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|Pilot FLGOFF David Bryan Frith Strachan, 401862 (survived) Paddington, NSW
Gunner FSGT John Leslie Brassil, 421883 (survived) Paddington, NSW
Ditched April 6, 1944 at 1:30pm
Built by Bristol in the United Kingdom. Assigned Royal Air Force (RAF) as Beaufighter Mark XIc serial number JM170. Disassembled and shipped overseas to Australia as part of defense aid.
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufighter Mark XIc serial number A19-156 and reassembled. On November 23, 1943 assigned to 31 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On April 6, 1944 at 11:00am took off from Drysdale Airfield piloted by FLGOFF D. B. Strachan on a mission against Semau Island. Over the target, the formation made strafing runs over an oil tanker ship 160' in length in Pelican Bay. This Beaufighter flew through and area of intense light anti-aircraft fire, possibly 20mm shells.
Approximately two minutes after leaving the target area the right engine began vibrating badly and stopped running and the pilot turned on a course towards the nearest land and fired off all remaining 20mm ammunition to lighten the aircraft. Flying on only the left engine for another five minutes at low level, the fuel pressure light came on despite enough fuel in the tank then the left engine also lost power. Quickly, he changed the feed was changed to the right tank then back to the left tank and restarted the engine.
Once beyond the range of Japanese radar, climbed to 900' then the left engine temperature climbed and became hotter and began loosing power. At 1:30pm this Beaufighter ditched at 1:30pm at roughly Lat 12° 30' S Long 123° 33' E off Cartier Island with the upper half of the aircraft above the water line. Both crew survived the landing unhurt.
Fates of the Crew
Afterwards, they setup one of the machine guns on a coconut palm stump for defense.
At dusk of the same day, both were rescued by Catalina A24-44 and took off again after dark.
After the rescue, the intact wreckage was strafed by Beaufort piloted by F/Lt J. H. Gordon and burst into flames and was destroyed to prevent it from being captured by the Japanese.
NAA "Confirmatory Memorandum. Casualty Beaufighter Aircraft A19-156 pilot. Pilot - Flying Officer D. B. F. Strachan (401862). No. 31 Squadron" 26 April 1944.
ADF Serials - Beaufighter A19-156
WW2 Nominal Roll - David Bryan Frith Strachan
WW2 Nominal Roll - John Leslie Brassil
Beaufighters In The Pacific A History of the RAAF Beaufighter Squadrons in the South West Pacific Area page 50
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information
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