LEST WE FORGET

Air Operations: (No. 25 Squadron Liberator aircraft A72-133), off Sumba, Dutch East Indies, 26 April 1945

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. The 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 of 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 (416680) (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