|Pilot F/O Roy Eric Ayre, 422095 (KIA, BR) Punchbowl, NSW
Crashed May 22, 1944
Built by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) constructors number 996.
During January 1944, assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Boomerang serial number A46-173. Assigned to 83 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On May 22, 1944 took off at 9:20am along with Boomerang A46-102 piloted by P/O D. S. Oliver, 411176 on a sector familiarization and gunnery flight. When about to commence a gunnery run, P/O Oliver noticed that A46-173 was strongly afire, with flames issuing from the engine on the port side. The formation was at approximately 500' altitude and this aircraft lost height and crashed within a few seconds in timbered country about 80 air miles South from Gove between Port Arrowsmith and Cape Shields at approximately 9:50am. The pilot was unable to bail out and was killed in the crash.
The scene of the crash was inspected from the air, and it was observed that the aircraft had been completely burnt out, only the wing tips, empennage, and fuel tanks remaining – and there was no sign of the pilot.
Recovery of Remains
The Squadron Medical Officer F/Lt K. F. D. Sweetman and Squadron Engineer Officer F/O A. W. Bonham proceeded to the scene of the crash, arriving there at approximately 1700 hours the following day. They found the body of P/O Ayre lying amidst the wreckage of the burnt-out aircraft. Death appeared to have been instantaneous.
Ayre’s remains were buried by F/Lt Sweetman and F/O Bonham at approximately 1030 hours on May 24, 1944. Later, his remains were reinterred at the Adelaide River War Cemetery at C. A. 2.
The remains of the Boomerang were recovered by members of the Arnhem Historical Society and are now displayed opposite the old airport terminal at Nhulunbuy Airport (Gove Airfield).
ADF Serials - Boomerang A46-173
Flickr - Boomerang A46-173 photos by Project PRIAM / Daniel Leahy, February 25, 2012
CWGC - Ayre, Roy Eric
National Archives of Australia – Correspondence Files (A705)
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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January 5, 2018