Flying Officer Frederick Michael SPAFFORD DFC DFM

Service No: 407380
Born: Adelaide SA, 16 June 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 September 1940
Unit: No. 617 Squadron (RAF), RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM), 24 April 1942, (Citation Title: No. 50 Squadron (RAF))
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 28 May 1943 (Citation Title: No. 617 Squadron (RAF))
Died: Air Operations (No. 617 Squadron Lancaster aircraft EE144), Germany, 16 September 1943, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Reichswald Forest War Cemetery, Kleve, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James Bourke Spafford and Vida Muriel Spafford.
Roll of Honour: Unley SA
Remembered: Panel 130, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

DFM Citation: “Sergeant Spafford was posted to No 50 Squadron with effect from 24th April 1942. This Air Gunner re-mustered on the Squadron to Air Bomber, and he has consistently justified his selection for the position. He has now completed 15 operational sorties and on all these operations, this Sergeant has by his keenness, efficiency and enthusiasm, has materially assisted in the successful conclusion of their task. He has directed his pilot onto the target so successfully that at Saarbrucken, Bremen, Frankfurt and Munich, his photographs have proved the success of the attacks. Sergt Spafford is always cheerfully efficient and has set a very fine example to all the other Air Bombers in the Squadron and it is considered that he is well worthy of immediate recognition. I strongly recommend that he is granted an immediate award of the DFM. “The remarks by the Station Commander were: “This recommendation is strongly recommended. As the outstanding results achieved by Flying Officer Calvert’s crew, of which he is a member, are undoubtedly largely due to the skill and determination of Sergeant Spafford as Bomb Aimer.”

DFC Citation: “Joint Citation for the Dam Busters raid on the Moehne, Eder and Scorpe Dams in
Germany on the night of 16th May 1943, with the award of the DSO to Acting Flight Lieutenant D J Shannon (1), and Pilot Officer L G Knight (2), a bar to the DFC of Acting Flight Lieutenant J F Leggo (3), the DFC to Flight Lieutenant R C Hay (4) to Pilot Officer C L Howard (5) and Pilot Officer F M Spafford DFM and the DFM to Flight Sergeant T D Simpson (6). On the night of 16th May 1943, a force of Lancaster bombers was detailed to attack the Moehne, Eder and Scorpe dams in Germany. The operation was one of great difficulty and hazard, demanding a great degree of skill and courage and close cooperation between the crews of the aircraft engaged. Nevertheless a telling blow was struck at the enemy by the successful breaching of the Moehne and Eder dams. This outstanding success reflects the greatest credit on the efforts of the following personnel who participated in the operation in various capacities as members of aircraft crews. (London Gazette 28/5/1943 P2361)

(1) Squadron David John Shannon DSO DFC & Bar (407729) was discharged from the RAAF on 15 December 1945.
(2) Flight Lieutenant Leslie Gordon Knight DSO MID (401449) was killed on air operations on 16 September 1943.
(3) Flight Lieutenant Jack Frederick Leggo DFC & Bar (402367) was discharged from the RAAF on 10 December 1945.
(4) Flight Lieutenant Robert Claude Hay DFC & Bar (407074) was killed in air operations on 13 February 1944.
(5) Flight Lieutenant Cecil Lancelot Howard DFC (406248) was discharged from the RAAF on 19 March 1945.
(6) Flying Officer Thomas Drayton Simpson DFC DFM (408076) was discharged from the RAAF on 28 March 1945.

On the 15 September 1943, Lancaster EE144 took off from RAF Coningsby at 2356 hours, tasked to bomb the Dortmund-Ems Kanal near Ladbergen, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it failed to return to base. EE144 when over Holland was struck by light anti-aircraft fire. The aircraft was at the time the leading aircraft in the formation and was flying at a height of about 200 feet. The aircraft was on fire after it was hit, and it swerved violently to port and then came down at an angle of 35 degrees to crash at Altendorf, Germany. All on board were killed.

The crew members of EE144 were:

Flying Officer George Andrew Deering DFC (J/17245) (RCAF) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Squadron Leader George Walton Holden DSO DFC and Bar MID (103484) (RAFVR) (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Robert Edward George Hutchison DFC and Bar (120854) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Thomas Alfred Meikle DFM (52913) (RAF) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Dennis John Dean Powell MID (644741) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Flying Officer Henry James Pringle DFC (118900) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Frederick Michael Spafford DFC DFM (407380) (Air Bomber)
Flight Lieutenant Torger Harlo Taerum DFC (J/16688) (RCAF) (Navigator)

Pilot Officer Spafford was on the crew of Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson VC DSO & Bar DFC & Bar (39438) (RAF) in Lancaster ED932 for the attack on the Mohne Dam, Germany, on 16/17 May 1943 during Operation Chastise (the Dambusters’ Raid). Flying Officer Deering, Flight Lieutenant Hutchinson and Flight Lieutenant Taerum were also members of this crew.


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, 166/38/279

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