Sergeant Francis Joseph NAUGHTON

Service No: 449767
Born: North Melbourne VIC, 2 December 1922
Enlisted in the RAAF: 22 April 1944
Unit: No. 25 Squadron, Cunderdin WA
Died: Aircraft Accident: (No. 25 Squadron B-24 Liberator aircraft A72-124) Cunderdin WA, 14 February 1945, Aged 22 Years
Buried: Karrakatta War Cemetery WA
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Martin John and Mary Ann Naughton, of North Melbourne, Victoria
Roll of Honour: Melbourne VIC
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

(14 February 1945) Two aircraft were detailed on CUN 2/14 as per A51. A72-133 (Squadron Leader DENNETT and crew) completed tracks but A72-124 (Flying Officer HANNAH and crew) crashed and burned after take-off about 800 feet from the end of the runway. Five of the crew were killed the other six members escaping with slight shock and abrasions. The second detail was cancelled.

(15 February 1945) The funeral of Sergeant Johnson (444015) (Air Bombardier), Sergeant Taylor (41804) (WOA/E), Sergeant Uhr, (433831) (WOA/G), Sergeant Higginbottom (8503) (Air Gunner) and Sergeant Naughton (449767) (Air Gunner), who were killed when A72-124 crashed at 0600 hours 14 Feb 1945, took place at 1400 hours at KARRAKATTA War Cemetery. The funeral party which proceeded by road from CUNDERDIN consisted of fifteen officers, thirty eight N.C.Os. and Unit photographer. Attending the funeral were the Air Officer Commanding Air Commodore R.J. BROWNELL, NOIC (Naval officer in Charge) Commodore POPE RAN and Captain GREGSON, Staff Officer War Graves Registration.

No. 25 Squadron Operations Record Book A50 Entries

Tragedy struck at 0604 when Liberator A72-124 crashed on take off into the south west from Cunderdin Aerodrome. An additional 600 gallons of high octane aviation fuel was being carried in the auxiliary tank in the bomb bay to extend the search range of the aircraft and this added to the resulting conflagration. Just after lift off, the heavily loaded A72-124 settled back onto the ground from a height of about 30 ft. It bumped three times, skidded through the fence about 800 feet off the end of the runway and exploded, killing five of the crew. The aircraft was totally destroyed in the fierce fire. No reason could be assigned for the accident.

No. 25 Squadron Operations Record Book A51 Narrative Report dated 14 February 1945

The crew was to proceed on a search and rescue mission for survivors from a US Liberty Ship, the Peter Silvester, which had been torpedoed by a German Submarine, the U862, about 800 nautical miles south west of Fremantle.

The crew members of A72-124 were:

Flight Sergeant Francis Gregory Coman (426953) (Co-Pilot) Discharged from the RAAF: 12 November 1945
Flight Lieutenant Francis Leo Hannah (405177) (Pilot) Discharged from the RAAF: 5 September 1945
Sergeant Roy Higginbottom (8503) (Air Gunner)
Sergeant George Keith Leroy (440793) (Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 9 November 1945.
Sergeant Bernard McTernan (426144) (Flight Engineer) Discharged from the RAAF: 26 November 1946
Sergeant Brian John Troy Johnson (444015) (Air Bombardier)
Sergeant Francis Joseph Naughton (449767) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer Claremont Logie Taylor DFC (405237) (Navigator) Discharged from the RAAF: 13 June 1945
Sergeant Charles Ronald Taylor (41804) (Wireless Operator Airborne Electronics)
Sergeant Kenneth William Uhr (433831) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Campbell Edward Earle Verey (424238) (Wireless Operator Air Gunner) Discharged from the RAAF: 27 September 1945


Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Metropolitan Cemeteries Board (Perth) On-Line Records
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9845, 72


Banks, A. (Arthur) Wings of the Dawning: The battle for the Indian Ocean 1939-45, Images Publishing (Malvern) UK, 1996 – pages 307-310 describe the voyage of U862 and the rescue of the crew of the Peter Sylvester
Mallard, P. L. (Paul L.) (424592) No. 25 City of Perth Squadron: An account of this Squadron’s activities whilst operating B-24 Liberator aircraft from Western Australia 1945-6, Paul L. Mallard, 1996
Nelmes, M.V. (Michael) Tocumwal to Tarakan: Australians and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator, Banner Books Belconnen ACT 2616, 1994 –p126
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Boston, Mitchell and Liberator in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992

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