Vernon Harold Minchin
From Our Contribution
King's Park memorial walk
|Date of Birth||26 Mar 1918|
|Place of Birth||Bickley, Western Australia|
|Death||29 Oct 1944|
|Place of Death||North Sea during a raid on Bergen Norway|
|Age at Enlistment||22 years, 11 months|
5'8" (1.73m) tall ; 168lbs|
76.203 kg; fair complexion ; blue eyes ; brown hair ; Appendix scar
|Address||Armadale, Western Australia|
|Next of Kin||Wife , Mrs. Dora Florence Minchin|
|Reg Number||W9118 & 436054|
|Date of Enlistment||6 Mar 1941 & 2 Nov 1942|
|Rank||Private & Flight Sergeant|
|Unit/Formation||16th Australian Infantry Battalion (Cameron Highlanders Regiment) & No. 50 Squadron RAF|
|1st Departure from Australia|
|Journey Dates||12 Dec 1943 ‒ 26 Jan 1944|
|Post War Details|
|Fate||Missing presumed KIA 29 Oct 1944|
Runnymede Memorial, England Panel 261 |
WA State War Memorial
|Australian War Memorial||Australian War Memorial|
1939-45 Star |
France & Germany Star
War Medal 1939-45
Australian Service Medal 1939-45
Vernon attended the Wagerup State School from Feb 1930 until Dec 1931 and then the Bunbury High School from Feb 1932 until Dec 1935. In November 1933 he was awarded the Junior Certificate of Education having passed English, Maths A, Maths B, Mechanical Drawing, Metal Work, Physics, Chemistry, Geography and History. He had failed French! In November 1935 he had passed the Leaving Certificate, with passes in English, Maths A, Maths B, Applied Maths, Geography, and Mechanical Drawing.
Vernon was a casual junior employee for the Western Australian Government Railways at their Dwellingup Mills operation from 30 Jul 1936 until 15 Aug 1936. He had also worked for the Forestry Department as a clerk, and prior to enlisting, Vernon was a Bank clerk with the Bank of NSW (Westpac).
Electoral Roll entries: 1943 Armadale, bank clerk
Enlisted in the CMF part time on 6 Mar 1941 and from 17 Jul until 30 Sep 1941 was in Melville Camp. He was called up full time from 11 Oct 1941; and served in HQ Company of 16th Australian Infantry Battalion (Cameron Highlanders Regiment) as a Signaler until 31 Oct 1942. From 28 Aug until 8 Sep 1942 he was a patient of the Main Dressing Station at the camp. On 10 Oct 1942 he was posted to the HQ 3 Aust Corps. Vernon was discharged from the Army on 31 Oct 1942 in order to enlist in the RAAF. He had married Dora T Kershaw on 31 Jan 1942 in West Perth.
Vernon entered the RAAF on 2 Nov 1942 in Perth. Five day's later he joined the No. 5 Initial Training School RAAF at Clontarf, and on graduation he was promoted to Leading Aircraftman and sent on 4 Feb 1943 to the No. 9 Elementary Flying Training School RAAF at Cunderdin. Not destined to be a pilot, on 25 May 1943 he joined the No. 1 Air Observers School RAAF at Cootamundra New South Wales, followed on 23 Aug 1943 by the No. 2 Bombing & Gunnery School RAAF at Port Pirie in South Australia. The next step in his training was at the No. 2 Air Navigation School RAAF at Nhill in Victoria from which he graduated on 11 Nov 1943, at which he was granted his Navigator's badge and promoted Temporary Sergeant. On 26 Nov 1943 he marched into the No. 2 Embarkation Depot RAAF at Bradfield Park in New South Wales to await a ship to the UK.
On arrival in the UK on 26 Jan 1944 he was sent to No. 11 Personnel Despatch & Receiving Centre RAAF. His next step was to attend the No. 1 (Observer) Advanced Flying Unit RAF from 28 Mar until 1 May 1944, and the next day to No. 16 Operational Training Unit RAF, with his course concluding on 18 Jul 1944. During this time, on 11 May 1944, his rank was upgraded to Temporary Flight Sergeant.
Vernon joined No. 50 Squadron RAF on 28 Sep 1944 flying in Avro Lancaster aircraft. Following the Allied invasion of France, the Germans had moved their U-boat operations to an expanded facility in Bergen, Norway. As a result in October 1944 the British carried out a bombing raid seeking to destroy the facilities. On the 29th October 1944 Vernon and his crew participated in a second raid, with 244 aircraft (237 Lancasters and 7 Mosquitos). Due to dense clouds only 47 dropped their bombs before the raid was aborted. Four hits were recorded to the U-boat pens without causing further damage. Bombing again became scattered and fell in the main town area killing a total of 52 civilians and two Germans. Three planes were lost on this second raid, Vernon's included. The second raid had been a failure, as had the first one, so another raid followed in January 1945 with slightly more success. Vernon's records included a notation that he was "Presumed dead by OHQ 29.10.44".
Son Brian Ernest was born on 25 Nov 1943.
It appears that he was working in the Armadale Branch of the Bank of NSW at the time of his original enlistment and early CMF service. Dora's address was c/- Post Office Wagin, so perhaps living with her family while he was overseas.