This page is dedicated in honour of William James Allan
William James Allan
Sgt William James Allan RAAF –
Sgt William James Allan RAAF lost his life on the infamous Nuremburg raid of 30th/31st March 1944 when Lancaster ME624 AS-
William Allan was born on 10th June 1921 at Yarrawonga, Victoria to James Harold Allan, a Land Agent and valuer and wife Linda Rosalind Allan (nee Collard). He attended the State School, Ashburton between 1932 and 1934, then De La Salle College in Malvern, leaving in 1936 to study the wool business – classing, sorting, warehousing etc. at Melbourne Technical College for two years, then undertaking a year’s militia training in the Australian Artillery. His application to join the RAAF was made on 21st December 1940. He listed football, cricket and tennis amongst his hobbies.
Prior to his posting to RAF Kirmington with 166 Squadron on 21st December 1943 William Allan had had short spells of operational duty at RAF Waltham and RAF Kelstern. Whilst at 625 Squadron he had flown on one operation in the crew of F/Sgt Jim Ives. Information recently discovered suggests that Allan had a stronger connection with the Ives crew than was previously apparent.
F/Sgt Allan arrived at Kelstern on 15th October 1943 following a spell at 1662CU and a short attachment at RAF Lindholme from 12th August. He already had operational experience having come to 1 Group operations via 27OTU, 1662CU, arriving at 100 Squadron with his crew on 30th May 1943.
Crews arriving at RAF Waltham around this time were captained by Sgt Harris, Sgt Goulevitch (later posted to 460 Sqn), Sgt L Wright (crew Robertson, McCloud, Hodges,McKean, O’Dea etc), Sgt Clark (Ron Clark, captain of Phantom of the Ruhr?) Sgt Boughton (Missing 16th June) and P/O Harvey.
Allan arrived with the crew of Welshman Sgt Clifford Harris, f/e Sgt Jack Jennings, nav F/Sgt Ronald McClure RAAF, b/a F/O William Leddiman, w/op, a/g Sgt Percy Arch, m/u Sgt Frederick Campbell RCAF, r/g Sgt William Allan RAAF. The crew’s first operation was on 11/12th June against Dusseldorf in ED555, HW-
The town of Bochum was the target on the following night 12th/13th June when the squadron ORB recorded that Sgt Harris’s r/g opened fire on a Me210. Harris returned early on 14th/15th June raid on Oberhausen with the rear turret u/s. On 16th/17th June the crew successfully bombed green ground markers at Cologne.
The period from the beginning of June was typically busy for 100 Squadron, with further operations following Cologne against Krefeld on the 21st, 22nd Mulheim, 25th Gelsenkirchen, 28th Cologne, followed by two more ops against Cologne on 3rd and 8th July and Gelsenkirchen on the 9th. From 21st June for the rest of the month William Allan did not fly any operations with Sgt Steer and subsequently Sgt Harry Moran taking his place in the rear turret.
On the operation on 9th/10th July, Allan, now a F/Sgt, flew with W/O Templeman-
Returning from the raid against Hamburg on 29th/30th July Sgt Harris landed at RAF Blyton at 03.42. It is conceivable that Harris sought out his former rear gunner before returning to Waltham. Having operated on 2nd/3rd August, Harris’s crew did not appear on the battle order until 9th/10th August.
Meanwhile at RAF Blyton William Allan fell foul of the authorities again for what appears to have been a prank fuelled by alcohol. F/Sgt Allan received a severe reprimand for being in possession of two clocks taken from the Sun & Anchor pub at Scotter on 4th August (had Harris’s crew arranged to meet up with Allan for a reunion?)
The clocks incident signalled a cause for concern – it was deemed necessary to bring William Allan back into line. In May 1943 questions had been asked in the House of Commons about the punitive nature of the Aircrew Refresher Course where aircrew exhibiting ‘carelessness’ or ‘disobedience’ or ‘tendencies in those directions’ (Mr H Balfour, Hon Sec for Air), were sent for a period of re-
The course featured a tough physical regime of drill, fitness runs, PT, shooting and unarmed combat as well as lectures on airmanship, law, discipline and admin. Personal hygiene was a concern at RAF Norton where infestations of lice, dental and oral health problems were apparently common. While he was there Allan spent two periods in the Station Sick Quarters between 25th and 31st August, and again from 3rd September to 9th. To his credit he ‘passed’ the course with a score of 64% enabling him to return to aircrew duties at 1662CU on 17th September.
While Allan was in SSQ at RAF Norton W/O Clifford Harris’s crew were posted missing on 30/31st August 1943 operation to Moenchengladbach. EE181, HW-
F/Sgt Allan enjoyed a period of leave between 27th September and 3rd October, which coincided with Ives’s navigator James Goodrick’s leave and could indicate a link with the Ives crew. From records recently released it is apparent that F/Sgt Allan joined Jim’s crew at RAF Blyton during their time at 1662CU, he may well have flown with them on their ‘bulls-
The Ives crew’s next flying was on 7th October when they were recalled from their ‘bulls-
In giving evidence as a witness at F/Sgt Allan’s Court Martial on 3rd December both Jim Ives and W/O David Johnson confirmed that William Allan was already a member of their crew when they arrived at RAF Kelstern on 15th October 1943.
Jim flew his ‘second dickie’ operation with Cyril Kroemer and crew on the evening of 18th October, arriving back at Kelstern at about 22.35 hrs. The next day saw F/Sgt Allan heading for trouble yet again.
Paraphrasing William Allan’s own statement:-
After duty on 19th October (Tuesday), F/Sgt Allan went to Grimsby to meet friends, intending to return to Kelstern on the workers’ bus which left Grimsby around 7.30 the following morning. The friends had a number of drinks together – they may well have been 100 Squadron aircrew with whom Allan had served previously –
The unfortunate F/Sgt decided to go to the railway station from where he knew RAF transport to Kelstern normally left, but there was none. Realising that he would not get back to Kelstern in time for operations and ‘in a mood of despondency’ and resignation Allan decided to stay in Louth and went to the pictures. He stayed in Louth that evening and overnight with friends and returned to RAF Kelstern at about eight o’clock in the morning of Thursday 21st October.
While F/Sgt Allan was over-
Jim next saw William Allan at 08.30 the following morning when he arrived back at their hut on No 5 billeting site. Ives and Allan ‘had a conversation’ with Allan outlining his difficulties in getting transport back to base, that he had abandoned all hope of getting back the previous day and that he was back now. Jim told him that they had flown with a substitute and suggested that Allan should report to their Flight Commander Sq/Ldr Canham (which he did) as the errant a/g had acknowledged that there was likely to be some trouble over the matter.
Jim Ives testified that F/Sgt Allan had not been present for the 09.00 aircrew parade and during the morning of 20th he had searched for Allan in the Sgt’s mess and in their hut but couldn’t find him. Also making an observation when questioned by the Court ‘it is possible not always to be able to find members of your crew when you want them’ . The briefing for that evening’s operation had taken place at 15.00hrs and Allan had not been present, at 17.30 the crew took-
The Court Martial established that each member of the Ives crew had been present at parades on preceding days as F/Sgt Allan’s defence seemed to hinge on whether he had been aware of the order that all aircrew were expected to attend the morning aircrew parade. The normal procedure taken by the Flight Commanders was a roll-
W/O David Johnson backed up his skipper, confirming that the whole crew had been present in the crew-
F/Lt J L Spiller took statements from the S/Ldr Canham, F/Sgt Ives, W/O Johnson and F/Sgt Allan on 26th October, Allan refused to sign his first statement –
The events of 20th/21st October1943 did not reflect well on the Ives crew and their captain F/Sgt J K Ives. Unfortunately the absence of F/Sgt Allan, who had not long been with the crew, coincided with the early return from the Leipzig sortie with F/Sgt Goodrick suffering anoxia. F/Sgt Allan only flew operationally with the crew once more, to Dusseldorf on 3rd/4th November. While awaiting his Court Martial Allan had been under open arrest for 41 days(a person is considered to be in custody and their movements are restricted, but they are allowed to go about their normal daily business).
By 3rd December the crew had had two early returns out of their four operational starts but one of the crew had a questionable disciplinary record, another possibly had a question-
Thanks to special petitioning by Flight Commander Jack Canham, William Allan was reduced to the rank of Sgt and accordingly did not lose his air-
On the Nuremburg operation of 30th/31st March 1944 RAF Bomber Command suffered its heaviest losses of the war when 95 out of a main force effort of 795 bombers failed to return to England. Lancaster ME624 was shot down by a night-
The bodies of five of the crew were buried in Giessen Cemetery with some confusion as to the fate of the seventh crew member, leaving the families of those airmen not positively identified in a state of uncertainty for several years. F/Sgt William Allan’s body was one of those identified by his identity discs, as was pilot Roy Fennell.
Another witness reported that as well as five bodies, a severed hand had been found in the wreckage and buried with the remains of the others. An ex-
Nachtjagd War Diaries lists two losses of four-
424 Squadron HalifaxLV879 crashed approx. 6km NE of Giessen (at Alten-
William Allan’s remains were carefully exhumed from Giessen Cemetery along with those of his crew-
Sgt Allan’s character references were invariably ‘very good’ except for the entry upon posting away from RAF Kelstern on 21st December when, despite having been reduced in rank, his character was still assessed as ‘good’.
Operational aircrew were under extreme psychological pressures. William Allan had already undertaken half-