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  PBY-5 "The Dabster" Serial Number A24-64 Code OX-D
No. 43 Squadron

RAAF 1944
Pilot  F/Lt Herbert Cunningham Roberts, 406368 (MIA / KIA) Yarrawonga, VIC
Co-Pilot  F/Lt Frank William Silvester, 411054 (MIA / KIA) Collaroy, NSW
Navigator  F/O Robert Carlisle Barbour, 419949 (MIA / KIA) Coburg, VIC
Radio  F/Lt James Henry Cox, 411867 (MIA / KIA) Warren, NSW
Asst Radio  F/O Raymond Harold Bradstreet, 406824 (MIA / KIA) South Yarra, VIC
Engineer  Sgt James Robert Robinson, 37766 (MIA / KIA) Watson's Bay, NSW
Asst Engineer  F/Sgt David John Albert, 37077 (MIA / KIA) Auburn, NSW
Rigger  Sgt John Charles MacDonald, 15882 (MIA / KIA) Manly, NSW
Armourer  Sgt Harold Stanley Goodchild, 82777 (MIA / KIA) Mukinbudin, WA
MIA  December 14, 1944

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation in San Diego. Constructors Number 1329. Delivered to the U.S. Navy (USN) as PBY-5 Catalina Bureau Number 08405. Ferried via Hawaii across the Pacific to Australia.

Wartime History
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as PBY-5 Catalina serial number A24-64. On August 7, 1943 assigned to No. 43 Squadron with code OX-D. Nicknamed "The Dabster" in white on the left side of the nose in cursive and block lettering, Australian slang for an expert or or the best at something.

In early December 1944, this Catalina was flown from Darwin Harbor Seaplane Base in Darwin Harbor northward via Morotai to San Pedro Bay near Jinamoc Island to stage for an aerial mining mission against Manila Bay to imped any Japanese vessels leaving to intercept the U.S. invasion of Mindoro.

Mission History
On December 14, 1944 took off from San Pedro Bay near Jinamoc Island piloted by F/Lt Herbert C. Roberts on a night mission to release sea mines in Manila Bay. The formation included Catalinas from No. 11 Squadron, No. 20 Squadron, No. 42 Squadron and No. 43 Squadron flew at five minute intervals in two flights flying independently. The first group were to approach Manila Bay from the west. The second group was to approach from the south.

The first group including this Catalina were to fly via the Hintolo Channel south of Masbate Island, then the channel between Panay Island and Karabao Island then over the middle of Semirara Island, around the western tip of Mindoro, up the coast of Mindoro turning almost due east after reaching Cape Calavite for a few miles and then proceeding almost due north through the Verde Island Passage to Bagak Bay, then cross the Bataan Peninsula between Mount Natib and Mount Mariveles to approach the western side of Manila Bay. Returning, it was to follow a course which carried them east of Corregidor and then southwest to Cape Calavite on northwest Mindoro and back to San Pedro Bay.

After take off, nothing was heard from this Catalina. When this plane failed to return it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

In fact, this Catalina crashed in northwest Mindoro. In 2015, the crash site of a plane was found in southeast of Cape Calavite in a mountainous area inside Mount Calavite Wildlife Sanctuary. Artifacts were recovered including a metal tube with the Consolidated logo, a portion of a crown from a RAAF officer’s cap badge and .303 ammunition.

During 2019, the Directorate of Historical Unrecovered War Casualties – Air Force (UWC – Air Force), conducted a reconnaissance mission to the site in a joint ADF and Government of the Philippines operation. Additional wreckage was found using metal detectors but no human remains were located at the site. After investigations and further research in Australia, the crashed aircraft was identified as Catalina A24-64. Since no remains were recovered the entire crew remains listed as Missing In Action (MIA).

The entire crew were officially declared dead the day of the mission. All are memorialized at Labuan War Cemetery on the Labuan Memorial on panel 32.

On April 23, 2015 a privately funded memorial plaque atop a large rock was dedicated to this Catalina and crew at the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) in Mariveles. The dedication ceremony was attended by Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) personnel and family members Wendy Duke, daughter of Sgt James R. Robinson and her sons Michael Duke and Peter Duke.

On June 11, 2023 a memorial plaque was dedicated to this Catalina and the crew at the Catalina Memorial in Cairns unveiled by Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Robert Chipman. The event was attended by family members and the Ambassador of the Philippines.

Wendy Duke (daughter of James R. Robinson)
Michael Duke (grandson of James R. Robinson)
Peter Duke (grandson of James R. Robinson)

Navy Serial Number Search Results - PBY-5 Catalina 08405
"08405 (MSN 1329) to RAAF as A24-64. Failed to return from Philippines 12/14/1944."
RAAF Casualty Card - Catalina A24-64
AWM Last Post Ceremony for F/Lt James Henry Cox (AWM PAFU2013/005.01)
ADF Serials - Catalina A24-64
CWGC - Herbert Cunningham Roberts
CWGC - Frank William Silvester
CWGC - Robert Carlisle Barbour
CWGC - James Henry Cox
CWGC - Raymond Harold Bradstreet
CWGC - James Robert Robinson
CWGC - David John Albert
CWGC - John Charles MacDonald
CWGC - Harold Stanley Goodchild
Australian Government Defense "Another piece of the Catalina puzzle: Reconnaissance mission update" April 16, 2019
Australian Government Defence "Nine Catalina aviators remembered" June 15, 2023
Embassy of the Philippines "PH Ambassador joins ceremony to honor 43 Squadron Catalina crew" June 14, 2023
Thanks to Tony Gridley and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
September 9, 2023

Tech Information

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