Fatal Mission: A family story we can all share



The life and death of the crew of Naughty Nan 467 SQN RAAF

By Mal Elliott

Published by Big Sky Publishing
RRP $29.99 in paperback • ISBN: 9781922265142

Mal Elliott was troubled by the lack of recognition of the deeds of his uncle Oscar Skelton Furniss, who, along with four other crew members, perished when the Avro Lancaster III, JA901, nicknamed Naughty Nan, from 467 Squadron, crashed in rural France in May 1944, so he set about reconstructing Oscar’s early life, following his training in the Empire Air Training Scheme and his eventual posting to the bomber crew as navigator.

It is sobering to consider that Oscar was just one of 55,000 young men who perished while flying for Bomber Command during World War II.

Elliott uses the accounts of the two surviving aircrew to piece together the events of the fateful night that saw most of the crew of the Lancaster perish as pilot Colin Dickson heroically manoeuvred his burning aircraft away from the towns and villages that dotted the landscape.

Elliott has imagined his uncle’s last moments, recreating the scene of the crew attempting to escape the burning aircraft. The fact that two men survived was truly miraculous.

Sadly for the family of Oscar Furniss there would be no  miracle, just the lingering weight of deep and lasting grief.

This is a story that moves beyond the technical descriptions of bombing missions to describe the human toll of conflict. It underlines the crucial importance of commemoration, of refusing to allow those who perished in war to be forgotten and the importance of making their stories known to the generations that follow.

Such a sacrifice deserves to be remembered, which is the reason Mal Elliott has written this engaging account of his uncle’s life.




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