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  S.23 "Circe" Empire Flying Boat Registration G-AETZ  
Qantas Empire Airways
Former Assignments
Imperial Airways

Captain  F/L William B. Purton (MIA / KIA)
1st Officer
  F/O Mervyn William Bateman, RAAF 267574 (MIA / KIA) Vaucluse, NSW
Radio  Herbert G. Oates (MIA / KIA)
Crew  James L. Hogan (MIA / KIA)
Passenger  Captain Bill Purton, USN (MIA / KIA)
Passengers  Plus nine others

MIA  February 28, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Short in Rochester, Kent United Kingdom. Assigned the British registration G-AETZ. Operated by Imperial Airways London (IAL). Nicknamed "Circe". Next, served with BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) then a assigned to Qantas Empire Airways (QEA).

Wartime History
During the Pacific War, pressed into service evacuating civilians from the Netherlands East Indies to Australia.

Mission History
On February 28, 1942 took off from Tjilatjap on Java evacuating civilians. Aboard were 16 passengers including Dutch diplomats and a U. S. Navy officer Captain Bill Purton and a crew of four Americans. This aircraft failed to reach Australia and was declared Missing In Action (MIA).

Postwar, no trace was ever found of the aircraft or an examination of Japanese records. In a long-running dispute over the insurance for the aircraft and her crew, the Australian and U. S. government steadfastly maintained that there was no evidence that "Circe" was lost due to enemy action.

In fact, through recent research in Australian by Phil Vabre and Japanese archives by Osamu Tagaya has confirmed that "Circe" was shot down by a G4M1 Betty bomber piloted by Flight Petty Officer Yamamoto and Ashizawa that took off from Denpasar Airfield on Bali on a maritime patrol. This bomber spotted and engaged "Circe" roughly 200 miles south of Java and shot the flying boat down with gunfire.

Bateman is memorialized at Adelaide River War Cemetery on the Northern Territory Memorial on panel 6.

CWGC - Mervyn William Bateman
RAAFDB - Short S.23 Empire G-AETZ
RAAFDB - Mervyn Willian Bateman

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018


Tech InfoS.23

16 Missing

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