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Rodney Pearce
Discovery of RAAF Beaufort

Australian built Beaufort A9-217 was another aircraft I found. The RAAF had recovered the remains of the 4 crew members that were listed as missing in action off Kawa Island in the Trobriand Islands.

Some of you may remember the article that appeared in various Australian newspapers relating to the Recovery of the MIA's from a WW II Beaufort Bomber A9-217 last seen circling Kawa Island in Papua New Guinea.

A9-217 was attached to number 6 Squadron based at Vivagani on Goodenough Island which took off on the night of the 14/15 November 1943 at 1423Z along with 12 other Beauforts for a bombing and torpedo attack on shipping in Rabaul Harbor. "A9-217", was assigned to the torpedo attack section of the flight. The flight approached the target in formation and dropped bombs and torpedoes and was later classified as a successful mission. However, on the return flight the aircraft formation was lost and all aircraft returned singly. Flight-Officer Horton of "A9-231" at the southern end of the St. George's Channel last saw "A9-217", at approximately 1500Z. According To Horton, no opposition was encounter. However, an A.A., opened fire at this time and it was though that it was firing at A9-217 which was in the vicinity and no communication was received from the aircraft through out the return flight.

Army spotters at Kawa Island later observed an aircraft in trouble which crashed into the sea near the island. This was later investigated by a patrol craft, which found no survivors. However, a fuel tank that was found at the site of the crash and was identified as coming from a Beaufort and this is still on Kawa Island.

Those on board were Flt.Sgt. Woodgate, Sgt. Drake, Flt. Sgt.Maclean and Plt.Off. Wells. All were listed as "Missing on Operations, Presumed Killed". Their names are on the Rabaul Honor Roll at Bitapaka War Cemetery, Rabaul, New Britain.

Beauford A9-217 was first discovered 18 months previous by myself and guests on a private charter in early January 2000 and on talking to RAAF officials a team was put together to investigate the wreck and recover the MIA's

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