12 Squadron RAAF Wirraway, A20-545, force landed in the centre of Howard Island on 25 February 1943 after an engine failure. Piloted by Flying Officer Cyril McPherson, the Wirraway had been taking part in an anti-submarine patrol out of Millingimbi AOB. F/O Cyril McPherson was able to perform a wheels up landing in some swampy land in the centre of Howard Island.

Cyril recalls this incident as follows:-

"Fortunately we were operating in pairs and my partner, F/O Berry Newman, saw me go down. He was later able to contact the Methodist Mission on Elcho Island and two days later two missionaries, Rev. Frank Ellemore and  Harold Shepherdson, came to our rescue in the mission lugger. They took my Observer, P/O Lindsay 'Joe' Hope, and myself to Elcho and a couple of days later shipped us  back to Millingimbi."

Apart from a bent airscrew and flaps, the Wirraway was not badly damaged and a few months later, during the dry season, a salvage party from an RSU was ferried to the island by the Navy. They repaired the aircraft and cleared a rough airstrip from which one of our squadron pilots, F/Lt. Barry Keys, flew it back to our Headquarters at Batchelor. I was told later that the expedition to salvage the aircraft came about as the result of an argument at the RSU when one officer bet a colleague that it could be done, but I cannot vouch for the truth of this story."



Manuscript History of 12 Squadron RAAF

NOTE:-   A list of 12 Squadron Wirraway Crashes shows this crash as occurring on 26 February 1943 rather than the 25 February. The "List of Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia" also shows this as 26 February.


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This page first produced 25 July 1999

This page last updated 29 October 2018