|Pilot Sgt Richard John Cecil Granville, 403923 (KIA, BR) Lewisham, NSW
Crashed April 18, 1942 at 1:00pm
Built by Curtiss in Buffalo, New York during 1941. Constructors Number 635. Delivered to the U. S. Army as serial number 41-24850. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
During March 1942 delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Kittyhawk serial number A29-21. Assigned to 1 Air Depot (1 AD). On March 8, 1942 assigned to 75 Squadron with code K. No known nickname or nose art. On Mach 25, 1942 this aircraft was held as part of 76 Squadron headquarters at Garbutt Field at Townsville. On April 5, 1942 returned to 75 Squadron and flown to 7-Mile Drome near Port Moresby.
On April 18, 1942 one of seven P-40s that took off from 7-Mile Drome at 10:50am led by P-40E Kittyhawk A29-30 piloted by F/L Les Jackson on a mission to intercept enemy fighters reported to be approaching the area. The formation proceed northward to roughly 40 miles north of Port Moresby.
At 12:50pm, three A6M2 Zero fighters piloted by FPO1c Toshio Ota, FPO2c Hideo Izumi, FPO2c Un'ichi Mya from the Tainan Kokutai, No. 2 Chutai spotted the seven
Kittyhawks and intercepted. They claimed a total of five P-40s shot down and two probables, but in fact only shot down this aircraft.
During the dog fight, this aircraft was hit and possibly Granville was hit or incapacitated, causing him to trail vapor and dive into the ground. This P-40 was last seen by P-40E Kittyhawk A29-47 piloted by F/L Boyd "one P-40 [this aircraft] diving vertically with slight trail of white vapour" over an area approximately 30 miles northeast of Port Moresby. This aircraft failed to return to base and Granville was declared Missing In Action (MIA).
In fact, P-40 crashed into the jungle at 1:00pm roughly 30 miles northeast of Port Moresby near Jawere Plantation past Hikinumu. On April 21, 1942 a native boy named Kevin located the crash site and found the body of the pilot inside the cockpit. He buried him nearby the wreckage. He returned to the site the next day to continue searching, then reported the crash to the caretaker of Itiknumu Plantation.
Keith Hopper visited the crash site in September 2013:
"This crash site reported by villagers from Doe village, on the Sogeri Plateau behind Sirinumu Dam. It was a days walk in, an overnight, and a days walk out. We found the complete, albeit torn apart wreckage of an early model P-40E. with Curtiss constructors number 635. I believe this equates to USAAF serial number 41-24850 The RAAF individual aircraft history card does not give the USAAF serial number or the Curtiss constructors number. Only the general location and stories (archive and villagers) match."
Recovery of Remains
During late April 1942, Sgt L. G. Willoughby and a group from Australian graves registration trekked to the crash site and interviewed a native named Kevin about his visit to the crash site and lead the team to the site.
At the crash site, Granville's body was exhumed and placed into a coffin provided by the caretaker of Itiknumu Plantation, and wrapped in an Australian ensign made by native women from the plantation. Positive identification was made from the fuselage code A29-21 on the wreckage and Granville's body had his identity disc marked "R.A.A.F. Granville 403923".
Afterwards, the coffin was transported to Bomana War Cemetery for burial. Later, the flag was sent to Granville's parents.
Granville was officially declared dead the day of the mission. His remains were buried at Bomana War Cemetery at sub-section 1, row 1, plot 1. The ceremony was performed by Australian Army chaplain Captain Matthew. Later, his grave was renumbered as B1.A.3.
ADF Serials - P-40 Kittyhawk A29-21
CWGC - Richard John Cecil Granville
RAAFDB - Sgt Granville
RAAFDB - P-40E Kittyhawk A29-21
NAA RAAF Casualty File (NAA: A705, 163/118/323)
Snake Road page 334
Eagles of the Southern Sky page 71-72
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February 4, 2018