LEST WE FORGET

Flying Officer James Ian CRAIG

Service No: 416043
Born: Adelaide SA, 26 October 1916
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 March 1941
Unit: No. 221 Squadron (RAF), RAF Luqa, Malta
Died: Air Operations (No. 221 Squadron Wellington aircraft HX646), Sicily, 23 January 1943, Aged 26 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Herbert Hughes Craig and Elsie Gwendoline Craig, of Adelaide, South Australia. M.A. (Adelaide).
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 11, Column 1, Malta memorial, Malta
Remembered: Panel 120, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

Wellington HX646 of 221 Squadron took off from RAF Station Luqa at approximately 1805 hours on 23 January 1943 to attack an enemy convoy in the vicinity west of Sicily. The aircraft did not return to base, and it is believed the aircraft located the convoy and must have been damaged whilst making an attack.

The crew members of HX646 were:

Sergeant F J Baker (1377256) (RAFVR) (Wireless Operator) PoW
Sergeant Robert John Burns (407524) (Air Gunner)
Flying Officer James Ian Craig (416043) (Observer)
Squadron Leader Geoffrey Francis Jackson (400414) (Pilot)
Flying Officer Sam Chester Shusterove (J/10666) (RCAF) (Special Equipment Operator)
Sergeant Stephen George Vials (924702) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)

In a later statement by Sergeant Baker who survived the crash and was captured by the Italians he reported: ‘the aircraft was attacked without warning at 0100 hours over the sea between Sicily and Tunis. The aircraft was flying at about 300 feet at the time of attack and flew into the sea immediately afterwards. Sergeant Baker extracted himself and floated to the surface, where he climbed into the aircraft dinghy which had apparently been released by the automatic release gear and inflated. He was rescued next day by an Italian patrol. Baker saw no other members of the crew and has assumed that the bodies of the crew sank with the aircraft.’

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records (RAAF Casualty Information compiled by Alan Storr (409804))
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/8/27

© Copyright Highgate RSL. All rights reserved.