4 AUGUST 1943
CRASH OF A VULTEE VENGEANCE

AT RUBY REEF, 35 MILES SOUTH EAST OF COOKTOWN

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Picture by Ben Cropp

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to enlarge it

RAAF Vultee Vengeance, A27-235, of 12 Squadron RAAF, made a forced landing in the shallow green waters alongside Ruby Reef near Cairns at 1250 hours on 4 August 1943, after an engine failure. As the aircraft began to sink, the crew climbed into their rubber dinghy.

Their distress calls had been heard at Cloncurry and was relayed to Cooktown and Cairns. By 1730 hours the dive bomber's crew were rescued by a dinghy from an RAAF Catalina of 20 Squadron RAAF, that was returning from a "Milk Run".

A27-235 was engaged on an outer anti-submarine patrol for Force HJ at the time of the accident. After flying for only 1 hour 50 minutes, the outboard tanks cut out, so the pilot headed for land. After 20 minutes flying, the inboard tanks also cut out, and power could not be maintained on the hand pump. It was presumed that the accident was caused by a broken petrol line or a blockage of the main petrol line.

Jim Purdon of The Gap, QLD told me that this was a 12 Squadron RAAF aircraft flown by Pilot A.J. "Chesty" Bond (403899), with Navigator Dennis S. Holmes (7180). Jim told me that the underwater adventurer, Ben Cropp had taken some photographs of this wreck. According to Jim, these photos indicated that the wreck must have slipped off the reef because, after this crash, the wreckage was often used as a navigational aid by various aircraft. Its high tailplane used to stick out of the water at high tide.

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Vultee Vengeance

 

Photo taken by Michael Hughes in about January 2002

 

Photo taken by Michael Hughes in about January 2002

12 Squadron RAAF was stationed at Cooktown at the time of this crash flying Vultee Vengeance aircraft.. Prior to that they had been at Darwin since 1939 flying Wirraways. The squadron were due to move to Merauke in New Guinea. While the airfield and facilities were being prepared in New Guinea, 12 Squadron moved to the old mission airfield up the river from Cooktown, a few miles away from the town airfield on 1 July 1943. From there they carried out anti-submarine patrols escorting convoys of ships heading for New Guinea. The convoys mostly passed through the Grafton Passage. 12 Squadron RAAF also took part in Army co-operation and Navy gunnery exercises and also assisted with searches for downed aircraft and possible enemy submarines.

12 Squadron RAAF departed Cooktown for Merauke on 28 October 1943.

 

FROM:    No. 12 Squadron, Air Echelon, RAAF

TO:          No. 1 Base Personnel Staff Office, RAAF, Townsville

DATE:     6th, August, 1943

REF:       901/13/AIR

 

CONFIRMATORY MEMORANDA:    A.F.O.  18/E/2.

       Further to this Unit's Casualty Signal A.82 dated 4th. July 1943, submitted herewith in accordance with A.F.O. 18/E/2, three copies of Confirmatory Memoranda in respect of the accident to Vultee Vengeance Aircraft A.27-235, which occurred on RUBY REEF, 35 miles south-east of COOKTOWN on Wednesday, 4 August, 1943.

(i)    A Statement of the circumstances surrounding the accident.

       Vultee Vengeance A.27-235 was engaged on an A/S. Patrol. After flying for only one hour 50 minutes, the Outboard Tanks cut out, so the Pilot headed for land. After 20 minutes flying, the Inboard Tanks cut out, and power could not be maintained on the Hand Pump. After making a forced landing on RUBY REEF at 1250 hours, the Crew abandoned the aircraft, and at approximately 1730 hours were rescued by a Catalina of No. 20 Squadron, and conveyed back to CAIRNS.

(ii)    If the casualty occurred in Operations, state the number of aircraft engaged in the Operation, and the names of pilots of accompanying aircraft.

       A.27-235 was engaged on an Outer Anti-Submarine Patrol around convoy.

(iii)    Names of persons who have supplied information.

        F/O. A.J. BOND ($03899) Pilot

        F/O. D.S. HOLMES (7180) Nav (BW)

(iv)    Name of Pilot:                     F/O. A.J. BOND (403899)
        Total Flying Hours:              677 hours
        Assessment at S.F.T.S.      Average
        Assessment at O.T.U.:        Average
        Present Assessment:          Average

(v)    Not applicable

12sqdsig.jpg (1692 bytes)                 
Squadron Leader                  
Commanding No. 12 Squadron                  

 

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Aircraft Accident Data

 

R.A.A.F. Form P.T. 81.   
(Revised July, 1942)  

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE

PRELIMINARY REPORT (INTERNAL) OF FLYING
ACCIDENT OR FORCED LANDING

Air Force Orders
(10/D/2 & 18/E/1)

Serial No.:         89     
Period:           1943/44

(a)   AIRCRAFT:

Type:    
Number:    

 

  Vultee Vengeance
  A27-235

(b)     UNIT:   12 Squadron
(c)     LOCALITY:

Place:    
Date:    
Time:    

 

  35 miles S.E. Cooktown
  4.8.43
  1300 Hours

(d)     PILOT:

Rank:    
Name:    
Condition:    

 

  Flying Officer
  A.J. Boyd
  Normal

(e)     CREW:

Rank:    
Name:    
Condition:    

 

  Flying Officer
  D.S. Holmes
  Normal

(f)     NATURE OF ACCIDENT:   Forced landing
(g)     PROBABLE CAUSE:   Engine failure
(h)     EXTENT OF DAMAGE:

Airframe:     }

Engine:     }

  Write off.
Date: 7/8/43.
Copies for information to
C.A.S.
A.M.P.
A.M.E.M.
Secretary, AIR BOARD.
D. AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE
D.M.S.
D.T.S.
I.A.A.
D.T.
D.S.D.
File (D.T.).

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A.H.M. - 7/42 - B2729

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Michael Hughes for his assistance with this home page.

 

REFERENCE BOOK

"Diary of WWII - North Queensland"
Complied by Peter Nielsen

"Aircraft of the RAAF 1921- 71"
By Geoffrey Pentland & Peter Malone

 

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 Peter Dunn 2002
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This page first produced 8 February 1999

This page last updated 24 November 2002