LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer David Arnold RAY

Service No: 402540
Born: Bathurst NSW, 7 April 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 16 September 1940
Unit: No. 53 Squadron (RAF), RAF Station North Coates
Died: Air Operations: (No. 53 Squadron Hudson aircraft AM563), North Sea, 24 February 1942, Aged 25 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Edwin and Katie Helena C. Ray, of Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia
Roll of Honour: Bathurst NSW
Remembered: Panel 110, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 129, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre, Bathurst NSW

On 24 February 1942 Hudson AM563 took off from North Coates on an anti-shipping patrol. Nothing further was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it did not return to base. The aircraft was lost and one crew member became a Prisoner of War. In 1948 it was recorded that the three missing crew members had lost their lives at sea.

The crew members of AM563 were:

Pilot Officer Keith Selwyn Davies (J/6846) (RCAF) (Wireless Operator)
Pilot Officer Robert Douglas Fairbairn (J/8609) (RCAF) (Navigator)
Pilot Officer F S Knight (108110) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator) PoW
Flying Officer David Arnold Ray (402540) (Pilot)

In a 1948 statement Pilot Officer Knight reported that “the aircraft hit the mast of a ship and burst into flames after crashing on an ice floe. A portion of the aircraft in which Knight was sitting broke away from the burning portion and he managed to make his escape on to the ice, from which he was rescued. The burning portion of the aircraft broke through the ice and sank quickly. Pilot Officer Knight stated that he heard nothing from the other crew after hitting the mast and although the boat that rescued him made a search for other survivors their efforts were unsuccessful. Later the crew of the ship stated that they only saw one figure on the ice floe before the aircraft sank, and coupled with the fact that the weather was bitterly cold, any person thrown out beyond the limit of the search would not have survived. Pilot Officer Knight is certain that he was the only survivor.”

References:

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, 163/54/50
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line