|Pilot F/L Harry Blinman Dawkins, 280971 (POW died July 15, 1944) Gawler, SA
W/AG F/Sgt Douglas George Semple, 26741 (MIA / KIA) Keswick, SA
W/AG F/Sgt Gordon Ronald Thomas, 417011 (POW executed March 5, 1944, BR)
Ditched September 12, 1943
Built by Douglas. Constructors Number 3824. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number AL361. At the factory, painted in RAF markings and camouflage. No known U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) serial number was allocated.
This Boston was one of twenty-two Bostons from the RAF production that were instead allocated to the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF). Disassembled and shipped overseas bound for the Netherlands East Indies. After the fall of Java while still in transit, diverted to Australia and assigned to 18 Squadron.
During April 1942 delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as DB-7B Boston Mark III serial number A28-15.
Assigned to 22 Squadron with code DU-Q. This Boston flew at least fifty-six combat missions in New Guinea before being lost.
On the right side of the nose was the nickname "Spirit of Sport" atop a shield divided into four quarters with a woman, cards, beer mug and smoking items including a pipe, cigar, and cigarette with filter tip. On the left side of the cockpit was nose art with a Japanese head being hit by boomerang.
On September 12, 1943 took off from Vivigani
Airfield on Goodenough Island piloted by F/L Harry B. Dawkins on a mission against Gasmata on New Britain. Over the target, this aircraft was damaged by anti-aircraft fire and ditched into the sea. The crew survived and were last seen in their life raft but were never seen again. Also lost was
Fates of the Crew
Thomas was captured by the Japanese and transported to Rabaul and became a Prisoner Of War (POW). During early March 1944 detained at Tunnel Hill POW Camp. On March 5, 1944 Thomas was selected as one of thirty-one Allied prisoners who were led away and executed during the Talili Bay Massacre (Tunnel Hill Massacre). Afterwards, the victims were buried. Towards the end of the Pacific War, to cover up the executions and war crimes, the Japanese claimed that approximately forty Allied prisoners were killed by Allied bombing during an air raid while at Talili Bay after being evacuated from Tunnel Hill and their bodies were cremated and their bodies were cremated and the ashes placed into a single box.
On July 15, 1944 Dawkins died in captivity from beri beri and dysentery.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the cremated ashes the Japanese claimed were those killed at Talili Bay were divided proportionally based on the number of victims (23 Americans and 5 Australians) with 3/4 of the ashes to the Americans and 1/4 of the ashes to the Australians. This included the ashes of Thomas. Also, the remains of Dawkins were located and recovered.
Semple was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Bitapaka War Cemetery on the Rabaul Memorial, panel 35.
Dawkins is buried at Bitapaka War Cemetery at D. B. 2.
Thomas is buried at Bitapaka War Cemetery in collective grave E. C. 5-11.
Boston in service with Royal Australian Air Force
ADF Serials - Boston A28-15
CWGC - Harry Blinman Dawkins
CWGC - Douglas George Semple
Gordon Ronald Thomas
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida page 94 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Dawkins), 96 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Thomas)
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February 14, 2020