|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 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 St. 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.
The bomber rests on a white sandy bottom at roughly 60' depth.
During January 2000, discovered by Rod
Pearce on sandy sea floor off Kawa
Island, with research assistance from Don Fetterly.
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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February 14, 2020