LEWIS Francis Kenneth 17280

LEST WE FORGET

Corporal Francis Kenneth LEWIS

Service No: 17280
Born: Perth WA, 14 May 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 8 July 1940
Unit: RAAF Station Darwin, NT
Died: Air Raid, Coomalie Creek NT, 27 April 1942, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Adelaide River War Cemetery, NT
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Walter Kenneth and Margaret Steele Lewis, of Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Mount Hawthorn WA
Remembered: Panel 97, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

Between 28th March and 27th April there were nine Japanese air attacks in the Darwin area. In two of them there was no interception by the American Kittyhawk pilots, but for the other seven the enemy paid a big price: 17 bombers and 11 fighters destroyed, 2 bombers and 4 fighters probably destroyed and one bomber damaged. Their loss in aircraft crews was therefore very severe. Two of the bombers were shot down by the guns of the anti-aircraft batteries, but the American fighter pilots accounted for all the other enemy aircraft destroyed. Eight Kittyhawks were lost in combat, and one was damaged, and three pilots (1) were killed. Casualties on the ground totalled four RAAF airmen and one American serviceman killed and 12 RAAF airmen wounded. Damage caused by these raids was not very extensive, the most severe being on 2nd April when a bomb hit a tank with storage for 200,000 gallons of fuel from which about 30,000 gallons were lost, and on the 27th when buildings and water and power supply lines at the RAAF Station, Darwin, were damaged by bomb hits.

(1) Second Lieutenant John Livingstone was killed on 4 April 1942 and Captain Allison W Strauss and Second Lieutenant Owen Fish were killed on 27 April 1942.

Extract from Gillison, D. N. (Douglas Napier) (254475) Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1962 – Page 555

On the 25th of April, 27 heavy bombers made a high level attack on Darwin. On the 27th, 17 bombers dropped anti-personnel bombs on the station’s living quarters. Four airmen were killed and three injured. 13 Squadron losses were Sergeant (Wireless Air Gunner) D.G. Upjohn and Sergeant WAG J.B. Rohr.

Sergeant (Wireless Air Gunner) Tom Calder (404497) remembers: “On returning from a job in the afternoon of the 27th, the hut seemed very quiet. I sang out, ‘Doug, Johnny’. Someone said, ‘They’re dead. Bloody air raid. Got them in the trench.’ ‘Show me which trench’ I demanded. Someone did. ‘But that’s not our trench.’ I said. You see, we always went to a particular trench and always survived. But that day, Doug Upjohn, Johnny Rohr and a Sergeant Doran changed trenches and bought it. No way would I have changed our trench.”

Extract from Grantham, S.R. (Sidney Richard) (6590) The 13 Squadron Story, S.R. Grantham, Dee Why NSW 2099, 1991 – Page 66

The four RAAF members killed during this period are:

Sergeant Vincent Arthur Doran (2882) Killed at Berrima, 27 April 1942
Corporal Francis Kenneth Lewis (17280) Killed at Coomalie, 27 April 1942
Sergeant John Brian Rohr (411263) Killed at Berrima, 27 April 1942
Sergeant Douglas Charles Ellis Upjohn (411267) Killed at Berrima, 27 April 1942

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, 163/137/140