Squadron Leader Frederick John “Bunny” Austin DFC



Flight Lieutenant “Bunny Austin seen here while serving with No.211 Squadron


Role Pilot
Service No. 40168 RAFO
Awards DFC
Awarded 15.10.1943
Citation See below
Pilot Officer
Flying Officer 16.03.1940
Flight Lieutenant 07.03.1941
Acting Squadron Leader 01.06.1942
Squadron Leader
Known Movements (Middle East & Far East)
No.4 FTS
No.47 Squadron 14.11.1938
No.211 Squadron November 1940-September 1941
No.45 Squadron 17.09.1941 – 23.07.1942 (Temp C/O)
Known Movements (No.3 Group RAF Bomber Command)
No.1657 Con.Unit
No.149 Squadron w.e.f 24.03.1943
No.620 Squadron w.e.f 17.06.1943
No.218 Squadron w.e.f 02.08.1943
No.623 Squadron 10.08.1943
No.84 O.T.U 13.09.1943
No.12 O.T.U 25.09.1943

There can be just a handful of pilots who served on No.218 Squadron who operated in all three theatres of operations, and even fewer who survived, Frederick John Austin was one of them.  Frederick’s early operational career began in the Middle East with No.211 Squadron was more in the tactical / support role, a far cry from targets over the Ruhr Valley.  Flying the twin engine Bristol Blenheim Mk.I Frederick carried out a number of operations against Axis targets while operating from various bases in Palestine, Iraq and Egypt. During this period Frederick notched up an impressive list of operations and targets. With a posting to No.45 Squadron Frederick found himself departing the Middle East for the Far East, it was January 1942. The Japanese invasion of Burma had forced the British Army into a fighting retreat back towards India, the Blenheim’s crews of No.45 Squadron were almost immediately put to work trying to harass and slow up their remorseless Japanese advance.  Fredericks tenure in the region was short lived as he was wounded on March 23rd 1942 during a Japanese air raid. It would appear that the injury resulted in Frederick not flying again operationally for almost a year.   I have not manage to locate any further information on his career up until the point he arrived at No.1657 Con Unit, RAF Stradishall.  Why No.3 Group was chosen for his second tour is unclear, his experience on twin engine aircraft would have perhaps been better suited to No.2 Group. However regardless of the reason in early 1943 Frederick found himself operating the four engine Short Stirling with No.149 Squadron based at RAF Lakenheath, Suffolk commanded by Wing Commander  K Wasse DFC.  During his 2 month stay he commanded “C” Flight.  With the expansion of No.3 Group, No.149 Squadron was reduced to just two flights, the crews of  “C” Flight were transferred to RAF Chedburgh to form the nucleus of No.620 Squadron on June 17th 1943.  Initially the squadron was commanded by Squadron Leader Austin until the arrival of Wing Commander D H  Lee on the 19th.  Within a matter of days Squadron Leader Austin was posted off No.620 to No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron commanded by Wing Commander W G Oldbury. Here he was given command of “A” Flight after the departure of Squadron Leader Geoff Rothwell DFC on completion of his second tour.  Once again within a matter of a short few weeks Frederick was on the move again, albeit across the tarmac. On August 10th 1943, “C” Flight of No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron was hived off to form another Stirling squadron, No.623.  The very night of the squadrons formation Frederick lead  four crews to bomb Nuremburg. Once again Frederick assumed temporary command of the squadron until the arrival of Wing Commander J Little DFC on the 18th. Frederick completed a further 3 operations before his second tour was completed, sadly Wing Commander Little DFC Failed to Return from Berlin on August 31st.  

On the formation of No.623 Squadron, No.218 Squadron’s  “C” Flight was commanded by Squadron Leader Saunders who had held the post for over two months. Why Squadron Leader Saunders was not transferred to No.623 Squadron is unknown. Perhaps due to Squadron Leader Austin’s recent arrival and experience, he was chosen in Saunders place.  At this time  it is all conjecture.

The following attachments are taken via Air2 and record the recommendation of the DFC to Squadron leader Austin. The list of operations does not at the time of compilation include Squadron Leader Austin’s final two operations. Also of note is the operation to the docks at  St Nazaire on February 28th 1943. This operation flown with No.214 (FMS) Squadron nearly had fatal results (More details). Also of interest is that the recommendation for the DFC was put forward by Wing Commander Oldbury, officer commanding No.218 Squadron. Frederick survived the war and was granted a permanent commission as squadron leader in 1948.

IMG_5046 IMG_5047 IMG_5048 IMG_5049

The following list is taken via the squadron Operational Records Books AM Form 540/541.

No.149 (East India) Squadron.
Date Target Aircraft Comments
04.04.1943 Kiel BF505 OJ-U Bombed TI Markers
06.04.1943 Mining BF505 OJ-U Mines laids as ordered, parachute seen
10.04.1943 Frankfurt BF505 OJ-U Believed to be Frankfurt, 10/10 cloud
26.04.1943 Duisburg BF505 OJ-U Visbility clear no clouds bombed Green TI Markers
04.05.1943 Dortmund BF505 OJ-U Visbility clear no clouds   TI Markers in bomb sight
12.05.1943 Duisburg BF505 OJ-U Clear apart from industrial haze
13.05.1943 Bochum BF505 OJ-U Hazy but no cloud, bombed Green TI Markers
23.05.1943 Dortmund BF505 OJ-U Bombed on concentration of Green TI Markers
25.05.1943 Dusseldorf BF505 OJ-U 9/10 cloud DR run from Yellow TI Markers
11.06.1943 Dusseldorf BF505 OJ-U Thin cloud, bombed on Red TI Markers
No.620 Squadron
Date Target Aircraft Comments
19.06.1943 Le Creusot BF503 QS-U Target attacked.
21.06.1943 Krefeld BF503 QS-U Target attacked
24.06.1943 Wuppertal BF503 QS-U Target attacked. Wing Commander Lee 2nd pilot
No.218 (Gold Coast) Squadron
Date Target Aircraft Comments
30.06.1943 Remscheid EE909 HA-H Bombed from 17000ft in centre of TA Markers
No.623 Squadron
Date Target Aircraft Comments
10.08.1943 Nuremburg EH925 IC-C Attacked target from 16,000ft, completely covered by cloud
16.08.1943 Turin EH925 IC-C Slight light & heavy flak, weather hazy over target
27.08.1943 Nuremburg EH925 IC-C Returned early S/O u/s. 2nd pilot Sgt Fogaty RAFVR
30.08.1943 Gladbach EH925 IC-C No cloud, bombed on good concentration of TI’s.