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  B-24M-10-CO Liberator Serial Number A72-160  
12 Squadron

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Stan Gajda 1980

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Rob Lalumiere 2005
Pilot  F/L Francis Leonard Sismey, 402764 (KIA) Concord, NSW
Crew  F/O William Samuel Bell, 417693 (KIA) Bagot Well, SA
Crew  WOFF Thomas Nathan Rust, 408348 (KIA) Wynyard, TAS
Crew  WOFF Bernard Leslie Cox, 412402 (KIA) Seven Hills, NSW
Crew  F/Sgt Leonard Duncanson, 59752 (KIA) Brunswick, VIC
Crew  F/Sgt Lester Maxwell Bailey, 443477 (KIA) Granville, NSW
Crew  F/Sgt Ivan Nelson Luke Easton (KIA) Vaucluse, NSW
Crew  F/Sgt Thomas Walter Allen, 440166 (KIA) Earlwood, NSW
Crew  F/Sgt Donald Douglas Benson, 435604 (KIA) Mosman, QLD
Crew  F/Sgt John Austin Hollis, 445226 (KIA) Bondi Beach, NSW
Crew  F/Sgt John Raymond Wilbur Herps, 440858 (KIA) Gladesville, NSW
Crashed  May 20, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Constructors Number 5885. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24M-10-CO Liberator serial number 44-41949. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
During December 1944, assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Liberator A72-160. Assigned to No. 12 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Mission History
On May 20, 1945 took off at night from Truscott Airfield piloted by F/L Francis Leonard Sismey on a bombing mission against Balikpapan. After becoming airborne too early due to a hump in the runway, this bomber climbed to 20' and veered to the left and crash just off the northwest end of runway. As fire and rescue crews raced to the crash, the bombs exploded killing everyone aboard.

The wreckage of this Liberator remains in situ including the ball turret, engines.

Stan Gajda adds:
"In 1979, John Hardie recovered one of the .50 caliber machine gun from the Motor Products tail turret. It was the right side gun and now I have it in a waist gun hand-held mounting. Hardie has the other. In 1980 I was there with Hardie and spent a very interesting time going over the wreckage. There was no memorial there then and nobody cared much about it. We pulled another gun from the wreckage which was one of the Martin upper turret guns with its mounts and a spare barrel that was bent. The radar equipment was still there with its gold-plated circuits which Hardie souvenired. I kept the twin ammo feed motors from one of the turrets which I restored and got working again. Putting power on and tripping the micro switch had the motors running, turning the belt feed sprockets. The engines looked real good but had broken reduction casings. Most of the plane had burnt because it had cart wheeled through the sparse bush and sections that came off were not burnt, for example like the cockpit area was smashed but not burnt."

The entire crew is buried at the Adelaide River War Cemetery. Susney at S.A.13. Rust at G. D. 12. Cox at S.A.16. Duncanson at G.D.8. Bell at G.D.7. Bailey at S.A.14. Allen at S.A.15. Easton at G.D.14. Benson at G.D.11. Hollis at G.D.10. Herps at G.D.9. A stone memorial with a cross was errected near the wreckage.

USAF Serial Number Search Results B-24M-10-CO Liberator 44-41949
"41949 to RAAF as A72-160. w/o in crash 5-45."
ADF Serials - Liberator A72-160

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Last Updated
February 18, 2020


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