Flying Officer Brian Dudley BURNELL 

Service No: 415757
Born: Claremont WA, 23 February 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 1 February 1942
Unit: No. 460 Squadron, RAF Binbrook, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations: (No. 460 Squadron Lancaster aircraft JB598), Belgium, 26 March 1944, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Hotton War Cemetery, Belgium
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Norman Leslie and Florence Burnell, of Claremont, Western Australia; husband of Pansy Winifred Burnell of Forest Gate Essex.
Roll of Honour: Perth WA
Remembered: Panel 107, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Date: 26-27 March 1944
Target: Essen
Total Force: Dispatched – 705, Attacking – 677
RAAF Force: No. 460 Dispatched – 24, Attacking – 24; No. 463 – 15, 14; No. 466 – 15, 14; No. 467 – 16, 16
Tons of Bombs Dropped: 2,834
Total Aircraft Lost: 9
RAAF Aircraft Lost: No. 460 – 1

On 26th-27th March two nights after the last of the raids on Berlin, Bomber Command went back in force to Essen for the first time in eight months.

Australians engaged on their second tour of operations found conditions very unlike the bitter nights of a year previously for the notable Ruhr gun defences were strangely silent. Searchlights were still there in abundance but were blanketed by cloud, while enemy fighters had been drawn off by an attack an hour earlier on Courtrai and appeared over Essen only when the bombers were withdrawing. Ground markers laid by means of Oboe could be seen through the clouds while sky markers purposely offset towards the east were provided both as a navigation aid to the bombers and as a lure for German gun fire. Most crews considered this an astonishingly easy trip and unhurriedly dropped their bombs in the centre of Essen. Extensive repairs had been made to Krupps but at least twenty-four large buildings in the works received new or additional damage.

Extracts from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 659-60

Lancaster JB598 took off from RAF Binbrook at 2012 hours on the night of 26 March 1944, detailed to attack Essen Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. It was established post war that the aircraft crashed at Weistervenn, which is approximately 6 kms west of St Vith, Belgium, and all the crew members had been killed.

The crew members of JB598 were:

Sergeant Thomas William Bailey (2220975) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Richard Bernard Bestwick (151751) (RAFVR) (Bomb Aimer)
Flying Officer Brian Dudley Burnell (415757) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Roy Harry Knight (1395508) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant Eric Albert Milliner (1197021) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Henry Pole (1648307) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Richard Desmond Taylor (1385234) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/6/457


Firkins, P. C. (Peter Charles) (441386) Strike and Return, Westward Ho Publishing City Beach WA, 1985

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