Sergeant Robert Alfred BLACKMAN

Service No: 402844
Born: Binnaway NSW, 24 December 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 11 November 1940
Unit: No. 24 Squadron
Died: Air Operations (No. 24 Squadron Wirraway aircraft A20-319), off Rabaul, 20 January 1942, Aged 20 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alfred Ernest James Blackman and Sarah Jane Blackman; husband of Marjorie Florence Blackman, of Homebush, New South Wales
Roll of Honour: Strathfield NSW
Remembered: Panel 36, Rabaul Memorial PNG
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Strathfield World War II Roll of Honour, Strathfield NSW

On 20 January 1942, Wirraway A20-319 flown by Sergeant Blackman took off from Rabaul to intercept the Japanese in their initial attack on Rabaul with about 110 aircraft. A20-319 was shot down into the sea near Rabaul at about 1400 hours. It was one of three Wirraways – A20-319, A20-179 and A20-303 – shot down by the Japanese on the day. The whole action had lasted less than 10 minutes. In that time, in the 8 crews that had taken off, 6 of their number had been killed and 5 wounded or injured. Three of the squadron’s total of 8 Wirraways had been lost in combat, one completely wrecked in a crash just after take-off, and 2 seriously damaged in crash landings.

The crew members of A20-319 were:

Sergeant Robert Alfred Blackman (402844) (Pilot)
Sergeant Stanley Ernest Woodcroft (22630) (Observer)

The crew members of A20-179 were:

Sergeant Clive Albert Ashford (3210) (Observer)
Pilot Officer John Cameron Lowe (402662) (Pilot)

The crew members of A20-303 were:

Sergeant Charles Frederick Bromley (405391) (Pilot)
Sergeant Richard Walsh (5803) (Observer)

The crew members of A20-71 that crashed on take-off at Lanukai and was completely wrecked and later destroyed by enemy action were:

Pilot Officer Colin Arthur Butterworth (263496) (Observer) Uninjured, Discharged from the RAAF: 5 September 1945
Flight Lieutenant Bruce Horace Anderson (260770) (Pilot) Uninjured, Killed on Air Operations: 22 March 1942

The crew members of A20-177 that was damaged in aerial combat and made a crash landed at Lanukai were:

Flight Sergeant George Robert Herring (404410) (Pilot) Uninjured, Discharged from the RAAF: 13 August 1945
Pilot Officer Albert George Claire (273495) (Observer) Uninjured, Discharged from the RAAF: 15 November 1945

The crew members of A20-436 that was damaged in air combat and made a crash landing at Vunkanau were:

Sergeant William Otho Kemp Hewett (407428) (O4405) (Pilot) Crash landed in the aircraft, Uninjured, Discharged from the RAAF: 5 January 1970
Pilot Officer John Vincent Tyrell (3491) (Observer) Parachute opened when thrown clear of the aircraft and descended to safety, Uninjured, Discharged from the RAAF: 25 March 1949


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
Gillison, D.N. (Douglas Napier) (254475) Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1962 – Page 353-5
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 163/92/110
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

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