HARDWICK Vernon Holloway 17635

LEST WE FORGET

Leading Aircraftman Vernon Holloway HARDWICK

Service No: 17635
Born: Northam WA, 5 December 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 2 September 1940
Unit: No.11 Squadron, Port Moresby
Died: Prisoner of War: New Britain, 4 November 1942, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery, PNG
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Harry Guy Vernon and Honslow Hardwick. of Bencubbin. Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 100, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA
Remembered: Catalina Base Memorial, Rathmines NSW
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

On 4th May the crews of Allied reconnaissance aircraft reported a concentration of “19 enemy transports with attendant warships” in Simpson Harbour, Rabaul, and that day the crew of a Mitchell of No. 90 Squadron reported having sighted a Japanese aircraft carrier and two heavy cruisers. Contact with this force was lost when the Mitchell was driven off by a swarm of enemy fighters. In the same area, over the Coral Sea to the south of Bougainville, the crew of a RAAF Catalina captained by Flying Officer Norman signalled that they were being attacked. No further word was received from the flying-boat, which failed to return. The RAAF thus lost another precious crew and a valuable aircraft.

Extract from Gillison, D. (Douglas) Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1962 – Page 518

No. 11 Squadron Catalina aircraft A24-18 is believed to have been shot down by Japanese float planes on 4 May 1942. The crew members were:

Flying Officer Francis O’Connell Anderson (403118) (Observer)
Leading Aircraftman John Joseph Burns (19574) (Fitter II Airframe)
Flying Officer Frederick Arthur Donald Diercks (407708) (Second Pilot)
Leading Aircraftman Vernon Holloway Hardwick (17635) (Wireless Operator)
Corporal Alan Roland Hocking (18005) (Fitter II Engines)
Corporal Alfred Henry Lanagan MID (6853) (Fitter II Engines)
Leading Aircraftman Ernest John McDonald (10253) (Armourer)
Flying Officer Alan Leslie Norman MID (407006) (Pilot)
Leading Aircraftman William Murdoch Parker (20343) (Wireless Mechanic)

All but Corporal Lanagan are recorded as dying while Prisoners of War with the date of death being given as 4 November 1942 (six months after being posted missing). Corporal Lanagan is recorded as dying while a Prisoner of War and his date of death is given as the day of the battle, 4 May 1942.

In August 1948, Leading Aircraftman Hardwick’s remains and those of 13 other RAAF members were found at Matupi, New Britain. Those RAAF members were:

Flying Officer Francis O’Connell Anderson (403118) No. 11 Squadron
Warrant Officer John Pretty Bailey (4240) No. 8 Squadron
Sergeant David Stuart Brown (401489) No. 75 Squadron
Leading Aircraftman John Joseph Burns (19574) Headquarters RAAF Station Port Moresby
Flying Officer Frederick Arthur Donald Diercks (407708) No. 11 Squadron
Leading Aircraftman Vernon Holloway Hardwick (17635) (Wireless Operator)
Corporal Alfred Ronald Hocking (18005) Headquarters RAAF Station Port Moresby
Corporal Alfred Henry Lanagan (6853) No. 11 Squadron
Flying Officer Ross Bryan O’Loghlen (400662) No. 8 Squadron
Leading Aircraftman Ernest John McDonald (10253) No. 11 Squadron
Flying Officer Allan Leslie Norman MID (407006) No. 20 Squadron
Leading Aircraftman William Murdoch Parker (20343) No. 11 Squadron
Flight Lieutenant Godfrey Hubert Vincent (400866) (Pilot) No. 8 Squadron
Unidentified RAAF Member (possibly Flying Officer Charles William Vincent (404757))

References:

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 A705, 163/120/446
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

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 2611, 1991