August 3, 2019 – The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed a search and recovery mission in Indonesia for the remains of 10 Australian airmen aboard Catalina A24-50, 76 years after the aircraft failed to return from a wartime mission.
Reported missing on 2 September 1943 while on a sea mining operation to Sorong in occupied Dutch New Guinea, the wreckage of RAAF No 11 Squadron Catalina A24-50 was located near Fakfak, in West Papua in April 2018.
Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel Darren Chester said the Air Force Unrecovered War Casualties team positively identified the missing aircraft during a reconnaissance mission to the crash site last year.
“We are committed to honoring the service and sacrifice of Australian military personnel from all theatres of war,” Chester said.
“The RAAF team has concluded further search activities in the field and have reported finding a number of items of interest which require further testing in order to confirm the origin of each item.
“The only major recognizable pieces of wreckage were two sections of the wing, engines and propeller, and the empennage (rear part of fuselage) across the top of a ridge.
“We are very grateful for the support and assistance provided by the Indonesian Air Force throughout this process, without which this work could not take place.”
Photo for representative purposes: Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat aircraft, RAAF serial no. A24-53. Official RAAF photo.