RAAF Prisoners of War in the Pacific - WW2

THE 1 W.A.G.S. MEMORIAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO THOSE RAAF TRAINEES WHO SERVED IN ALL THEATRES OF WAR DURING
WW2 AND BECAME PRISONERS OF WAR.

To date 139 1 W.A.G. personnel were held in captivity with 31 dying as P.O.W.s. These airmen were held in German, Italian and Japanese camps.
Twenty-two P.O.W.s died at the hands of the Japanese. The rest were whilst prisoners of Italian/German captors.

The following RAAF airmen and 1 WAGS trainees became Prisoner of War of the Japanese during WW2.

Two from No. 2 Squadron were executed and three from No. 25 Squadron survived to be repatriated back to Australia.

This is their story.

LEST WE FORGET


No. 2 Squadron Lockheed Hudson Aircraft A16-233 shot down near the Tanimbar Islands, west of Timor 9 September 1943. Threw crew were killed and two became POW held by the Japanese and executed on the 31 October 1943.

Flight Sergeant Maurice Anthony GRAHAM 410337

POW - Maurice Anthony GRAHAMService No: 410337
Born: Geelong VIC, 6 January 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 December 1941

No. 1 Wireless Air Gunners Ballarat Victoria Course 23
No. 3 Bombing Air Gunners School West Sale Victoria

Unit: No. 2 Squadron, Darwin Northern Territory
Died: Prisoner of War (Executed) (following the loss of No. 2 Squadron Hudson aircraft A16-233 on
8 September 1943: Northwest Flank), Ambon, Executed 31 October 1943, aged 20 Years
Buried: Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of James and Violet May Graham, of Thornbury, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 98, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Maurice Anthony Graham, 2 Squadron RAAF. Flt Sgt Graham, a presser from Geelong, Victoria, enlisted on 6 December 1941.

POW - Maurice Anthony GRAHAM

On or about the 9th of September he was captured by the Japanese after the 2 Squadron Lockheed Hudson in which he was a Wireless-Air Gunner (WAG) was shot down near the Tanimbar Islands, west of Timor. It was subsequently determined that he was executed by the Japanese on Ambon Island on 31 October 1943.

One of a series of images used by Allied prosecutors during the war crimes trials of Japanese charged with the murder of Australian pilots.

The prints were produced in some numbers and used by investigative units in in Southeast Asia trying to locate the graves of missing RAAF pilots and aircrew. Initially showed to local natives and to Japanese prisoners of war, some were later produced in court as evidence during the trials of Japanese POW charged with the men's murder.


Flight Sergeant Jack William Robinson BOANAS 417331

Service No: 417331
Born: Muston SA, 7 December 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 25 April 1942

No. 1 Wireless Air Gunners School Ballarat Victoria Course 27
No. 3 Bombing Air Gunners School West Sale Victoria

POW - Flight Sergeant Jack William Robinson BOANASUnit: No. 2 Squadron, Darwin NT
Died: Prisoner of War (Executed) (following the loss of No. 2 Squadron Hudson aircraft A16-233 on 8 September 1943),
Ambon, Executed 31 October 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William and Wilhelmina Elsie Boanas; husband of Mary Berenice Boanas,
of Darlinghurst, New South Wales, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 98, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

 

Air Operation

POW - Air Operation

At about 1300 hours on 8 September 1943, Hudson A16-233 took off to carry out a shipping reconnaissance in the Arafura Sea around the Tanimbar Island and the aircraft failed to return to base.

A16-233 was shot down by a merchant ship, the Sugi Maru, north of Tanimbar Island. Three of the crew were killed in the crash and the other two were able to bail out and were taken prisoner. Both were taken to Ambon on the Sugi Maru and arrived on 17 September 1943 and were handed over to the Japanese Army.

Graham was treated in a Japanese hospital for his wounded leg and after his discharge the two were imprisoned in Benteng for some days before they were both executed by the Japanese on or before the 31 October 1943. Extensive post-war investigations and interrogations led to the recovery of their remains in a mass grave at Benting.

Those responsible were brought to trial.

Members of No. 2 [Hudson] Squadron RAAF stand beside their aircraft. Identified are R F/Lt R Durbin,Sgt I Parker,F/Off R Dixon, Sgt TD Dargan and Sgt FE Boyd. The Lockheed Hudson behind them is A16-233 which failed to return from a No. 2 Squadron operation code named 'Horse', a reconnaissance patrol in the Tanimbar Islands.The following day, Hudsons A16-192,-236 and -204 were tasked with completing the operation and to search for the missing Hudson and its crew. No sightings were made despite a six hour search.

The crew members of A16-233 were:

Flight Sergeant Jack William Robinson Boanas (417331) (Wireless Air Gunner) POW Executed 31 October 1943
Flight Sergeant Maurice Anthony Graham (410337) (Wireless Air Gunner) POW Executed 31 October 1943
Flying Officer Lynnton Ainsley Martin (408816) (Pilot) Killed
Pilot Officer Marcus Cedric Wettenhall (408818) (Navigator Bomb Aimer) Killed
Pilot Officer Ralph Henry Williams (410391) (Wireless Air Gunner) Killed

The entire crew was officially declared dead on September 8, 1943. All are memorialised on the Northern Territory Memorial. Martin on panel 5, Wettenhall panel 8 and Williams panel 8.

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/6/267

Bibliography:

Wilson, S. (Stewart) Anson, Hudson and Sunderland in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992


No. 25 Squadron Liberator aircraft A72-133 crash landed off Sumba, Dutch East Indies, 26 April 1945.
Twelve crew were taken prisoner and held by the Japanese until repatriated back to Australia.

Warrant Officer Thomas BONNICE 401737

Service No:  401737
Born: Valletta, Malta 30 September 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 March 1941

No. 1 Wireless Air Gunners School Ballarat Victoria Course 13
No. 2 Bombing Air Gunners School Port Pirie South Australia

Unit: 25 Squadron
Discharged: 8 February 1946
POW: Yes, Held by Japanese Bima Gaol and Cycle Camp Batavia


Flight Lieutenant Ernest Radcliffe OLDFIELD DFM 406221

POW - Ernest Radcliffe OLDFIELDService No. 406221
Born: Subiaco, Western Australia
Enlisted: in the RAAF 12 September 1940

No. 1 Wireless Air Gunners School Ballarat Victoria Course 6
No. 1 Bombing Air Gunners School Evans Head New South Wales

Unit: 25 Squadron
Discharged: 22 March 1946
POW: Yes, Held by Japanese Cycle Camp Batavia
Honours: Distinguished Flying Medal


Flight Lieutenant Ronald Thomas ROBINSON 033146[418680]

POW - ROBERTSON Ronald Thomas

Service No: 033146 [418680]
Born: London England 3 April 1911
Enlisted in the RAAF: 29 May 1942

No. 1 Wireless Air Gunners School Ballarat Victoria Course 31
No. 3 Bombing Air Gunners School West Sale Victoria

Unit: 25 Squadron
Discharged: 22 September 1952
POW: YES, Held by Japanese Bima Goal and Cycle Camp Batavia

 

Air Operation

No. 25 Squadron Liberator aircraft A72-133 crash landed off Sumba, Dutch East Indies, 26 April 1945.
Twelve crew were taken prisoner and held by the Japanese.

No. 25 Squadron lost its first aircraft over enemy territory on 26th April when eight Liberators from this squadron, staging through Corunna Downs, set off to attack Malang airfield near Surabaya to put it out of commission during the operation against Tarakan. Squadron Leader Dennett (1) led the eight Liberators which took off at five-minute intervals.

POW - TROVE POW 2The weather was bad over Java as well as over the alternate target, and although some of the Liberators bombed, results could not be observed because of cloud. The fifth aircraft in the mission captained by Squadron Leader Wawn sent out distress signals.

Wawn called for a bearing and said he was then making for Truscott airfield. Off Sumba, Wawn informed base that he would have to land. He did so successfully but unfortunately all the crew were captured almost immediately by Japanese soldiers and taken first to Sumbawa, later to Lombok and Bali and eventually to Batavia, where they arrived towards the end of June 1945.

During their imprisonment the men, particularly Wawn, received brutal treatment, being beaten and tortured by Japanese interrogators. All members of the crew survived, however, and were released at Batavia at the end of the war.

(1) Wing Commander John Eric Stephen Dennett (O21922) (260709) was discharged from the RAAF on 1 December 1961.

Extract from Odgers, G.J. (George James) (VX127783) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Pages 454-5

The crew members of A72-133 were:

Warrant Officer Thomas Bonnice (401737) (Second Wireless Operator) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 8 February 1946
Flight Lieutenant David William James Buchanan (420132) (Second Pilot) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 31 January 1946
Flight Sergeant Norman William Haywood (115806) (Air Gunner) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 24 December 1945
Sergeant Desmond Joseph Moloney (432724) (Air Gunner) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 5 July 1946
Flight Sergeant Bernard William McInerney (438399) (Air Gunner) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 11 February 1946
Flight Lieutenant Lyndon Lloyd McKenzie (First Wireless Operator) (416284) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 27 June 1946
Sergeant Lloyd Francis Medwin (29811) (Flight Engineer) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 7 March 1946
Flight Lieutenant Ernest Radcliffe Oldfield DFM (406221) (Area Gunnery Officer, Western Area) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 March 1946
Flying Officer Colin Cairns Allen Robertson (412704) (Navigator) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 21 December 1945
Flying Officer Ronald Thomas Robertson (418680) (O33146) (Gunnery Leader) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 22 September 1952
Flying Officer Peter Stuart Sykes (424228) (Bomb Aimer) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 21 January 1946
Squadron Leader Jack Aubrey Wawn AFC (261720) (Pilot) Pow, Discharged from the RAAF: 30 October 1945

References:

Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Mallard, P.L. (Paul Laurence) (424592) No. 25 City of Perth Squadron: An account of this Squadron’s activities whilst operating B-24 Liberator aircraft from Western Australia 1945-6, Paul L. Mallard, 1996

Bibliography:

Nelmes, M.V. (Michael) Tocumwal to Tarakan: Australians and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, Banner Books Belconnen ACT 2616, 1994
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Boston, Mitchell and Liberator in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992

EXTERNAL LINKS: With thanks to -  Pacific Wrecks      Virtual War Memorial Australia     Australian War Memorial      Ex Prisoner of War Memorial Ballarat                  

POW Camp

 

 

 

Acknowledgements

National Archives of AustraliaUBC Web DesignCity of BallaratDepartment of Veterans+39 AffairsAustralian War MemorialRSL Virtual War Memorial