RAAF May 27, 1997
|Pilot F/O Neale McKissock Thewlis, 418989 (KIA / BR) Geelong, VIC
Navigator F/O John Garvey Thompson, 422895 (KIA / BR) Cammeray, NSW
W/AG F/Sgt Maxwell James Hewett, 437825 (KIA / BR) Wallaroo Mines, SA
Passenger Sgt John Austin Standing, 61752 (KIA / BR) Wollstonecraft, NSW
Passenger Sgt Frank Tranter Burgess, 13356 (KIA / BR) Coburg, VIC
Passenger AC1 William Bertram Luck, 149289 (KIA / BR) Moorabbin, VIC
Passenger AC1 James Henry Albert Smith, 146748 (KIA / BR) Eaglehawk, VIC
MIA January 29, 1945
Built by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) as a Beaufort Mark VII. Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Assigned to 7 Squadron and 8 Communication Unit (CU).
On January 29, 1945 took off from Milne Bay on a non-operational flight to Madang. The course was to take the aircraft around East Cape then to Lae on a direct line north-west. From Lae the aircraft was to fly via the Markham Valley to Madang. The last radar plot for the aircraft was approximately 30 miles north of Buna. While north of Buna, the aircraft contacted Dobodura to give an ETA at Madang.
Nothing further was heard from this aircraft and it was believed that it was lost over the sea.
When this aircraft failed to arrive it was officially declared missing.
In fact, this Beaufort crashed in a saddle between two ridges at an elevation of 1,755m near Bugaiu village.
During the 1990s, ex-patriate Australians in Lae informed the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby that an aircraft had been located near Bugaiu. Later, the Australian assistant military attache from Port Moresby visited the site and confirmed it as the wreckage of Beaufort A9-106.
According to the ADF Health magazine:
"The crash site was located at an elevation of 1755m on a saddle between two ridges. The aircraft had disintegrated on impact and wreckage was scattered over a 5000 m² area. A fire had started after the crash, and evidence of this fire was found throughout the crash site, mostly near the fuselage."
Recovery of Remains
During late May 1997, "'Operation Bugaiu" a team from the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) included a forensic pathologist from RAAF-SR visted the crash site. The team surveyed placed a grid at the site, cleared vegitation and excavated to an average depth of 50cm. The remains of the crew were found between the two engines and under a nearby tree where they were likely placed by villages after the crash.
According to the ADF Health "Recovery of Australian service personnel missing in action from World War II':
"Human remains were found under some trees, and had obviously been placed there many years ago by villagers. Identifiable remains were found mainly between the two engines of the aircraft, which was also the area maximally involved by the fire. The remains were transported to the PNG Army barracks at Lae, where the bones were cleaned, dried and positively identified using antemortem medical and dental information"
On July 31, 1997 the remains of all seven crew and passengers were buried at the Lae War Cemetery. Thewlis at NN. C. 5. Thompson at NN. C. 10. Hewett at NN. C. 9. Standing at NN. C. 11. Burgess at NN. C. 6. Luck at NN. C. 8. Smith at NN. C. 7.
After the recovery of remains, relics recovered from the site of the crash were display at the RAAF Museum Point Cook.
CWGC - Neale McKissock Thewlis
CWGC - John Garvey Thompson
CWGC - Maxwell James Hewett
CWGC - John Austin Standing
CWGC - Frank Tranter Burgess
CWGC - William Bertram Luck
CWGC - James Henry Albert Smith
RAAF Casualty Card - Beaufort A9-106
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-106
RAAFDB - Beaufort A9-106
ADF Health "Recovery of Australian service personnel missing in action from World War II" April 2000 pages 49-50
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for his assistance with this profile
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May 3, 2016