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  DAP Beaufort Mark VIII Serial Number A9-571  
100 Squadron

Pilot  F/O Lyle Manhire McLaren, 416874 (MIA / KIA) Largs Bay, SA
Navigator  F/O Sydney Louis Anderson 410192 (MIA / KIA) Canterbury, VIC
WAG  FSGT Francis Maloney, 410995 (MIA / KIA) Coolamon, NSW
WAG  FLGOFF Raymond A. Graetz, 417175 (WIA, rescued) Mount Pleasant, SA
Ditched  May 20, 1944 at 11:14am

Aircraft History
Built by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.

Wartime History
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufort Mark VIII serial number A9-571. Assigned to 100 Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.

Mission History
On May 20, 1944 at 8:42am took off from Tadji Airfield piloted by F/O Lyle M. McLaren as one of nine Beauforts on bombing mission against Wom Point to Suain. Over the target, this Beaufort was hit by anti-aircraft fire and ditched into the sea in the vicinity of Wom Point. The crew deployed the life raft and paddled towards shore.

Fates of the Crew
Near shore, their raft was fired on by an an enemy machine gun. The first burst killed Anderson. The second burst holed the raft and the three remaining crew started to swim along side. The third burst collapsed the raft and killed McLaren, and wounded Graetz who started swimming out to sea. The fate of Maloney is unknown, either died with the aircraft or was killed.

Eventually, Graetz was able to swim ashore and collapsed under a bush, suffering from loss of blood and exhaustion, and rested until the following day. Wandering in enemy territory, he attempted to walk westward back to Tadji.

During his trek westward, he encountered many Japanese soldiers, but avoided being captured by posing as a dejected Passing But Drome, he inspected enemy aircraft and discovered a 37mm anti-aircraft gun and puts sand into the barrel and breech to foul the weapon. Japanese soldier. Along the way, he attempted to disable Japanese trucks by removing vital parts, or searching soldier kits. In total, he spent eight days behind enemy lines.

On May 28, 1944, he was rescued by PT-128 and PT-131 near the mouth of the Danmap River. Unable to swim to the boats or hold a tow line, Lt. William W. Stewart and Ens Gregory J. Azarigian paddled ashore in a rubber raft to rescue him despite sniper fire.

Information regarding enemy positions and installations from Graetz's time behind enemy lines was relayed to intelligence and used to plan bombing missions against the area. Later, Graetz was awarded the Military Cross for his courage and resourcefulness behind enemy lines.

The other members of the crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission and are memorialized at Lae War Cemetery on the Lae Memorial. McLaren and Anderson on panel 6. Maloney panel 7.

NAA RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] Number 100 Squadron Mar 42 - Aug 46 page 291-292
RAAF Honours and Awards Military Cross Citation FLGOFF Raymond A. Graetz
"Throught the entire period until his rescue Flying Officer Graetz, although suffering from illness and privations, showed outstanding courage, initiative and complete disregard for his own safety. His devotion to duty is worthy of the highest prise."
AFD Serials - Beaufort A9-571
At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy (1962) by Robert Bulkley pages 244
Great Air Escapes (1991) by Robert Piper pages 84-91
"He Wandered Back from Wewak. Graetz states he was spotted by some P-39 pilots (Piper says 110th Tactical Recon. Sqdn out of Tadji) near the Danmap river... came across a soldier boiling six billies of tea. He came towards me calling out, but I waved my hand across my face, as if in pain and walked on... Just across another creek, in a clearing, saw six armed soldiers. Walked right past them. They merely looked and said nothing. Several more were met all walking eastward along the track. Every one seemed tired and disinterested with arms hanging down at their sides. Some grunted as we passed so I grunted back a reply."
Mayday! : A Journey Through Enemy Lines and Through Life (2005) by Ray Graetz as told to Don Bain
Wikipedia - Syd Anderson
"was an Australian rules footballer who played with Melbourne in the Victorian Football League."
CWGC - Lyle Manhire McLaren
CWGC - Francis Maloney
CWGC - Sydney Louis Anderson
RAAFDB - Beaufort A9-571
ADF Serials - A9-571
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
June 29, 2019


Tech Info

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