LEST WE FORGET

Warrant Officer Ivan Leslie BAKER

Service No: 432543
Born: Numurkah VIC, 25 November 1924
Enlisted in the RAAF: 2 January 1943 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 179 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station St Eval
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 179 Squadron Warwick aircraft PN800), off Cornwall, 31 May 1945, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Bath (Haycombe) Cemetery, Somerset
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Frederick and Myrtle Lilian Baker, of Coolamon, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Coolamon NSW
Remembered: Panel 118, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Yass Uniting Church World War II Honour Roll, Yass NSE

At 1125 hours on 31 May 1945 Warwick PN800 took off from St Eval to carry out a routine test flight. About one hour later the aircraft got into difficulties and crashed into the sea about five miles from the aerodrome. The aircraft broke up and sank immediately. Out of a crew of eight, five survivors were picked up by a rescue launch about three quarters of an hour later. The survivors stated that Warrant Officer Baker was not seen after the crash. However, his body was later recovered.

The crew members of PN800 were:

Warrant Officer Ian Leslie Baker (432543) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Leading Aircraftman D Bird (1400580) (RAFVR) (Fitter 11E) Uninjured
Flying Officer P A Boultwood (162223) (RAFVR) (Navigator) Injured
Flight Lieutenant G M Casselman (J/22830) (RCAF) (Pilot) Uninjured
Warrant Officer Harold James Ross Cooper (424710) (Wireless Air Gunner) Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 13 May 1946
Sergeant Alan Alfred Frederick Morris (1890847) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner) Missing
Leading Aircraftman Robert Napier (817109) (RAFVR) (Fitter 11E) Missing
Flight Sergeant E A Widdall (1473819) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot) Injured

Flight Lieutenant Casselman later stated “I had feathered the starboard propeller on an air test after a minor inspection of a functioning test. When at a height of 1,500/2,000 feet I unfeathered the propeller and ran the engine slowly to allow the cylinder temperature to increase. While doing this the aircraft was losing height. When the height was between 400/500 feet the cylinder temperature had not increased and I opened up the port engine to plus 6lbs boost and 2400 revs. I then opened up the starboard engine and warned the crew to prepare for ditching. The aircraft then went into a diving turn to starboard. The aircraft was then so near to the water that I considered it useless to re-feather the starboard engine. The aircraft then hit the water and I could not remember what happened during the next few minutes.”

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/5/1143
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line