17 AUGUST 1943


catalina01.jpg (9850 bytes)


RAAF PBY-5 Catalina, A24-24, (RACF 9733), of 20 Squadron RAAF, took off from Bowen at 1545 hrs on 17 August 1943 on an air to sea gunnery training exercise flight. At the conclusion of firing practice, the aircraft was making a run across the wave tops over a choppy sea and it is assumed that the port wing hit the water and the aircraft crashed into the sea and sank approximately 5 miles east of Bowen at approximately 1300hrs E.S.T.

It is believed that the Catalina was on a joy flight with some medical and dental personnel on board. 

Six crew members were killed as follows:-

F/O Peter Keene (captain) (416430)
P/O Stanley John Porteous (2nd pilot) (410419)
Sgt. Raymond Charles Ciglander (navigator) (426048)
Sgt. Lelsie George Dalgleish (fitter A/G) (12240)
Sgt. Harold Stuart William Thomas (W/O A/G) (427166)
L.A.C. Ainslie Ivor Dent (fitter A/G) (20387)

In addition 8 Army Army Medical Corps (AAMC) personnel of the 2/7th A.G.H. who were passengers on the Catalina, were missing believed killed:

Sgt. Lloyd George Fiske (VX40288) 
Staff Sgt. Leslie Harry Harrison (VX38770)
Sgt. Robert Ronald Harrison (TX2696) 
Pte. Douglas McLaine (VX126184) 
Pte. Irvine George Osborne (VX124121)
Capt. Lawrence Edward Tansey (NX200513) 
Pte. Kenneth Reginald Walker (VX124120) 
Temporary Capt. Donald Charles Whitfeld (VX47450)

Two crew members were rescued as follows:-

Sgt Robin Fowler, fitter A/G (11071)
AC1 Cyril Lelsie L Edwards, armourer A/G. (72589)

This aircraft was originally delivered to the RAAF in March 1942. The  previous Serial No. for this aircraft was RCAF 9733

Catalina at Caboolture Air Show 15 May 2004


Catalina at Caboolture Air Show 15 May 2004


A Catalina at Mackay Airport - 1961


A Catalina at Mackay airport - 1961



Subject:     A24-24, Bowen crash 1943
Date:              Wed, 24 May 2000 00:16:13 +1000
From:            "LeRoy Edson BILLINGS" <leb@iprimus.com.au>

Much more to the A24-24 story than you can imagine. I thoroughly researched this crash incident back in 1992 for the Coral Sea commemorations that we had here, in Bowen, and over the ensuing years bits and pieces of information have added to the story.

I won't have time for at least two weeks to fill you in on all the details, but for your personal information six (6) RAAF personnel died in the accident and two survived. Eight (8) Army personnel, all of the 2/7th A.G.H. (Army hospital unit), also died in the crash.

The Army personnel had recently returned from Syria and were on their way north to Lae. Their unit was travelling on board the Zealandia, which was only stopping in Bowen for two days.

I think you'll be surprised with the documentation I've compiled on this incident.

The sources include an ex-RAAF Sgt from the Marine Section who was on the crash boat which located the badly injured engineer and the blister gunner who clung to the Cat's wing, which hadn't sunk, until help arrived just about midnight, a nursing sister at the local hospital, who had prepared the crash beds before the injured were brought in, various members of the 2/7th A.G.H. Assn, including the widow of one of the deceased (who was also a nurse and member of the unit who had served in Syria), Australian War Graves (Canberra) who provided help in researching where these names appeared on War Memorials and a short paragraph on each individual lost (RAAF and Army) including their service nos.

I've compiled some of the documentation, but other research I've undertaken In regard to the aircraft itself, when combined with the crash information, will present an extremely interesting chronicle of A24-24's 18-month (approx) history with the RAAF.

In April 1942 (1943?), while taking off at Port Moresby, A24-24 struck something in the water, was forced to abandon its recce task and flew to Bowen where it had to be immediately beached to prevent it sinking from hull damage. As a result of this early incident in its history, A24-24 became the first Catalina to come into Bowen, about ten days before 11 and 20 Sqns formally relocated their operational activities into Bowen from Port Moresby, which was no longer safe from Japanese attack.

It is ironic that today, 58 years on, A24-24 is also the last Catalina remaining in Bowen, albeit sunk offshore, approximately six miles out from the mouth of the Don River.

Look forward to hearing from you. I can be contacted at:

LeRoy Edson Billings
Bowen, QLD

email: leedbi@hotmail.com

Hope this has piqued your interest.


LeRoy E. Billings


NOTE: - 20 Squadron ORB (Operations Record Book) records the crash as 17Aug43. Preliminary Accident report records the crash as 17Aug43. Aircraft Accident Data card records crash as 17Aug43. CO 20 Sqn (W Cdr Stilling) Accident Report records the crash as 18Aug43. 


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

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


I'd like to thank George Woods of Caloundra for his assistance in providing the names of the crew of A24-24. I'd also like to thank Wynnum Graham for his assistance with this home page.


Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?


"Australia @ War" WWII Research Products

I need your help


 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 8 February 1999

This page last updated 02 February 2020