|Pilot F/L Francis Leonard Sismey, 402764 (KIA) Concord, NSW
Crew F/O William Samuel Bell, 417693 (KIA) Bagot Well, SA
Crew WOFF Thomas Nathan Rust, 408348 (KIA) Wynyard, TAS
Crew WOFF Bernard Leslie Cox, 412402 (KIA) Seven Hills, NSW
Crew F/Sgt Leonard Duncanson, 59752 (KIA) Brunswick, VIC
Crew F/Sgt Lester Maxwell Bailey, 443477 (KIA) Granville, NSW
Crew F/Sgt Ivan Nelson Luke Easton (KIA) Vaucluse, NSW
Crew F/Sgt Thomas Walter Allen, 440166 (KIA) Earlwood, NSW
Crew F/Sgt Donald Douglas Benson, 435604 (KIA) Mosman, QLD
Crew F/Sgt John Austin Hollis, 445226 (KIA) Bondi Beach, NSW
Crew F/Sgt John Raymond Wilbur Herps, 440858 (KIA) Gladesville, NSW
Crashed May 20, 1945
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24M-10-CO Liberator serial number 44-41949. Ferried overseas via Hawaii to Australia.
During December 1944, assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Liberator A72-160. Assigned to 12 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On May 20, 1945 took off at night from Truscott Airfield on a bombing mission against Balikpapan. After becoming airborne too early due to a hump in the runway, climbing to 20' and veered left and crash
the NW end of runway.
As fire and rescue crews raced to the crash, the bomber's depth charges exploded, killing all aboard.
Wreckage remains at the airfield, including the ball turret, engines.
Stan Gajda adds:
"In 1979, John
Hardie recovered one of the .50 caliber machine gun from the Motor
Products tail turret. It was the right side
gun and now I have it in a waist gun hand-held mounting. Hardie
has the other. In 1980 I was there with Hardie and spent
a very interesting time going over the wreckage. There was
no memorial there then and nobody cared much about it. We pulled
another gun from the wreckage which was one of the Martin upper
turret guns with its mounts and a spare barrel that was bent.
The radar equipment was still there with its gold-plated circuits
which Hardie souvenired. I kept the twin ammo feed motors from
one of the turrets which I restored and got working again. Putting
power on and tripping the micro switch had the motors running,
turning the belt feed sprockets. The engines looked real good
but had broken reduction casings. Most of the plane had burnt
because it had cart wheeled through the sparse bush and sections
that came off were not burnt, for example like the cockpit area
was smashed but not burnt."
The entire crew is buried at the Adelaide River War Cemetery. Susney at S.A.13. Rust at G. D. 12. Cox at S.A.16. Duncanson at G.D.8. Bell at G.D.7. Bailey at S.A.14. Allen at S.A.15. Easton at G.D.14. Benson at G.D.11. Hollis at G.D.10. Herps at G.D.9. A stone memorial with a cross was errected near the wreckage.
ADF Serials - Liberator A72-160
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May 13, 2018