Flight Sergeant Phillip Neville BUTLER

Service No: 410449
Born: Sale VIC, 1 October 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 30 January 1942
Unit: No. 31 Squadron
Died: Air Operations: (No. 31 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft A19-119), Dutch New Guinea, 30 August 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Frank and Elaine Maude Butler, of North Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Fitzroy VIC
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On the 30th August 1943, Beaufighter A19-119 was one of six aircraft detailed to attack enemy float planes at Taberfane, Aroe Island, Dutch New Guinea. The aircraft took off in formations of three from Coomalie Creek, Northern territory at 2343Z hours on the 29 August, and proceeded to Milingimbi where the aircraft refuelled. They then took off at about 0412Z hours on the 30thAugust for Taberfane. On arrival at the target they discovered two enemy aircraft in the air and another five taking off. The enemy immediately attacked the Beaufighters which were flying across the island up the Maikoor River. During the air combat fighting, three Rufes were seen on the tail of A19-17, which immediately dived to ground level to throw off the enemy aircraft. One Rufe followed A19-17, but the other two peeled off and attacked A19-119. A19-119 was last seen four miles west of Erersin village on Trangan Island., flying at tree top level with the two Rufes about 150 yards behind. A19-119 failed to return to base but the other five aircraft returned safely.  It was later established that A19-117 crashed near Djoering in the Am Islands, about 10 miles from the Eresin village, and the crew members had been killed.

The crew members of A19-119 were:

Flight Sergeant Phillip Neville Butler (410449) (Navigator Wireless)
Flight Lieutenant William Eldridge Willard (472) (Pilot)


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, 166/6/247; A9845, 17


Parnell, N.M. (Neville M.) Whispering Death: A history of the RAAF’s Beaufighter Squadrons, AH & AW Reed, Terry Hills NSW, 1980
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990

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