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No. 21 Squadron
No. 24 Squadron
RAAF circa 1944
|Pilot F/Lt Kenneth John Hanson, 403585 (KIA, BR) Roeville, NSW
Co-Pilot W/O Alfred Cook, 419295 (KIA, BR) Spotswood, VIC
Crew Sgt Arnold Alexander Lockyer, 80471 (POW / KIA, BR) Port Hedland, WA
Crew P/O George Grey Lindley, 427712 (POW / KIA, BR) Mandurah. WA
Crew F/Sgt William James Maxwell, 435994 (KIA, BR) Windsor, QLD
Crew F/Sgt Stephen Patrick Cloake, 441014 (KIA, BR) Mitchelton, QLD
Crew F/O John James Oliver Hume, 427095 (KIA, BR) Hilton, SA
Crew F/Sgt Frank Grainer Vincent Hutton, 437421 (KIA, BR) Vale, VIC
WAG F/Sgt John Victor Orgill, 441469 (POW, beaten to death July 28, 1945, MIA) East Fremantle, WA
Crew F/Sgt Brendan Michael Heslin, 440787 (KIA, BR) Mendooran, NSW
Crew F/Sgt Charles Neville Nichol, 440381 (KIA, BR) Sherwood, QLD
Observer Cpl John R. Waite, 36404344 USAAF, 15th Weather Squadron (KIA, BR)
Crashed July 27, 1945
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as B-24L-10-CO Liberator serial number 44-41581. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Liberator A72-92. Assigned to 7 Operational Training Unit (7 OTU). Later assigned to No. 24 Squadron. Finally assigned to No. 21 Squadron with fuselage code MJ-D. No known nickname or nose art.
On July 27, 1945 took off piloted by F/Lt Kenneth J. Hanson on a photographic reconnaissance mission over Celebes (Sulawesi). Aboard as an observer was U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) Cpl John R. Waite from the FEAF Regional Control and Weather Group (Provisional), 15th Weather Squadron based at Townsville. Over Tomohoan (Tomohon), this Liberator was hit by anti-aircraft fire. Four of the crew were observed to bail out. When this bomber failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
The next day, B-24 Liberator piloted by S/Ldr Angus Greenfield spotted the wreckage of this aircraft but observed no sign of survivors.
Fates of the Crew
Four of the crew bailed out: Lockyer, Lindley, Orgill and Nichol. Tragically, Nichol bailed out without a parachute and died on impact. His remains were found and buried by the Japanese.
The other three Lockyer, Lindley, Orgill landed safely. Orgill landed in the garden of a Chinese family who attempted to persuade him to escape before the Japanese arrived. He refused until he could ascertain the fate of his comrades and was captured.
Lockyer, Lindley, Orgill were captured by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POWs). A native soldier reported that on arrival at the prison, Orgill grabbed the native soldier's bayonet and began attacking guards. Four Japanese soldiers subdued him and he was beaten with sticks for half an hour until unconscious. He was stripped of his clothing and thrown into a cell with Lindley and Lockyer, dying during the night.
P/O Lindley and Sgt Lockyer, who had both been injured when baling out of the aircraft, were subject to brutal interrogations. On about August 5, they were moved to Kaaten and kept in solitary confinement.
After midnight on August 21, both Lindley and Lockyer were moved from their cell to a garage where a grave had been dug. The first man was chloroformed and buried alive. The second was chloroformed but did not lose consciousness, so he was strangled with a piece of rope and then buried.
The Japanese had tried to cover up the killings by stating the prisoners were moved to Macassar. When the remains of Lindley and Lockyer were found, there was some confusion as they had been given Orgill's uniform which had his name and Wireless/Air Gunner badge sewn on. Later, dental records would prove their identities.
In an effort to cover up Orgll's death, the Japanese exhumed his remains and those of others, burnt them and reburied them.
Postwar, the crash site was visited by a RAAF Searcher Team.
Recovery of Remains
The RAAF Searcher Team recovered the remains of Hanson, Cook, Maxwell, Cloake, Hume, Hutton, Heslin and Waite. The remains of Orgill were also found but individual identification was not possible because his remains had been burned and reburied with others
Three of the crew are individually buried at Ambon War Cemetery. Lockyer at 33.A.4 and Lindley at 33.A.3. Nichol at grave 28.A.10.
The rest of the crew (including Waite) were buried at the Ambon War Cemetery in collective grave 28 section C, 1-8. Waite also has a memorial marker at Forest Hill Cemetery in Napoleon, OH.
Orgill is memorialized at Ambon War Cemetery at the Ambon Memorial on Column 9.
USAF Serial Number Search Results - B-24L Liberator 44-41581
RAAF Searcher Brief - Liberator A72-92
B-24 Liberator Squadrons of Australia Newsletter #75
ADF Serials - Liberator A72-92
CWCG - Kenneth John Hanson
CWGC - Alfred Cook
CWGC - Arnold Alexander Lockyer
CWCG - George Grey Lindley
CWGC - William James Maxwell
CWGC - Stephen Patrick Cloake
CWCG - John James Oliver Hume
CWGC - Frank Grainer Vincent Hutton
CWGC - John Victor Orgill
CWCG - Brendan Michael Heslin
CWGC - Charles Neville Nichol
CWGC - John R. Waite
FindAGrave - Corp John Robert Waite (Ambon War Cemetery grave photo)
FindAGrave - John Robert Waite (memorial marker photo)
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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March 3, 2021
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