorrect, and should have been 03/03/45).

05/03/45          Log Book – Halifax III Z5-V, Pilot F/O Ball, Day cross country training exercise. Flight time of 25 minutes.
05/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – Fine weather again, but by 1700 hours, there was rain and low cloud. (No comments in relation to this crew.)

06/03/45          Log Book – Halifax III Z5-S, Pilot F/O Ball, Day cross country training exercise. Flight time of 3 hours 5 minutes.
06/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – Fine weather again. Two training cross country flights were carried out by new crews: – those of P/O T.I.Paltridge and P/O A.D.Ball.

08/03/45          Log Book – Halifax III Z5-V, Pilot F/O Ball, Night cross country training exercise. Flight time of 3 hours.
08/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540(No comments in relation to this crew.)

09/03/45          Log Book – Halifax III Z5-M, Pilot F/O Ball, Day cross country training exercise. Flight time of 2 hours 10 minutes.
09/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – A sunny day with absolutely clear sky until late afternoon. (No comments in relation to this crew.)

10/03/45          Log Book – Ops No 1 – Halifax III Z5-P, Pilot F/O Ball, Munster, “Spoof” Special Duties. Engine Failure. Returned. Flight time 4 hours and 5 minutes. (Incomplete Op not counted in Tour of Duty).
10/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – Weather was fine but overcast. Four crews were required for operations on the Munster area, TWO of which were new crews briefed for their first operation. One of the new crews (Captain – P/O A.D.Ball) aircraft MZ.341 “P”/462 returned early with engine trouble. The remainder completed a successful sortie. MZ467 “C”/462 (Captain – Sqn/Ldr L.G.Scharer) was in combat with an enemy fighter aircraft. No claim was made.
10/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 541 – Halifax MZ341; up 1805, down 2212; Returned early, Engine Trouble; SDO F/Sgt G.Fink RAAF 435339. A total of 4 Crews from 462 Sqdn flew that night on the same Special Duty Flights to the Munster area on a Spoof raid. Window was released and Incendiaries dropped in that area by the other 3 crews. Loading for all was 4 x 750lb bombs, & 4 x 250lb Incdy Clusters. (Current spelling of Munster is Münster.)

13/03/45          Log Book – Ops No 1 – Halifax III Z5-N, Pilot F/O Ball, Frankfurt, Special Duties. Saw 2 fighters. No Flak. Quiet Trip. Flight time 5 hours 50 minutes.
13/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – Another clear and sunny day. Eleven aircraft were required for Operations. One of these was our first serviceable “Airborne Cigar” and Carpet Jammer aircraft. 11 aircraft were airborne by 1800 hours and with exception of 2 that encountered fighters, and one damaged by flak, all completed a successful sortie, Aircraft RG.384 “M”/462 (Captain – P/0 T.I.Paltridge) was forced to land at Juvencourt (sic) airfield, at 2200 hours owing to Flak damage. The Flight Engineer (Sgt Welsh C.G.) was killed and the Navigator & Wireless Operator were slightly injured due to enemy action and detained in hospital. No further details are to hand.
13/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 541 – Halifax MZ913; up 1755, down 2345; SDO F/Sgt J.F.Wall RAAF 432918. Special Duty Flight to Frankfurt on a Spoof raid. Window was released, T.Is and Incendiaries dropped in that area. Loading: – 2 x 250lb T.Is, 4 x 750lb Incdy Clusters, & 1 x 500lb Incdy Cluster. A total of 11 Crews from 462 Squadron were similarly tasked & loaded. During the sortie, 1 crew (Pilot P/O T.I.Paltridge) had their starboard wing and engine damaged by Flak and the Flight Engineer (Sgt C.G.Welsh) killed. The Aircraft crash landed at Juvencourt (sic) air field, & the Navigator (F/Lt K.J.Shanahan) & Wireless Operator (F/Sgt K.J.Dennis) injured. (Juvincourt airfield, northern France)

14/03/45          Log Book – Ops No 2 – Halifax III Z5-N, Pilot F/O Ball, Weisbaden (sic), Special Duties. Fighter Decoy. No Fighter. Good Trip. Flight time 6 hours and 5 minutes. (Current spelling is Wiesbaden, near Frankfurt.)
14/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – A clear day and night. Eight aircraft were required for operations and were airborne by 1800 hours. They completed an uneventful sortie to Weisbaden (sic) carrying a maximum Bomb load.
14/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 541 – Halifax MZ913; up at 1731, down at 2335; SDO F/Sgt J.F.Wall RAAF 432918. Special Duty Flight to Weisbaden (sic) on a Spoof raid. Window was released, Bombs and Incendiaries dropped in that area. Loading: – 2 x No. 15 Incdy Clusters, 1 x No. 14 Incdy Cluster, & 4 x 500lb G.P. Bombs Mk. IV. A total of 8 Crews from 462 Squadron were similarly tasked & loaded.

16/03/45          Log Book – Ops No 3 – Halifax III Z5-V, Pilot F/O Ball, Hanua (probably Hanau?), Special Duties with Special Operator. Severe Icing. Landed Away.  Flight time 7 hours 45 minutes.
16/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – The serviceability had dropped considerably today, and only four aircraft were available for operations. Four crews were briefed, but MZ308 “S”/462 (Captain – F/O M.R.Marchant) was a non-starter owing to a magneto drop in the inner starboard engine. On the return journey NA240 “V”/462 (Captain – P/O A.D.Ball) landed at Watton aerodrome after having been off course, and PN442 “H”/462 (captain – F/S Sharp, G.C.) was diverted to Woodbridge landing field, as his brakes were unserviceable.
16/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 541 – Halifax NA240; up at 1829, down at 0200 Watton; SDO F/O L.Pugh RAF 165109, & SDO F/Sgt S.E.Tills RAAF 17596. Special Duty Flight to Hanua (sic) on a Spoof raid. Window was released, and Incendiaries dropped in that area. Loading: – 5 x No. 14 Incdy Clusters. A total of 3 Crews from 462 Squadron were similarly tasked & loaded, however one of the other aircraft piloted by F/L Ted McGindle carried additional incendiaries.

22/03/45          Log Book – Halifax III Z5-B2, Pilot F/O Ball, Fighter Affiliation – night training exercise. Flight time 1 hour 25 minutes.
22/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – Only four aircraft were required for Operations on this night, and all were airborne by 2000 hours, and completed a successful Window Operation in the Ruhr area. Two aircraft each carried out a double Fighter Affiliation detail during the day, and F/O Bailey and crew were brought back from Manston Airfield.

24/03/45          Log Book – Ops No 4 – Halifax III Z5-S, Pilot F/O Ball, Köln (= Cologne), Special Duties with Special Operator. Spoof. No Flak. Fighter FW190 Attacked & Followed. Fired 800 Rounds & Claimed Hits. Evasive Action carried out. Flight time 5 hours and 10 minutes.
24/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – No. 100 Group was the only Group operating on that night, and five of the crews were provided from this Squadron, TWO of these were new crews on their first operational flight, a short trip to the RUHR area providing a valuable experience for new crews. All completed a successful sortie. MZ.308 “S”/462 – (Captain P/O Ball, A.D.) when in the OPLADEN area was attacked by an Enemy fighter aircraft, which was identified by the rear-gunner as a FW.190. The enemy fighter closed in to 400 yards to attack, and the rear-gunner opened fire, hits were observed in the neighbourhood of the engine, and the FW.190 is claimed as damaged.
24/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 541 – Halifax MZ308; up at 1847, down at 2357; SDO F/Sgt R.G.Irminger RAAF 437308, & SDO F/O J.Heggarty RAF (VR) 179888. Special Duty Flight to the Ruhr area on a Spoof raid. Window was released in that area. A total of 5 Crews from 462 Squadron were similarly tasked.

26/03/45          Log Book – Halifax III Z5-P, Pilot F/O Ball, Day cross country training exercise. Flight time 2 hours and 25 minutes.
26/03/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – A maximum fighter affiliation programme was arranged, but owing to rapid deterioration in the weather, the detail was later cancelled. One cross country flight was flown during the afternoon by a crew that had returned a poor navigational effort, during an operational sortie. (Refers to this crew’s Op No 3 on 16/03/45, landing at Watton.)

03/04/45          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. Anecdotal evidence is that MJH was in London and dancing at the Trocadero on the night before he was shot down. Ref: L.Lazarides, dec.)

10/04/45          Log Book – Ops No 5 – Halifax III Z5-V, Pilot F/O Ball, Special Duties Operation Leipzig. Baled Out.
10/04/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – TEN aircraft were required for operations, THREE for RADAR COUNTER MEASURES, and the remainder for a Feint WINDOW attack. The WINDOW Force proceeded ahead of, and on the same track as the Main Force, branching off just before reaching LEIPZIG which was the Target for the Main Force. The object of this manoeuvre was to make the Enemy believe that BERLIN was the main Target, and raise the Enemy Fighters NORTH of BERLIN where they could be engage by our own Fighters, and to take the Enemy Fighters away from LEIPZIG while it was being attacked by the Main Force. TWO aircraft- NA.240 and PN.426 operated with No. 5 Group in the Main BOMBER Stream on RADAR COUNTER MEASURES. Unfortunately Aircraft NA.240 “V”/462 Captain – P/O A.D.Ball failed to return from this operation. Today’s report was received from the A.O.C. describing last night’s operation as one of the most successful that No. 100 Group had participated in. (Form 541clearly lists Plauem (sic) as the location for the Spoof raid by 462 Squadron aircraft, not Berlin. Assuming Plauem is actually meant to be Plauen, the above description of raising enemy fighters in Berlin does not appear to be correct. Plauen is ~ 100km SSW of Leipzig, whereas Berlin is ~ 150km north of Leipzig. However – perhaps aircraft from other Squadrons & Groups flew north.)
10/04/45          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.
Seven Aircraft were similarly tasked with a Special Duty flight to the PLAUEM (sic) area on a SPOOF raid. Window was released, BOMBS and INCENDIARIES dropped in that area. Loading: – 2 x 500lb G.P. Bombs, 1 x No.14 500lb Incdy Clusters, 2 x No.15 750lb Incdy Clusters. One Aircraft was tasked as a Protective Patrol to the PLAUEM (sic) area with the WINDOW Force. BOMBS were dropped in that area. Loading: – 2 x 500lb G.P. Bombs.  TWO aircraft were tasked as a Protective Patrol with the Main Force to Leipzig. Bombs were dropped in the Target area by one aircraft. Loading: – 2 x 500lb G.P. Bombs. (Assume Plauem should be Plauen.)
10/04/45          Departed at 1910 from Foulsham on Bomber Support (BS) Radio Counter Measure (RCM) duties in support of 5 Group Operations. 76 Lancasters and 19 Mosquitos of Bomber Command’s 5 Group and 8 Group attacked the Wahren railway yards, Leipzig. The eastern half of the yards was destroyed. 7 Lancaster Bombers were lost. 1 RCM Halifax was lost, that being Halifax III NA240 Z5-V of Ball and Crew. The Halifax had been fitted with ‘H2S’, ‘ABC’, ‘Piperack’, ‘Carpet’, ‘GEE’, and ‘Fishpond’ Radar Counter Measures devices, as well as the usual IFF. (Refer Z5-V Casualty file)

11/04/45          Sqdn ORB Form 540 – The crews of TWO of the A.B.C. Aircraft were briefed to accompany 5 Group with the Main Force and the remaining Crews for a Window mission to the PLOUEN (sic) area. When the crews were in the Aircraft read to take off, the Operation was cancelled. 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. (Assume Plouen should be Plauen.)

Log book entries for March and April 1945 signed by Fl/Lt B.K.Drinkwater for Flight Commander of ‘B’ Flight, and also by Wing Commander P.M.Paull, Commanding Officer of 462 Sqdn.
Cumulative total of 92 hours 45 minutes daylight flying, and 87 hours 25 minutes night flying. (Errors in addition give incorrect cumulative totals.)
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11/04/45          Reported missing with Aircraft NA240 Z5-V and all crew, air operation – Target Leipzig Germany – Rank Flight Sergeant.
11/04/45          Posted to W.C.A.D. (War Casualty Accounts Department).

12/04/45          PoW, Germany. PoW number (if any) not on record.
14/04/45          Telegram dated 13/04/45 informing that MJH was ‘Missing in Action’, received by his Father Max Henry Hibberd at home in Brookfield, via Brisbane.

Germany April & May 1945 – details of this period as a PoW may be read on the F/Sgt M.J.Hibberd PoW Experiences page.

10/04/45          Halifax III NA240 Z5-V was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed near Zaasch at about 10.00pm. MJH baled out and parachuted to the ground.

11/04/45          MJH awoke at dawn about 5:00 to 5:30am, hid in haystack for one day.
11/04/45          Due to his injuries, MJH sought help at farmhouse. He was arrested at about 2300 hrs and taken to Delitzsch.

13/04/45          MJH marched to Delitzsch aerodrome (Luftwaffe training airbase at Spröda?).

14/04/45          MJH marched to Colditz Castle Oflag IV-C, & stayed overnight.
14/04/45          Destruction of Oflag IV-C records starts on orders from German Hierarchy (refer Colditz Castle Archivist).

15/04/45          MJH marched from Colditz to Oschatz (HQ) for interrogation at Stalag IV-G over 3 days & nights. Heavy artillery fire from the advancing US Army could be heard by MJH as the PoW group departed Colditz.
15/04/45          Airfield at Spröda near Delitzsch dynamited by Germans to prevent its use by the approaching Allied Forces.

16/04/45          Liberation of Colditz Oflag IV-C by US Army.

16/04/45          MJH interrogated at Oschatz (HQ), Stalag IV-G.

17/04/45          MJH interrogated at Oschatz (HQ), Stalag IV-G.

18/04/45          MJH interrogated at Oschatz (HQ), Stalag IV-G.

18/04/45          US Army 9th Div., 2nd Infantry Div., arrives in Leipzig, staying until 30 July when the City was relinquished to the Russians.

19/04/45          MJH & POW group marched away from Oschatz (HQ), Stalag IV-G. From this day onwards, the German Guards marched MJH & the PoW group in various directions in the vicinity of the Elbe River in an attempt to avoid US Troops approaching from the west, and Russian Troops approaching from the east. MJH remained with the group as part of this multi-directional movement until about the 08/5/45. According to troop movement maps at the time, the remaining German Forces & PoWs would have been pushed towards the south.

21/04/45          Liberation of Delitzsch by US Army.

23/04/45          Liberation of Stalag IV-B at Mühlberg by Russians (near to Oschatz)

25/04/45          US and Russian Armies meet at Torgau on the Elbe River.

26/04/45          Oschatz surrenders to US Forces to prevent destruction of historical buildings.

08/05/45          or 09/05/45 – MJH and 5 others escaped from the main PoW Group and found US Troops, who informed them that the War was already over. (Location of this meeting, and the Identity of the Troops as yet unknown.)

??/05/45          Date and method of transport to Brussels as yet unknown, but sometime on or after 08/05/45, to arrive at Brussels by 10/05/45.

10/05/45          Known to be safe in Brussels (memento scarf autographed and dated 10/05/45).

11/05/45          Safe in Brussels, Belgium, (letter to Family, from Brussels, dated 11/05/45, postmarked 12/05/45).
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11/05/45          Flown to UK as part of Operation Exodus.
(Referring to "Footprints on the Sands of Time" by Oliver Clutton-Brock – from 03/04/45 to midnight 19/0545, the RAF & USAAF had flown some 300,000 x-POWs back from the continent, the greatest total in one day being 36,204 on 11 May. "RAF Ford (Sussex) – on 11 May 1945, 20 Lancasters of 576 Squadron deposited 480 repatriates on this airfield on the Sussex coast. A rare occurrence, it is presumed that the airfield was used on this occasion to deposit Commonwealth airmen as close as possible their own Personnel Reception centres located along the south coast. From Ford, the airmen were conveyed in open RAF tenders, through the Sussex Downs to the holding Centre in Brighton."
It is not yet definitely known by which Command MJH was flown to UK. However as he was one of the 36,204 flown on the 11 May, it is probable that he was one of the 480 flown by 576 Squadron to RAF Ford airfield, as his Service File records him
as "safe in UK” on 11 May and he was posted to 11 PDRC Brighton on 11 May.)
11/05/45          Reported safe in UK.
11/05/45          Posted to No 11 PDRC Brighton (Personnel Despatch & Reception Centre).

12/05/45          First Ex-PoW Interview regarding his PoW experience, Brighton, UK (printed questionnaire, with handwritten answers in spaces provided).

13/05/45          Issued with ‘ex-PoW Open Travel Ticket” by HQ, No 11 PDRC.

14/05/45          Telegram received by Father in Brookfield, via Brisbane, Australia advising that his son MJH was now safe in the UK.

15/05/45          As Repatriated ex-PoW at RAF Brighton, issued with a Ministry of Food Medical Certificate for extra rations due to his “suffering from Malnutrition”.

24/05/45          Letter of Application to join Caterpillar Club received by Irvin Parachutes Co.

28/05/45          Letter of acceptance from Irvin, to become member of Caterpillar Club.

02/06/45          Caterpillar Club Certificate and Badge issued (No. 10353 – MJH’s unique number in the Caterpillar Club).

15/06/45          Second Ex-PoW Interview regarding his PoW experience, UK (printed questionnaire, with handwritten answers in spaces provided).

27/06/45          11 PDRC Brighton – “Severely Reprimanded” by Wing Commander D.H.Smith. On 26/06/45, MJH had been paddling in the Brighton Fountain, without shoes and socks and with pants legs rolled up. The offence listed reads – quote … [W.O.A.S. When ordered to adjust his dress by F/Lt O.H.Lewis, was insolent to this Officer, in that he said: – “What business is it of yours?” and “What’s the odds?”].... unquote. ( This would be a typical Aussie reaction to unwanted and/or unwarranted authority! W.O.A.S. = While On Active Service )
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29/06/45          Embarked for Australia on ship “H.M.T.S. Andes”. Put into port at Wellington, New Zealand to disembark New Zealand Servicemen. (Anecdotal evidence is that the ship sailed from Liverpool, across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Panama Canal, to New Zealand, and thence to Sydney. This appears correct but has not yet been verified by any official record. See next para – new info.)

Notation 06 April 2021 – Information confirming the route of the British troopship "Andes" added, with thanks to James Oglethorpe (3 Squadron Association, website www.3squadron.org.au). From the Memoirs of 3 Squadron ex-PoW Tom WOOD – on 29 June 1945, from Brighton he went to Liverpool and boarded the "Andes" for repatriation to Australia, sailing via Panama Canal, to Wellington, New Zealand, to Sydney.
A series of photos of the "Andes" are available for online viewing on the Australian War Memorial website. Image 112247 shows the "Andes" moving through Sydney Heads on 28 July 1945, prior to tying up at Woolloomooloo Wharf. A further 13 photos of the "Andes", and RAAF personnel and ex-PoWs, taken by photographer Ernest Mervyn McQuillan (images 112248 to 112261) are also available. Three Army men had been taken on board in New Zealand. The ship carried about 2000 returning RAAF personnel, photographed on 28 and 29 July 1945, including at 2 Embarkation Depot. The photos have been examined closely for the presence of HIBBERD, without success. However as he was held back for interview, he would not have been with the main group at disembarkation.

28/07/45          Third Ex-PoW Interview with Investigating Officers before disembarking from the Ship 'Andes' in Sydney Aust. Verbal Statement transcribed to typed format. After the July 1945 interview in Sydney Australia, he was ordered not to talk about his experiences, nor of the fate of the rest of the crew.
28/07/45          Cessation of Attachment to RAF, UK which had commenced on 01/03/44.
28/07/45          Disembarked at Sydney.                                                        
28/07/45          Posted to No 2 PD (Personnel Depot) Sydney NSW.

03/08/45          Promotion to Warrant Officer.

27/08/45          Posted to No 3 BMU (Brisbane Medical Unit) Greenslopes, Brisbane, Queensland.
(initially listed as at No 3 MRU (Medical Rehabilitation Unit) but this was corrected by RAAF correspondence on 18/11/45).  Suffering from war wounds, MJH was an in-patient in Greenslopes Repatriation Hospital, Brisbane; and then a convalescent at The John Chandler Convalescent Home, Southport; and then an out-patient until discharge from the RAAF on 18/02/46, a total of 6.5 months under medical care.

28/08/45          Telegram from RAAF HQ to No 3 BMU, ordering that MJH be re-interviewed in hospital. They ordered a 'full expert interrogation" with instructions that MJH was not to mention allegations of the fate of the Crew to the Crew’s next-of-kin or others.

30/08/45          Fourth Ex-PoW Interview – written Statement by MJH, with covering letter attached from Interrogation Officer, also dated 30/08/45. MJH was again ordered not to speak further of his experiences. This order was never officially revoked.

27/11/45          Medical Board Summary Form RAAF P/M67 – Present Medical Category PMU (Permanently Medically Unfit) with 30% disability.

07/01/46          Warrant No. 8184 issued for the Rank of Warrant Officer, appointed from 03/08/45.

13/02/46          MJH signed Statutory Declaration claiming 23 days War Service leave due from his RAAF Service outside the mainland of Australia, having embarked Brisbane 01/03/44 & disembarked Sydney 28/7/45.

18/02/46          Posted to No 3 PD (Personnel Depot) Sandgate, Brisbane, Queensland, Demobilisation Wing.
18/02/46          MJH demobilised from the RAAF with the rank at discharge of Warrant Officer.

Feb. 1946         General Conduct Sheet – “Certified No Entry” for all Postings. (i.e. no offences).
Feb. 1946         Service Conduct Sheet for all Postings – one record only – “Severely Reprimanded” on 27/06/45 at 11 PDRC Brighton (listed previously)
Feb. 1946         After demobilization from the RAAF, and as a War Rehabilitation Student, MJH returned to Queensland Agricultural High School and College, Lawes, Gatton to complete his Diploma in Animal Husbandry.

05/03/46          RAAF Certificate of Service and Discharge
06/03/46          21st Birthday
07/03/46          Final Payment of Wages outstanding for RAAF War Service (122 Pounds 4 shillings and 1 penny).
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Honours and Awards
1939-45 Star
France and Germany Star
Defence Medal
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45

Returned from Active Service Badge

French Medal issued to all Allied Prisoners of War
International Medal issued to all Allied Prisoners of War
Peace Medal issued to all Australian WW2 Service Personnel
Australian Prisoners of War Medal

Caterpillar Club Badge (gold caterpillar with ruby eye) – Membership (No. 10353) and badge exclusively issued only to those whose life has been saved by Irvin Parachute. Badge engraved on reverse ‘Fl/Sgt M.J.Hibberd’.
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