Stan Gajda 1970
|Pilot S/L Wilbur Lawrence Wackett, 588 (MIA / KIA) Bellevue Hill, NSW
Navigator F/O Keith Eric William Noble, 424052
(MIA / KIA) Epping, NSW
Crashed September 24, 1944
Built by Bristol in the United Kingdom. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial NE586. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
On June 13, 1944
delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufighter serial number A19-208. On June 13, 1944 assigned to 1 Air Depot (1 AD). Next, on August 10, 1944 assigned to 5 Operational Training Unit (5 OTU) at Williamtown. On September 4, 1944 assigned to 31 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On September 24, 1944 took off from Coomalie Airfield on an escort mission over Timor. Returning, when Coomalie was covered by smoke from bush fires, this Beaufighter failed to respond to flares, searchlights and radio. Ground radar tracked it until it dived off the radar screen east of Fenton Airfield. When this Beaufighter failed to return, the crew was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).
During 1945, the wreckage of this aircraft was first discovered by Aboriginals at Pine Creek. During late November 1945, investigated by a RAAF Detachment from Darwin. Later, portions of this wreckage were recovered and transport to the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre (Darwin Aviation Museum).
The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre (Darwin Aviation Museum) displays two pieces of wreckage indoors and a portion of the fuselage outdoors.
Both crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Both are memorialized at Adelaide River War Cemetery on the Northern Territory Memorial. Wackett on panel 6. Noble on panel 7.
RAAF Service Record Wilbur Lawrence Wackett (NAA: A9300 Wacket W L)
The Argus "RAAF Plane Wreck Found Near Darwin" November 26 1945, page 4
"A RAAF search party from Darwin has reached the wreckage of a plane at Pine Creek, believed to have been
a RAAF Beauflghter missing since September, 1944.
The party was unable to make a thorough investigation, and a second RAAF detachment has left Darwin with the necessary equipment to make a thorough examination of the wreckage.
However, indications are that the crew were in the aircraft when it crashed. They may be identified as Squadron-Leader Wilbur Wackett, of Melbourne, son of Wing-Commander L. J. Wackett, and Flying-Officer Keith Noble, of Sydney. On their return from a mission over Timor, smoke obscured their aerodrome, and the plane is believed to have crashed when the pilot was searching for an emergency landing ground. The wreckage was first discovered by aborigines last week."
CWGC - Wilbur Lawrence Wackett
ADF Serials - Beaufighter A19-208
RAAFDB Wilbur Lawrence Wackett
RAAFDB Keith Eric William Noble
RAAFDB Beaufighter A19-208
Thanks to Daniel Leahy and Stan Gajda for additional information
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May 3, 2016