|Pilot FLTLT Edward Manton Christensen, 406599 (KIA, BR) Northam, WA
Navigator FLTSGT Bennie Edward Buckner, 435588 (KIA, BR) Toombul, QLD
WAG FLGOFF Leslie Charles Cooke, 41317 (KIA, BR) Bondi, NSW
WAG FSgt John Clayton Chivas, 439351 (survived) Sydney, NSW
Passenger LAC Kenneth Stanley Gay, 53950 (KIA, BR) South Ballarat, VIC
Crashed January 23, 1945
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 A9-626. Assigned to 100 Squadron with code QH-H painted in white on both sides of the fuselage. No known nickname or nose art.
On January 23, 1945 took off from Tadji Airfield at 9:34am piloted by FLTLT Edward Manton Christensen on a bombing mission against Amuli Nanu East (Amuli village). Over the target area, this aircraft collided with Beaufort A9-626 causing both aircraft to crash. This Beaufort crashed near Yaurang killing the entire crew on impact with the execption of Chivas who survived with only burns.
Officially written off February 1, 1945.
Fates of the Crew
Chivas was rescued by local villagers. He was later rescued by an Australian Army patrol and returned to duty.
The crash site of this Beaufort remained in situ in a forested area near Yaurang.
During 1972, the crash site was visited and photographed by Bryant Allen. The tail section, one engine and wreckage remained at the crash site.
Bryant Allen recalls:
"I have photographs of the wreckage of this aircraft taken in 1972. On January 23, 1945 two Beaufort bombers A9-626 and A9-627 operating from Tadji, collided while attacking Japanese positions near Balif. One of these aircraft [Beaufort A9-627] turned back to the west and crashed near Yaurang, about 5 km west of Dreikikir. The other one [Beaufort A9-626] crashed near Emul village. One crew member [John Clayton Chivas] survived the Yaurang crash and was rescued by villagers, once they could convince him they were not going to kill him."
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the crash.
After the recovery of remains, the entire crew was buried at Lae War Cemetery. Christensen at TT. A. 3. Buckner at TT. D. 10. Cooke at TT. B. 14.
Gay at TT. A. 1.
NAA "RAAF No. 100 Squadron Unit History Sheet - Detail of Operations 1/23/45" PDF page 411
"Contact recce Kubriuat area. Completed. Bomb Amuli Nanu East 453032. 6 Beauforts dropped 180x4 inc, 12 x 40 GP, 20 x 250 GP, 12 x 500 MC. A9-627, A9-626 collided and crashed over target area. 6400 x .303 ammo., 56 signal cartridges, 4 illuminating cart. 2 aluminum sea markers, 2 smoke puffs, 4 marine distress signals, 8 flame floats. Lost in crashed aircraft."
NAA "RAAF No. 100 Squadron Operations Records Book - Form A50 1/23/45"
"Beauforts A9-626 and A9-627 collided in mid-air over target Amuli village. Both aircraft completely destroyed. F/Sgt Chivas only survivor, rescued by Army patrols, suffering only from burns, not seriously injured. Casualties were F/Lt. E. M. Christensen, F/O L. Cooke, F/O H. S. Barton, F/O R/ B/ Webb, F/Sgts Buclner B, F/Sgt Pontt K., F/Sgt Davis K. (100 Sqdn) and LAC Epps (8 Sqdn) also LAC Gay K (100 Sqdn)."
WW2 Nominal Roll -
John Clayton Chivas
CWGC - Edward Manton Christensen
CWGC - Bennie Edward Buckner
CWGC - Leslie Charles Cooke
CWGC - Kenneth Stanley Gay
The Final Campaigns by Gavin Long page 290
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-627
WW2 Fatalities in RAAF Beaufort Operational Squadrons and Support Units, 2002
Thanks to Bryant Allen and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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May 13, 2018