|Pilot FlgOff David John Forrest, 406837 (MIA / KIA) Perth, WA
Observer FlgOff Kenneth Gladstone Holmes 405017 (MIA / KIA) Dawson Valley, QLD
WAG Sgt Noel Loveday, 405049 (MIA / KIA) Pittsworth, QLD
WAG FltSgt James Henry Hatfield, 412063 (MIA / KIA) Alstonville, NSW
MIA May 21, 1943
Built by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufort Mark VIII serial number A9-186. Assigned to 100 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On May 20, 1943 took off from Vivigani Airfield on Goodenough Island piloted by FlgOff David John Forrest at 11:05pm on bombing mission (Gur 89) against Gasmata Airfield and surrounding dump areas at Gasmata.
In total, nine Beauforts participated in the mission including: Beaufort A9-203, Beaufort A9-193, Beaufort A9-227, Beaufort A9-188 (this aircraft), Beaufort A9-212, Beaufort A9-216, Beaufort A9-214, Beaufort A9-211 and Beaufort A9-200.
Each bomber was armed with 2 x 500 pound bombs and 2 x 250 pound bombs and incendiaries.
Over the target on May 21, 1943 after midnight, this Beaufort might have bombed and strafed the target area causing small fires and explosions. When this Beaufort failed to return, the entire crew were listed as Missing In Action (MIA). This aircraft was officially written off on June 9, 1943.
According to 100 Squadron operations record book, the loss was "assumed to have been shot down by night fighters", but there is no evidence of any Japanese night fighter operating over this area on that date.
On May 21, 1943 between 8:46am until 9:33am, seven Beauforts took off on a search mission (Gur 90 and Gur 91) to search for this missing Beaufort A9-188. The first search (Gur 90) six Beauforts searched the area from Milne Bay to Gasmata with fighters escorting. The Beauforts made diverging searches. One of the search aircraft, Beaufort A9-191 spotted a yellow dinghy 800 yards south of Gasmata and a piece of wreckage in the sea, but was unable to identify it. Possibly, this was wreckage and life raft were associated with this Beaufort A9-188. None of the other Beauforts sighted anything with all returning between 1:22pm to 1:31pm.
Another search (Gur 91) was flown by only Beaufort A9-204 piloted by P/O Waters that took off at 9:33am and returned with nil sightings by 1:31pm.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. For his actions, pilot Forrest was mentioned in dispatches (MID).
All of the crew are memorialized at Bita Paka Cemetery on the Rabaul Memorial. Forrest and Holmes on panel 34. Loveday and Hatfield on panel 35.
NAA RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] Number 100 Squadron Mar 42 - Aug 46
(NAA: A9186, 123) pages 163-164 [PDF]
[Page 163] "Gur 89 - Strike against Gasmata Strip & Dumps. A9-211 and A9-200 airborne at Vivigani and all aircraft landed Gurney. A9-210 u/s at Vivigani. Each aircraft dropped 2 x 500 G.P. and 2 x 250 G.P. bombs and incendiaries. All in target area. Small fires and explosions observed. Also strafed target area. A9-193 sighted and strafed 150 ton vessel 4 miles E.)
[Page 164] "[Gur 89 cont] of Gasmata which ran ashore. A9-188 did not return from mission."
Gur 90 Search for missing aircraft A9-188, area Milne Bay to Gasmata with fighter cover. A9-191 sighted bright yellow rubber dinghy 800 yards south of Gasmata. Also one piece of wreckage about 2' 6" square, but unable to identify. Others nil sightings.
A9-204 P/O Waters Gur 91
Diverging search for missing aircraft A9-188. Nil sightings."
NAA RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] Number 100 Squadron March 1943 (NAA: A9186, 123) page 155 [PDF]
"21st - Nine (9) Beauforts operating from Goodenough Island and Milne Bay carried out a bombing raid on strip and dispersal points at Gasmata. Beaufort A9-188 failed to return and it is assumed to have been shot down by night fighters.
The crew as under have been posted 'Missing Believed Killed';
Pilot Officer D. J. Forrest (406837) Pilot
Pilot Officer K. G. Holmes (405017) Observer
No. 405048 F/Sgt Loveday, N. W.A.G.
No. 412063 Sgt Hatfield, J. H. W.A.G.
22nd - Beauforts
with fighter escort proceeded to vicinity Gasmata in daylight to search for missing crew. Reports indicated what may have been the aircraft wreckage also a dinghy were seen, and oil patches."
CWGC - David John Forrest
CWGC - Kenneth Gladstone Holmes
CWGC - Noel Loveday
CWGC - James Henry Hatfield
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-188
Thanks to Richard Dunn and Edward Rogers for additional research and analysis.
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January 5, 2018