ON 3 MARCH 1942



On 3 March 1942, many refugees from Java and the Celebes had started to arrive in Dornier flying boats at Broome in Western Australia. They were then due to be evacuated to the south and east areas of Australia.

A Japanese Navy Kawanishi H6K4 reconnaissance flying boat had been spotted over Broome the previous day. It flew over the town of Broome at 12,000 feet before turning out to sea. There were no fighter aircraft based in the area, so its passage over the town was not rushed.


C5M2 Babs Akira Hayashi with observer Shinobu Nagasawa
A6M2 Zero Lt. Zenjiro Miyano (top cover)
A6M2 Zero 3rd Air Sergent Takashi Kurano (top cover)
A6M2 Zero 1st Air Private Zempei Matsumoto (top cover)
A6M2 Zero Chief Air Sergeant Masaki Okazaki
A6M2 Zero 2nd Air Sergeant Susumu Matsumoto
A6M2 Zero 1st Air Sergeant Juzo Okamoto
A6M2 Zero 2nd Air Sergeant Yoshio Hashiguchi
A6M2 Zero 1st Air Private Yasuo Matsumoto
A6M2 Zero Warrant Officer Osamu Kudo (KIA)


At 9:20am on 3 March 1942, nine pale grey Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero fighter aircraft and a single Mitsubishi C5M2 command reconnaissance and navigational aircraft of the 3rd Ku, arrived over Broome after leaving their base at Koepang in Timor. 

Six of the Zeros stayed low while the other three Zeros acted as "top cover". The pilots of the "top cover" Zeros were Navy Lieutenant Zenziro Miyano, Sergeant Takashi Kurano and Private Zempei Matsumoto. Miyano was the leader of the Japanese raiding party. He later went on to claim 16 planes shot down before he was killed in action at Guadalcanal on 16 June 1943.



Lieutenant Zenziro Miyano


Photo via Gordon Birkett

Japanese view of the raid on Broome



RAAF Empire Flying Boat, Short S23 C-Class, S.811 A18-10, previously "Centaurus" G-ADUT (QANTAS)
QANTAS Empire Flying Boat "Corinna" G-AEUC
Royal Netherlands Navy, Naval Air Service Catalina Y-59
Catalina Y-60
Catalina Y-67
Catalina Y-70
US Navy Convair PBY Catalina # 6 (PBY-4 BUAERO Number: 1227, ex- 101-P-26, ex-102-P-26) of Patrol Wing 10, Lieutenant (jg) Ira W. Brown.
Convair PBY Catalina #7 (PBY-4 BUAERO Number: 1237, ex-101-P-13), of Patrol Wing 10, Lieutenant (jg) LeRoy C. Deede.
RAF Catalina 205 Squadron RAF, Catalina FV-N (serial W8433, a Consolidated Model 28-5MNE), F/Lt. Tamblyn; 
Catalina 205 Squadron RAF, Catalina 
FV-W (ex-MLD Y-54, a Model 28-5MNE), F/Lt. Lowe. 
Royal Netherlands Navy, Naval Air Service Dornier Do-24 K Flying boat X-1
Dornier Do-24 K Flying boat X-3
Dornier Do-24 K Flying boat X-20
Dornier Do-24 K Flying boat X-23
Dornier Do-24 K Flying boat X-28



USAAC B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2454, 7th BG, Pilot Duane Skiles
B-17E Flying Fortress #41-2449, 7th BG, Hal Smelser
B-24A Liberator #40-2370 "Arabian Knight"
B-24A Liberator #40-2373 of Ferrying Command had collapsed undercarriage and was destroyed by the crew after skidding off the runway - see photo below.
RAAF Lockheed Hudson 14 Squadron RAAF, A16-119 Pilot was Wing Commander I.J. Lightfoot, the CO of 14 Squadron.
Lockheed Hudson A16-119??
NEI-AF Lockheed Lodestar  LT9-18
 Netherlands East Indies KLM (KNILM Civilian) DC-3-194B PK-ALO - Japanese aircraft fired at the DC-3 whilst it was landing at Broome. Pilot E.E. Hulsebos landed safely but Japanese aircraft attacked again and the DC-3 caught fire and burned.


Gordon Birkett provided the following info on B-17 #41-2449:-

41-2449 Java 19thBG Project X Africa Route 19/01/1942 9/02/1942 Acc 09/12/41. SacD 17/12/41. March Field -Bakers Field 26/12/41. MacDill 07/01/42.Project X 18/01/42.Arrived Java 09/02/42. Lost Broome  on the ground 03/03/42Off LEFT 31/10/44

B. Schneider records indicate that the following two Liberators of the 19th Bomb Group were destroyed at Broome:-

Convair B-24 Liberator 40-2374 (435th Bombardment Squadron)
Convair B-24 Liberator (435th Bombardment Squadron)


Photo:- Geoffrey Goodall

Netherlands East Indies Navy PBY-4 Catalina in Broome
Harbour WA, exposed at low tide in October 1975.


Photo:- Geoffrey Goodall

Some of the sunken flying boats are
still exposed during Broome's 30 feet
tidal variation. Catalina in October 1975


AWM Photo

B-24A Liberator #40-2373



USAAC B-24A Liberator  #40-2374 of Ferrying Command, crashed in the sea 10 miles from Broome, 19 killed
Netherlands East Indies KLM (KNILM Civilian) DC-3  PK-AFV "Pelikaan", shot down at Carnot Bay, about 60 miles from Broome
Japanese Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero shot down by ground fire


A Zero, piloted by Warrant Officer Osamu Kudo immediately shot down USAAF B-24A Liberator, #40-2374, piloted by Edson E. Kester just after it went over the beach after takeoff on its way to Perth. It had climbed to somewhere between 200 to 400 feet. Japanese machine gun bullets punctured the gas tank of the B-24. It crashed into the sea about 10 miles from Broome (Map Reference 17.50 - 122.08), about 7 miles off Cable Beach with 20 personnel on board. It was carrying wounded from Java.

The aircraft broke in half. At least two personnel survived the initial crash. They were Staff Sergeant Melvin Donoho and Staff Sergeant Willard J. Beatty. They stayed together and swam towards the shore. They started swimming at about 10 am that day and were still together later the next afternoon. They somehow became separated and Donoho made it shore and struggled to the airfield where he was found naked, sun burnt and severely exhausted.

Staff Sergeant Beatty, in a very bad state, was found on the beach by a shore patrol. He was rushed to Perth but later died. For some strange reason, his body cannot be accounted for. His date of death is shown as 3 July 1942 on the American Battle Monuments Commission web site (see below).

Those who died as a result of the loss of this B-24 Liberator were as follows:-

Major Edson Eugene Kester (022354) - Pilot - 10th Ferrying Squadron
Captain William P. Ragsdale, Jr. (0 225514) - Co-pilot - 10th Ferrying Squadron
1st Lieutenant Keats Poad (0421213) - 10th Ferrying Squadron, Navigator
S/Sergeant Howard C. Cliff (7021697) - Radio Operator, 10th Ferrying Squadron
S/Sergeant Elvin P. Westcoff or Westcott (6386186) - Crew Chief
2nd Lieutenant Richard L. Taylor (0427045)
S/Sergeant John M. Rex (6581412) - 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional)
Sergeant Willard J. Beatty (6256686) - 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional)
Sergeant Samuel F. Foster (6252463) - 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional)
Corporal Jack T. Taylor (18034982)
Private Richard G. Sheets (13000321)
2nd Lieutenant Howard K. Petschel (0 412158) - Headquarters 7th Bomb Group - He was a B-17 pilot
Captain Chas Stafford (0 22686) - the Doctor who was caring for the injured on board. A hospital ship was later named in his honour.
Captain Harry W. Markey (0 21663) - 11th Bomb Group
Private Jos. H. Gorden or Gordon (34033808) - 52nd Signal Battalion
Private Nicholas D. Bunardzya (6 999 625)
Private Clarence B. Johnson (20911984) - 43rd Materiel Squadron, 32nd Air Base
S/Sergeant Leo D. Steinmetz (6914316)
Corporal Hubert McDonald (14029544)

The sole survivor was Sergeant Melvin O. Donoho - 17th Pursuit Squadron (Provisional)



Edson E. Kester
Major, U.S. Army Air Forces (Ser. No. 0-022354) of Army Air Corps

Entered the Service from: Florida
Died: March 3, 1942
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines
Awards: Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, Purple Heart


Willard J. Beatty
Sergeant, U.S. Army Air Forces (Ser. No. 06256686) of 17th Pursuit Squadron, 24th Pursuit Group

Entered the Service from: Colorado
Died: July 3, 1942         (note the date is much later than 3 March 1942)
Missing in Action or Buried at Sea
Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery Manila, Philippines
Awards: Purple Heart


Photo:- via Dion Marinis

B-24A Liberator #40-2374


Photo:- via Dion Marinis

B-24A Liberator #40-2374 in the foreground at Bolling Field, Washington in 1941


dornier01.jpg (14588 bytes)

Dornier Flying Boat - Dutch Maritime Patrol Aircraft
of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF)


The Japanese aircraft then destroyed 15 flying boats anchored in the shallow harbour.

They then strafed the airfield and destroyed two B-17 Flying Fortresses, two RAAF Hudsons, another B-24 Liberator #40-2373, Lockheed Lodestar LT-918 of the Netherlands East Indies - Air Force, and a civilian Dutch Dakota DC-3 PK-ALO of KNILM (Netherlands East Indies KLM). One of the Lockheed Hudsons belonged to 14 Squadron RAAF, which was based at Pearce in Western Australia. 

Lockheed Hudson A16-119 was strafed and bombed on the ground at Broome airfield whilst waiting to take-off behind a B-24 Liberator. A16-119 had been on a flight from Onslow to Broome looking for missing C-53 #41-20066 VH CDW which had made a forced landing at Vansittart Bay on 26 February 1942. Wing Commander Ivor James Lightfoot (RAAF Service No. 50), the Commanding Officer of 14 Squadron RAAF was the pilot, with F/Sgt Harry Simpson (RAAF) as the radio operator and Sergeant Owens as another crew member with passenger, Petty Officer 1st Class Hartin, a US Navy Aerial Photographer. Wing Commander Lightfoot realised he had left his charts in the briefing room and whilst walking back to retrieve them his aircraft was attacked. The other crew members and passenger exited the aircraft and ran for cover and fired their hand guns at the swooping Zeros. The Hudson which was fully loaded with bombs and fuel exploded into a ball of fire. Parts of the burnt out wreckage of Hudson A16-119 were still located in the bush a short walk from the Broome Airfield in January 1979.


Photo:- Geoffrey Goodall

The burnt-out wreck of RAAF Lockheed Hudson A16-119, was still in the bush
within walking distance from  Broome Airport terminal building in January 1979


When the raid was finished, numerous ground installations and motor vehicles were left burning or badly damaged.

A Japanese Zero, piloted by Warrant Officer Osamu Kudo, was shot down on the beach at the end of the raid by a Dutch pilot, F/Lt Gus "Wild Bill" Winckel, using a 7.9 mm machine gun he had taken from his LT9-18 Lockheed Lodestar. He stood behind a sawn-off tree and fired the machine gun from the hip. He sustained severe burns to his left forearm, which he used to support the barrel of the machine gun.

A Dutch Dakota DC-3 PK-AFV, "Pelikaan", of the KNILM (Netherlands East Indies KLM) was also shot down at Carnot Bay, 60 miles from Broome while the three "top cover" Zeros were returning along the coast towards Timor. The Dakota was on an evacuation flight from Bandung, in Java to Australia. A lot of mystery surrounds the crash of this Dakota. It carried a box of diamonds worth £300,000. They could not be found after the crash. The other DC-3, PK-ALO, which had landed in Broome, also had a similar package, in the hands of a courier of the NEI Government, stamped full with lacquer seals. As indicated above, PK-ALO was strafed by the Japanese Zero´s and burned completely. The package was also lost.

Approximately 70 civilians and Allied servicemen were dead or missing in this bombing raid at Broome.

As the Dornier Flying Boats were loaded up with evacuees (most of them women and children) from Java, there were at least 70 people killed by the Zero´s and whilst swimming through burning oil. Only 25 persons were buried at the cemetery at Karrakatta, on Railway Road, Nedlands near Perth.

Another Dornier Do-24K Flying Boat, X-36, made a forced landing south of Broome during the night of 2/3 March 1942 at a place called Anna Plains. It had been heading for Broome with the above five Dutch Dorniers.

The two RAF Catalinas from 205 Squadron RAF had both arrived from Tjilatjap, Java, the morning of the Japanese air raid.



Subject:    US B24 #74?
Date:             Mon, 16 Oct 2000 18:31:26 +0800
From:           "Howard Young" <>


In the R&SL WA Journal "The Listening Post" Spring 2000 they are asking for information on the above aircraft shot down by the Japs seven miles offshore from Broome 3/3/42. Only two of the crew were found, Sgt.Willard J Beatty and Sgt. Melvin Donoho. Sgt Beatty was recovered unconscious 5/3/42, flown to Perth where he died without regaining consciousness. His body was then lost, his relatives are trying to find it. It may have been shipped to the US, or perhaps buried in Aust.- no one knows, as yet.

His brother, Glenn Beatty, is desperate for any information, recollections of those who knew his brother, photos or anything, but particularly where he was buried.

Do you have this incident on your pages? Do you have any information or source of information, or contacts. Both the Broome Historical Society and Broome R&SL would like to have any further info as well. I can pass it on.

Howard Young.



Subject:    Uncle Killed in Raid on Broome.
Date:             Sun, 31 Dec 2000 13:29:18 -0500
From:           "Jeff Bramlett" <>


My uncle Staff Sergeant Hubert McDonald was killed during a Japanese raid on Broome either on March 2, 1942 or March 3, 1942. He was the original bombardier on the B-17 "Suzy Q". When my grandmother died I received his citation and some sketchy information. The "Suzy Q" was assigned to the 19th Bomb Group, 93rd Squadron. Information about the two raid, information you may have about my uncle's death, pictures of the Suzy-Q or anything would be greatly appreciated.

Again Thank You
Jeff Bramlett
Canton, Georgia, USA

NOTE:- Bob Livingstone's excellent book states on page 19 that the two B-17E's were from the 7th Bomb Group. 



Subject:    Charles D'Antoine
Date:            Tue, 29 Jan 2002 22:42:57 +0800
From:           "Warren" <>

My uncle was the person who was honoured by the Queen of Holland when Broome was attacked. Uncle Charlie saved a Dutch lady and two children while the Japanese were shooting the flying boats in the harbour. In 1993 Uncle was asked by the Dutch government to attend a gathering in Broome commemorate the anniversary of the bombing of Broome. I can not find anything about him in any of the literature. Can you help me.




Jon Davison is part an Australian film company, which is looking at a series of 13 TV documentaries with a working title called ‘The Air crash Detectives’. They have carried out diving expeditions at Broome, locating the lost PBY Catalinas, Empires and Dorniers etc for another film.



Netherlands East Indies Air Force Home Page



Much of the initial information for this page was supplied by Bas Kreuger, curator Military Aviation Museum, in Soesterberg, the Netherlands.

I would also like to thank the late Lindsay Peet for information on the B-24A Liberator which crashed into the sea about 10 miles from Broome.

I'd also like to thank Bill Bartsch, Gordon Birkett, Dion Marinis, Silvano Jung, Geoffrey Goodall and Bob Livingstone for their assistance with this home page.

I would also like to thank Glenn Beatty, brother of Sergeant Willard J. Beatty who died in B-24 Liberator #40-2374 as a result of this Japanese air raid.



"Protect & Revenge" (Page 21)
"The 49th Fighter Group in World War II"
by S.W. Ferguson & William K. Pascalis

"Tocumwal to Tarakan"
"Australians and the Consolidated B-24 Liberator"
by Michael V. Nelmes

"Shrouded Secrets"
"Japan's War on Mainland Australia 1942 - 44"
By Richard Connaughton

Gillison, Douglas (1962), "Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942", Australia in the war of 1939-1945, Series 3 (air), vol I, AWM, Canberra, ACT, pp. 463-468.

Powell, Alan (1988), "The shadow's edge - Australia's northern war", Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, pp. 96-98.

Prime, M.W. (1992), "Broome's one day war", Shire of Broome, Broome, WA. [This is a revised edition of Prime's "WA's Pearl Harbour - the Japanese raid on Broome", 1986]

Rorisson, J.D. (1992), "Not the years contemn: air war on the Australian front 1941-42", Palomar Publications, ?Brisbane, Qld, chap. 7.

Tyler, W.H. (1987), "Flight of diamonds", Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA.

Livingstone, Bob (1998), Under the Southern Cross - The B-24 Liberator in the South Pacific", Turner Publishing Company, Paducah, KY, USA

Pacific Wrecks - March 3, 1942 Air Raid Against Broome


I need your help


©  Peter Dunn 2015


Please e-mail me
any information or photographs

"Australia @ War"
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This page first produced 31 October 1999

This page last updated 06 December 2015