|Pilot W/O Stanley John Hart, 406204 (MIA / KIA) Ballina, NSW
Observer F/Sgt Harold Wendell Phillips, 8746 (MIA / KIA)
Shot Down January 17, 1943
Built by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC). Assigned 4 Squadron.
On January 17, 1943 from Berry Drome (12 Mile) near Port Moresby on a reconnaissance flight over Gona area, and failed to return to base. When this aircraft failed to return it was delcared Missing In Action (MIA).
Wirraway A20-507 piloted by F/O J R Mowbray and observer P/O D R Sheppard made unsuccessful search for aircraft the day of the mission. The next day, the wreckage of A20-492 was located by Wirraway A20-507 (F/O R S Boydell & P/O K N French).
Crashed inland from Sanananda. Members of the 18th Australian Infantry Brigade led by Coproral Blanch made their way to the crash site at approximately 03:00 AM on January 19, two days after the crash. Traces of blood were seen in the cockpit. The condition of the wreck was such that it was possible for the crew to have survived. A search of 40 yards from the wreck was conducted, but no trace of the crew were found.
Recovery of Remains
Postwar, in 1946 or 1947, the wreckage was again visited by a RAAF Searcher Team led by S/L Keith Rundle. Rundle discovered two sets of remains found by a native who was clearing some land for a garden, two years after the crash. The remains were under a tree near the native's house and Rundle was taken to the site that included bone fragments, remains of a black boot that was RAAF type. This site was approximately 80 yards from the crash and 50 yards from the track to Sanananda. The larger set of remains is likely F/Sgt Phillips, who was 6' 2.5" tall. This report concluded that these remains should be accepted as those of this crew, but their identity could not be established.
The remains of both crew were buried at Bomana War Cemetery. Hart is buried at C8. A. 4. Phillips is buried at C8. A. 5.
In 2005, wreckage from this aircraft was collected by locals into a large pile.
Daniel Leahy adds:
"The only Wirraway I know of where the crew was possibly captured and executed was A20-492 and the crew is still MIA. The aircraft was found by S/L Keith Rundle, but it is not known whether the crew were taken POW or died/were killed when attempting to get back to friendly territory. Based on the story and location of the wreck,
I'm pretty sure it would be Wirraway A20-492."
Justin Taylan visited the site in 2005:
"Daniel Leahy and I visited this site in September. Present were one boom, wing and shattered parts of the fuselage. It appears the plane clipped a tree losing one wing. More pieces were displayed at a roadside relics display."
No. 4 Squadron Operations Record Book (ORB) - January 17, 1943
"17/1/43 – Land/Recce, Leaflet/Dropping in GONA area. A20-492 W/O. HART S. J. - F/Sgt. PHILLIPS H. W. departed DOBODURA on land/recce. of GONA areas. Aircraft failed to return. A20-507 F/O J. R. MOWBRAY and P/O D. R. SHEPARD made unsucessful search for this aircraft."
4 Squadron Diary
RAAF Casualty Card - Wirraway A20-492
RAAF Department of Air Minute Paper - Presumption of Death of Crew of Wirraway Aircraft A20-492
A captured Japanese diary stated that on January 17 an Allied aircraft was shot down and two crew captured, no details were given, to prove it related to this aircraft.
ADF Serials - Wirraway A20-492
Thanks to Daniel Leahy for additional information and research
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June 29, 2019