Colin Esbert Wein, 414975 (POW, executed March 5, 1944) Gayndah, QLD
Donald Clarence Kirkwood, 21714 (POW, executed March 5, 1944) Smithfield, NSW
Crashed December 17, 1943
Built by Bristol in the United Kingdom. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia.
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufighter serial number A19-141. Assigned to 30 Squadron.
On December 17, 1943 took off piloted by F/Sgt
Colin Esbert Wein on a mission over New Britain. No emergency or message of any kind came to other aircraft on the same mission. When this aircraft failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Fates of the Crew
In fact, both crew bailed out before their aircraft crashed inland from Hoskins Airfield. Afterwards, both were captured by the Japanese and became Prisoners Of War (POWs) and were transported to Rabaul. During early March 1944 detained at Tunnel Hill POW Camp. On March 5, 1944 both were executed with a group of Allied prisoners to Tanoura at the edge of Talili Bay during the Tunnel Hill Massacre (Tunnel Hill Incident, Talili Bay Massacre).
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, the graves of both crew were located and recovered by Australian forces.
Both crew were officially declared dead on March 5, 1944. Both are buried at Bita Paka War Cemetery. Wein at A. A. 16.
Kirkwood at collective grave E. C. 5-ll.
On April 25, 2005, the crash site of this Beaufighter was discovered by timber workers, about 19km inland from Hoskins Airfield.
Cecilie Benjamin adds:
"When I identified A19-141 about 19 kms inland from the sea end of Hoskins runway. They were off hunting birds during their mid day break. I got into the wreck on the 27th April. The timber workers arrived to a scene where all the guns, ammo, ammo boxes, wireless wires, absolutely everything was there. It had never been disturbed. I have my theories about that. The two crew members even though they were some distance apart were captured by the Japanese, taken to Rabaul and a couple of months later executed by the Japanese along with about 30 USA airmen and 8 other Australian air crews. The Allies came into the Hoskins area not long after these men were most likely turned in by locals. The elders probably told everyone that particular area was a "ples masili" (full of spirits) and this kept people away to keep the aircraft not found by the Allies and no questions about what happened."
ADF Serials - Beaufighter A19-141
The Siege of Rabaul (1996) by Henry Sakaida pages 94 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Kirkwood), 96 (Rabaul's Military Prisoners - Wien)
Thanks to Cecilie Benjamin for additional information
Are you a relative or associated with any person mentioned?
Do you have photos or additional information to add?
August 10, 2019