LEST WE FORGET

Pilot Officer John Nigel Elmhirst POTTS

Service No: 408268
Born: Rylstone NSW, 14 July 1921
Enlisted in the RAAF: 17 July 1941 (at Hobart TAS)
Unit: No. 11 Squadron
Died: Air Operations (No. 11 Squadron Catalina aircraft A24-43), Bougainville, 26 April 1943, Aged 21Years
Buried: Port Moresby (Bomana) War Cemetery, PNG
CWGC Additional Information: Son of William Elmhirst Potts and Irish Rose Potts, of Canberra, A.C.T.
Roll of Honour: Launceston TAS
Remembered: Panel 100, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT

While on a supply dropping mission to Bougainville and New Britain, Catalina A27-43 crashed in jungle on Bougainville on 26 April 1943. Three crew members were killed, and six were rescued by friendly forces. Of these six, one was later shot, three were captured and died as Prisoners of War, and two were evacuated.

The crew members of A24-43 were:

Flying Officer William James Clark (403318) (Pilot) Killed 26 April 1943
Flying Officer Clifton Stuart Dunn (403985) (Navigator) Shot 16 June 1943
Corporal John Fenwick (22532) (Fitter II Airframe) Captured about 10 July 1943, PoW Died 5 March 1944
Pilot Officer John Nigel Elmhirst Potts (408268) (Second Pilot) Killed 26 April 1943
Sergeant Frederick Gordon Thompson (416629) (Wireless Air Gunner) Evacuated 8 July 1943, Discharged from the RAAF: 11 December 1945
Flying Officer Colin James Twist (407655) (Wireless Air Gunner) Captured about 10 July 1943, PoW Died 7 August 1943
Sergeant Dudley James Ward (32917) (Flight Engineer) Killed 26 April 1943
Corporal Roland Hugh Alexander Wettenhall (11785) (Fitter II Engines) Evacuated 8 July 1943, Discharged from the RAAF: 16 October 1945
Corporal Herbert Yates (62031) (Armourer) Captured about 10 July 1943, PoW Died 10 August 1943

Australian Army members who assisted in the rescue and evasion of A24-43’s crew members were:

Lieutenant Douglas Norman Bedkober (NX26676) Captured 16 June 1944, POW Died 4 January 1944
Staff Sergeant Harold Joseph Broadfoot (QX38133) Discharged: 23 October 1945
Lance Sergeant Walter Allan Perc Radimey (NX44839) Discharged: 7 March 1945

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 A9845, 146

Bibliography:

McFarlane, C.C. (Cyrus C.) Tojo’s Fate: Australia’s secret war, Sid Harta Publishers Glen Waverley VIC 3150, 2009
McMillan A. (Andrew) Catalina Dreaming: rescues exciting missions and other stories about the famous Australian flying boats of WWII, Duffy and Snellgrove Potts Point NSW, 2002
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Catalina, Neptune and Orion in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1991

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