7 SEPTEMBER 1944
CRASH OF A C-47 DAKOTA
RAAF DC-3 Dakota similar to the Dutch Aircraft
On 7 September 1944 Cairns rang 3 Fighter Sector Headquarters in Townsville enquiring if they had any information regarding C-47A-20-DK VH-RDK due at Cairns at 1845 hours. 3 FSHQ instructed Radar stations to concentrate on the area north of Cairns. Aeroradio advised that they had heard the aircraft calling Cairns Duty Pilot and the aircraft was then 10 to 20 minutes flying time from Cairns. All Volunteer Air Observer Corps (VAOC) posts were instructed to keep a lookout for the aircraft. Cairns advised that 2 Avro Ansons had departed Cairns to search for C-47 VH-RDK.
Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force C-47 Dakota DT-941 #42-93015 (VH-RDK) with 20 persons on board, crashed near Mossman on Thursday 7 September 1944. It was on a flight from Merauke to Cairns. It left Merauke on 6 September 1944. There were no survivors. The crashed aircraft was not located until many years later in January 1989.
Those killed were:-
1st Lt. H.J.H. Daanen (Captain), Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
Sgt W.A. Torn (Co-pilot), #96774, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
Sgt E. Kerdijk (W-ops), #71322, 22. Plot A Row E Joint Grave 1.
Sgt J.F. Damwijk (Eng), #96914, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
120 SQUADRON NEI-AF FIGHTER PILOTS
1st Lt. R.T.H. Braakensiek, #134821, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
id. H.P. Levy, #8767, Plot A Row E Joint Grave 1.
id. B. van Aken, #13620, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
id. O. Leyding, #105120, 24 yrs. Plot A Row E Joint Grave 1.
id. R.J. Salm, #51722, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
id. J.S. Zwart, 20 yrs. Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
Sgt A.C. Scholte, #36520, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
Sgt M. Boogerman, #90510, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
? M J Straub, #8872, Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
All the above were on their way to Australia for some R&R.
OTHER SERVICE PERSONNEL
Sqn/Ldr Leslie Roy "Smokey" Dawson (RAAF), #260968, 40yrs
Lt. Horace William Hammond Armstrong, WX10534, 32yrs, AIF, 157 Gen. Ypt. Coy., Australian Army Service Corps.
2nd. Lt. J.R.L. Lebeu (NEI intell), #818, 39yrs, Plot A Row E Joint Grave 1.
2nd. Lt. R.E.J. Boereboom (NEI Intell), #13620, 29. Plot A Row E Coll Grave 1.
2nd Lt. S. Jacob (Reserve ), Plot A Row E Grave 1.
Mevr Waas (female), Plot A Row E Grave 1.
Mevr Wakemaw (female), Plot A Row E Grave 1.
The deceased passengers and crew were buried at the War Cemetery at Cairns.
Leslie Roy Dawson was the son of George Alfred Haigh Dawson and Mary Eliza Dawson. His wife was Edna May Dawson of Bondi Beach, New South Wales. In January 2004, I was contacted by Donna Dawson, the great niece of Les Dawson. Donna's father, Geoffrey Dawson flew to Cairns for the Memorial Ceremony held for those killed in this tragic crash.
Lieutenant Horace William Hammond Armstrong was the son of Harry George and Alice Jane Armstrong. His wife was Dorothy May Armstrong, of Victoria Park, Western Australia.
It was originally thought that the aircraft may have gone down in the Trinity Beach area. Last contact was 9 miles out. The wreckage of the Dakota was eventually discovered in January 1989 by an Australian/New Zealand scientific expedition north west of Mossman.
The curator RAAF Museum, F/Off Pat J. Kenny (This is my wife's cousin) and W/Off B. Hurst aided by a member of the Aus/NZ Team were winched down near the wreck on 21 January 1989 and identified the a/c as VH-RDK, being the missing Dutch Dakota. Recovery was approved on 24 January 1989 and on 5 February 1989 the operation started.
It was carried out by personnel of 27Squadron RAAF, supported by an UH-1H helicopter of 35 Sqn. RAAF and ended on 10 February 1989.
On 11 Feb. one of the former fighter pilots of 120 Sqn NEI-AF, Mr Hugo Haye, was received by the recovery team. He paid a final tribute to his comrades.
He was supposed to be on the Dakota (together with 2nd Lt. Theo Gottschalk), but was taken of the flight to ferry a P-40N to Australia. All his luggage however, was on the fatal flight and he was now able to take home his beloved shotguns!
The remains of those killed were recovered from the crash scene in July 1989 and interred at the Cairns War Cemetery.
The Cairns Cemetery is at the end of Martyn Street, off the Bruce Highway. It contains a special plot of service war graves. A paved entrance leads into this plot from an internal roadway of the civil cemetery. Immediately to the left of the entrance is a stone seat into the back of which, facing the approach, is set a panel bearing the name " Cairns War Cemetery ". On the right is a stone pier containing a bronze box in which the register is kept. Opposite the entrance stands the Cross of Sacrifice.
David Mossou, from The Netherlands, contacted me on 25 September 2003 and advised that he has in his possession both the Vliegerkruis and war memorial medals with certificates for 1st Lt. H.J.H. Daanen that were awarded to him posthumously in 1949. They were in the legacy of David's great-uncle, Lieutenant-Colonel (pilot) John Mossou (ret.), NEI-AF, KLu. As far as David knows John Mossou never served in the RAAF as he was captured almost immediately after the Japanese occupation and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp. David has no idea how John Mossou got those medals, and he would like to find out the reason. Can anyone help?
Netherlands East Indies Air Force Home Page
In his book "The Hidden Chapters - Untold Stories of Australians at War in the Pacific", Robert Piper refers to a number of reports on this accident as follows:-
|- Missing Aircraft Report signed by Major Kenneth E. Rosebush on 18 September 1944|
|- Report by Second Lieutenant Alfred J. Hamway,
of the 7th Airdrome Squadron,
8th Service Group, AAF, APO 713 to the Commanding Officer, 8th Services Group
|- Report from General George C. Kenney dated 18 September 1944|
Does anyone have a copy of any of these reports?
Kenney's report indicates that they had searched the coastline along a number of areas between 8 September and 16 September 1944, but had found no sign of the missing aircraft.
10 Worst Aircraft Crashes in Australia
I would like to thank Bas Kreuger, the Curator of the Military Aviation Museum RNlAF, in Soesterberg, the Netherlands, for his assistance with information on this crash. I'd also like to thank Daniel Leahy and Geoffrey Negus for their assistance with this home page.
SOURCE:- Aircraft Crash Sites - Australia
Crash: No. 112
Department of Aviation Chart No: 3219
"Diary of WWII - North
Complied by Peter Nielsen
"Aircraft of the RAAF 1921- 71"
By Geoffrey Pentland & Peter Malone
"The Hidden Chapters - Untold Stories of
Australians at War in the Pacific"
by Robert Piper
Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?
© Peter Dunn 2015
This page first produced 9 February 1999
This page last updated 16 March 2017