ON 27 APRIL 1942


On 27 April 1942, a USAAF P-40 Kittyhawk piloted by Captain Allison W. Strauss of the 8th Pursuit Squadron ("The Blacksheep") of the 49th Fighter Group crashed in Darwin harbour during a Japanese air raid on the Darwin RAAF airfield. The air raid started at 12.07pm. Captain Strauss was killed in the crash.

Captain Allison W. Strauss led Green Flight comprising 2nd Lts Earl Kinglsey and Pierre Alford. They were the first flight to attack the Japs just beyond Middle Point. They were initially outnumbered seven to one. Captain Strauss attempted to fight his way through the Jap fighter aircraft to strike at the bombers. Strauss' Kittyhawk was hit by enemy fire and it suddenly went straight upwards through the middle of the enemy fighters and stalled before plunging into Darwin Harbour.

Kingsley and Alford had both broken away from the flight to engage the enemy. They eventually returned to Adelaide River airfield.

Strauss's body was supposedly never found. There was however some controversy over whether this was true or not. A floating oxygen bottle was recovered just offshore from the RAAF Anti-Aircraft battery at Fanny Bay. It was tentatively identified by a serial Number to be from Strauss's aircraft.

Directly across Darwin harbour on Swires Bluff, RAAF and USAAC personnel recovered a body. This was initially identified as being that of Owen Fish who was also shot down and killed during the air raid. The body was taken to the RAAF hospital. When it was released for burial, the body was interred under the name of the other senior officer, Captain Allison Strauss. Whether there was an administrative bungle or it was a contrived plan to somehow boost morale may never be known.

The new airfield nearing completion, 27 miles down the track from Darwin was officially dedicated as Strauss Field in memory of Allison Strauss.



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"Protect & Avenge"
"The 49th Fighter Group in World War II"

By S.W. Ferguson & William K. Pascalis
A Schiffer Military History Book


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This page first produced 14 July 2000

This page last updated 02 February 2020