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  DB-7B Boston Mark III Serial Number A28-3 Code DU-Y
No. 22 Squadron

Former Assignments
1 AD
3 AD

Click For Enlargement
RAAF 1942

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Daniel Leahy 2004
Pilot  FLTLT William "Bill" Ellis Newton, 748, 250748 (POW, executed March 29, 1943, BR) St. Kilda, VIC
Bombardier / Navigator  FSgt John Lyon 401706 (POW, executed March 20, 1943, BR) Glasgow, Scotland
Gunner  Sgt Basil "Herbie" Gilbert Eastwood, 13055 (MIA / KIA) Healesville, VIC
Ditched  March 18, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas Aircraft Company. Constructors Number 3819. No known U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) serial number was allocated. Delivered to the Royal Air Force (RAF) serial number AL887. At the factory, painted with RAF markings and camouflage. This Boston was one of twenty-two Bostons from the RAF batch that were instead allocated to the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (NEIAF) and over painted with the markings of the Kon Marine (Dutch Navy). Disassembled and shipped overseas bound for the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) but while still in transit diverted to Australia.

Wartime History
On March 29, 1942 delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as DB-7B Boston Mark III serial number A28-3. The next day reassembled by 1 Air Depot (1 AD) at Geelong. On April 27, 1942 assigned to No. 22 Squadron with tail code DU-Y.

On June 16, 1942 assigned to 1 Air Depot (1 AD) for fitting long range fuel tanks, On July 14, 1942 returned to No. 22 Squadron.

On November 10, 1942 took off from Wards Drome on a flight to Laverton Airfield arriving November 28, 1942 and temporarily assigned to 3 Air Depot (3 AD.) On December 2, 1942 took off from Laverton Airfield on a ferry flight back to Wards Drome arriving five days later.

Mission History
On March 18, 1943 in the morning took off from 5 Mile Drome (Ward) near Port Moresby piloted by FLTLT William E. Newton armed with bombs as one of six Bostons on a bombing mission against Salamaua. This was Newton's 52nd mission and Lyon's 40th mission. The formation was led by DB-7B "Japanese Ghost Producer" A28-6 pilot Squadron Leader Stace Dillon plus DB-7B "Rocky's Gal" A28-13 pilot Rocky Mullens, DB-7B Boston A28-5 pilot Dick Hunt, DB-7B "Indoor Sport" A28-16 pilot Dick Fethers, DB-7B "She's Apples" A28-9 pilot Alec McKay and this plane.

At 9:05am, the Bostons arrived over the target area which was partially obscured by clouds then began bombing and strafing runs at low level. The first to attack was DB-7B "Rocky's Gal" A28-13 targeting anti-aircraft guns at MacDonald's Junction on Salamaua, followed by DB-7B "Japanese Ghost Producer" A28-6.

Next to attack was Newton with followed behind, diving down to 1,000' targeting the prewar movie theater building used for storage with DB-7B "Indoor Sport" A28-16 ahead and to his right. The pair were targeted by medium and light anti-aircraft fire.

As Newton pressed his low level attack on the building his took no evasive action and was hit by anti-aircraft fire in the rear fuselage and was on fire and trailing smoke as it overflew MacDonald's Junction. Damaged, Newton flew to the southeast over Bayern Bay to get as far away from Salamaua as possible until both engines caught fire.

Trailing smoke, Newton ditched into the sea off Laupui Point on the north coast of New Guinea. The plane skidded across the surface roughly 150 yards and came to rest roughly 1,000 yards / 914 meters from shore and remained afloat briefly until sinking nose first.

Immediately after ditching, DB-7B "Indoor Sport" A28-16 pilot Dick Fethers circled the downed plane and observed two people in the sea with life jackets. Fethers departed briefly to bomb Salamaua then returned to find the plane had sunk and saw the two crew swimming the breast stroke side-by-side towards shore. Meanwhile, the other Bostons continued to strike Salamaua then circled the two simmers while DB-7B "Rocky's Gal" A28-13 gunner dropped his inflated life vest to the swimmers. The pair were last seen roughly 600 yards away from th coast. Low on fuel, the Bostons departed for home. When this plane failed to return it was listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Afterwards, a U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) B-25 Mitchell with a fighter escort searched for the two airmen. That night around midnight, a patrol boat approached Salamaua to search for the two airmen but was unable to locate them.

Fates of the Crew
Eastwood did not escape and likely went down with the plane and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

Newton and Lyon survived the ditching and were last seen by the other Bostons wearing life vests and swimming towards the coast. The pair reached shore and briefly evaded detection until found by a patrol from the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) No. 1 Company, Sasebo 5th Special Naval Landing Force (5th SNLF) under the command of Lt. Uichi Komai and became Prisoners Of War (POW). Taken to Salamaua, the airmen were interrogated by Lt. Yamada, commander of the SNLF and the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) Okabe Detachment.

Next, they were embarked on a barge to Lae and handed over to Headquarters, 7 Naval Base Force under the command of Rear Admiral Ruitaro Fujita. Both were interrogated by his chief of staff, Lt. Commander Denmei Muchaku who spoke English. Next, the pair were handed to the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA), 82nd Kempeitai (82nd Military Police) under the command of Captain Ukai. After the interrogations were completed, Rear Admiral Fujita ordered both prisoners to be executed.

On March 20, 1943 (other sources state March 29, 1943) Lyon was taken by truck to the beach near Lae Airfield where Rear Admiral Fujita, Lt. Commander Muchaku, junior officers and personnel from 82nd Kempetai were gathered. Lyon was blindfolded and led to a grave that had already been dug for him and was ordered to kneel and held his identification discs. One of the Japanese noted he was impressed by the airman's fortitude before being executed. Leading Seamen Inouye armed with a rifle with fixed bayonet stood two paces behind him. Lt. Tsuchiya ordered them to execute the prisoner. He was stabbed once from the back towards his heart, fell forward and was stabbed again by Inouye and several. Despite the repeated stabs, Lyon was likely unconscious or still alive as dirt was shoveled atop the shallow grave.

Newton was returned to Salamaua and returned to No. 1 Company, Sasebo 5th SNLF that captured him. As an officer, Newton was to be afforded the "honor" of execution by sword. On March 29, 1943 at dusk, Newton was given a last drink of water and had his hands tied. Three Japanese officers Lt. Komai, a medical officer and HQ platoon commander with their swords arrived with roughly ten guards drove the prisoner in a truck to Kela Point. Newton was told by Lt. Komai "we are now going to kill you" and was allowed several minutes. Reportedly, Newton asked to be killed with one sword stroke then was made to kneel at the edge of a bomb crater filled with water as guards surrounded him holding their rifles with fixed bayonets. Lt. Komai drew his sword and tapped it against Newton's neck with the back of the blade, then raised it above his head and swung with both hands, decapitating him with one stroke. His head fell into the crater and the body fell forward. The medical officer officer who was wounded during an Allied air raid, handed his sword to a guard and order him to cut open the body which he did then kicked it into the bomb crater. Afterwards, the Japanese departed. The execution was observed by Japanese meteorologist who wrote in his diary in an entry titled "Blood Carnival" that was later captured and translated he noted the prisoner was "more composed than I though he would be".

Recovery of Remains
The remains of Newton remains were found near Kela Point in October 1943 when Mr. Carl Jacobsen working for the U.S. Army intelligence who was led to a bomb crater filled with water roughly 30' from Kela Point near the remains of a building in Chinatown. When the water was drained, a skeleton without a head was found face down with arms outstretched. All the bones were carefully recovered but the skull was never located. The left pelvic bone had evidence of being almost severed, confirming the body was mutilated. The remains had fragments of cloth trousers and an Australian shirt with laundry marks and was identified as Newton. On December 17, 1943 Newton was buried at Salamaua War Cemetery and later exhumed and transported to Lae for permanent burial.

The remains of Lyon were discovered on July 8, 1948 by locals digging holes for the house posts for Mr. Keith Johnson. His grave was located 85 yards the shore and 300 years of the runway. His nearly complete skeleton included Lyon's identity discs. The remains were examined by Dr. H. G. Brown who concluded the individual was likely tied, executed by repeated blade strikes, likely from sword or bayonet that fractured his ribs and vertebrae and was likely buried while unconscious or dying. Afterwards, his remains were transported to Lae for permanent burial.

Eastwood was officially declared dead the day of the mission and remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA). He is memorialized at Lae War Cemetery at Lae Memorial, panel 7. He is also commemorated at Australian War Memorial (AWM) panel 101.

Lyon was officially declared dead March 20, 1943 at age 26. On August 13, 1948 he was buried at Lae War Cemetery at M. B. 14. He is also commemorated at Australian War Memorial (AWM) panel 101.

Newton was officially declared dead March 29, 1943 at age 23. He is buried at Lae War Cemetery at S. A. 4. Before he went missing, Newton was recommended for the Victoria Cross for his mission March 16, 1943 piloting DB-7B Boston A28-7. On August 17, 1943 the Governor-General Lord Gowrie announced Newton was recommended for the Victoria Cross and the award was approved by King George VI and gazetted. During late October 1943 his mother, Mrs Minnie Newton was presented his Victoria Cross by the Governor-General of Australia.  During late 1943, Nadzab No. 4 Airfield was named "Newton Field" in his honor. Today, Newton's Victoria Cross (AWM Accession Number RELAWM32315.001) and other military medals are display at Australian War Memorial (AWM) in the Hall of Valour. Newton was the twelfth Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War; the third for actions in New Guinea; and the only member of the RAAF to receive the award in the Pacific War. He is also commemorated at Australian War Memorial (AWM) panel 101.

On March 16, 2003 a memorial plaque devoted to No. 22 Squadron and Newton was dedicated by RAAF Air Marshal Angus Houston at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) on the sixty anniversary of the mission when Newton earned the Victoria Cross.

During 2004, a memorial plaque at RAAF Amberley was dedicated to the crew of Boston A28-3.

This Boston ditched off Laupui Point. The loss location is recorded in the No. 22 Squadron unit history as "one and one half miles south of Laupui Point". The reports of pilots Fethers and Hampshire give his loss location as a mile from Salamaua but this seems improbable as where the two swimmers were observed was four to five miles from Salamaua.

After the Allies capture of Salamaua, several documents were captured including a Japanese diary that stated the plane crashed "a half mile south of Laupui Point". Another captured Japanese document states "Naval A/A shot down one airplane in the neighborhood of Cape Ragui [Japanese name for Laupui Point]. A search party from the naval forces captured two members of the crew, a flight lieutenant and a sergeant, who had swum ashore to the east of Cape Ragui, and brought them in... After the bombing attack, several enemy airplanes circled at a low altitude over the water at Cape Ragui for 30 or 40 minutes, possibly to look for the airplane which was shot down. Later at about 1300 and about 1500 they flew in circles searching for 50 minutes, two airplanes being used on each occasion." A hand drawn Japanese map translated by Allied intelligence shows the plane ditched to the south of Laupui Point.

In 1946, a RAAF Searcher Team led by Squadron Leader Rundle searched Salamaua but concluded the plane was unrecoverable. The RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage, Papua New Guinea lists the plane as located in sea in Salamaua Harbour" but the location is incorrect and the wreckage has never been located.

To date, this Boston has never been found.

Minnie Newton (mother Newton)
Mae Lyon (wife of Lyon)
Bette Wicks (daughter of Lyon)

Boston in service with Royal Australian Air Force
ADF Serials - Boston A28-3
RAAF Survey of Aircraft Wreckage, Papua New Guinea
"#77 | 06.23-146.39 | RAAF Boston A28-3 | Wreckage located in sea in Salamaua Harbour [sic]"
AWM No. 22 Squadron
"During an attack on the foreshores of Salamaua, Flight Lieutenant W.E. Newton and his crew were shot down and forced to land at sea. Newton and Flight Sergeant Lyon swam ashore only to be captured by waiting Japanese troops. They were both killed on 29 March 1943. Newton received a posthumous award of the Victoria Cross for his attacks [March 16, 1943] on Japanese positions, making him one of only two awarded to RAAF Squadron members."
WW2 Nominal Roll - William Ellis Newton, 250748
London Gazette: Flight Lt William Newton, Victoria Cross citation 19 October 1943
AWM Biography Flight Lieutenant William Ellis Newton (biography, photos)
AWM Victoria Cross : Flight Lieutenant W E Newton, 22 Squadron, RAAF RELAWM32315.001
CWGC - William Ellis Newton
FindAGrave - William Ellis Newton (photos, grave photo)
FindAGrave - William Ellis Newton (AWM)
Air Power Archaeology - William Ellis Newton, VC
WW2 Nominal Roll - John Lyon, 401706
CWGC - John Lyon
FindAGrave - Flight Sergeant John Lyon (Lae War Cemetery)
FindAGrave - John Lyon (AWM)
Air Power Archaeology - John Lyon
WW2 Nominal Roll - Basil Gilbert Eastwood, 13055
CWGC - Basil Gilbert Eastwood
FindAGrave - Sergeant Basil Gilbert Eastwood (Lae War Cemetery)
FindAGrave - Basil Gilbert Eastwood (AWM)
Air Power Archaeology - Basil Gilbert Eastwood
Bill Newton V.C. The Short Life of a RAAF Hero (1999) by Mark Weate
Wings of Destiny (2008) by Charles Page pages 231-235 (March 18, 1943 mission and Newton loss), 281-282 (captured Japanese documents), 284-286 (Newton loss, RAAF Searcher Team investigation), 389 (footnotes 52-53), 365 (wreckage), 367 (plaque AWM), 413 (index Newton)
Flight Lieutenant William (Bill) Ellis NEWTON VC, 1919-1943 (2016) by Rodney Pearce

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Last Updated
June 24, 2023

Tech Info

1 Missing
2 Prisoners
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