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FEDDERSEN, Murray James (1924-1944)

FEDDERSEN, Murray James (1924-1944)

Of the 55,000 aircrew who failed to return or were missing in Bomber Command air operations during WWII, 3,486 were Australians. Murray James Feddersen was one of those RAAF airmen who failed to return.

Murray was born in Colac on 24 April, 1924, the second son of Albert and Linda Feddersen, and younger brother to Alan. The family lived in Hesse Street, and Albert was the Store Manager at Bilsons Department Store. Both Murray and Alan attended Colac West Primary School, Colac High School and Geelong College.

Fifty-four years before Murray was born, his grandfather, Theodor Feddersen departed from Hamburg for Australia in 1868 at the age of 16 years with more than 100 other German passengers on the ship the “Caesar Godeffroy”. The ship arrived in South Australia and Theodore subsequently travelled to Victoria and Colac. In 1878, Theodor married Elizabeth Graham at Cressy, and they settled at their dairy farm “Hillside” at Colac East. (Before his marriage, Theodor had worked as an engineer at the Cressy Flour Mill). Theodore and Elizabeth had 5 children William, Frederick, Otto, Albert and Mathilda, and all the family members are remembered in the Colac Cemetery.

Returning to Murray, after finishing his schooling, he joined the National Bank and was posted to the Cobden branch for a time before enlisting in the RAAF at the age of 18. After initial RAAF training in Australia, he underwent further training in Canada after which he was eventually transferred to and based at RAF Waddington in the UK.

He was the Captain of a seven-member crew, comprising Navigator, Bomb Aimer, Wireless Operator Air, Flight Engineer and two Air Gunners. Lancaster NN714 took off from RAF Waddington at 1618 hours on 11 November 1944 to bomb Hamburg. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after takeoff and the aircraft did not return to base. Nineteen aircraft from Squadron 467 took part in the raid that day and two of these aircraft including NN714 failed to return. Post war it was established that the aircraft crashed on fire at Bremerhaven (approx 90kms west of Hamburg), and that all the crew were killed. They are buried in the Becklingen War Cemetery, which is located near Soltau on the west side of the road from Hamburg to Hanover.

Murray’s tragic loss while flying over Hamburg is a poignant reminder of how futile war is. The Becklingen War Cemetery is located about 180 kilometres south of the town of Flensburg from which his Grandfather Theodor had migrated 76 years earlier.

This year 11 November 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of Murray’s death.

Murray’s brother, Alan, also joined the RAAF after graduating in Medicine from the University of Melbourne in 1944. Between 1945 and 1949, Alan served as a Medical Officer at several RAAF Bases (Ballarat, East Sale and Darwin), then, after leaving the Air Force, served the community in General Practice in the Melbourne suburb of Kew for 36 years.

Courtesy M. O'Donnell Colac & District Family History Group, L. Feddersen, November 2019
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