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  C-47A-25-DK Dakota Serial Number A65-54 Tail VH-CUP
9 Communication Unit

Former Assignments
3 AD
15 ARD
13 ARD
No. 33 Squadron
Ronald Hanrahan
Verdun B. Sheah

Click For Enlargement
Sepoy Chain Singh

Click For Enlargement
Sepoy Chain Singh
Pilot  F/Lt. Ronald Alexander Hanrahan, 423723 (KIA, BR) Ballina, NSW
Co-Pilot  F/Lt. Grahame Patrick Lobwein, 404723 (KIA, BR) Toowoomba, QLD
Navigator  Flight Sgt Douglas Albert Bruderlin, 444773 (KIA, BR) Singleton, NSW
Passenger  Sister Verdun Bernice Sheah, 501253 (KIA, BR) Narrandera, NSW
 LAC Hugh Cushing, 419913 RAAF (KIA, BR) Brighton Beach, VIC
Passenger  Cpl Stanley William Bridge, 69362 RAAF (KIA, BR) Farley, NSW
Passenger  LAC Maurice James Mills, 137163 RAAF (KIA, BR) Kingsford, NSW
Passenger  LAC Norman Harold Blake, 431713 RAAF (KIA, BR) Footscray, VIC
Passenger  Seaman David Thomas Bristow, PM.8156 HMAS Bangalow (KIA, BR) Yarraville, VIC
Passenger  Seaman Edgar Murry Hancock, B5360 HMAS B5360 (KIA, BR) Ipswich, QLD
Passenger  Lt. John Lisle Honey, RANVR (KIA) Bunbury, WA
Passenger  Lt. Leonard Henry Beard, V196067 8 Movement Control Group (KIA, BR) Clifton Hill, VIC
Passenger  Lt. Col. Thomas Dennis Hannon, SX11016 (KIA, BR) Hazelwood Park, SA
Passenger  W/O Clive Frederick Martin, NX157274 1 New Guinea Bn (KIA, BR) Enfield, NSW
Passenger  Major Lionel Charles Saunders, VX20272 AWGS (KIA, BR) Hawthorn, VIC
Passenger  Major Laurence Balerno Cunningham, SX25194 A.I.F. Base Sub Area (KIA, BR) Medindie, SA
Passenger  Lt. William Reaburn Grieve, VX135784 18 Ord. Depot (KIA, BR) St. Kilda, VIC
Passenger  Driver Ronald Arthur Spencer [alias Evans], VX78437 (KIA, BR) Williamstown, VIC
Passenger  Sepoy Lakhu Ram, 12148 12th Frontier Force Reg., 2nd Bn. (KIA, BR) Chabin, Kangra, India
Passenger  Sepoy Shiv Singh, 18182 12th Frontier Force Reg., 2nd Bn. (KIA, BR) Palela, Bilaspur, India
Passenger  L/Cpl Dina Nath, 7381 17th Dogra Regiment, 3rd Bn. (KIA, BR) Kotli Jhajar, Jammu, Kashmir
Passenger  Sepoy Jan Abdullah, 9508 14th Punjab Reg., 15th Bn. (KIA, BR) Sumai, Kohat, Pakistan
Passenger  Sepoy Chain Singh, 17649 12th Frontier Force Reg., 2nd Bn. (KIA, BR) Lalewali, Sialkot, Pakistan
Passenger  Naik Hamir Singh, 11928 12th Frontier Force Reg. (KIA, BR) Nanawan, India
Passenger  Havildar Munshi, 4406 17th Dogra Reg. (KIA, BR) Dodra, India
Passenger  Sepoy Gustasab Khan, 17600 14th Punjab Regiment (KIA, BR) Jhelum, Pakistan
Passenger  Sepoy Muzaffar Ali, 6786, 14th Punjab Regiment, 5th Bn. (KIA, BR) Surakhi, Pakistan
Passenger  Lance Naik Sikandar Khan, 12053 (KIA, BR) Attock, Pakistan
Crashed  November 15, 1945

Aircraft History
Built by Douglas Aircraft Company. Constructors Number 13339. Delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) C-47A-25-DK Skytrain serial number 42-93428. Ferried overseas via Hickam Field then across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
On June 4, 1944 delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as C-47A Dakota serial number A65-54 with 3 Air Depot (3 AD). Assigned Australian call sign VH-CUP. No known nickname or nose art.

On June 17, 1944 assigned to No. 33 Squadron. On September 6, 1944 assigned to 9 Communication Unit. (9 CU) then returned to No. 33 Squadron two weeks later.

On October 7, 1944 returned to 9 CU. On November 6, 1944 assigned to 13 Aircraft Repair Depot (13 ARD). On December 14, 1944 returned to 9 CU. On January 5, 1945 returned to No. 33 Squadron.

On April 13, 1945 took off piloted by F/O K Gambling, 22381, W/O K. Laughlin, F/Sgt Nathan Hume, 433704 and LAC Alan Girdler, 43966 and while landing at Lae Airfield suffered a bent the tail wheel. None of the crew were injured in the landing.

On April 17, 1945 assigned to 15 Aircraft Repair Depot (15 ARD) for repairs. On May 3, 1945 returned to No. 33 Squadron. On September 20, 1945 assigned for 13 ARD. On October 1, 1945 returned to No. 33 Squadron.

Mission History
On November 15, 1945 took from Lae Airfield via Finschafen Airfield and Jacquinot Bay Airfield piloted by F/Lt. Ronald Alexander Hanrahan on a flight bound for Rabaul. Aboard were twenty-seven including it flight crew, and passengers from the Australian Army, Navy, RAAF and one nurse. Also, ten Indian POWs "DADWGS".

The Indians were all members of the 2/12th Frontier Force Regiment, 4/9 Jats Regiment, that surrendered at Singapore. As Prisoners Of War (POWs), they were transported to Wewak and were forced to labor for the Japanese Army. During October 1945 they were liberated at Marienberg by the Australian Army. These ten Indians were the only survivors of their contingent. On October 14, 1945 they were transported to Boram for medical treatment for their wounds and beri-beri at the 2/15th Field Ambulance. Afterwards, they were sent to Lae where they boarded this Dakota to testify at the War Crimes trials at Rabaul.

After take off from Lae Airfield, this C-47 flew to Finschafen Airfield then flew along the southern coast of New Britain before landing safely at Jacquinot Bay Airfield.

At 9:00 am took off from Jacquinot Bay Airfield on a fifty minute flight bound for Rabaul. Last heard from via radio fourteen minutes later. When this aircraft failed to arrive it was officially declared Missing In Action (MIA).

In fact, this Dakota crashed into an unnamed mountain with an elevation of 7,000' roughly 150' below the peak in the Kol Mountains on New Britain roughly six miles inland from Milim bordering Wide Bay. Everyone aboard were killed in the crash. The height of this peak was incorrectly plotted on their maps. This Dakota was officially written off on November 23, 1945.

When this aircraft failed to arrive, a search was mounted to locate the missing plane. On November 16, 1945 at 4:00pm the crash site was located by a RAAF Dakota piloted by S/LDR J. W. Maloney (C.O., 33 Squadron) who radioed the approximate position and reported that the possibility of any survivors was unlikely. Later, a search party was sent to the crash site to recover the remains of the crew.

This Dakota crashed roughly 150' below the peak of a 7,000' mountain. The wreckage was strewn over a large area.

Recovery of Remains
After November 16, 1945, an Australian search party trekked to the crash site to recover the remains of the crew and passengers. When they reached the crash site and determined the Dakota had flown into a cloud and collided with the mountain. They recovered the remains of all the crew and passengers to the coast then to Rabaul for permanent burial.

Everyone aboard was officially declared dead the day of the mission. After the recovery of remains in late 1945, the crew and passengers were buried individually at Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery. Cunningham at C. A. 5. Hanrahan at C. A. 12. Lobwein at C. A. 13. Bruderlin at C. A. 16. Sheah at C. B. 2. Cushing at C. A. 14. Bridge at C. B. 1. Mills at C. A. 11. Blake at C. A. 15. Bristow at C. A. 2. Hancock at C. A. 3. Honey at C. A. 1. Beard at C. A. 8. Hannon at C. A. 4. Martin at C. A. 9. Saunders at C. A. 6. Grieve at C. A. 7. Spencer [alias Evans] at C. A. 10. Abdullah at K. A. 6. Singh at Q. C. 3. Chain Singh at Q. C. 1. Ram at Q. B. 16. Shiv Singh at Q. C. 3. Nath at Q. C. 4. Hamir Singh at Q. C. 5. Munshi at Q. C. 6. Gustasab Khan at J. A. 8. Ali at J. B. 14. Sikandar Khan at J. A. 5.

USAF Serial Number Search Results - C-47A-25-DK Skytrain 42-93428
"93428 (MSN 13339) to RAAF as A65-54 (VH-CUP). Crashed 11/1945 near Rabaul PNG"
ADF Serials - Dakota A65-54
NAA "Douglas Dakota A65 [Part 2]" A pages 51-55 (NAA: A9845, 117)
NAA "Bruderlin Douglas Albert" (NAA: A9301, 444773)
CWGC - Ron Alexander Hanrahan
CWGC - Grahame Patrick Lobwein
CWGC - Douglas Albert Bruderlin
CWGC - Verdun Bernice Sheah
CWGC - Hugh Cushing
CWGC - Stanley William Bridge
CWGC - Maurice James Mills
CWGC - Norman Harold Blake
CWGC - David Thomas Bristow
CWGC - Edgar Murry Hancock
CWGC - John Lisle Honey
CWGC - Leonard Henry Beard
CWGC - Thomas Dennis Hannon
CWGC - Clive Frederick Martin
CWGC - Lionel Charles Saunders
CWGC - Laurence Balerno Cunningham
CWGC - William Reaburn Grieve
CWGC - Ronald Arthur Evans [alias]
CWGC - Ronald Arthur Spencer
CWGC - Lakhu Ram
CWGC - Shiv Singh
CWGC - Dina Nath
CWGC - Jan Abdullah
CWGC - Chain Singh
CWGC - Hamir Singh

CWGC - Munshi
CWGC - Gustasab Khan
CWGC - Muzaffar Ali
CWGC - Sikandar Khan
A Song For Sister Sheah by Robert Piper
Thanks to Robert Piper and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
January 2, 2022

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