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  S.23 "Calypso" Serial Number A18-11  
33 Squadron

Former Assignments
20 Squadron
11 Squadron
Imperial Airlines

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via Short c1940

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AWM February 17, 1940

Aircraft History
Built by Short in Rochester, Kent United Kingdom. Constructors Number S.843. Assigned the British registration G-AEUA. Operated by Imperial Airways London (IAL). Nicknamed "'Calypso" on both sides of the nose. "Imperial Airways London" on both sides of the fuselage and "G-AEUA" on the rear fuselage.

Wartime History
During September 1939 impressed into service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with serial number A18-11. On September 21, 1939 assigned to 11 Squadron operating from Walter Bay off Ela Beach and Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby.

During 1940, used as part of a RAAF survey flight operating in New Guinea with S23 "Centaurus" A18-10. Between May 1940 until the start of the Pacific to investigated suspicious movements, defend trade and conduct periodic reconnaissance over Port Moresby, Rabaul, Tulagi and Port Vila, organize a radio network, establish Advance Operational Bases (AOBs) and defend Port Moresby.

By July 1940 modified with bombing cupola in the nose, 7.7mm Lewis gun mounts and long range fuel and oil tanks fitted for long range wartime operations. During late 1940, unsuccessfully searched for German surface raiders in the area.

On December 26, 1941 this flying boat evacuated 46 adults and 9 children from Rabaul.

On January 22, 1942 took off from Port Moresby piloted by Flt Lt. Mike Mather along with S.23 "Coogee" A18-12 piloted by Flt Lt. Len Grey took on a flight to Wide Bay off New Britain to rescue RAAF 24 Squadron personnel walked from Rabaul to the southern coast of New Britain, but was diverted to Samarai due to a Japanese air raid over Rabaul.

On January 23, 1942 at 2pm departed Samarai flying only 50' off the sea before landing at Wide Bay at dusk and loaded Australian personnel for four hours. In total 86 RAAF personnel were loaded aboard the two flying boats and were flown to Samarai Island that evening, landed along a flare path. Afterwards, this flying boat flew 42 of those rescued to Townsville while S.23 "Coogee" A18-12 returned to Wide Bay and rescued 49 more personnel. Afterwards, both pilots were awarded the Air Force Cross for these rescue flights.

On February 12, 1942 assigned to 33 Squadron based at Townsville.

Mission History
On August 8, 1942 took off from Port Moresby piloted by Flt Lt Mather on a mission to search for survivors of MV Mamutu sunk two days earlier in the Gulf of Papua. While aligning to land in heavy seas to rescue survivors of the sunken ship, a swell stove in the nose and the next wave ripped the fuselage. Subsequent waves swamped the flying boat and causing it to sink within two minutes. Killed in the landing was rigger LAC George Jarvis Edwards, 25843.

Fates of the Crew
The rest of the crew managed to deploy the two life rafts. One of the survivors from the shipwreck, William Griffin managed to swim to their rafts was picked up. After two days in the Gulf of Papua, the two rafts made landfall near the Fly River mouth. The group walked eight days with the help of native people before reaching Kikori.

Aided by the Resident Magistrate of Kikori, the crew boarded a coastal lugger and were transported back to Port Moresby arriving on August 28, 1942 and returned to duty.

Edwards was officially declared dead the day of the mission. He is memorialized at Lae War Cemetery on the Lae Memorial, panel 7.

Air Enthusiast "C-Class 'Boats at War" by David Vincent page 33-37
ADF Serials - S23 A18-11
World War II Nominal Roll - George Jarvis Edwards
Wrecks & Reefs page 202 (photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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