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No. 33 Squadron
No. 20 Squadron
No. 11 Squadron
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.
During September 1939 impressed into service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with serial number A18-11. On September 21, 1939 assigned to No. 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 No. 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 2:00pm took off from Samarai flying only 50' off the sea and at dusk landed at Wide Bay to evacuate Australian personnel for the next 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 3, 1942 took off at 12:30am off from Fairfax Harbor at Port Moresby piloted by F/L Michael V, Mather 486, 2nd pilot, Pilot Officer P. S. Devonshire 407942 on an evacuation flight with 25 RAAF personnel aboard plus two women and two children and landed safely at 5:30am at Townsville.
On Feburary 4, 1942 at 2:30am took off from Townsville piloted by F/L Michael V, Mather with 2nd pilot, Pilot Officer P. S. Devonshire on a reconaissance flight with passengers to Fairfax Harbor at Port Moresby landing at 7:55am.
On assigned to No. 33 Squadron based at Townsville.
On August 8, 1942 took off from Fairfax Harbor at Port Moresby piloted by F/L Michael V. 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 mouth of the Fly River. 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 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.
NAA "RAAF Unit History sheets (Form A50) [Operations Record Book - Forms A50 and A51] Number 20 Squadron Aug 41 - Mar 46" (NAA: A9186, 41) pages 122
(Page 122) 3/2/42 [February 3, 1942] A reconnaissance by Empire Flying Boat A18-11, Captain Flight Lieutenant M. V. Mather 486, 2nd pilot, Pilot Officer P. S. Devonshire 407942 from Moresby to Townsville carrying 25 Royal Australian Air Force personnel, two women and two children. The aircraft was airborne 0030 Z/3 and waterbourne Townsville 0530 Z/3. There were nil sightings. The average visibility was 15 miles and cloud cover 3/10.
4/2/42 [February 4, 1942] A reconnaissance by Empire Flying Boat A18-11, Captain Flight Lieutenant M. V. Mather 486, 2nd Pilot, Pilot Officer P. S. D. carrying passengers from Townsville to Moresby. The aircraft was airborne 0230Z/4 and waterborne Moresby 0755Z/4. There were nil sightings. The average visibility was 15 miles and cloud cover 3/10."
Air Enthusiast "C-Class 'Boats at War" by David Vincent page 33-37
ADF Serials - S23 A18-11
World War II Nominal Roll - Michael Vaughan Mather, 260486
World War II Nominal Roll - Peter S. Devonshire, 407942
World War II Nominal Roll - George Jarvis Edwards, 25843
CWCG - George Jarvis Edwards, 25843
FindAGrave - Leading Aircraftman George Jarvis Edwards (Lae Memorial photo)
Wrecks & Reefs (1994) page 202 (photo)
Thanks to Edward Rogers and Daniel Leahy for additional information
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