Flight Lieutenant Roy McDowall BEATTIE DFM

Service No: 404228
Born: Brisbane QLD, 20 August 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 19 July 1940
Unit: No. 24 Squadron
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFC), 25 May 1943
Died: Air Operations: (No. 24 Squadron Liberator aircraft A72-64), Balikpapan, 2 July 1945, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Labuan War Cemetery, Malaysia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William and Elizabeth Jane Beattie, of Lagoon Pocket, Queensland, Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

DFM Citation (for service with No. 37 Squadron RAF): “This NCO has completed 34 operational sorties totalling 251 operational hours. These operations have included raids on objectives in enemy occupied countries in Europe, Crete, Cyrenaica, Tripolitania, Sicily and Tunisia. During the whole of his tour of duty with the Squadron he has maintained an exceedingly high standard of efficiency and thoroughness, never sparing himself on any occasion and has consistently shown the greatest devotion to duty. On the night of 30th/31st December 1942, he took off from LG 140 to attack Heraklion, Crete. On approaching the target, his aircraft received a direct hit from an explosive shell which shot the centre hinge of the port elevator away and blasted away another hinge, thus rendering the control of the aircraft very difficult. Only by very skilful handling of his machine was he able to make base. Again, on the night of 20/21March 1943, he was detailed for operations against enemy troop concentrations in the battle area of Gabes. On arrival at his aircraft, he found that it had not been refuelled as in fact three aircraft that night were unable to operate due to lack of fuel and refuelling facilities. He immediately commandeered a petrol lorry and at 23.30 hours, an hour before take-off was scheduled, both he and the members of his crew were refuelling their own aircraft. This was completed in time and Flight Sergeant Beattie operated as ordered and successfully completed his mission. The above incidents are typical of the initiative and common sense which Flight Sergeant Beattie has always displayed and his conduct is worthy of the highest praise.” (London Gazette 25 May 1943)

On 4 March 1941, Flight Lieutenant Beattie was in involved in an aircraft accident near Casino, New South Wales, in which Leading Aircraftman Eric Arthur Girdler (404052) was killed.

On 2 July 1945, Liberator A72-64 was detailed to carry out a bombing support operation against front line Japanese positions. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed behind enemy lines in the Balikpapan area at 1245 hours. No parachutes were seen from the aircraft and all were posted missing, believed killed. Several land parties failed to locate the crash site until an Auster Air Observation Post aircraft flew over the site. On the 1 August a reconnaissance party from the 33rd Battalion AIF led by Flying Officer Herbert. James Maudsley (34012) (O210409) (Discharged: 8 November 1945) and Flying Officer Donald Harold Cain (437492) (Discharged: 7 January 1946) recovered the remains of the crew.

The crew members of A72-64 were:

Flight Lieutenant Athol Martin Andrews (412351) (Second Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Roy McDowall Beattie DFM (404228) (Pilot)
Flight Sergeant Leslie William Devereux (438586) (Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer II Frederick Balfe Emanuel (NX41956) (Army, Supernumerary) (FELO)
Flight Sergeant Dennis Geoffrey Featherstone (438726) (Air Gunner)
Flight Lieutenant Kelvin Elliott Harrison (409831) (Intelligence Officer)
Flying Officer Thomas Hockings (425936) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Flight Sergeant Arthur James Hogg (430751) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Keith Lawrence Patten (440006) (Air Gunner)
Corporal Ronald Walpole Buist Robinson (14526) (Fitter II Engines)
Flight Sergeant Leonard Robert Sapwell (116599) (Air Gunner)
Captain Howard Whitney Spry (VX14362) (Army, Supernumerary) (RAA 1st Australian Corps)
Flight Lieutenant Harry Stroud (403768) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Flight Lieutenant Douglas William Willett (404424) (Wireless Air Gunner)


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, 166/5/1200; A9845, 71


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

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