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No. 8 Squadron
Bob Halstead 2007
|Pilot Flight Sergeant Jack Carroll
Woodgate, 420730 (MIA / KIA) Mascot, NSW
Navigator Flight Sergeant Stewart Ian Drakes, 427073 (MIA / KIA) Perth, WA
WAG Flying Officer Geoffrey Stewart Wells, 410824 (MIA / KIA) Croxton, VIC
WAG Flight Sergeant Byron Veitch Maclean, 414053 (MIA / KIA) Baralaba, QLD
Crashed November 15, 1943
Built by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne. Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufort Mark VIII serial number A9-217.
Assigned to No. 8 Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
On November 15, 1943 took off piloted by Flight Sergeant Jack Carroll Woodgate armed with an aerial torpedo for an attack against enemy shipping near Simpson Harbor off Rabaul. Last observed at the southern end of Saint George's Channel returning to base. Later seen circling near Kawa Island. In fact, this Beaufort crashed into the sea killing the entire crew.
Early the next morning a U.S. Navy (USN) PT boat attempted to locate survivors after it was discovered that the aircraft had ditched, but nothing was found. They did recover a fuel tank found floating on the surface. This fuel tank still resides in the only village on Kawa Island and has become part of their folklore about the war.
During January 2000, discovered by Rod Pearce on sandy sea floor off Kawa Island, with research assistance from Don Fetterly. The bomber rests on a white sandy bottom at roughly 60' depth.
Recovery of Remains
During March 2001, a RAAF Searcher Team surveyed the aircraft. The team sucked the sand out of the fuselage interior and located the remains of all four crew members. Each were identified by their identity tags and dental records. Australian Veterans Affairs Minister, Bruce Scott, reported they managed to locate the families of the other three Australian airmen but have been unable to find any for Drakes.
The entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains in 2001, the crew were buried at Bitapaka War Cemetery. Woodgate at W. B. 7. Drakes W. B. 8. Wells at W. B. 5. Maclean at W. B. 6.
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-217
The Australian "RAAF Beaufort Discovery" by Graeme Leech
Thanks to Rod Pearce, Greg Williams and Michael Lee for additional information
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August 9, 2021
60' / 15m
S 08 32'
E 150 18'
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