Pilot Officer John SYME

Service No: 416725
Born: North Adelaide SA, 18 September 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 16 August 1941
Unit: No. 630 Squadron (RAF), RAF East Kirkby, Lincolnshire
Died: Air Operations (No. 630 Squadron Lancaster aircraft ED920), Germany, 4 December 1943, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James Maxwell and Amy Philcox Syme, of Adelaide, South Australia. Plantation Manager, New Guinea.
Roll of Honour: Unley Park SA
Remembered: Panel 191, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 131, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

At 0031 hours on 4 December 1943 Lancaster ED920 took off from RAF Station East Kirby to attack Leipzig, Germany. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take off and it did not return to base. Following post war enquiries and investigations, it was established that at 0400 hours on 4 December 1943, a burning four engine aircraft was observed circling the village of Volgfelde in an apparent attempt to crash land in a nearby field. It suddenly plunged to the ground and crashed 2/300 metres south west of the village. There was a large explosion and it was assumed that it had its bomb load on board. The aircraft burnt fiercely for two hours.

The crew members of ED 920 were:

Sergeant D Cattley (1024452) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) PoW
Flying Officer John Christopher Doherty (135751) (RAFVR) (Air Bomber)
Sergeant James Heron (1047013) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant Eric Hubbert (1682045) (RAFVR) (Navigator)
Sergeant George Leggott (571682) (RAF) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Kenneth Swinchatt (1699713) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer John Syme (416725) (Pilot)

Sergeant Cattley later stated “after being hit from an underneath attack and the plane almost out of control, the skipper gave the order to jump. Whilst proceeding to the rear escape exit, an explosion occurred which blew me out. Whilst descending by chute, I saw the aircraft hit the ground in flames.”


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, 166/38/355

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