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  PBY Catalina Serial Number A24-34 Tail FJ-A
11 Squadron

Former Assignments
20 Squadron

Pilot  S/Ldr John Evelyn Todd, 271707 (POW, died 7-22-44) Dalby, QLD
2nd Pilot  F/Lt Brian Paul Stacy, 406446 (POW, survived) Perth, WA
3rd Pilot  F/O Ian Douglas Vaughan Ralfe, 405501 (survived) Longreach, QLD
Navigator  F/O Frank Ronald Pocknee, 401663 (POW, executed 3-5-44) Burramine South, VIC
W/AG  P/O Allan Bernard Liedl, 426624 (survived) LIsmore, NSW
W/AG  F/Sgt Henry Laurence Murphy, 412621 (POW, executed 3-5-44) Liverpool, NSW
Engineer  Sgt Fred Woolley, 43098 (POW, executed 3-5-44) Chermside, QLD
Engineer  Sgt Ernest Hubert Kraehe, 27791 (POW, executed 3-5-44) Unley, SA
Fitter  LAC (A/Sgt) Richard Murray Howard, 47149 (escaped) Mt, Gambier, SA
Armourer  LAC (A/Sgt) Harold Francis Jones, 71534 (escaped) Scone, NSW

Crashed  February 7, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated. Constructors Number 1044. US Navy Bureau Number 08150.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Assigned to 3 OTU on April 20, 1943, with tail code RB-T. Next, assigned to 20 Squadron on June 11, 1943 with tail code FJ-H. Finally, assigned to 11 Squadron on October 6, 1943. No known nickname, nose art or squadron number.

Mission History
Took off from Cairns Harbor at 10:40 and proceeded to Milne Bay and landed to refuel then took off at 4:00pm on a solo nuisance mission against Kavieng. At 11:00pm, reached the target area during a bright moonlite night at an altitude of 9,000'.

Over Panapai Airfield but did not drop any bombs and received light anti-aircraft fire. During a second bomb run, dropped two 250 lbs bombs and numerous incendiaries and photographs taken, and heavy anti-aircraft fire was received but not accurate. Ships in Kavieng Harbor opened fire with intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire aimed at this Catalina. Over Kavieng Airfield, made a third bomb run dropping two 500 lbs bombs and photographs were taken. The flying boat received intense and accurate anti-aircraft fire that required evasive maneuvers.

approximately 2350 hours on an mission to attack Kavieng. A parachute flare inside this PBY ignited prematurely while its altitude setting ring was being adjusted. In order to prevent premature detonation of other ordnance or mid-air structural failure from fire, the Catalina ditched into Jacquinot Bay. The crew swam to shore in the vicinity of Malakua.

A letter from C. O. 11 Squadron to the Air Board on 15 February stated:
"At 0136/L 8th February, signal received SOS LFIA in flames 010* 180 miles heading west (received from Catalina A24-34 on Operation CFB 9 on 8th February 1944).

Further message received at 0150/L. SOS LFIA 340* 130 miles (near Gasmata). This was last message received from this aircraft. No further word has been received from aircraft or bases at which it might have sighted.

The next night, another Catalina from the squadron returning from a mission to Kavieng searched the area, flashing "TODD" with their reconnaissance light. They returned with nil sightings.

Fates of the Crew
Four members of the crew managed to escape: Ralfe, Liedl, Jones and Howard. The other six crew members: Stacy, Todd, Murphy, Pocknee, Woolley and Kraehe were captured by the Japanese and transported to Rabaul and imprisoned at Tunnel Hill POW Camp.

On February 17, 1944 Stacy was one of six Allied prisoners transported aboard a G4M1 Betty bomber from Rabaul to Truk, and then onward to Japan. He survived captivity.

Four of the crew (Murphy, Pocknee, Woolley and Kraehe) were likely executed at Talili Bay during the Talili Bay Massacre. After the war, the Japanese reported that Pocknee, Woolley, Kraehe and Murphy had been prisoners of war in Rabaul and were killed by Allied bombing at Talili Bay and their bodies cremated.

Todd died in captivity, his date of death is officially listed as July 22, 1944.

Postwar, a box alleged to contain the ashes of the Allied dead including members of this crew were turned over to the Allies. These crew members were buried in Collective Grave E.C.5-11 at Bita Paka Cemetery. Todd's remains were recovered and buried in Bita Paka Cemetery at grave D.B.1.

CWGC - John Evely n Todd
CWGC - Frank Ronald Pocknee
CWCG - Henry Laurence Murphy
CWCG - Fred Woolley
CWCG - Ernest Hubert Kraehe
World War II Nominal Roll - Brian Paul Stacy

World War II Nominal Roll - Ian Douglas Vaughan Ralfe
World War II Nominal Roll - Allan Bernard Liedl
World War II Nominal Roll - Richard Murray Howard
World War II Nominal Roll - Harold Francis Jones
Royal Australian Air Force History Summary Page references to A24-34 by Michael Moskow
Evasion and Escape From New Britain pages 1-X
M.I.A. Over Rabaul South Pacific pages 94, 115
"When I first entered the Rabaul Prisoner of War camp, there was a PBY Catalina pilot named Todd from New Zealand [sic, Australian] who had an unexploded projectile inbedded in his hip. How we felt sorry for the poor man yet there was nothing that we could do for him and the Japs were afraid to try and remove the projectile for fear it would explode [sic, likely part of the flare or wound from ditching]. As far as I can remember, I never heard the poor man beg the Japs for anything or for any help. I told him that if the Japs let me, I would try to remove it, but after thinking it over I was really too scared to try. He finally wasted away and had poison set in and he passed away after going into a coma for three days."

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Last Updated
November 12, 2018


Technical InfoPBY

6 Prisoner
4 Executed
1 Died

S 10 40
E 152 29

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