MORCOMBE Frank Keith 406572

LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant Frank Keith MORCOMBE DFC

Service No: 406572
Born: Ceduna SA, 18 August 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 February 1941 (at Perth WA)
Unit: No. 1 Operational Training Unit, East Sale VIC
Awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), 13 August 1943 (Citation Title: No. 2 Squadron RAAF)
Died: Aircraft Accident (No. 1 Operational Training Unit Beaufort aircraft A9-33), Sale, 5 October 1943, Aged 30 Years
Buried: Sale War Cemetery, VIC
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William George and Alice Morcombe; husband of Alma Dorothea Morcombe, of Armadale, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Coorow WA
Remembered: Panel 112, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

DFC Citation: “Flight Lieutenant Morcombe was posted to No 2 Squadron on 23 July 1942, and since that date has completed many hours of operational flying against the enemy including many day and night strikes, reconnaissances, offensive and seaward patrols. As commander of “B” Flight his constant example of determination, tirelessness and courage and his efficiency as a leader have had a tremendous influence on the other personnel of the squadron.

On 4 December 1942, Flight Lieutenant Morcombe was the leader of a formation of three Hudsons on an offensive patrol in search of enemy shipping along Wetar Strait north of Timor. Despite persistent and close attacks by enemy fighters which commenced at the beginning of the Strait, he continued on down past the enemy fighter base at Dili and completed his mission. One aircraft was damaged in the hydraulic system which caused the undercarriage to drop and so retard its speed. By skilful leadership of the formation and the use of meagre cloud cover he brought the formation back along the Strait and home to its base without further mishap. The courage and devotion to duty displayed in this episode is typical of the fighting qualities of this officer.

Flight Lieutenant Morcombe has continually volunteered to participate in the more dangerous sorties as indicated by the high proportion of strikes in the sorties in which he has participated. On one occasion he scored direct hits on a Japanese destroyer, disabling it. Flight Lieutenant Morcombe has proved himself to be a capable, enthusiastic and courageous leader whose devotion to duty has been in accordance with the highest traditions of the Service”

On 5 October, Beaufort A9-33 attempted to gain altitude when about to land on the East Sale airfield but the port engine cut out and the aeroplane swung to port and banked sharply. The pilot failed to recover the Beaufort and the port wing struck the ground, cartwheeling the aeroplane as it burst into flames, killing the instructor and pilot under instruction.

The crew members of A9-33 were:

Sergeant James Whamond Cameron (437116) (Pilot under instruction)
Flight Lieutenant Frank Keith Morcombe (406572) (Pilot)

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, 214

Bibliography:

Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990
Lax, M. (Mark) (editor) Always Ready: a history of RAAF East Sale, RAAF Publications Unit Melbourne VIC, 1993
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990