Today, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) MIA Investigations section is known as Unrecovered War Casualties - Air Force and falls under the Directorate of Coordination at RAAF Headquarters in Canberra, and matters are currently handled by Squadron Leader Greg Williams. Since 1994, the following cases have resulted in the recovery and burial of missing RAAF personnel:
1994 Indonesia Catalina A24-45
1995 Papua New Guinea Beaufighter A19-139
1997 Papua New Guinea Beaufort A9-106
1999 Papua New Guinea Wirraway A20-480
1999 Indonesia Kittyhawk A29-641
2000 Papua New Guinea Beaufighter A19-97
2001 Papua New Guinea Beaufort A9-217
2001 Netherlands Lancaster JB659
2003 Germany Lancaster ED867
2005 Indonesia Dakota A65-61
2005 Germany Lancaster PB290
2009 Vietnam Canberra A84-231
2011 France Spitfire MJ789
2012 France Spitfire BM180
2013 Italy Boston BZ590
The burial is usually about 6-12 weeks after positive identification and notification to next of kin. With few exceptions, most cases in PNG are finalised in a matter of months of the first advice to Air Force regarding a potential new site.
Dental records are the main tool used to identify individuals. The dental records of the 100,000+ who enlisted with the RAAF during WWII are retained in archives. In cases where individual ID is not possible but it is confirmed that the remains can be attributed to all on board, burial is in a common grave with individual headstones erected.
There is one person in the directorate with prime responsibility for MIA matters. This is usually one of many responsibilities of the position as recoveries or investigations of new reports are very infrequent. It is believed that most RAAF aircraft that have not yet been located in Papua New Guinea have crashed into the ocean.
Royal Australian Air Force Searcher Teams (RAAF Searcher Teams)
In the immediate post-WWII period, the Royal Australian Air Force Searcher Teams were responsible for searching for missing Australian aircraft and airmen in the islands north of Australia (now Indonesia and Papua New Guinea).
During RAAF Searches many American, New Zealand and Japanese aircraft were also located. In Papua New Guinea the team was headed by Wing Commander Keith Rundle, OBE. In the Netherlands East Indies (NEI) in present day Indonesia the team was headed by F/Lt Martin T. O'Shea.
W/Cdr Keith Rundle, OBE
F/Lt Martin T. O'Shea
S/Ldr John Douglas Coape-Smith, O299
RAAF Personnel Missing during WWII and the Korean War
As of August 2014 there are 3,125 RAAF personnel listed on Missing Memorials around the world covering the period 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947. A further 18 are listed on the United Nations Memorial in Seoul as missing during the Korean War of 1950 to 1953. All Australian servicemen missing during the Vietnam War have now been recovered.
Today, SQNLDR Greg Williams is part of Air Force MIA Investigations, Directorate of Coordination – Air Force. He has been a part of wreck investigations starting in 1980 to the present day.
Today, the department is known as Air Force Unrecovered War Casualties.
Search in the "Never Never" film includes RAAF party was led by Group Captain Keith Rundle
The Searchers (1999) by Jim Eames
WW2 Nominal Roll - Keith Manson Rundle
The London Gazette - MBE Notification
The London Gazette - OBE Notification
RAAF Searcher Team S/Ldr Rundle report, August 12, 1946
Report by S/Ldr Rundle No. 58(c) Babo Area, 6-1947
Report by S/Ldr Rundle on United States Liberator Aircraft Recovered Kasar, Senindara River, Babo Area
WW2 Nominal Roll
- John Douglas Coape-Smith
RAAF Casualty Database database of all RAAF service personnel killed and missing during the Second World War and later conflicts
Thanks to SQNLDR Greg Williams and Daniel Leahy for additional information
Do you have photos or additional information to add?