Sergeant Kenneth Stewart McDONALD

Service No: 400351
Born: Horsham VIC, 29 May 1912
Enlisted in the RAAF: 18 August 1940
Unit: No. 70 Squadron (RAF)
Died: Prisoner of War (Likely Drowned): (from the loss of Italian ship Nino Bixio), off Greece, 17 August 1942, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of John Herbert McDonald, and of Helene May McDonald, of Port Fairy, Victoria, Australia
Roll of Honour: Port Fairy VIC
Remembered: Column 266, Alamein Memorial, Egypt
Remembered: Panel 126, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On the night of 27/28 July 1942 Wellington HX364 failed to return from a mission to bomb Tobruk. The aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire over Tobruk and crashed 50 miles to the south. All the crew members survived but were taken prisoner while attempting to return to allied lines.

The crew members of HX364 were:

Sergeant Basil Keith Hatch (742970) (RAFVR) (Air Gunner) PoW, Died: 17 August 1942
Sergeant Robert Mailer Hearn (400709) (Second Pilot) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 27 November 1945
Flight Sergeant Edward Austin Jones (404635) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Died: 17 August 1942
Sergeant Kenneth Stewart McDonald (400351) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) PoW, Died: 17 August 1942
Warrant Officer Richard Edward Savin Osborn (404511) (Observer) PoW, Discharged from the RAAF: 3 December 1945
Sergeant H R Osborne (1206644) (RAFVR) (Pilot) PoW

In a later statement Warrant Officer Osborn reported “The aircraft was shot down on the night of 27/28th July 1942 by flak over Tobruk and crashed about 50 miles south of Tobruk. No member of the crew was injured, and it was attempted to make our way back. We had covered about 100 miles and were forced to give up through lack of food and water. We were picked up and taken to Mersa Matruh and interrogated. Then we were transported to Benghazi arriving at a PoW camp on 8 August 1942.

We left Benghazi on 15 August 1942, and five members were placed on an Italian vessel Nino Bixio, with Sergeant Hearn being on another vessel. Three of us were placed in the bottom of the front hold, and the other two in middle section of the same hold. The vessel was sunk by a British submarine off an island south of Greece when it was hit by two torpedoes about 160 hours on the 17 August 1942. One torpedo entered the bottom section of the hold and the other hit the engine room. The front half filled with water. The ship was towed to port on the east coast of Greece.

Warrant Officer Osborn was injured but he stated that Sergeant Hatch had lost his life in the explosion. Also he had not seen or heard of Sergeant McDonald or Flight Sergeant Jones since the explosion and he assumed they were drowned or had lost their lives in the explosion. Sergeant Osborne was also injured in the explosion.


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, 163/141/648

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