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No. 8 Squadron
|Pilot S/L Noel Thomas Quinn, 622 (POW, survived) Cessnock, NSW
Navigator F/O Ross Bryan O'Loghlen, 400662 (POW, executed January 14, 1944) Box Hill, VIC
W/AG F/Sgt Ian Lerwick Mainland, 408815 (MIA / KIA) East Melbourne, VIC
W/AG F/Sgt Donald McDonald, 401714 (MIA / KIA) Morwell, VIC
Crashed December 4, 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 A9-262.
Assigned to No. 8 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On December 4, 1943 took off leading six Beauforts on a torpedo strike against Japanese shipping in the St George's Channel to Blanche Bay area south of Rabaul.
Flying at low altitude darkness and bad weather at roughly 19:40 just north of the Duke of York Islands, this Beaufort struck a obstruction at about 150' above the water causing the aircraft to crash into the sea. During the crash, Quinn and O'Loughlin were thrown clear of the aircraft. Shortly afterwards their torpedo exploded a few hundred yards away.
F/O Finlay in Beaufort A9-439 lost contact with Beaufort A9-262 a few minutes before the crash and did not see it again. He sighted a ship and attacked it. His rear gunner reported an explosion on the ship and another fire about 1,000 yards east of the ship, which may have been the crash site of this aircraft.
Fates of the Crew
Quinn and O'Loughin suffered severe concussions. Quinn was only just regaining consciousness when they were picked up by the Japanese. Neither of them saw Mainland and McDonald again and assumed they had gone down with the aircraft. Both were detained at Keibitai Headquarters at Rabaul.
The next day, a Japanese interpreter told Quinn that Mainland and McDonald had been picked up alive, but badly injured and had been taken to the hospital. He thought this was a lie because he was also told that if he did not provide the information they wanted, they would withhold medical treatment and let them die.
A few days later some Indian POWs told Father Lamarre of Bitagalip Mission that two other Australian Airmen had died at Namanula Hospital and he believed they were other two crew members: Mainland and McDonald.
On January 13, 1944 a group of seventeen POWs including O'Loughlin were taken from the camp and executed on January 14. During 1950, O'Loghlen's body was found in a mass grave on Matupi Island along with the bodies of Flt Lt Geoffrey H. Vincent pilot of Beaufort A9-244 and five American airmen.
On December 20, 1943 Quinn was transported aboard an aircraft from Rabaul to Japan, along with two other prisoners: Ensign Welles pilot F6F Hellcat 08884 and Lt(jg) Stefan Albert Nyarady pilot TBF Avenger 23973. They On December 24, 1943 they were interred at Ofuna Camp near Yokohama. On September 20, 1944 transferred to Omori Camp near Tokyo. On February 28 1945 to Camp No. 18-D (Yokohama Taika Renga - brick factory camp). On June 5, 1945 to Camp 5-B at Niigata until liberated on September 5, 1945 after the official surrender of Japan.
David Forrester adds:
"I was also confused by the ADF Serials reference to Quinn being a survivor of the sinking of the Rakyo Maru. This ship sank in September 1944. However I (strongly) believe the ADF Serials statement was based on an article published in the "Sydney Morning Herald" on the 8th September 1945 which reported the return of 20 AIF survivors of the sinking of the Rakyo Maru. Sqd Ldr Noel Quinn was reported as "also" being returned with the survivors - The Sydney Morning Herald "Torpedoed But Safe" September 7, 1945 I think someone has just made the incorrect assumption that he was "also" on the Rakyo Maru."
Mainland and McDonald were officially declared dead the day of the mission. Both are memorialized at the Rabaul Memorial at Bitapaka War Cemetery on panel 35. After the recovery of remains in 1950, O'Loghlen was buried at Bitapaka War Cemetery at H. C. 3.
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-262
CWGC - Ian Lerwick Mainland
CWGC - Donald McDonald
CWGC - Ross Bryan O'Loghlen
World War II Nominal Roll - Noel Thomas Quinn
Advocate "Murdered Servicemen's Bodies Found Near Rabaul" July 15, 1950
Thanks to Daniel Leahy and David Forrester for additional information
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October 29, 2022
POW / MIA
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