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  PBY-5 Catalina Serial Number A24-45 Code OX-E
RAAF
43 Squadron

Former Assignments
11 Squadron

Pilot  F/O Thomas Temperley, 420300 (KIA / BR) Toowoomba, QLD
Crew  F/O Ralph Martin Harsley, 418221 (KIA / BR) St. Kilda, VIC
Crew  F/O Leonard Joseph Blackwell, 424727 (KIA / BR) Tempe, NSW
Crew  F/Sgt George Ian Hamilton Neate, 419702 (KIA / BR) Moonee Ponds, VIC
Crew  Sgt Ronald John Robinson, 20477 (KIA / BR) Smithtown, NSW
Crew  F/Sgt Harold Leslie Coggin, 205771 (KIA / BR) Fairfield, VIC
Crew  W/O Jack Storer, 405221 (KIA / BR) Maryborough, QLD
Crew  Sgt Adam Thomson, 69119 (KIA / BR) Botany, NSW
Crew  Sgt Reginald Stanley Keith Wheatland, 11944 (KIA / BR) Adelaide, SA

MIA  July 20, 1944


Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. Constructor Number 1183. Assigned U. S. Navy (USN) bureau number 08269.

Wartime History
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Catalina A24-45. Assigned to 11 Squadron. On March 12, 1944 assigned to 43 Squadron with squadron code OX-E on the fuselage.

Mission History
On July 20, 1944 took off from Darwin on a mission to attack shipping in Namlea Harbor off Namlea and failed to return. The other aircraft engaged on this mission was unable to locate the target due to bad weather.

Wreckage
During the 1990s the wreckage of the aircraft was located on Buru Island (Boeroe, Buroe) at an altitude of approximately 1,800 metres.

According to the ADF Health magazine:
"The aircraft was located in a saddle near the summit of one of the many mountains on this small island. The Catalina had burnt on impact and the fuselage had been all but destroyed. The wings and tail plane had sheared off on impact and were found some distance away. Four of the six 500 lb bombs carried by the Catalina remained unexploded in the wreckage. Two craters close to the aircraft were presumably from the other two bombs which exploded as a result of the crash."

Recovery of Remains
The site was visited by members of the RAAF, Indonesian Army and local villagers during 'Operation Buru' in 1994.

According to the ADF Health magazine:
"Human remains were found both close to the engines as well as in the burnt area of the fuselage. Unfortunately, several bones had already been retrieved by the local villagers without any reference to their original position. These bones were neatly placed in one box, further complicating the identification process."

Memorials
The entire crew was officially declared dead on July 20, 1944. After the recovery of remains, the crew was buried buried on October 7, 1994 at Ambon War Cemetery in collective grave 3, B, 10.

References
RAAF Casualty Card - Catalina A24-45
ADF Serials - Catalina A24-45
RAAF DB - Catalina A24-45
CWGC - Thomas Temperley
CWGC - Ralph Martin Harsley
CWGC - Leonard Joseph Blackwell
CWGC - George Ian Hamilton Neate
CWGC - Ronald John Robinson
CWGC - Harold Leslie Coggin
CWGC - Jack Storer
CWGC - Adam Thomson
CWGC - Reginald Stanley Keith Wheatland
ADF Serials - Catalina A24-45
RAAF DB - Catalina A24-45
ADF Health "Recovery of Australian service personnel missing in action from World War II' (April 2000) pp 48-49
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
May 3, 2016

 

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