Flying Officer James Austin HAKEWILL

Service No: 417747
Born: Mildura VIC, 10 April 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 9 July 1942 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 455 Squadron, RAF Dallachy, Moray
Died: Air Operations (No. 455 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft NV438), Norway, 5 December 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frank Ridgway Hakewill and Marguerite Leigh Hakewill, of Mildura, Victoria, Australia. Served with A.I.F. in Middle East, 1941-1942
Roll of Honour: Mildura VIC
Remembered: Panel 257, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

After nearly a month of negative patrols and immediately after a period of five days during which no flying at all was possible No. 455 scored a brilliant success on 5th December. Thirteen RAAF Beaufighters with five of No. 489 Squadron (RNZAF) were sent out. Flight Lieutenant Whishaw (1) acted as outrider and reached the Norwegian coast 10 minutes ahead of the main formation. He saw several ships in Nordgulen but considered their position unsuitable for attack. Later he reported shipping in Orsten Fiord and Squadron Leader J. M. Pilcher (2) led an immediate attack which scored 36 rocket hits on a vessel of 2,500 tons which was left blazing fiercely. A smaller vessel was also attacked in Selevik; both ships were confirmed sunk by Intelligence sources. It was not, however, a bloodless victory as the Beaufighter piloted by Flying Officer Hakewill was shot down in flames during the attack and another piloted by Pilot Officer Winter (3) was hit in the starboard engine by a shell. With all instruments out of action Winter coaxed his aircraft to within 40 miles of the Shetland Isles when he was forced to alight on the sea and take to a dinghy; he was rescued three hours later by an air-sea rescue launch. A third aircraft developed engine trouble during the return flight and crash-landed at Sumburgh.

(1) Flight Lieutenant David Whishaw DFC (408290) was discharged from the RAAF on 5 September 1945.
(2) Squadron Leader John Milton Pilcher DFC & Bar (40288) was discharged from the RAAF on 25 February 1946.
(3) Pilot Officer Arthur Edmund Winter (425997) was killed on air operations on 10 January 1945.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Over Europe 1944-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1963 – Pages 375-6

Beaufighter NV438 took off from RAF Dallachy at 1212 hours on 5 December 1944 to carry out an anti ship patrol from Ytteroene to Molde at a height of 3,000 feet. A number of motor vessels observed in Orstenfjord were attacked and a smaller motor vessel in Selbervik was also attacked. Heavy accurate anti-aircraft fire was experienced from all the ships and from land batteries in the locality. NV 438 was hit and its starboard wing disintegrated, and the aircraft dived in flames into the sea.

The crew members of NV438 were:

Flying Officer James Austin Hakewill (417747) (Pilot)
Pilot Officer Frederick Gordon Sides (419347) (Navigator Wireless)


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, 166/17/883


Gordon, I. (Ian) Strike and Strike Again: 455 Squadron 1944-5, Banner Books Belconnen ACT 2616, 1995
Lawson, John Horwood Wightman (251634) The Story of No. 455 Squadron (RAAF), Wilke and Company, Melbourne VIC, 1951

Book Now Book Now