03/04.07.1942 460 Squadron, RAAF, Wellington IV Z1381, Flt.Sgt. Arthur M. Johnston
Operation: Bremen, Germany
Date: 3rd/4th July 1942 (Friday/Saturday)
Unit: 460 Squadron, RAAF
Type: Wellington IV
Serial No: Z1381
Location: Hoogstede (Ref 1), Germany
Base: RAF Breighton, Yorkshire, England.
Pilot: Flt.Sgt. Arthur Maxwell Johnston 404784 RAAF Age 27. Killed
2nd Pilot: Sgt. Darryl Downing 407709 RAAF Age 21. Killed
Observer: Sgt. Maxwell Joseph Andrew Wyllie, MiD 405001 RAAF Age 27. PoW * (3)
Wireless Op/Air Gunner: Sgt. David August Radke 405139 RAAF Age 23. PoW No 24980 * (1)
Wireless Op/Air Gunner: Sgt. William James Taylor 407775 RAAF Age 18. Killed
Air Gunner: Sgt. William Gerald Reed DCM 402479 RAAF Age 23. PoW No. 24979 /Escapee * (2)
* Stalag 344, Lamsdorf (now called Łambinowice) in Silesia.
REASON FOR LOSS:
Wellington IV Z1381 along with seventeen other Wellingtons from the Squadron departed RAF Breighton commencing at 23:16 hrs to bomb Bremen. Z1381 was one of two aircraft that failed to return from this mission.
Unteroffizier (Cpl.) Rudolf Frank from 1./NJG3 claimed Wellington IV Z1381 as his 6th victory in the early morning of the 3rd July 1942 at 02:13 hrs local some 20km SW of Vechta. (NachtJagd - Combat Archive - 30th May - 31st December 1942, The Early Years: Dr. Theo Boiten)
The second aircraft from the Squadron was:
Wellington IV, Z1470, UV:R. Crashed into the sea. Four of the crew perished after being trapped in the sinking wreckage. They are remembered on the Runnymede Memorial. Fg.Off. C.E. Lark 413409, RAAF survived but was badly injured.
Oberleutnant (1st.Lt.) Egmont Prinz zur Lippe-Weissenfeld from 5./NJG2 whilst flying Bf110 F-4 W.Nr.4620, claimed two aircraft in the early morning of the 3rd July 1942. The second of these, and his 32nd claim, was Wellington IV Z1470 at 01:09 hrs local. The aircraft crashed in the IJsselmeer, North of the island of Urk, The Netherlands. (NachtJagd - Combat Archive - 30th May - 31st December 1942, The Early Years: Dr. Theo Boiten)
(1) In his PoW report WO Radke described the circumstances of the aircraft loss:
“Near the Dutch border returning from the target while at about 13,000 feet, the FG (Front Gunner) reported "Two gun flashes in front and directly in line with us", and then almost immediately we received a hit on the port motor or nacelle. Pilot (AM Johnston) ordered me to open front turret my first attempt at which was unsuccessful. The plane was diving all the time, seemingly uncontrollable and unresponsive to movement of control column. Handed the pilot his 'chute turned to see the FG getting out of turret. Ordered by the Pilot to abandon which was done in this order from the port hatch: myself, front gunner, observer. 2nd pilot still by the main spar when observer left and the Pilot still at controls. About 9000 feet when I left. Aircraft still in dive and burning from port nacelle or wing. RG baled out independently. 2nd Skipper jumped too late (at about 50 ft) and Skipper was still at controls when crash occurred.”
WO Radke goes on to describe the fate of other members of the crew:
“Saw no 'chutes in the air. Made no contact until 5 hours after capture (5 am) with surviving members Sgt. M.J. Wyllie, Obs. RAAF and R. Gunner Sgt. W.G. Reed RAAF. Germans showed us the other three members personal kit and told us – Sgt. A.M. Johnston (Skipper) killed when plane crashed. Sgt. D. Dowling (2nd pilot) killed when 'chute failed at low altitude. Sgt. W. Taylor (F.G.) caught in H.T. wires while landing by parachute.”
WO Radke injured his left foot on landing and was captured near Rheine in Germany on the 3rd July 1942. He was initially held at Dulag Luft, Oberursel from the 4th July to 20th July 1942. Then at Stalag 8b (344), Lamsdorf from the 22nd July 1942 to 22nd January 1945. Then at Stalag 8a, Görlitz, Lower Silesia from the 8th February to 10th February 1945 and finally at Stalag 9a, Trutzhain in the territory of Ziegenhain. The camp was liberated by Gen. Patton’s 3rd Army on the 30th March 1945.
(2) In his PoW report WO Reed (promoted to Warrant Officer in captivity) described that the aircraft was shot down at 0235 hours over Rheine returning from the target at Bremen. He bailed out at about 8000 ft and suffered a dislocated shoulder when his parachute opened. He confirmed that Flt.Sgt. Johnston perished in the aircraft crash and was found in the aircraft wreckage, Sgt. Downing died when he bailed out at low height, his parachute was seen to be unopened, and Sgt. Taylor was killed after parachuting into high tension electricity cables.
Sgt. Reed, Sgt. Wyllie and Sgt. Radke were captured and initially taken to Dulag Luft Oberursel (Frankfurt am Maine) for interrogation. The three were then moved to Stalag VIIIb (Stalag 344), Lamsdorf, Upper Silesia. From here Flt.Sgt. Reed made numerous attempts to escape before finally succeeding on the 11th July 1944. A chronology of his escape attempts are described in the citation for his Distinguished Conduct Medal (Courtesy Fold3).
(3) After WO Reed’s second escape attempt he learned that Sgt. Wyllie had been shot and killed after he had been captured near Kraków on 22nd April 1943. Sgt. Derek Scott, 402147 RAAF who escaped with Sgt. Wyllie was a witness to the shooting; (See Affidavit). Although some anecdotal sources name the policeman who shot Sgt. Wyllie no corroborating evidence has been found to confirm his name and therefore has not been identified in this report.
The three that died in the aircraft crash were initially buried in the Neuer Friedhof at Lingen-Ems.
Flt.Sgt. Arthur Maxwell Johnston. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Plot 15 Row B Collective Grave 9-18. Born on the 9th March 1915 in Mt. Molloy, QLD, Australia. Son of John Michael and Annie Jane Johnston, of Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
Sgt. Darryl Downing. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Plot 15 Row B Collective Grave 9-18. Born on the 2nd March 1922 in Adelaide, SA, Australia, Son of Reginald Wilbert Pearce Downing and Pamela Downing, of Lameroo, South Australia.
Sgt. Maxwell Joseph Andrew Wyllie. Krakow British Military Cemetery, Poland, Plot 1 Row C, Grave 13. Born on the 10th November 1915 in Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Son of William Gerrard Wyllie and Ellen Wyllie, of New Farm, Queensland, Australia.
Sgt. William James Taylor. Reichswald Forest War Cemetery Plot 15 Row C Grave 14. Born on the 20th November 1914 in Port Pirie, SA, Australia. Son of Percival Howard Taylor and Ellen Elizabeth Taylor, of Richmond, South Australia.
Researched by Ralph Snape and Traugott Vitz for Aircrew Remembered and dedicated to the relatives of this crew. Thanks also to Traugott Vitz for his work on the ‘VitzArchive’.
1. Heimatverein Hoogstede e.V. (ed.), Hoogstede. Chronik eines Dorfes und seiner Ortsteile, Hoogstede 2009, p. 188f.