No one who flew as aircrew in RAF Bomber Command during the SecondWorld War could possibly have been unaware of the groundcrew who looked after
the plane that he flew in - "their" plane they used to consider it to be because, if anything, they took even more pride in "their" plane than did the aircrew who
normally flew in it,despite the fact that the aircrew always considered the plane they normally flew in to be the best plane in the flight. But as for those devoted
groundcrew...they always seemed to be out there, be it dawn or dusk, rain or shine, whenever we aircrew "went out at dispersal". No doubt the compelling
requirements of RAF Form 500 required this constant attention from the groundcrew to the plane, but they always seemed to put more than just the minimum into
their duties. We aircrew soon learned that we could rely on the groundcrew to keep us flying without mishap.
It therefore aroused considerable emotion in me recently when I was invited to write the foreword to this remarkable labour of devotion by a one-time member
of the groundcrew. This volume has been completed by Sergeant
John Watson, a one-time member of ground-crew (not of aircrew), who was a Fitter 11e in A flight, 460 Squadron (RAAF), from mid 1942 to the end of 1944 -
his unexpected role is therefore as remarkable as it is meritorious. As a result of his labours, John has been able to identify every single flight on operations made by
every single member of aircrew in the Squadron - an invaluable reference book for any future historian.
John's information is most carefully arranged and cross-indexed, so that it is easy to identify each member of aircrew, be he pilot or wireless operator, navigator
or rear gunner, and to follow his entire operational flying career in the squadron. I have put the book to the acid test : I have traced my own flying career in the
squadron, from May 1942 until we were shot down over Holland in January 1943, without any mistake. John's book confirms exactly the details of the crew and the
flight that we had made together as I had entered them into my own pilot's log book the morning after each operational sortie.
S/Ldr R B Osborn, DSO DFC,
One-time Flight Commander of A Flight,
460 Squadron (RAAF).
Objective - 460 Squadron (RAAF)- Pilots And Crews
The objective of this document is to set out the achievements of 460 Squadron (RAAF) in such a manner that future enquirers may be able to read and appreciate
what a courageous and worthy contribution was made by the aircrew of the Squadron, but at what a grievous cost in lives and suffering.
Over 3000 aircrew were posted to the Squadron and of these, 990 were killed in action, a great number were wounded, 193 were taken prisoner, 21 evaded
capture after being shot down, and a further 10 were interned after being forced to crash-land their damaged aircraft in neutral territory.
The Squadron was formed on 15th November 1941, and commenced bombing operations on 12th March 1942, flying 538 Wellington sorties from
Breighton,Yorkshire. It commenced conversion to four-engined bombers in October 1942 and re-commenced bombing, with Lancasters, in November 1942. It
moved to Binbrook, Lincolnshire in May 1943,and operated from there until hostilities ceased.
The Squadron completed 5709 Lancaster sorties over Europe, and dropped 24,232 tons of bombs, which figures exceeded those of any other Bomber
Command squadron. 460 Squadron personnel were awarded 363 ecorations.("Strike and Return" - Peter Firkins).
The groundcrew, which was augmented by more than an equal number of RAF Members, achieved and maintained the highest levels of service ability in Bomber
Command during the Squadron's period of continuous Active Duty.
Dates And Progressive Totals Of Lancaster Sorties
TOTAL 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 5700
| | | | | | |
MONTH N D|J F M A M J J A S O N D|J F M A M J J A S O N D|J F M A M
YEAR 1942| 1943 | 1944 | 1945
Even after allowing that it was a three flight Squadron for most of its Operational Service, it is obvious that only through inspiring leadership and the devotion of its
air and ground crews, could 460 Squadron (RAAF) have achieved such a meritorious Record Of Service in such splendid company as Bomber Command.