LEST WE FORGET
Flight Sergeant Clifford Newby TONGE
Service No: 433966
Born: Taree NSW, 17 October 1918
Enlisted in the RAAF: 5 June 1943
Unit: No. 100 Squadron, Tadji New Guinea
Died: Air Operations: (No. 100 Squadron Beaufort aircraft A9-625), But West (near Dagua), PNG, New Guinea, 16 March 1945, Aged 26 Years
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Norman and Mary Tonge, of Sans Souci, New South Wales.
Roll of Honour: Rockdale NSW
Remembered: Panel 7, Lae Memorial, PNG
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Taree World War II and Post War Memorials, Taree NSW
On 13th March a Beaufort of No. 100 Squadron (captained by Flight Lieutenant Fowler (415636)) exploded in mid-air over a target at Maprik West, killing the entire crew. Six Beauforts led by Wing Commander Conaghan (1), commanding officer of No. 100 Squadron, were in the strike and Fowler’s aircraft was seen to explode as it released its bombs. Three days later Conaghan led six more Beauforts on a strike and another aircraft, captained by Squadron Leader Dey, blew up in similar circumstances over the target.
(1) Wing Commander Hugh Augustine Conaghan DFC (O387) was discharged from the RAAF on 27 August 1954.
Extract from Odgers, G. (George) Air War Against Japan 1943-1945, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1957 – Page 342
On top of the loss of Flight Lieutenant Fowler’s crew, Squadron Leader Phil Dey’s crew was lost on March 16. This was a bewildering blow to every member of the squadron but particularly to those who had served with them over a long period. Men living and fighting together on active service become brothers. When one falls it is a personal loss to those who remain. As often as it is repeated it never grows less so.
Skipper Conaghan fathered his squadron through these days as few men could. He personally arranged for a concert to be put on on our stage by the army – one that might raise a smile. After the show he requested attendance at the sergeants’ and officers’ messes, again having personally secured what was a rarity up here, a few bottles of beer. There was little talking in the sergeants’ mess, and the singing men of the officers’ were strangely quiet. The toast was a silent one to the memory of a grand bunch of fellows. Squadron Leader Dey’s navigator, Warrant Officer Stewart Lloyd, had been president of the sergeants’ mess, and wireless air gunners Flight Sergeants Cliff Tonge and Gordon Peatfield had been known to aircrew and ground staff as “good blokes.”
Extract from Graham, B. (Burton) and Frank Smyth, A Nation Grew Wings: The Story of the RAAF Beaufort Squadrons in New Guinea, Winterset House Publishers Melbourne VIC, 1946 – Pages 234
The crew members of A9-625 were:
Squadron Phillip Alexander Dey (402853) (Pilot)
Major Ralph Dufton Hopkinson (QX43794) (Australian Army – 7th Air Liaison Section)
Pilot Officer Stuart Lindsay Lloyd (416868) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Gordon Arthur Peatfield (433741) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Flight Sergeant Clifford Newby Tonge (433966) (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, 263
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line
Baker, N. (Nicola) More Than Little Heroes: Australian Army Air Liaison Officers in WWII, Australian National University Canberra ACT 2600, 1994
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990