LEST WE FORGET
Flying Officer Mervyn William BATEMAN
Service No: 267574
Born: Date, Location unavailable
Enlisted in the RAAF Reserve: Date unavailable
Unit: Civil Aircrew RAAF Reserve
Died: Air Operations: Assault on New Guinea (QANTAS Empire Flying Boat G-AETZ (Circe)), between Java and Broome, 28 February 1942, Aged 30 Years
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Roland C. and Sybil Bateman; husband of Beatrice Winifred Bateman, of Vaucluse, New South Wales
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 6, Northern Territory Memorial, Adelaide River NT
Remembered: Panel 134, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
On the 28 February 1942, Qantas Empire flying boat “Circe” departed from Tjilatjap, Java for Broome. The aircraft contacted the Qantas Operations Manager Captain Brown, through Broome Radio Station about one hour after take-off. It was estimated then that the aircraft was approximately 150 miles from Tjilatjap, and that apparently all was going well. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft and it failed to arrive at its destination. It was presumed that the aircraft had been lost at sea between Java and Broome and may have been shot down by Japanese aircraft. However there was no evidence of a combat loss and the insurance and compensation aspect of the loss of the Circe went on for a number of years.
On board the plane were a crew of four and 16 passengers all evacuees from Java. The aircraft had been engaged in the transport of war supplies and the evacuation of service personnel and others from Java. The “Circe” was one of the last two Empire Flying boats to leave Java for Australia on a regular service before the Japanese invasion. All the crew members and passengers have no known graves.
The crew members of Circe were:
Flying Officer Mervyn William Bateman (267574) (First Officer)
Pilot Officer James Lionel Hogan (268074) (Purser)
Pilot Officer Herbert George Anzac Oates (268073) (Radio Operator)
Flight Lieutenant William Bloxam Purton (296) (Pilot)
The names of the 16 passengers are not recorded in the Casualty Files. These were Dutch officials and their families and also lost were the QANTAS Batavia and Surabaya Stores Records.
QANTAS Empire Flying Boats lost in the period 1942-3 were Corio (VH-ADB) on 30 January 1942 (Pilot Officer William George Cruikshank (267534)); Coogee (VH-ABC, A18-12) on 27 February 1942 (Flying Officer Robert John Love (400004)); Circe (G-AETZ) on 28 February 1942 (Flight Lieutenant William Bloxham Purton (296)); Centaurus (G-ADUT) and Corinna (G-AEUC) at Broome on 3 March 1942; Corinthian (G-AEUF) at Darwin on 22 March 1942; Calypso (G-AEUA, A18-11) near Daru PNG on 8 August 1942; and Camilla (VH-ADU) on 22 April 1943 (Pilot Officer Walter Robert Bartley (267521)).
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/5/313
Bennett-Bremner, E. Front Line Airline: The War Story of QANTAS Empire Airways Limited, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1944
Fysh, H. (Sir Hudson) QANTAS at War, Angus and Robertson, Sydney NSW, 1968