Flying Officer Kenneth Albert GERDES

Service No: 410322
Born: Brighton VIC, 19 November 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 6 December 1941
Unit: No. 31 Squadron
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 31 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft A19-86), off Peron Island NT, 6 December 1943, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Albert Henry and Fanny Jane Gerdes, of Frankston, Victoria
Roll of Honour: Healesville VIC
Remembered: Panel 6, Northern Territory Memorial, Adelaide River NT
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

At 1630 hours on 6 December 1943, Beaufighters A19-86 and A19-152 took off from Coomalie Creek, Northern Territory, detailed to carry out a test flight and a shadow shooting exercise in Anson Bay. During the exercise A19-86 advised A19-152 that it was in trouble, and would head for the coast south of Peron Island. A19-152 followed immediately, and at about 1710 hours saw black smoke and flames caused by A19-86 crashing in the sea about eight miles south west of Peron Island. A19-152 saw only one person the water about 20 yards from the flames, clinging to a half inflated dinghy. A19-152 dropped another dinghy and two mae-wests and left the scene of the crash to return at about 1840 hours accompanied by a Seagull aircraft. The Seagull alighted on the water, and rescued Leading Aircraftman Henry who said he had not seen the other two crew members after the crash. Leading Aircraftman Henry was badly injured and died of his injuries later on the same day. The Seagull pilot said A19-86 must have exploded.

The crew members of A19-86 were:

Flying Officer Kenneth Albert Gerdes (410322) (Pilot)
Leading Aircraftman Keith Braybrook Henry (61691) (Flight Rigger, Supernumerary)
Flight Sergeant Andrew Kenneth McMillan (413320) (Navigator Wireless)


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, 166/15/155; A9845, 15


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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