LEST WE FORGET

Sergeant John Ronald PITTMAN

Service No: 407971
Born: Adelaide SA, 3 June 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 27 February 1941
Unit: No. 100 Squadron, Mareeba QLD
Died: Air Operations (No. 100 Squadron Beaufort aircraft T9608), off the Queensland Coast, 12 June 1942, Aged 21 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Roland Ernest and Annie Vera Pittman, of Hart, South Australia
Roll of Honour: Unknown
Remembered: Panel 6, Sydney Memorial, Rookwood NSW
Remembered: Panel 105, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: World War II Honour Roll, National War Memorial of SA, North Terrace, Adelaide

On 12 June 1942 Beaufort A9-56 was detailed to carry out an anti-submarine patrol from Mareeba, Queensland. Nothing was heard from the aircraft after take-off and it failed to return to base. The aircraft which took off at 2230Z/11 hours was due over the patrol area from 2330Z/11 to 0200Z/12. The convoy’s position was given as 15.32S 146.38E at 2000Z/11, course 345 degrees, speed 10.5 knots.

When the aircraft became overdue it was presumed at base that the previous aircraft which was to have been relieved by A9-56 had failed to locate the convoy, and that A9-56 had remained longer in the area carrying out a location search, and in this case would have landed at Cooktown to refuel before returning to Mareeba. After waiting some time for an arrival signal from Cooktown, an unsuccessful attempt was made by radio to contact the aircraft, and a signal was sent to Cooktown asking whether the aircraft had landed there. To this there was a negative reply. As there were insufficient daylight hours to search on12 June, seven aircraft searched the possible area over which the aircraft was operating on 13 June, and of the coast and inner reef area on 14 June. Advanced Operating Base Cairns was contacted at 1000Z/12 to see whether the Catalina which was to have relieved A9-56 had any information on the missing aircraft. The crew of the Catalina had not sighted the aircraft or the convoy. Weather reports from other aircraft operating in the vicinity of the convoy were favourable, visibility 12-15 miles with isolated showers. Owing to restrictions on the use of wireless telegraph it was not possible to ascertain if the aircraft had made contact with the convoy.

The crew members of T9608 were:

Sergeant Charles Douglas Hucker (400674) (Navigator Bomb Aimer)
Sergeant Edward Kennion Jones (407679) (Wireless Air Gunner)
Sergeant John Roland Pittman (407971) (Pilot)
Sergeant Horace Evans Shying (405942) (Wireless Air Gunner)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
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, 163/151/91

Bibliography:

Gaston, Bruce DFC (406646), Harry Horner DFC OAM (406595), Raymond Storer (406666) (Editors), Aircrew for the Duration: of and by members of RAAF EATS Courses 10, 11, 12 & 13, Gaston Horner and Storer, Nedlands WA, 1990
Graham, B. (Burton) and Frank Smyth, A Nation Grew Wings: The Story of the RAAF Beaufort Squadrons in New Guinea, Winterset House Publishers Melbourne VIC, 1946
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Beaufort, Beaufighter and Mosquito in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1990

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