Pilot Officer William George CRUIKSHANK

Service No: 267534
Born: Date, Location unavailable
Enlisted in the RAAF Reserve: Date unavailable
Unit: RAAF Reserve, Civil Aircrew
Died: Air Operations (QANTAS Empire Flying Boast G-AEUH (Corio)), off Timor, 30 January 1942, Age unavailable
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Mrs. J. Cruickshank, of Torphin, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Column 10, Ambon Memorial, Indonesia
Remembered: Panel 134, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On a flight from Darwin via Koepang to Surabaya on 30 January 1942, QANTAS Empire Flying Boat Corio (G-AEUH) was attacked by seven Zero fighters off the west coast of Timor. Two engines were set on fire and the aircraft was forced to ditch about 8 kms off the coast. Of the five crew members and 13 passengers, seven escaped into the sea but only five were able to reach the shore. The RAAF members from Station Headquarters Darwin travelling as passengers were proceeding to Surabaya to set-up a communications station. Corio was engaged on a charter flight on behalf of the Commonwealth Government.

The Corio crew members were:

Pilot Officer William George Cruikshank (267534) (RAAF Reserve, QANTAS Purser)
Leading Aircraftman Sydney Charles Elphick (301034) (RAAF Reserve, QANTAS Steward)
Flying Officer Albert Aubrey Koch (1361) (RAAF Reserve QANTAS Pilot) Reached the shore
First Officer V Lyne (QANTAS Second Pilot) Reached the shore
Pilot Officer Archibald Sloan Patterson (268075) (RAAF Reserve, QANTAS Radio Officer) Survived the crash but died at sea

The Corio Passengers were:

Aircraftman Class I William Oliver Beckett (43169) (Office Orderly) (RAAF Station Darwin)
Mr H E Cutfield*
Aircraftman Class I James De Pinna (60211) (RAAF Station Darwin) (Office Orderly)
Mr G A Farrelly*
Mr J C Fisher*, Reached the shore
Aircraftman Class I John Henry Holiday (403513) (RAAF Station Darwin) (Office Orderly)
Corporal Edward. George Kerr (18607) (RAAF Station Darwin) (Wireless Telegraph Operator)
Aircraftman Class I William Norman Lee (34535) (RAAF Station Darwin) (Wireless Telegraph Operator)
Paymaster Lieutenant David William McCulloch (RANR) Survived the crash but died at sea
Sergeant James Charles McMillan (6544) (RAAF Station Darwin) (Fitter II Airframe)
Mr F A Moore*, Reached the shore
Aircraftman Class I Gordon Charles Van Treight (8041) (RAAF Station Darwin) (Office Orderly)
Paymaster Lieutenant Bruce Lempriere Westbrook (RANR) Reached the shore, Discharged from the RAN: 30 January 1946

* Details regarding the four civilian passengers are not included in the Casualty Files but they are believed to have been residents of Sarawak.

Captain Koch reported the he believed that Corio had flown across the line of sight of a flight of Japanese Zero pilots who were searching for a RAAF Hudson that had landed on the Timor Coast. That aircraft, No. 2 Squadron Hudson A16-9, had landed at an Emergency Landing Ground near the mouth of the Mena River and was in the process of being camouflaged when it was attacked just after the Corio had been downed. The Japanese aircraft took turns in strafing A16-9 and it caught fire and was destroyed. A16-9’s Pilot was Flying Officer Hugh Reskymer Bonython AC DFC AFC (280778) (Discharged: 13 July 1945). The No. 2 Squadron party was unharmed in the attack and eventually made their way back to Darwin.

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


Bennett, J. (John William) Highest Traditions: the history of No. 2 Squadron RAAF, Australian Government Publishing Service, 1995
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

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