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|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
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 A9-571. Assigned to 100 Squadron. No known nose art or nickname.
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.
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