Expedition Recovers New Wreckage Of A WWII Bomber

Expedition Recovers New Wreckage Of A WWII Bomber | World War Wings Videos

Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s expedition has confirmed the identities of an Australian bomber and its crew 80 years after it crashed off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

The mining billionaire has already been credited with locating another wreckage earlier, identifying a WW2 bomber and helping arrange for some of its crew to be identified.

The aircraft was found due to Forrest’s search for his uncle – Flying Officer David Forrest – who has been MIA since 1943.

Finding A Wreck

According to WW2 reports, Forrest (then 22 years old) was piloting a Beaufort bomber in a night raid against a Japanese air strip near Gastama, close to the south coast of New Britain, in May of 1943 when he and 3 other crewmen went missing.

The found plane, a Beaufort with Serial #A9-186, was shot down on the same airstrip four months after Forrest went missing. Forrest’s bomber was #A9-188, however.

“It’s quite a challenging environment because of saltwater crocodiles and low visibility,” said Expedition Leader Steve Burnell.

Confirming Identities

Officials identified the wreck using the plane’s identity plate – which was only legible because it was buried in mud which reduced the effects of corrosion.

Bone fragments near the wreck were also DNA tested, leading to the identification of Warrant Officer Clement Batstone Wiggins (28 years old) and Warrant Officer Russel Henry Grigg (34 years old).

The search had since been abandoned for the rest of the air crew, Flight Sgt. Albert Beckett, 22, and Flight Sgt. Gordon Lewis Hamilton, 26.

Memorial Service

A memorial service for their families will be held at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland on April 26. 

The identity plate and an attached cockpit lever had been returned to Australia with Papua New Guinea government permission while the rest of the wreckage remained at the crash site.

“We remain hopeful in our search for my late Uncle David and his fellow crew. We will never give up until we find them.” 

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