Flying Officer 423256 William Frederick Harvey Rattle

622 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force

Killed in action on Tuesday, 13th June 1944, aged 29

Personal Information:
Son of William Frederick and Emily Alice Rattle. Husband of Jean Rattle of Bondi Junction, New South Wales, Australia.

Historical Information:
622 Squadron formed from C Flight of 15 Squadron at Mildenhall on 10 August 1943, equipped with Short Stirling Mk Ills and flew from Mildenhall all of its wartime service. It was immediately flying night raids against the Third Reich as part of No 3 Group. Over the New Year the squadron re-equipped with Avro Lancasters, and these were flown intensively through 1944 both in support of the invasion of Europe and in the continuing offensive against Germany’s industries and cities.

On 12 June 1944, 286 planes took off to bomb an oil plant at Gelsenkirchen, near Essen, Germany. Of these seventeen were not to return. Mildenhall’s 622 squadron provided seventeen Lancasters and one of these was LL812 ‘GI-Z’, piloted by P/O William Frederick Henry Rattle. The crew consisted of Navigator Sgt. Richard John William Moore (RAAF 424433), F/S Richard Paul Percival Holden (RAAF 429323), Air Bomber F/O Walter Richard Tanner (RAAF 424238), mid-gunner Irishman Sgt. Martin Dea (1798041), rear-gunner Sgt. Reginald Bramley (2220988) and Flight Engineer Sgt. Francis Michael Leaney (623992) who was an Australian in the RAF. This aircraft took off at 23:00 and was never heard from again. The plane crashed in the Netherlands sometime the following morning and all the crew are buried in the same grave.

The operational log book reports “Seventeen aircraft detailed to attack Gelsenkirchen. Dummy on stray T.I.s to SE of target seems to have caused some confusion in the early stages, but the greater part of the bombing seems to have been concentrated on the target and a successful attack developed. F/O W Rattle in ‘Z’ failed to return.” The following aircraft also took part in the raid: R5625 ‘B’, NE146/G ‘F’, LL812 ‘Z’, IM511 ‘C’, LL803 ‘G’, IM477 ‘L’, ED437 ‘D’, LL885 ‘J’, IM595 ‘O’, IM577 ‘E’, L7576 ‘K’, IM138 ‘N’, IM466 ‘P’, LL859 ‘Q’, W4248 ‘H’, W4158 ‘U’ and ED474 ‘S’.

At the site of the crash in the woods west of Oirschot (close to Eindhoven), a local history club has put up a sign to commemorate the seven people who died (photograph above). Many thanks go to Joop Hendrix for that photo, and also the one on the right of some very derelict remains of the aircraft which he found near the crash site. Many thanks also to Martin Carrack for some of the photographs.

Plot KK Coll grave 72, Eindhoven (Woensel) General Cemetery, Netherlands

Panel 230, International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln