Sergeant Raymond Copley PRESTON

Service No: 14897
Born: West Maitland NSW, 13 September 1913
Enlisted in the RAAF: 29 April 1940
Unit: No. 20 Squadron, Darwin NT
Died: Air Operations: (No. 20 Squadron Catalina aircraft A24-204), Timor area, 28 January 1945, Aged 31 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Henry Joseph and Annie Preston, of West Maitland, New South Wales, Australia; husband of Jean Olive Preston, of East Maitland, New South Wales.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Column 10, Ambon Memorial, Indonesia
Remembered: Panel 101, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Catalina Base Memorial, Rathmines NSW
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

In January (1945), as well as mining Surabaya, the Catalinas mined Laut Strait and Macassar. Operating from Darwin and refuelling at West Bay (near Truscott airfield WA), aircraft of Nos. 20, 42 and 43 Squadrons flew a total of eighteen sorties, laying mines in the northern and southern entrances to the strait. A few rifle shots was the only opposition. On the night of 27th-28th January, an aircraft of No. 20 Squadron captained by Flight Lieutenant Seage failed to return. Other Catalinas out on this mission encountered a cyclone over the Timor Sea, together with lightning and turbulence. It was considered that Seage and the members of his crew got into difficulties in this area.

Extract from Odgers, G.J. (George James) (VX127783) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 369

The crew members of A24-204 were:

Warrant Officer Marshall Vivian Muir Bowness (411212) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Joseph Henry Brown (421958) (Second Pilot)
Flying Officer Paul Laney (427520) (Navigator)
Sergeant Allan Stanley Roy Martin (420897) (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant Raymond Copley Preston (14897) (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant James Anthony Seage (406798) (Pilot)
Sergeant John Knox Thomson (46125) (Fitter II Airframe / Air Gunner)
Sergeant Robert Leslie Warne (122002) (Armourer / Air Gunner)
Warrant Officer Hector Reginald Wickham (414114) (Wireless Air Gunner)


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, 149
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line


McFarlane, C.C. (Cyrus C.) Tojo’s Fate: Australia’s secret war, Sid Harta Publishers Glen Waverley VIC 3150, 2009
McMillan A. (Andrew) Catalina Dreaming: rescues exciting missions and other stories about the famous Australian flying boats of WWII, Duffy and Snellgrove Potts Point NSW, 2002
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Catalina, Neptune and Orion in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1991