LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant Brian Hartley HIGGINS DFC

Service No: 400620
Born: Wangaratta VIC, 3 August 1914
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 September 1940
Unit: No. 3 Operational Training Unit, Rathmines NSW
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 18 December 1942 (Citation Title: For Numerous Operations over Truk, Rabaul and Gasmata)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 3 Operational Training Unit Catalina aircraft A24-39), Port Stephens NSW, 24 May 1943, Aged 28 Years
Buried: Newcastle (Sandgate) War Cemetery, NSW
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Thomas Higgins and Katherine Eva Maud Higgins, of Wangaratta, Victoria.
Roll of Honour: Wangaratta VIC
Remembered: Panel 112, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Catalina Base Memorial, Rathmines NSW
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

On 24 May 1943, No. 3 Operational Training Unit Catalina aircraft A24-39 crashed at Port Stephens while landing in a heavy swell resulting in the deaths of seven RAAF Members. The Pilot, Flight Lieutenant Higgins, was tasked to inspect the state of the seas at Port Stephens and to return to Rathmines and make a report on Port Stephens’ suitability for rough water training. The accident report does not speculate on the reason a landing was attempted.

The crew members of A24-39 were:

Flying Officer Norman John Brown (411992) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Alan Fullerton Craddock (408799) (Second Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant Brian Hartley Higgins DFC (400620) (Pilot)
Corporal Jaffre David James (8164) (Fitter IIE)
Sergeant John Johnston (411710) (Wireless Air Gunner) Seriously Injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 9 April 1946
Flying Officer Max Alexander Larkan (409842) (Navigator)
Leading Aircraftman Henry George Lovett (21419) (Fitter IIA)
Corporal Thomas Henry Poole (19812) (Fitter IIE)
Aircraftman Class 1 Kenneth Carlyle Stow (72521) (Armourer) Slightly injured, Discharged from the RAAF: 18 December 1945

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 A9845, 146
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line