Air Crew Europe Star : Flight Sergeant J A Nicholson, 158 Squadron, RAF

Place Europe: Germany
Accession Number REL49820.002
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Bronze
Maker Unknown
Place made United Kingdom: England
Date made 1946
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Air Crew Europe Star, impressed on reverse with recipient's name.

History / Summary

James Arthur Nicholson was born in Queanbeyan, NSW, on 11 June 1924 and was living in Ainslie, ACT when he enlisted on 10 October 1942. He trained at Narrandra, NSW before embarking for service in the UK in July 1943. He received further training in the UK before being appointed an air gunner and assigned to 158 Squadron on 19 March 1944 with the rank of flight sergeant. At this time 158 Squadron were operating Handley Page Halifax Ills; Nicholson was the rear gunner.

His crew were flying LW724, radio call sign NP-S, during the air attack on Nuremberg on the night of 30/31 March 1944. Their plane was shot down by a German aircraft and crashed near Herborn-Seelbach. FO Shanahan bailed out and was taken prisoner of war in Germany; he was the only crew member to escape the burning plane; the rest of the crew were killed. It was less then two weeks since Nicholson had joined the squadron.

The burning wreckage came down near a wood on the southern edge of the village of Herbornseelback where the local residents recovered the bodies and buried them at the local cemetery. After the war they were re-interred at Hannover British Military Cemetery.

This night, Bomber Command suffered their worst losses of the entire war, with 95 bombers lost (64 Lancasters and 31 Halifaxes) out of an overall force of 795. Due to high cross winds over the target most bombers bombed too far to the east; Nuremberg was hardly affected. German air defence was strong and the British bombers had to fight their way from the Belgian border; the attacks lasted an hour and 82 of the 95 bombers lost came from these attacks.