Fate of Australian Hudson bombers lost in attacks on Rabaul, 1942?

August 01, 2010

Subject: A-16 Hudson bombers


In 1942, a number of futile bombing raids were made against Rabaul by Australian Hudson bombers. I think four were lost. Might you know anything about them? I have been in contact with an American missionary who lived near Gasmata for 23 years, and was involved in locating four of them, and also recovering the remains of the crew on one of them (See attached.

Bruce M. Petty


Here is a report of four Hudson's based at Rabaul, and three surviving aircraft being flown out.

Rabaul, on the island of New Britain, which is part of the Australian Mandated Territory of New Guinea, is the principal port of the Territory and occupied an important strategical position as a potential naval base, both from the Australian and Japanese viewpoints. As such its development with American assistance was decided upon by the Australian Government towards the end of 1941, but war broke out before the decision could be implemented except by the establishment of a small garrison there.

In January 1942, the second month of the Japanese offensive against British, American and Dutch possessions in the Far East, the Japanese plans provided that the forces on their eastern flank should advance southward to the line Balikpapan-Kendari-Ambon-Rabaul.

The Rabaul garrison included the 2/22nd Australian Battalion, about 80 men of the New Guinea Volunteer Rifles, and other detachments. No. 24 Squadron R.A.A.F., with four Hudson bombers and eight Wirraways (normally used only as trainers), was also based on the airfields round Rabaul.

Japanese aircraft in relatively small numbers bombed the Rabaul airfields at intervals from January 4th onwards, and on the 20th a force of about 120 Japanese aircraft attacked, destroyed or damaged all but one of the eight Wirraways which went up against them, and bombed and machine-gunned the harbour and the airfields. Next day, on orders from Australia, the three surviving aircraft were flown out to the mainland of New Guinea. On the 22nd Japanese aircraft put the two coastal guns out of action and detonated a bomb dump, causing so violent an explosion that it broke the valves in all wireless sets in the area.

Jan-Feb: 1942 Repeated night attacks on Japanese forces in Rabaul by Hudsons of RAAF No 24 Squadron and Catalinas of No 20 Squadron based in Port Moresby despite heavy anti-aircraft fire and attacks by Japanese Zeros.

See URL: http://www.adf-serials.com/newsletter/news0108.pdf

Scroll down for pictures of Hudson at Rabaul.

Sorry I am not of much assistance.


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