|Pilot F/Sgt Frank Graeme McDonald, 418154 (POW, executed March 1944) East Malvern, VIC
Observer F/O Charles McAllister, 23352 (KIA) Norman Park, QLD
Crashed February 24, 1944
Built by Vultee. Constructor Number 4196. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) Serial Number AF841.
On August 19, 1943 received by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and assigned to 1 Air Depot (1AD). On November 9, 1943 assigned to 23 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On February 24, 1944 one of twelve Vengeances from 23 Squadron that took off escorted by twelve P-40 Kittyhawks on a mission to attack anti-aircraft positions around Hansa Bay. On the return flight, this aircraft was reported to fall out of formation and was reported as Missing In Action (MIA).
Statements from accompanying aircraft crew indicated A27-276 was last seen on a bearing of 178 degrees from Amaimon losing height from 3000' at a probable speed of 100 to 130 miles per hour. Clouds obscured vision and it was the opinion of accompanying air crews that the aircraft crashed in the vicinity of Sepu. Also lost was Vengeance A27-275.
Fates of the Crew
McAllister died in the crash. McDonald had parachuted at a low altitude and suffered a broken leg. They found him hiding in the jungle and hid him for five days until Japanese soldiers captured and interrogated him. In the middle of March 1944, MacDonald was executed in the vicinity of Amron with another Australian airman who crashed ten days after him.
Recovery of Remains
At some time after the crash, F/O McAllister's body was removed to the Bau village cemetery, until an American War Graves party unit visited the area and exhumed his remains and transported them to HQ at Kranket Island where formal identification by wristwatch and belongings occurred. F/O McAllister was finally buried in Lae War Memorial cemetery. F/Sgt McDonald is still MIA (after being executed as a POW).
Postwar, a RAAF Searcher Team lead by S/L Keith Rundle was advised that this aircraft was located in the vicinity of Aber village is situated in the mountain range west of Alexishafen, approximately 15 air miles inland.
In June 1946, a US search party departed from Alexishafen and proceeded to Bau village at the top of a mountain range, which is 2 to 3 miles from Aber village. Villagers reported that they had seen the crash and proceeded to the scene, arriving 3-4 hours later. They reported seeing a parachute open and on arrival near the wreck. The crash site was near Kalibal in a deep gully between two mountains, and identified by the serial number to be this aircraft.
At the site, they found the remains of Charles McAllister who was killed instantly when he hit a tree on descent and buried his body beside the wreck. His body had been buried alongside the wreckage and was exhumed by US personnel and taken to Kranket Island and was later buried at Lae War Cemetery.
In 1997, the wreckage of this aircraft was rediscovered in the Adelbert Mountains.
Maltz visited the crash site:
"According to locals, the pilot was killed, but the navigator
survived the crash but was later executed by the Japanese. The
pilot's body was recovered soon after the crash."
McAllister was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, he was buried at Lae War Cemetery at L. C. 8. McDonald was officially declared dead on March 31, 1944 and remains Missing In Action (MIA) after being excecuted as a Prisoner Of War (POW). He is memorialized at the Lae Memorial on panel 7.
Paul Eden (nephew of Charles McAllister)
ADF Serials - Vengeance A27-276
RAAF DB - Vengeance A27-276
CWGC - Frank Graeme McDonald
Thanks to Melvyn
Maltz and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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May 22, 2017