|Pilot FLGOFF Frank Stanton Spooner, 402682 (MIA / KIA) Beecroft, NSW
Navigator FLTSGT Keith Harold Gardiner, 405476 (MIA / KIA)
W/AG FLTSGT Norman Cummins Fletcher, 405475 (MIA / KIA) N. Rockhampton, QLD
Observer FLTSGT Eric William Braid, 414124 (MIA / KIA) Tenterfield, NSW
Crashed September 23, 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 A9-256. Assigned to 8 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On September 23, 1943 took off from Vivigani Airfield on Goodenough Island on a bombing mission against Hoskin Airfield. Last seen over the target. Hit by anti-aircraft fire, clipped a palm tree and crashed into the sea off the Hoskin Peninsula.
During January 1946, a RAAF Searcher Team visited the area and searched for several miles along the coast. They found wreckage that indicated the plane was hit in the left engine and fuselage near the tail fin. No trace of the crew. Natives reported the plane crashed onto a reef about 30 yards offshore and rapidly submerged in deep water and none of the crew escaped.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. The entire crew is memorialized on the Rabaul Memorial at Bita Paka War Cemetery (Rabaul War Cemetery). Spooner on panel 34. Braid, Gardiner and Fletcher on panel 35.
RAAF Casualty File - F. S. Spooner
RAAF Searcher Team - Beaufort A9-256 Report February 19, 1946
CWGC - F. S. Spooner
CWGC - K. H. Gardiner
CWGC - N. C. Fletcher
CWGC - E. W. Braid
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-256
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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May 13, 2018