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Daniel Leahy
Researcher & Lead Contributor to Pacific Wrecks

Daniel is a key contributor to the site. Also, he is moderator of the Pacific Wrecks Forum, and a Pacific Ghosts team member.

Click For EnlargementAt about age 10 I became interested in Second World War aviation after hearing stories from an uncle who served with the RAAF and trained in Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme. Although more interested in the European Theatre, the seed had been sown - I tried getting my hands on as many books and plastic models as I could.

After thoroughly going through web sites regarding wrecks in the UK I managed to stumble across the Pacific Wrecks site, and became extremely interested in a wreck located not too far from my home in Albury - that of Beaufort A9-228 near Eskdale. I first visited the site with my family in November 2000 and was immediately hooked.

From there, I almost instantly forgot details of Messerschmitts and Focke-Wulfs, and concentrated more on Mitsubishis and Nakajimas. Discovering details of the war so close to home that was never taught to me in school, I became obsessed with the war in New Guinea and began collaborating with Justin Taylan on an almost daily basis.

In August and September 2001 I travelled to Queensland - again with my family - and in the end it seemed we were visiting more old airfields, wreck sites and museums than the usual 'touristy' places (much to the disappointment of my step-mother and step-sister). These travels were effectively the 'dress rehersal' for what I hoped would be almost a career in travelling historic sites.

I moved to Canberra in 2004 mainly to be closer to the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia so that research could be done quite quickly. In 2005 I began volunteer work in the Australian War Memorial's Online Gallery until other work commitments took over.

My first trip to Papua New Guinea finally came in August 2005. After learning that a distant uncle (Pte Roy John Schmidt) was killed along the Sanananda Track in January 1943, I just had to visit that area. Although only in the area for 2 days, I immediately fell in love with the people and the country around the Buna-Gona-Sanananda beachhead. This resulted in a return to PNG in 2006, with over a week spent in the Sanananda area visiting as many sites as possible.

After graduating from Charles Sturt University with a Bachelor degree in Information Technology, I began cataloguing aircraft losses and documents in various databases. This eventually turned into the Project PRIAM database of Pacific MIA cases which went live in 2006.

Also being interested in family history, I'm searching for information regarding family members who served in the Australian Military:
* Roy John Schmidt (KIA January 1943, Sanananda)
* Hector Richard Hore (Killed November 1943, C-47 41-18648)
* Roy Henry Schulz (POW, Singapore/Malaya)
* Charles Schulz (POW, Singapore/Malaya)
* Thomas William Miller (WWI, 24 Battalion AIF)

By day I now work for Telstra in Canberra, though continue to research the RAAF and Pacific MIA cases when I can. This research will ultimately mean a return to Papua New Guinea (before the end of 2010) with the aim of searching for some of the 300 or so MIAs from the Buna-Gona -Sanananda battles of 1942-43. Plans for other trips to Japan, Vietnam, Korea and Malaysia as well as other sites in Australia are also in the works.

Last Updated
May 3, 2016

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