PACKHAM Keith 437776

LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer Keith PACKHAM

Service No: 436776
Born: Perth WA, 1 September 1923
Enlisted in the RAAF: 10 April 1943
Unit: No. 31 Squadron, Morotai
Died: Prisoner of War (from the loss of Beaufighter A8-10 on 1 February 1945, Celebes, 31 March 1945, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Ambon War Cemetery, Indonesia
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Leonard and Ruth Eva Packham, of Swanbourne, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 102, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

On the 1st February (1945), eight Beaufighters of No. 31 Squadron attacked a Japanese army personnel area at Tomohon (Sulawesi, Indonesia). This attack was carried out at about 12.40 p.m., the aircraft dropping depth-charges and 500-l b fragmentation clusters. The Japanese succeeded in shooting down a Beaufighter (A8-10) piloted by Flight Lieutenant Taylor with Flying Officer Packham as navigator. This aircraft was seen by the others to crash on a plateau about one mile south of the town and break up. Anti-aircraft fire was so fierce during the attack that the leader of the mission, Flight Lieutenant Provost (1), ordered the rest of the formation to rendezvous at a point some distance from the target from where course was set for base. Another Beaufighter (A8-32) in this attack was also lost. It was last seen heading over the target area but failed to return to base.

(1) Flight Lieutenant Ronald Ashton Provost (406060) was discharged from the RAAF on 1 July 1947

Odgers, G. (George) (VX127783) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 394

The crew members of A8-10 were:

Flying Officer Keith Packham (436776) (Navigator) PoW: Died 31 March 1945
Flight Lieutenant Douglas Roy Taylor (416465) (Pilot)

The crew members of A8-32 were:

Alec Hill (F4084) RAN (Sick Bay Attendant, Supernumerary) PoW: Executed 19 June 1945
Flight Sergeant Alan Edward Lewis (431362) (Navigator)
Pilot Officer William Roderick McGuigan (427717) (Pilot)

Also executed with Flying Officer Packham on 31 March 1945 were the crew members of No. 30 Squadron Beaufighter aircraft A19-149 lost on 30 December 1944 – Warrant Officer David Bernard Benson (402487) and Sergeant Robert Leonard Frederick Jones (69985).

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, 52

Bibliography:

Parnell, N.M. (Neville M.) Whispering Death: A history of the RAAF’s Beaufighter Squadrons, AH & AW Reed, Terry Hills NSW, 1980
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990