Lieutenant Robert J. BuelPrint Page
A plaque commemorates Lieutenant Robert J Buel who was shot down on the 15th February 1942.
At 4.00 a.m. on 15 February 1942 a Japanese Kawanishi H6K flying boat of the 21st Air Flotilla set out from Ambon to shadow the ill-fated Houston convoy. The convoy had left Darwin without air cover and was forced to return the following day, having failed to reinforce the Allied garrison on Timor. The Japanese flying boat located the convoy at 10.30 a.m. and maintained visual contact for a further three hours. When it was about 190 kilometres west of Darwin the H6K made an unsuccessful bombing attack on the vessels before turning for home.
Soon afterwards, however, the flying boat was spotted by an American Kittyhawk fighter, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Buel, who then made a diving attack on the Japanese aircraft. After a brief exchange of gunfire both aircraft caught fire and crashed into the sea, thus ending the first aerial combat of the northern Australian air war.
|Address:||The Esplanade, USS Peary Memorial, Bicentennial Park, Darwin, 0800|
|GPS Coordinates:||Lat: -12.462174|
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
|Actual Event STart Date:||15-February-1942|
|Actual Event End Date:||15-February-1942|
|Approx. Monument Dedication Date:||May-1992|
2ND LT. ROBERT J BUEL, USAAF,
WWII FIGHTER PILOT,
21ST PURSUIT SQ., 35TH PURSUIT GRP.
SHOT DOWN FEB. 15, 1942.
On Feb. 15, 1942, the P-40E Kittyhawk fighter of 2nd Lt. Buel was one of only two planes that were available for the defense of Northern Australia. On this date, both aircraft were sent to defend an allied convoy under Japanese attack, but only Buel caught up with the fleet. Before he was shot down and plunged to his death, 2nd Lt. Buel -- alone -- downed a Japanese bomber and cleared safe passage for the allied ships. His self-sacrifice and valor became an inspiration to all who learned of it.
With grateful appreciation The American Legion remembers USAAF 2nd Lt. Robert J. Buel.
ERECTED ON BEHALF OF THE AMERICAN LEGION BY DOMINIC D. DIFRANCESCO NATIONAL COMMANDER MAY 1992.