Beaufighter A19-163 Crew MemorialPrint Page
Throughout World War Two, Broome was known as R.A.A.F. Operational Base Unit No 79 and was used for transient aircraft and as a base for special operations. In September 1944 Catalina flying boats were conducting patrols, bombing raids and mine laying operations in the waters occupied by the enemy-held Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia).
Beaufighter A19-163 from 31 Squadron was one of four Beaufighters based in Broome. It was piloted by Flight-Sergeant Ronald Kerrigan and Navigator Flight-Sergeant Ronald Smith who were to provide protective cover for the flying boats. The A19-163 took off from the Broome airstrip at 4.30am on 18 September 1944 with a second Beaufighter to follow. Reports state the A19-163 struggled to climb, but made some distance and cleared sand dunes off Cable Beach. About 1 kilometre out to sea the aircraft crashed into the ocean and exploded on impact.
A tender was sent to search the wreck site and floating debris was found across 1 kilometre and the two men were presumed dead. Due to tides moving the floating debris, locating the aircraft was not possible.
In 2012, local historian Dion Marinis came across mention of the accident during research and the reports led him to begin a search to find the aircraft. Joined by helicopter pilot Jim Miles, the two men began a search based on information reported at the time of the incident.
Two years later and after using several search methods including side-scan sonar operations, metal detection, and dives over a large area, a debris field was discovered. A scheduled dive on the target site confirmed that the image was the main wreck, consisting of the wing spars, tail wheel, tail plane and both engines.
|Address:||Cable Beach Road West , Cable Beach, Broome, 6725|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -17.928858|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Actual Event STart Date:||18-September-1944|
|Actual Event End Date:||18-September-1944|
|Actual Monument Dedication Date:||Thursday 18th September, 2014|
In memory of the crew of RAAF Beaufighter A19-164
Pilot ; Flight Sgt Ronald S. Kerrigan 20 yrs old 427244
Navigator ; Sgt Ronald G. Smith 20 yrs old 433513
In the darkness of early morning on the 18th September 1944 at 0430 hrs, RAAF Beaufighter A19-163 from 31 Squadron was one of two Beaufighters scheduled to provide protective cover for Catalina flying boats.
The Catalinas were conducting patrols, bombing raids and mine laying operations in the waters occupied by the enemy-held Netherlands East Indies. The Catalinas were vulnerable to enemy fighter attack as the cover of darkness lifted from their night operations ; thus the Beaufighters would rendezvous with the returning Catalinas giving them escort to safer skies.
Staging for take-off and in the lead, A19-163 took off with Beaufighter A19-140 soon to follow.
Reports state the A19-163 struggled to climb ; the aircraft made some distance and cleared the sand dunes of Cable Beach, but then crashed approximately one kilometre out to sea, causing the aircraft to explode on impact, with the loss of crew members.
This memorial is to honour and acknowledge those brave young men who flew many hours together as crewmen and great mates, and who were committed to protecting our country and coastline.
"Lest We Forget"
18th September 2014
This memorial was made possible by the generous support of
The Shire of Broome