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  B-24M-10-CO Liberator Serial Number A72-160  
RAAF
12 Squadron

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Stan Gajda 1980

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Rob Lalumiere 2005

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


Aircraft History
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.

Wartime History
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.

Mission History
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 just off the NW end of runway. As fire and rescue crews raced to the crash, the bomber's depth charges exploded, killing all aboard.

Wreckage
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."

Memorials
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.

References
ADF Serials - Liberator A72-160

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Last Updated
May 13, 2018

 

Tech Information
B-24

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