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  Bristol Beaufighter Mark Ic Serial Number A19-63  
RAAF
31 Squadron

Pilot  F/O Vivian Charles Leithhead, 406858 (MIA / KIA) Waroona, WA
Navigator  F/O Robert Stanley Graves, 41326 (MIA / KIA) Merbein, VIC

Crashed  August 21, 1943


Aircraft History
Built by Bristol in the United Kingdom. RAF Serial Number T5075. Shipped to Australia and Assigned to the RAAF on August 2, 1942. Next assigned to 31 Squadron on February 21, 1943. Then to 4 RSU on April 1, 1943 with auxiliary fuel tanks fitted, then returned to 31 Squadron on May 15, 1943.

Wartime History
On May 31, 1943 this Beaufighter was piloted by P/O A. M. Shorter and participated in a low level attack over Langgoer Airfield. During the mission, Observer FSgt A. J. McMurchie took a low level photo over the airfield of a parked A6M2 Zero and Beaufighter.

Mission History
On August 21, 1943 one of seven took off on a Taberfane Seaplane Base. During the attack, Beaufighter A19-63 and Beaufighter A19-47 made a converging attack, diving from 2500 feet on a biplane type floatplane which had just become airborne. The starboard wing of A19-63 collided with the port wing of A19-47. Both wings broke off and engines caught fire, with both aircraft crashing into the sea in flames approximately 3,000 - 4,000 feet from Taberfane village.

Postwar Search
In 1946, F/Lt O'Shea of the RAAF Searcher Party reported:
"No definite news either of these aircraft - Native report that Australian aircraft crashed into bay at Taberfane date unknown may refer to [these] aircraft."

Memorials
Both crew members are listed on the Ambon Memorial as having "No Known Grave" on panel 8.

References
RAAFDB - Beaufighter A19-63
CWGC - Vivian Charles Leithhead
CWGC - Robert Stanley Graves
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

 

Tech Info
Beaufighter

MIA
MIA
2 Missing

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