Flight Sergeant Maxwell John COLEMAN

Service No: 429178
Born: Wingham NSW, 16 July 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 October 1942
Unit: No. 463 Squadron, RAF Station Waddington, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 463 Squadron Lancaster aircraft NG234), Germany, 13 February 1945, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Berlin 1939-1945 War Cemetery, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frederick William and Florence Ellen Coleman, of Port Hacking, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Lane Cove NSW
Remembered: Panel 109, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

While transport targets and civilian resistance were being systematically ground away at Berlin, Harris on 13th-14th February turned the main fury of his Lancaster bombers against Dresden, a city on the Elbe never before rated as a major target but important now because it was an administration and communication base for German armies on the southern part of the Eastern front. The attack took place in two waves. No. 5 Group (including 15 of No . 463 and 17 of No . 467) attacked first with 244 aircraft while Nos. 1 and 3 Groups later in the night hit even harder with 529 Lancasters (24 of No. 460) against an already burning city. A combined total of 2,650 tons of bombs and incendiaries laid waste whole sections of the city, fires spreading among timbered buildings at a rate which defied the efforts of the air-raid wardens. Casualties were very high among the civilian population, thousands being trapped in cellar s and suffocated in the heart of raging fires, while many more died when caught in the open by the dreadful hail of bombs in the second attack while they were attempting to flee the city after the terrors of the first. Nor did this agony end with dawn, as the USAAF on 14th February sent 310 Fortresses to shower another 750 tons of bombs through the vast pall of smoke still rising to 15,000 feet above Dresden. In the general devastation factories, stores and all types of rail facilities were virtually blotted out. Public opinion in neutral countries was very critical of this series of raids against a city teeming with homeless refugees and having only skeleton ground defences or disaster organisations. Even many aircrew members commented on the essential difference between Dresden and (say) Essen as area targets. In the face of these criticisms both Bomber Command and the USAAF took some pains to justify the attacks on the grounds that the Russians had requested neutralisation of the communications centres which had a vital if only temporary significance in their current advance into Germany.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Page 420

Lancaster NG234 took off from RAF Waddington at 1733 hours on the night of 13 February 1945 to Bomb Dresden, Germany. The bomb load was 1 x 4000 lb (pound) (1,800 kg), 1500 x 4 lb (2 kg) incendiaries. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Fifteen aircraft from the Squadron took part in the raid and one of these NG234 failed to return. The mission was participating in Operation Thunderclap in support of the Russian Army.

The crew members of NG234 were:

Flight Sergeant Maxwell John Coleman (429178) (Wireless Operator Air)
Flying Officer Norman Charles Fernley-Stott (429281) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant James Johnson (1573913) (RAFVR) (Mid Upper Gunner)
Sergeant Richard Marriott (1593487) (RAFVR) (Flight Engineer)
Pilot Officer Terence Bellew McManus (424791) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Arthur Millington White (437705) (Rear Gunner) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 14 January 1946
Flight Sergeant Bruce Thomas Talbot Wilson (432348) (Bomb Aimer)

In a later report Flight Sergeant White stated “Aircraft was hit by flak and exploded immediately and on fire. No orders given. Injured on face and back with slight cuts and burns. Saw no others bale out. All in Aircraft as far as I know. I was thrown out at 18,000 feet. .Pulled ripcord and came down in Dresden. Didn’t see crash. Liberated by Americans 29 April 1945.”


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, 166/8/869

Book Now Book Now