|Pilot S/Ldr Clifford Sidney Bernard, 259 (MIA / KIA) Mount Macedon, VIC
Observer F/O Leonard Herbert Ophel, 407129 (KIA, BR) St. Peters, SA
Observer P/O Colin Gardner MacDonald, 411511 (KIA, BR) Gunnedah, NSW
Crew F/Sgt George Robert Daws, 401288 (survived) Doncaster, VIC
Crew Sgt William Henry Osborne, 411513 (survived) Milton, NSW
Crashed September 28, 1942
Built by the Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne.
Delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Beaufort Mark VI serial number A9-89. Assigned to 100 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.
On September 28, 1942 took off form Garbutt Airfield near Townsville at 3:45pm on a flight bound for Gurney Airfield at Milne Bay. At dusk, this aircraft arrived in the vicinity of Mullins Harbor but due to low cloud and rain, it was unable to reach Milne Bay. Instead, this Beaufort climbed above the clouds and turned westward in the direction of Port Moresby.
As he neared Port Moresby, S/Ldr Bernard turned towards land and could see what he believed were camp lights and continued westward along the southern coast of New Guinea. The first indication that the aircraft was dangerously low was when Sgt Osborne noticed that the aircraft's navigation lights were illuminating mangroves. Before he could warn the pilot, this aircraft then crashed near Kepple Point on the southern coast of New Guinea.
Fates of the Crew
F/Sgt Daws and Sgt Osborne survived the crash. On or about October 3, 1942 both were rescued by two RAAF "Moths" and returned to duty.
After the crash, the wreckage and remains of the crew killed were located by an Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) patrol led by W/O Robert John Stevenson, Q104522. At the crash site, the remains of P/O MacDonald was identified by dog tags, and S/Ldr Bernard was identified using a photo but by the time his remains could be recovered, his body had washed away. Further remains were found at the site and these were believed to be that of F/O Ophel.
Recovery of Remains
After the recovery of remains, the ANGAU patrol buried the remains of P/O MacDonald and F/O Ophel on the seafront about 400 yards east of Alaguni village.
Postwar, additional searches were made for the missing crew. A RAAF Searcher Team led by F/Lt Coape-Smith located an unidentified skull which was presumed to belong to either S/Ldr Bernard or F/O Ophel. It is unknown what happened with this skull afterwards.
The three crew killed in the crash were officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains, the two recovered crew members were buried at Bomana War Cemetery. Ophel at A1. C. 6. MacDonald at A1. C. 5.
Bernard remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA) and is memorialized at Bomana War Cemetery on the Port Moresby Memorial, panel 9.
Osborne was killed in the crash of Avro Anson LT781 on September 11, 1944. Afterwards, he was buried at Evans Head War Cemetery at Plot B. Row B. Grave 9.
Daws was discharged from the RAAF on November 9, 1945. During 1987, he was reportedly living in Morphetville, SA.
ADF Serials - Beaufort A9-89
CWGC - Clifford Sidney Bernard
CWGC - Leonard Herbert Ophel
CWGC - Colin Gardner MacDonald
WW2 Nominal Roll - George Robert Daws
CWGC - William Henry Osborne
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May 13, 2018