Warrant Officer Brian Aloysius TOOHEY

Service No: 402758
Born: Canterbury VIC, 19 November 1920
Enlisted in the RAAF: 14 October 1940 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 100 Squadron (RAF), operating from Madeon, Java
Died: Prisoner of War: (Presumed Drowned) (Tamahoko Maru, torpedoed by the submarine USS Tang), off Nagasaki Japan, 24 June 1944, Aged 23 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Patrick John and Mary Devereaux Toohey
Roll of Honour: Warracknabeal VIC
Remembered: Column 444, Singapore Memorial, Singapore
Remembered: Panel 131, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

Flying Officer Basil Gotto RAF and RAAF Sergeants Brian Toohey, Observer, and Jim Barnes (1), Wireless Air Gunner, left Madeon at 2100 hours to bomb the Japanese convoy. They flew their Vildebeest aircraft for an hour out to sea, turned for the coast and spotted a cruiser. Two bombs were dropped for a near miss but the anti-aircraft fire was very concentrated and, on pulling out of his dive, Basil spotted the main convoy near the shore. From 1,500 feet Basil dived to 700 feet and released his two remaining bombs. The crew felt the blast hit the aircraft and Jim Barnes shouted in an excited voice, “direct hit amidships.” Pulling away, they saw the glow from the ship and Toohey gave Basil a course for return to base. After three hours 55 minutes flying, they became lost and landed in a paddy field. The undercarriage struck the water and the aircraft flipped on it back but the crew escaped injury, although Jim Barnes had a stiff leg the next morning. They were able to walk to a village and went by car to the police station at Kediri, 100 kilometres from Madeon. A Dutchman arranged for a car to take them back to Madeon where they arrived at 0530 hours in time to see two Vildebeestes leave for Tjikompek. The Americans had planned to leave at 2330 hours and the aerodrome was to be demolished at midnight. Basil Gotto was offered an American dive-bomber which was to be discarded. After checking out the strange cockpit, he left at 2330 hours for Tjikompek where he made a safe landing. Brian Toohey and Jim Barnes loaded food and drink onto a Chevrolet one ton truck with the intention of driving to West Java. They got up into the mountains and were stopped by Dutch soldiers who said that the bridges had been destroyed and told them to go to East Java. They turned, drove to a Dutch aerodrome near Malang and were bedded down. The aerodrome became untenable in a few days and all buildings were destroyed, after which Brian and Jim, together with Dutch Air Force personnel, went into Malang and in two days they became prisoners of war of the Japanese.

(1) Warrant Officer James Dawson Barnes (405034)

Extract from Hall, E.R. (Eldred Rayner) (O3341) Glory in Chaos, Sembawang Association West Coburg VIC, 1989 – Pages 474-5

Warrant Officer Toohey an Observer attached to No. 100 Squadron (RAF) was reported missing in the Far East on 26th April 1942 at the time of the Japanese invasion. In March 1943 he was mentioned in a broadcast from Batavia as being in the hands of the Japanese as a PoW in Java. On 24th June 1944, he was drowned when a Japanese transport with 772 PoWs on board, was torpedoed and sunk approximately 30 kms off the coast of Japan.

On 24 June 1944, 14 RAAF members from various units were lost with the Tamahoko Maru:

Leading Aircraftman Neil Arlie Binnie (33659) (No. 1 Squadron)
Leading Aircraftman Ronald Edward Brown (17047) (No. 1 Squadron)
Aircraftman Class 1 Maxwell Henry Buchhorn (8594) (RAF Air Headquarters Far East)
Corporal Bruce Addison Gibbins (3353) (No. 1 Squadron)
Warrant Officer John Joseph Green (400951) (No. 36 Squadron (RAF))
Warrant Officer Dudley Reed Hooper (404280) (No. 84 Squadron (RAF))
Leading Aircraftman Robert Edmondson Joel (8814) (No. 1 Squadron)
Warrant Officer James William Landsberg (404759) (No. 1 Squadron)
Sergeant Harold Victor Lewis (406146) (Wireless Air Gunner) (No. 211 Squadron (RAF))
Corporal George Norman McKean (5651) (No. 1 Squadron)
Leading Aircraftman James Leslie Pittendrigh (15398) (No. 1 Squadron)
Aircraftman Class 1 Charles Dudley Potts (39872) (No. 8 Squadron)
Aircraftman Class 1 Ernest Frederick Stanford (27978) (No. 1 Squadron)
Warrant Officer Brian Aloysius Toohey (402758) (No. 100 Squadron (RAF))

In addition to the 14 members of the RAAF, two members of the RAN and 169 members of the Australian Army were lost.

Three RAAF members survived:

Leading Aircraftman Richard Bowie Downie (34225) Discharged from the RAAF: 8 February 1946
Warrant Officer James Dawson Barnes (405034) Discharged from the RAAF: 18 December 1945
Sergeant Frederick John Johnson (A3872) Discharged from the RAAF: 23 January 1965

In addition to the 3 members of the RAAF, eight members of the RAN and 71 members of the Australian Army survived.


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 Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia on-Line Record A705, 163/168/132


Wall, Donald (NX36620), Heroes at Sea, D Wall, Mona Vale NSW 2103, 1991

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