Sergeant James Sydney BROWN

Service No: 36814
Born: Geelong VIC, 23 December 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 May 1941 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 42 Squadron, Melville Bay (Gove) NT
Died: Prisoner of War, Java, 6 February 1945, Aged 24 Years
Buried: Jakarta (Ancol) Netherlands Field of Honour, Indonesia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Alfred and Charlotte Brown; husband of Joan Margaret Brown of Northcote, Victoria, Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 103, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Catalina Base Memorial, Rathmines NSW

On 14th-15th October 1944, two more Catalinas of No. 42 Squadron (captained by Squadron Leader Grant (1) and Flight Lieutenant Williams) were ordered to continue the mining of Macassar. Grant completed his run without experiencing anti-aircraft fire. While withdrawing, however, his crew saw a Bofors gun open fire. The shots appeared to stop at 500 feet. About fifteen seconds later the crew saw a blazing object on the water. Williams’ aircraft failed to return and it was assumed that he had been shot down into the water between the breakwater and the town. Williams knew of the danger from anti-aircraft fire and had been warned to stay well clear of the dock area and the breakwaters. However, there was a strong wind and it looked as though his aircraft may have drifted more than he realised. This was the first aircraft crew to be lost since 20th May 1944 and the fifth crew in 1,000 sorties.

(1) Squadron Leader Kenneth William Grant (260288) was discharged from the RAAF on 22 October 1945.

Extract from Odgers, G.J. (George James) (VX127783) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 366

The crew members of A24-90 were:

Warrant Officer Charles Siel Billington (411674) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Ronald Lionel Lister Bodie (401487) (Navigator)
Sergeant James Sydney Brown (36814) (Fitter II Airframe) PoW, Died 6 February 1945
Flight Sergeant George Joseph Ernst (9346) (Flight Engineer)
Warrant Officer Gordon Alan McMullin (408776) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant David Patrick Ryan (78439) (Armourer) POW, Died 6 February 1945
Flying Officer Maxwell Glenbervie Sloman (427357) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant John Irwin Vetter (16954) (Flight Engineer) PoW, Died 6 February 1945
Flight Lieutenant Charles Alfred Williams (16322) (Pilot)


Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 148
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


McFarlane, C.C. (Cyrus C.) Tojo’s Fate: Australia’s secret war, Sid Harta Publishers Glen Waverley VIC 3150, 2009
McMillan A. (Andrew) Catalina Dreaming: rescues exciting missions and other stories about the famous Australian flying boats of WWII, Duffy and Snellgrove Potts Point NSW, 2002
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Catalina, Neptune and Orion in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT

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