LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer Lindsay McKAY

Service No: 407903
Born: Glanville NSW, 2 November 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 February 1941 (at Adelaide SA)
Unit: No. 458 Squadron, Protville, Tunisia
Died: Air Operations (No. 458 Squadron Wellington aircraft MP700), Tyrrhenian Sea, 5 August 1943, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Bertram Corrie McKay and Emily McKay, of Glanville Blocks, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 11, Column 1, Malta Memorial, Malta
Remembered: Panel 106, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide
Remembered: Walbundrie District Memorial Hall and Roll of Honour, Walbundrie NSW

Wellington MP 700 which was detailed to carry out a recce in the Tyrrhenian Sea took off from RAF Protville at 2226 hours on 4/5th August 43. A message was intercepted from MP 700 at 0017 hours on the 5th August “returning to base engine trouble, position 40.02N 10,10E.” Nothing further was heard from the aircraft and it failed to return to base. The aircraft was one of six aircraft from the Squadron detailed to carry out armed reconnaissance during the night of 4/5th August.

The crew members of MP700 were:

Flight Sergeant Bernard Eric Adams (1063543) (RAFVR) (Second Pilot)
Sergeant Clifford Ebbage (1001432) (RAFVR) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer John Marcus Fischer (403865) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Pilot Officer Lindsay McKay (407903) (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant Roy Gordon Spencer MID (402262) (Pilot)
Sergeant Bryan Andrew Watson (406705) (Wireless Air Gunner) Rescued, Discharged from the RAAF: 11 May 1945

The Squadron Operations Record Book records “On 12/8 a message was received from HQ NACAF that Sergeant Watson, a WAG in Spencer’s crew missing on the night of 4/5 August had been picked up after 8 days in a dinghy. Watson reported that at 0025 hours the port engine had cut out and the airscrew feathered. The aircraft set course for base sending out signal ‘JR’. The torpedo was jettisoned. Suddenly the Pilot shouted ‘stand by for ditching’, but aircraft went straight in before anyone could take up positions. He did not know whether aircraft had become unmanageable or whether the pilot had not realised he was too low and unprepared for crash. Sergeant Watson was able to open the astro hatch, and he must have shot through this but only remembers struggling under water. On surfacing he saw burning oil on the surface and an uninflated dinghy floating 20 yards away. Although bruised and unable to use his arms he made for the dinghy and after half an hours struggle managed to get into it. Sergeant Ebbard also survived the crash and managed to get into the dinghy although badly hurt, vomiting, could not see and was in great pain. Watson found the ration box tried to open it for the morphia but fainted. He came to 2 hours later and Ebbage appeared dead. Two days later Watson buried Ebbage at sea. During the whole time in the dinghy Watson strictly rationed the water and Horlick tablets and when rescued still had five cans of water and 4 tins of Horlicks. During this time several aircraft including Germans had appeared but he could not attract their attention. On the 12 August a Catalina appeared with Lightning escort. Watson got their attention by standing up and waving red flag. The Catalina circled, alighted and picked up Watson with a rope. He was brought to Bizerta and taken to 56th General Hospital. Rescue was possible by Watson’s persistent confidence and refusal to give up hope. He sang and talked to himself during the day and kept cool by dipping his clothes in sea.”

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, 166/26/205
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line

Bibliography:

Alexander, P. (Peter) We Find and Destroy: history of No. 458 Squadron, The 458 Squadron Council, 1959

© Copyright Highgate RSL. All rights reserved.