LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant Richard Joseph DARCEY

Service No: 408172
Born: Hobart TAS, 2 March 1917
Enlisted in the RAAF: 28 February 1941
Unit: No. 79 Squadron
Died: Aircraft Accident (USAAF P38 Lockheed Lightning aircraft NR678), off Momote, 6 October 1944, Aged 27 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Richard John and Blanche Mabel Darcey, of Hobart, Tasmania
Roll of Honour: Hobart TAS
Remembered: Panel 34, Rabaul Memorial PNG
Remembered: Panel 104, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

On 6 October 1944, Flight Lieutenant Darcey was requested by an Engineer officer of a US Squadron to test P38 Lockheed Lightning NR678 as the unit were without test pilots. The flight was not approved by the Commanding Officer of No. 79 Squadron and there was no knowledge that Flight Lieutenant Darcey had any previous experience on the type of aircraft.

Flight Lieutenant Darcey took off from Mokerang airfield at 1427 hours on 6 October on a non-operational flight band landed at Momote airfield at 1456 hours. Men of the 2nd Aircraft Assembly Squadron at Momote started the plane with external power. It was considered probable that Flight Lieutenant Darcey did not turn on his generator switch on his first flight and probably ran down the battery. It was considered that he showed poor judgement in taking off with a dead battery. He took off at 1602 hours and circled the field, flew straight out over the water and apparently tried to start the right engine. It smoked badly, then he banked into the dead engine and the aircraft crashed three miles offshore at 1614 hours. Searches by crash boats and aircraft found no trace of Flight Lieutenant Darcey.

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 Veterans’ Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A705, 166/9/16

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