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  S.23 "Corio" Empire Flying Boat Registration G-AETZ  
Qantas Empire Airways

Pilot  Captain Albert Aubrey Koch RAAF (survived) Ulverstone, TAS
Crashed  January 30, 1942


Aircraft History
Built by Short in Rochester, Kent United Kingdom. Purchased by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA). In October 1938 registered in Australia as VH-ABD. Nicknamed "Corio" after Corio, Victoria. During September 1939, sold to Imperial Airways and registered in the United Kingdom as G-AEUH. Afterwards, leased back 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 January 30, 1942 took off from Darwin on a flight bound for Koepang on Timor to evacuate women and children from Java to Australia. Near Timor, the flying boat was intercepted by seven A6M2 Zeros. Aboard were five crew and thirteen passengers.

In an attempt to escape, Koch opened the throttles, dove towards the sea and headed for a nearby beach roughly 15 miles away. The Zeros opened fire and hit the fuselage with machine gun fire that also set both engines on fire. Captain Koch later reported: "We heard a peculiar rattling in the fuselage of the aircraft and at the same time the air was filled with tracer bullets from aircraft attacking overhead and behind."

Damaged, the flying boat landed heavily in the sea and quickly sank. Only four survived: two of the crew and two passengers.

Fates of the Crew
During the landing, Koch was injured in his leg. He and a passenger managed to swim five miles to the nearest shoreline where they were taken to Dutch authorities and transported to Koepang. In early February 1942, they were transported as passengers aboard S.23 "Coolangattta: A18-13 piloted by Ft Lt. John Hampshire on a flight back to Darwin.

Afterwards, Koch was admitted to the hospital at Darwin to recover from his wounds. Following the Japanese air raid on Darwin, Koch was transported on a stretcher during the night of February 19, 1942 to Darwin Harbor and loaded onto S.23 "Camilla" VH-ADU and flown away before dawn on February 20, 1942.

References
Air Enthusiast "C-Class 'Boats at War" by David Vincent page 36
Front-Line Airline The war story of Qantas Empire Airways Limited introduction
Wrecks & Reefs pages 141-142
RAAFDB - Short S.23 Empire G-AEUH
WW2 Nominal Roll - Albert Aubrey Koch

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Last Updated
February 4, 2018

 

Tech InfoS.23

MIA
MIA
16 Missing
4 Survived

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