Flight Sergeant Kenneth Duirs McDONALD

Service No: 11095
Born: Birchip VIC, 2 September 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 July 1940
Unit: No. 24 Squadron, operating from Port Moresby
Died: Air Operations: (No. 24 Squadron Hudson aircraft A16-91), Gasmata New Guinea, 11 February 1942, Aged 29 Years
Buried: Rabaul (Bita Paka) War Cemetery, PNG
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Norman and Isabella McDonald.
Roll of Honour: Birchip VIC
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On the 11th three Hudsons led by Wing Commander John Margrave Lerew (73) (Commanding Officer No. 24 Squadron, flying in A16-91), with Flight Lieutenant William Pedrina (264) and Flying Officer Gibson (A16-126) piloting the others, again attacked Gasmata and made the first mast-height attack on enemy shipping in the New Guinea campaign. One of the crews put four bombs across one transport directly amidships, another made a direct hit amidships on a second transport, while the third aircraft made a low-level sweep over the first transport using incendiary ammunition which set the ship on fire. Both ships were enveloped in clouds of black smoke. As the Hudsons climbed away they were intercepted by five or six enemy fighters. Pedrina’s aircraft was attacked several times. His gunners shot down one of the aircraft in flames and probably destroyed another. The crew saw Gibson’s aircraft, with one engine on fire and enemy fighters pursuing it, dive steeply into a hillside. Gibson and his crew—Pilot Officer Thorn and Sergeants Quail and Coutie—were all killed.

Lerew was just bringing his Hudson out from the attack when his second pilot, Flying Officer Watt, reported that it was on fire. While Lerew took evasive action to throw off an enemy fighter, Watt broke the window and tried to put the flames out with a hand extinguisher. When this failed and the intensity of the fire increased, Lerew ordered the crew to abandon the aircraft. Watt and the two other crew members, Sergeants McDonald and Henry, then moved to the rear door to bale out. As the flames reached the cockpit Lerew, using the control column as a step, climbed up and tried to force himself through the window. The Hudson went into a dive so he pulled the column back with his feet, kicked the trimming tab and, as the aircraft climbed again, pushed his way through the window and baled out. In landing he fell into a tree and was suspended above the ground by his parachute with his “Mae West” life-jacket almost choking him, but he succeeded in getting free by pulling himself up into the branches of the tree. There was no sign of any of his crew. Living off the jungle, and several times evading parties of Japanese troops, he endured hunger and exhaustion until found by some friendly natives who eventually guided him to a coast watcher’s post. Nine days after he had been officially posted missing, he arrived back at Port Moresby in a schooner. The other members of the crew were lost.

Extract from Gillison, D.N. (Douglas Napier) (254475) Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1962 – Pages 450-1

The crew members of A16-91 were:

Sergeant Raymond Cherrington Henry (416181) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Wing Commander John Margrave Lerew (73) (Pilot) Baled Out, Discharged from the RAAF: 8 November 1946
Sergeant Kenneth Duirs McDonald (11095) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flying Officer William Albert James Watt (270846) (Observer)

No. 24 Squadron lost Hudson A16-126 (Flying Officer Graham Ian Gibson (290657) (Pilot)) on 11 February 1942.


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, 163/141/455


Vincent, D. (David) The RAAF Hudson Story Book 1, D. Vincent Highbury SA 5089, 1989
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Anson, Hudson and Sunderland in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992

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