Leading Aircraftman George Albert TONGE

Service No: 81371
Born: Kellerberrin WA, 28 February 1911
Enlisted in the RAAF: 20 July 1942
Unit: No. 76 Operational Base Unit, Exmouth WA
Died: Accident (Cyclonic Storm), Exmouth WA, 2 February 1945, Aged 33 years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. George E. Tonge; husband of Margaret Frances Emily Muriel Tonge, of Rockingham, Western Australia.
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 7, Sydney Memorial, Rookwood NSW
Remembered: Panel 113, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Cenotaph Undercroft, State War Memorial, Kings Park WA

The tragedy which befell Marine Section was very unfortunate. The loss of three members Corporal Bindon John Carr (45887), Corporal Ernest Charlie Turnor (45988) and Leading Aircraftman George Albert Tonge (81371) was keenly felt by all ranks. The survival of Sergeant R.A. Hawkins (46328) NCO-in-Charge and the only survivor, who swam and was washed by the sea for some miles before gaining land, was little short of miraculous.

No. 76 Operational Base Unit Commanding Officer’s Report February 1945 (Appendix to Operations Record Book A50)

A cyclonic disturbance occurred today along the North-West coast, affecting the following Units:- No. 78 Operational Base Unit, No. 76 Operational Base Unit and Nos. 314, 31 and 155 Radar Stations. The cyclone was a severe one, and considerable damage was caused.

Headquarters Western Area Operations Record Book A50 Entry dated 2 February 1945

Following a severe cyclone on the North West coast of Western Australia, Western Area were out of communication with LEARMONTH. A72-151 (No. 25 Squadron B-24 Liberator aircraft) (Squadron Leader John Eric Stephen Dennett (O21922)) and skeleton crew flew to LEARMONTH carrying Area Works Officer and supplies. While at LEARMONTH an aerial search was made for three missing airmen. On the return flight one stretcher case and walking injured were brought to GUILDFORD.

No. 25 Squadron Operations Record Book A50 Entry dated 3 February 1945


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 166/40/337


Fenton, M. E. (Maurice Ernest) The Exmouth Radar Story: 310RS, 31RS, 161RS, 155RS, M.E. Fenton, Lockleys SA, 1994 – Chapter 4 of this book describes the storm and its aftermath in detail using eyewitness accounts.
O’Brien, G. (Graham) Always There: A history of air force combat support, Air Power Development Centre Canberra ACT 2600, 2009

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