CRASH OF A BEAUFIGHTER
NEAR FISH HOLE, ON THE DALY RIVER
ABOUT 12 MAY 1943

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Flying Officer D. Branelly of 31 Squadron RAAF based at Coomalie Creek airfield in the Northern Territory became completely lost at night on about 12 May 1943 after a searchlight exercise in his Beaufighter, Mark 1C, Ser. No. A19-19 (RAF No. T4971).

They ran low on fuel and eventually baled out. On 20 May 1943, Branelly was found near Daly River by Army personnel. He had been missing for 8 days. He was in very poor condition when found. The search continued for his navigator Flight Sergeant B.W. McGrath.

This Beaufighter had been delivered to the RAAF in June 1942. It was written off in May 1943.

In mid November 1943 Constable R.C. "Tas" Fitzer and Archie Crosbie investigated the wreck of A19-19 after it was located by some Aboriginal stockmen near Fish Hole on the Daly River. During the search for McGrath, Archie Crosby found a Japanese compass 3/4 of a mile from the wreckage of the Beaufighter. The compass was reportedly the first of its kind found in Australia. It was sent south for experts to examine it.

 

REFERENCE BOOKS

"Coomalie Charlie's Commandos - 31 Squadron RAAF" (page 79)
"Beaufighters at Darwin 1942-43"
by Kenneth Neal McDonald, DFC

"The Hidden Chapters - Untold Stories of Australians at War in the Pacific"
By Robert Piper

 

 

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This page first produced 24 October 1999

This page last updated 31 August 2015